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Denise Poole

Denise Poole

(she, hers)

Director, Student Success Initiatives

Denise Poole joined Penn State in July 2019 as the University’s inaugural director of student success, overseeing the Student Success Center (SSC) within Undergraduate Education. The SSC administers the Complete Penn State program and scholarship, leads programs and events to support first-generation student success, and supports a variety of retention and degree completion efforts at the university. Denise has served on a variety of committees, taskforces, and change efforts such as the Undergraduate Education Culture and Climate Taskforce, Commission for Adult Learners, First-Gen Advisory Council, Strategic Planning Implementation Team, Transfer Governance Council, Coalition for Student Success, University Advising Council, Approaches to Student Success Working Group, Transforming Education Steering Committee, Student Emergency Aid Distribution Team, The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF I, II, and III), and American Talent Initiative/Powered by Publics (APLU) Steering Committee. Before Penn State, Denise was the director of academic and student-athlete support services and compliance officer. She was employed with New York University for 13.5 years and served in numerous roles and cross-campus initiatives during that time. Denise is also a Past President of the National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professionals (N4A), and served as the Association’s president during the 2019-2020 academic year. She provided leadership to N4A’s organizational enhancement and strategic planning efforts for the past 12 years and have served as a faculty member for the Association’s Professional Development Institute for nine years. Denise earned her M.S. in applied educational psychology with a focus in college student development and counseling from Northeastern University and a B.S. in psychology from Saint Joseph’s University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in workforce education and development with a focus on organization development and change. Denise is a proud first-generation college student and a strong advocate for equity in the academic experience. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Denise currently resides in State College, PA with her family. 

Chelsey Walls

Chelsey Walls

(she, her, hers)

Assistant Director

Chelsey Walls joined the Student Success Center in March 2022 as a Student Success Advocate. As the Student Success Advocate, Chelsey championed enhancements to both Complete Penn State and key First-Gen Student Success Initiatives. In 2023, she was hired into a new joint role with the Student Success Center and the office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring. In this current role, Chelsey works closely with the Director of each office to support critical programs and initiatives while also identifying opportunities for cross-office collaboration. Prior to joining the Student Success Center, Chelsey was with the Penn State Alumni Association for 8 years as the Assistant Director of Student & Young Alumni Programs, serving as the Blue & White Society's advisor and the Association's student membership expert. During her time as an advisor, the Blue & White Society prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion, becoming one of the most diverse organizations in its student leadership and programming. Chelsey earned her M.Ed in Higher Education with a focus in student engagement from Penn State and a B.A. in English from Marietta College. Chelsey was the first person in her family to obtain a college degree and is passionate about helping other first-generation students find success.

Shidika Goode

Shidika Goode

Student Success Advocate

In January 2024, Shidika Goode assumed the role of Student Success Advocate at the Student Success Center. In her new role, she will be providing support for the Complete Penn State program, advising the First-Gen Advocates student organization, and contributing to the development of all student success events and initiatives. Before joining the Student Success Center, Shidika dedicated five years to the Career Services Center, where she served as both the Career Resource Specialist and the Student Outreach Coordinator. During her time at Career Services, she has successfully created long-lasting partnerships and run a successful professional headshot program. Shidika holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Higher Education and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Photography, both earned from Penn State. Shidika, achieved the milestone of being the first in her family to attain a college degree. Although originally from Philadelphia, Shidika has called State College home since 2011.

Ryan Klingensmith

Ryan Klingensmith

Graduate Assistant

Ryan Klingensmith joined the Student Success Center in August 2023 as a Graduate Assistant. She is a Master of Science candidate in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders within the College of Health and Human Development. Before her studies at Penn State, Ryan earned her B.A. in Speech, Language, and Hearing Science with a certificate in American Sign Language from Temple University. During her time as an undergraduate she served as a Peer Mentor for college students with disabilities, a class representative on the Student-Faculty Committee, and a food pantry attendant at The Cherry Pantry; all of which have shaped her passions for promoting equitable and accessible standards for institutions of higher education. The role of SSC Graduate Assistant, Ryan will support Penn State students as a Complete Penn State success coach, contribute to our first-generation events and initiatives, and oversee the SSC's social media and marketing initiatives.  

Caylie Taylor

Caylie Taylor

(she, her, hers)

Administrative Support Assistant

Caylie joined the Student Success Office in September 2022. Originally from the Du Bois area, Caylie and her husband moved closer to State College. She has her license in Cosmetology where she specialized in chemical and color services. After 7 years in the cosmetology field, she realized she was more interested in an office environment. Caylie enjoys being able to solve puzzles and making an office move smoothly for the staff.