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About Us

Our Staff

We get it.

Whether you're a first-year undergrad arrival or in your second doctoral program, students have a lot on their minds. UNC Student Wellness offers an array of services and resources to help you cope with student life through making informed decisions, choosing healthy practices, and being better prepared for whatever life throws at you.

We're staffed by understanding people who enjoyed being a student so much we want to help make sure you do, too. We are highly trained, certified, knowledgeable and experienced health education professionals and accomplished student associates who enjoy what we do and the satisfaction we receive through helping you succeed in everything you do here at Carolina, and beyond.

Check our profiles and email us directly. We're here for you!

Dean Blackburn He/Him

Director of Student Wellness, & Associate Dean of Students

Dean has worked in Student Affairs at Carolina for over 20 years, and has worked in the field of health education/health promotion and primary prevention work for almost 30 years.  He enjoys working with students, staff, faculty, alum, parents, and community partners to create an atmosphere that promotes students' healthy decision making regarding their health and safety.

Dean is interested in the intersections of identity, culture, education, politics, and economics as they impact the health outcomes, disparities, and access to wellness for all students.  He believes that breaking down barriers, developing coalitions, and advocating for equitable access is primary to ensuring every student has the necessary resources to be both healthy and whole, as well as personally and academically successful at Carolina and beyond.  He enjoys doing this work through individual conversations with students; teaching; outreach to larger groups; collaborating with colleagues across campus and the community; broad based committee involvement; research/policy development; and state and national involvement and leadership in the field.

Dean received his formal education in social work and psychology through an undergraduate degree from Elon University and later a graduate degree from Duke University, but considers himself a student of life, and enjoys reading on public health, wellbeing, justice, queer theory and just about every other topic.   When not having a great time with his Wellness colleagues and students on campus, he enjoys outdoor activities, public service, traveling to new places, time with family and friends, and hanging out with his two amazing Labrador mix rescues, Sampson and Sebastian.

Sharon Seymour She/Her

Administrative Assistant Specialist - Advanced

Sharon “Shay” Seymour is the Administrative Assistant Specialist -Advanced to the UNC Student Wellness Team.  Sharon provides direct administrative support to the Director and to the Student Wellness office, as well as provide a high level of customer service to create a welcoming environment for all who enter the space.  Sharon has over 27 years executive administrative experience, including event and conference planning, travel planning, and human resource coordination. Sharon comes to us most recently from the UNC Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and from RTI as the Senior Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Finance. Sharon was employed at RTI for over 20 years. Sharon enjoys spending time with her daughter, twin sister, Mother and planning events to keep the fun factor an all-time high for all.

Shahnaz Khawaja She/Her

Assistant Director of Resiliency and Recovery Strategies

Shahnaz has a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from Wake Forest University. She currently serves as the Assistant Director for Resilience and Recovery Strategies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in addition to being an Adjunct Faculty member at Wake Forest University. In previous experience, she has served as a Child and Family Therapist at the Crossnore School and Children's Home in Winston Salem; Program Coordinator and Senior Program Officer for the National Board for Certified Counselor's Foundation; Addictions Specialist at Insight Human Services; and as the Director of Counseling Services at Greensboro College. Prior to earning her graduate degree, she served on the board of the American Red Cross High Point/Thomasville Chapter; as a Human Relations Commissioner for the city of High Point NC; Freelance writer for the Greensboro News & Record; member readership Committee for the High Point Enterprise Daily; and member of the Davidson Diversity Counsel.

She has served in professional leadership with the American Counseling Association in several divisions as the Public Relations Committee Chair for the Association of Humanistic Counseling and with the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors as their Webinar Committee Chair. She also served as a Board Director for SALTWORLD, a non-profit organization providing mental health and social services internationally. Shahnaz has initiated several mental health projects internationally in Pakistan and the UAE providing mental health training and education and crisis and trauma counseling and continues to work internationally as time allows.

Shahnaz was born in Uganda, East Africa, and has travelled extensively all over the world. Before entering the field of mental health, Shahnaz was an international model and actress with several appearances in television and commercials and as a brand representative for prominent labels such as Bisou Bisou, Zara’s, Armani Exchange and H&M. She moved to the United States in 1998 and has been local of New Orleans, LA and High Point, NC and currently resides in Durham NC. When not doing any of the above, she maintains a private counseling/consulting practice. Shahnaz enjoys sky diving, writing, painting and yoga and spending time with her daughter Ambar Khawaja who is attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

DeVetta Holman-Copeland She/Her

Resiliency and Student Support Programs Coordinator

Dr. Holman-Copeland serves in the capacity of Coordinator for Resiliency and Student Support Programs. She is a professionally trained public health educator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned her undergraduate degree and a Masters Degree in Public Health from the Gillings School of Global Public Health.  DeVetta earned her Ph.D. degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.  It is her dissertation: “Perception Analytics of an In-depth Observational Analysis of African American Male Students’ Personal Agency”, emphasizing self-concept and its relevance to personal agency in the classroom, which propels her to educate, mentor and affirm the lived experiences of all students, particularly, historically marginalized students. Her guiding principle is Esse Quam Videri, “To Be, Rather than to Seem”.   

"Dr. D." has spear-headed several groups and organizations on campus such as, SISTER TALK; S.T.A.D. (Sister Talk After Dark); P.E.A.C.E.; R.E.A.L.Talk  (Resiliency Education And Leadership) and DICE (Diversity & Inclusion in Collegiate Environments).  Her body of work emphasizes persistence, self-awareness, resiliency, a growth mindset and its relevance to personal agency both, in and out of the classroom.  She serves as the UNC Faculty Advisor for several UNC student organizations and is a campus liaison and collaborator for many UNC departments. She is a Duke Certified Integrated Health and Wellbeing Coach and works closely with Covenant Scholars.  She is an advocate of the human spirit and is committed to “meeting students where they are.”

At UNC, DeVetta serves as Co-chair of the UNC Campus Safety Commission. She is also a member of the Carolina Women's Center Advisory Board ; Women of Worth Initiative Advisory Board; Executive Board for Carolina Black Caucus and formerly served as a lead on the Provost’s Committee on Inclusive Excellence and Diversity. In the greater community, she remains just as committed leading and serving others on the following boards: SHIFT NC (Sexual Health Initiatives For Teens), a statewide nonprofit leading North Carolina to improve adolescent and young adult sexual health, formerly The Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina.  She was a lead team member of the North Carolina Governor's Academy for Prevention Professionals, first in the nation, to put an academic base to primary prevention and trained prevention professionals. She is the executive director of the Global Health Connections International Summer STEAM Camp, a 2-week residential camp for middle school students to shift the paradigm in developing and molding future 21st century STEM leaders. She is the past recipient of the C. Knox Massey Award, Member of the Frank Porter Graham Honor Society, recipient of the University Association for the Advancement of Women and Inducted into the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Caress Roach She/Her

Health Promotion and Well-being Programs Coordinator

Hailing from Delaware, Caress Roach (she/her) serves as the Health Promotion and Well-being Programs Coordinator! In this role, she coordinates programmatic and strategic efforts, with the rest of the Student Wellness team, through a comprehensive/holistic effort to create a healthier and safer Carolina Community.  Some of her major initiatives include coordinating large-scale collaborative campus events, facilitating sexual and reproductive health education sessions, advising the student peer health education group, and serving on various committees to ensure health and wellness is a priority, not only in Student Wellness, but campus wide.

Receiving her Bachelors of Science in Leadership and her Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Delaware, she has been working in prevention/health promotion since being graduated in 2011 and is a Certified Health Coach (NBC-HWC).

Mackenzie Phillips She/Her


Mackenzie is originally from Greensboro, North Carolina and recently moved to the Triangle area to attend North Carolina State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in social work. She is current at the UNC School of Social Work to obtain her master’s degree next spring. After graduation she plans to pursue clinical licensure to work with adolescents and young adults. In her free time Mackenzie enjoys running, trying new restaurants, and traveling with her family.

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