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.

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Susan Warfield, MSW, LICSW, Program Director

Susan Warfield

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, M.Ed, Undergraduate Student Parent Counselor

Na king Xiong, 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.

Melanie Soland, Graduate Student Parent Counselor

Photo of Melanie Soland outdoors

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Augsburg University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. As a social worker, I have a broad range of experiences in different educational and social welfare settings working with both parents and children. I have worked at the Student Parent HELP Center in various capacities for over 8 years, most recently returning in August 2022 as the Graduate Student Parent Counselor after a 5-year-stint teaching English abroad in Okinawa, Japan. Having moved abroad with my own children, I think it is important to remember that, as parents, we are still allowed to pursue our own goals and dreams after our children come into our lives, and that when we do so, we also enrich the lives of our kiddos. I love having the opportunity to meet parenting U of M students to support them on their educational journeys and celebrate their successes!

Akiyra Terry, MSW Intern

Photo of Akiyra Terry wearing a University of Minnesota t-shirt and a matching graduation cap

I attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities as an undergraduate student where I received my Bachelor's Degree in the sociology of Criminology, Law & Deviance in the fall of 2022. I am currently seeking my Master's Degree in Social Work from Augsburg University. While I do not have much experience yet, I do have a special connection to the Student Parent Help Center (SPHC). My mother was a part of this program during her time at the University of Minnesota. I'm excited to have the opportunity as a second generation to work with our student parents to support them on their journeys. 

Olivia Ost, Undergraduate Student Employee

More about Olivia coming soon!