Consultation & Advocacy: Meet Our Staff

The Student Parent HELP Center has been providing supportive services to student parents and other non-traditional students on the U of M campus since 1967. Recognized leaders in the field, the SPHC has assisted hundreds of moms and dads in achieving their dream of a college degree and frequently provides consultation to other colleges and universities wishing to establish similar programming.

With a team of social work professionals trained to assist student parents with their academic and family related needs, the SPHC provides advocacy, coaching and referrals to address any barrier a parent might face on their way to degree completion.

Susan Warfield, Program DirectorSusan Warfield, MSW, LICSW, Program Director

I attended the University of Denver receiving a BA in Psychology and completed a Masters in Social Welfare with an emphasis in Education at the University of California-Berkeley.  I have been the Director of the Student Parent HELP Center for 13 years, beginning in the Student Parent Counselor position 20 years ago. Though I have loved all aspects of the career path I have chosen, I have never loved any job as much as I have loved my work with the SPHC.  Assisting mothers and fathers who are working toward their educational dreams, watching their children grow and helping to build the SPHC community, is a daily inspiration. As I write this, the SPHC is currently in a period of expansion and growth, unlike anything we have seen in decades. We are also entering our 50th year as a program serving under-represented students as they seek to expand their own opportunities. I could not be happier to be a part of the SPHC and I look forward to welcoming each new cohort of students with children into our student parent community.

Na king Xiong, Undergraduate Student Parent Counselor Na king Xiong, M.Ed

Undergraduate Student Parent Counselor 

I attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities as an undergraduate and graduate student where I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Family Social Science in spring of 2012 and my Master of Education degree in Family Education in spring of 2016. I have experience working with parents and children throughout my student teaching in the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program in the Minneapolis Public School District. As a student teacher, I provided parenting services and resources available in the community as well as designed and taught lesson plans on various parenting topics parents were interested in. I also have experience working with a high risk youth/young adult population through my positon at MoveFwd as a case manager. At MoveFwd I helped identify barriers and/or resources/services to reduce those barriers so success is achieved. A lot of the youth/young adults that I worked with were homeless so I often helped with housing, education, employment, basic needs, locating a shelter and more. I also co-facilitated the monthly parenting group at MoveFwd where participants in the housing program were required to attend if they were pregnant or had more than one child.

I enjoy working with youth/young adults and children and am intrigued by family systems and parenting, therefore, I am excited about joining the Student Parent Help Center at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Stephanie LeeStephanie Lee, MSW, LISW 

Graduate Student Parent Counselor

I am a licensed social worker, and I have been working with youth and families since I was a youth myself. I received my Master of Social Work at the University of Washington in Seattle, and my Bachelor degrees in Social Work and Psychology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I grew up in Ethiopia, where I got to work extensively at a youth center where I focused on programming for girls. I have experience in diverse social work settings, including mental health counseling for elementary and middle school children, refugee resettlement, and social programs for youth. Most recently, I worked with homeless mothers and their children in a transitional housing program in Minneapolis. Because of all these experiences, I love to meet new people, learn about their cultures, and hear what they find meaningful and important. I'm so grateful I get to support student parents here at the SPHC!

Photo of Laura Orpen, Intern

Laura Orpen, Graduate Social Work Intern

I graduated from North Dakota State University in 2018 with my Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Science. My decision to pursue graduate studies in social work was solidified by an internship I held at an organization that facilitates supervised visits between non-custodial parents and their children. I was deeply impacted by the interactions I had with these parents and children and found a desire to work alongside them long-term as they move towards a healthy future for their families. My decision was also impacted by my experience volunteering in Honduras for three months in 2018. During this time I lived, worked, and ate alongside Honduran students and staff at a full-scholarship college program for young women. This allowed me not only the chance to learn about the lives and culture of Honduran people, but to examine my own larger understanding of culture, poverty, and privilege, which I am eager to continue with in my social work studies.

I am a first- year Master of Social Work student with a concentration in children and families and am a member of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Fellowship. I am excited to meet student parents at SPHC and to engage with them as they pursue their academic, personal, and family goals, as well as to learn from them about how they seek the betterment of themselves and their families.

Melanie Huska, InternMelanie Huska, Graduate Social Work Intern

I did my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Canada, and then migrated to the United States where I completed my PhD in Latin American history at the University of Minnesota in 2013. In my schooling and research, I had the opportunity to live in Ecuador and Mexico. These experiences provided me with rich cross-cultural experiences and the opportunity to develop Spanish language skills. My experiences working for five years as a visiting history professor at Oberlin, Tulane, and the University of Tennessee, showed me that students were in great need of support outside the classroom, so I made the decision to transition to social work. I am currently completing the first year of my Master’s of Social Work, focusing on the Clinical Mental Health track. I am deeply passionate about the transformative power of education, and I’m thrilled about joining the team at the Student Parent Help Center to support you in achieving your goals. 

Camila, Undergraduate Student EmployeeCamila Uruena Rojas 

Undergraduate Student Employee

I am a Junior at the University of Minnesota double majoring in Sociology and Spanish & Portuguese. I am also a licensed insurance producer for an agency located in Saint Paul, MN. I have always loved working with people and sharing the resources our community has to offer. This past summer I had an internship at Wishes & More, a local non-profit organization that grants wishes for children battling a terminal or life-threatening conditions, where I worked with Spanish speaking families through the wish granting process. I am so excited to be part of the SPHC team and be able to work and provide support for the student parents at the Student Parent HELP Center.