CHA Faculty & Staff

Our faculty and staff are essential to what makes the Commonwealth Honors Academy prestigious and special. Faculty develop 3-week courses that challenge and inspire talented high school students. In addition to teaching courses, faculty help lead personal growth seminars, community meetings, and get to know their bright students through fun activities.

Leadership Team

Meet our leadership team.

laura sullivan beckers
Laura Sullivan-Beckers

Academic Dean

Dr. Laura Sullivan-Beckers is an Associate Professor of Biology at Murray State and the Academic Dean for the Commonwealth Honors Academy. Laura started her academic career with an interest in foreign languages and earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Not long after graduating, she discovered an interest in non-human languages (or animal communication) and transitioned to wildlife biology. Two years later, she entered the Ph.D. program in biology at the University of Missouri. At Murray State, Laura teaches courses in zoology, ornithology, human anatomy, and general biology. Her research investigates the evolution of mating behaviors and communication of insects and spiders. When she’s not in the lab, she enjoys bird watching, nature photography, and keeping up with her daughter, Sylvie.

Melanie McCallon Seib
Melanie McCallon-Seib

Student Life Dean

Melanie McCallon Seib is the Student Life Dean at CHA and an Instructor in the Department of Organizational Communication and Leadership at Murray State University. For 22 years, Melanie built the Education Abroad Office at MSU, taking hundreds of students abroad to more than 30 countries, and bringing them all back alive. Though she planned to die under her Education Abroad desk, COVID altered those plans forever and she transitioned to a full-time faculty position in 2022. Melanie teaches courses on diversity and equality, intercultural communication, and leadership studies. When she’s not reading and researching, Melanie snuggles all the dogs, enjoys leatherwork and home reno, and hangs out with her two amazing sons, who incredibly still want to spend time with her. 

Jonathan Durr
Jonathan Durr

Counseling Director

Jonathan Durr is a licensed mental health counselor and serves as a mental health counselor at Marshall County High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in Spanish Education from Arkansas State University and his specialist in Education degree in clinical mental health counseling from Murray State. He also enjoys coaching the Marshall County Academic Team and Chess Team.

Faculty Members

Meet our faculty. Visit the courses page to learn more about what they'll be teaching.

andy black
Andy Black


Andy Black is an Associate Professor of English and Philosophy at Murray State University, who thinks and writes about Methodism, Eighteenth-Century Women, Oral Speech, Video Games, and – believe it or not – the music of Kesha. He’s from Memphis, where he returns frequently to eat enough barbecue to give his hair a “dry rub” quality. Neither his three-year son George nor his schnauzer Hildy like it very much when Andy sings Kesha songs.

ryan goke
Ryan Goke


Ryan Goke is the Director of the Speech & Debate Union at Murray State University and has coached dozens of students to state and national championships in speech and debate. He is originally from the Midwest (Wisconsin) but has lived in the South since he was 11. After finishing his master’s degree at Murray State, he went back to the Midwest for his PhD at North Dakota State University, where he met his Minnesotan wife (Maranda). He loves coffee, playing racquetball, hiking, and traveling the world.

miguel gomez
Miguel Gomez


Miguel Gomez (Dr. G) - As a dedicated professor at Murray State University, I specialize in educating future K-12 teachers, with a particular focus on middle school education. My passion for teaching is matched by my commitment to student engagement and recruitment. My approach emphasizes inclusive teaching strategies and curriculum development, ensuring a dynamic and supportive learning environment for all students. I am deeply invested in fostering educational excellence and preparing my students for their future roles as educators.

ray horton
Ray Horton


Ray Horton studies twentieth century and contemporary American literature, and his teaching at Murray State includes graduate and undergraduate courses in American literature, the honors seminar in literature and philosophy, humanities, and composition. His research focuses on the significance of religion in the modern American novel, a phenomenon that his book project in progress calls "American Fiction's Secular Faith." When he isn't teaching, reading, and writing, he's usually enjoying time with his daughters Emersyn (6) and Avery (3), advocating for equity and justice in higher education, playing the drums, and wondering if he will finally win the CHA ping pong tournament this year.

marcie hinton
Marcie Hinton


Dr. Marcie Hinton loves words and pictures that tell a story and worthy causes waiting for someone to tell their stories. She loves students who are willing to travel the world and fall in love with those things too. When not daydreaming about writing and traveling, she teaches public relations and media classes at Murray State University. She studies magazines, movies, cookbooks and maps as if it were her job. Oh wait, it is her job!

emily knoth johnson
Emily Johnson


Professor Johnson is an alumnus of Murray State University graduating with her Master's Degree in Geosciences in 2015. Her academic research during her time at Murray State was based at Mount Rainier in Washington State and focused on landscape changes from glacial melting. She is specifically interested in volcanology and the effects of climate change on the landscape and environment. Emily has worked extensively in wetland and agricultural conservation and sustainability of resources. She is currently a lecturer for the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and is the faculty advisor for the EES Club.

jessi randall
Jessi Randall


Jessi Randall is a writer and educator from Western Kentucky who currently teaches senior English and Arts Appreciation at Marshall County High School. She holds an MFA from Murray State in creative writing and her work can be found in Still: The Journal and The Heartland Review, among others. In her free time, she writes short stories and nonfiction that attempt to address problems she sees out in the world and in her own life as an educator and mother. When she's not grappling with these hard truths, she enjoys spending time playing games and crafting with her daughters and partner and being an active part of her local community. She is joining CHA for the third summer to help students write their own truths, even when they're disguised as fiction.

kait steward
Kait Steward


Kait Steward is a visual artist and a firm believer in the magic of making. She is originally from Uniontown, Kentucky. She began her undergraduate work at Kentucky Wesleyan College and completed her Bachelors of Fine Arts at Murray State University in 2019. In 2023 she completed her Master of Fine Arts in Painting through Southern Illinois University. She has enjoyed instructing art history and a variety of studio art courses. 
Kait now resides in Huntsville, Alabama. She works as a program assistant for Artspace 304, a non-profit in Carbondale, Illinois. Her works have been exhibited nationally, with themes of connection, nostalgia, and the digital world. Outside of academics she enjoys traveling, ghost stories, all things music, and spending time with her loved ones. 

todd terry
Todd Terry


Todd Terry grew up on a farm in Carlisle County where he sang and played piano throughout his childhood. He went to Murray State where he earned a B. A. in Music, M. A. in Teaching, and met his wife. He began his career teaching K – 5 general music for two years in Vail, CO, while he was on a singing ski team during the weekends. Mr. Terry taught 5th - 8th grade general music and choir for 15 years at Sayre School in Lexington, KY, and has taught K – 5 general music at East Calloway Elementary for 10 years. He loves to cook, travel, dance, practice yoga, and piddle around in the yard whenever he gets the chance. Mr. Terry lives in Murray with his wife and their cat, Cedric. Their daughter, Ella, is a student at U.K.

chris trzepacz
Chris Trzepacz


Hello! My name is Dr. Chris Trzepacz, but all the students call me Dr.T. I am a cell and molecular biologist and teach a number of courses in the Department of Biological Sciences. I also serve as the College Head of Clark College, one of the eight Residential Colleges unique to Murray State University. A fun fact about me: I make my own handcrafted ice cream, and I'm always looking for new challenging flavors to attempt.

Staff Members

megan epperson
Megan Epperson

Photographer and Social Media Manager

My name is Megan Epperson and I am a 7th Grade ELA teacher at Murray Middle School. I received my Bachelors in English Education from Murray State University in 2018 and have been teaching ever since. I love working at CHA in the summer because it gives me a chance to be creative and enjoy photography, while still working with students. 

lori rogers
Lori Rogers

Administrative Assistant

Lori Rogers has worked for Murray State since 1989 and serves as the Honors College Administrative Assistant. In 2000, the Commonwealth Honors Academy began and Lori was asked to join the Leadership Team. She serves as the first point of contact for high school counselors, parents, and students. Lori also assists the Leadership Team with the details of the academy. In her spare time, Lori is an avid reader and studies the culinary history of Southern cuisine. She loves to cook for her family and friends. Lori is an MSU alum and is married to Mark, a local residential contractor. She has one daughter, Brittiany, who also graduated from Murray State.

dylan mccallon
Dylan McCallon

Activities Coordinator

Hi, I’m Dylan! I am an upcoming sophomore at the University of Kentucky. I study biology with plans on attending medical school. As a kid, I grew up around the CHA program and have made an endless amount of great memories, and hope that, as your activities coordinator, I can bring those same great memories to you. I played soccer my whole life, up until graduating high school, but still love to get together with and play when I can. I love to travel and enjoy being involved with my fraternity. I look forward to meeting you all, and if you ever have any questions about anything – CHA, college, life in general – don’t hesitate to reach out!

matthew callahan
Matthew Callahan

Head Residential Counselor

My name is Matthew Callahan and I am a junior English Education major at Murray State University. This is my third year at the Commonwealth Honors Academy and personally I agree with School House Rock and think that the number three is a magic number; because of that I will provide you with three little tidbits about myself. I can be found swinging in a hammock in the springtime reading one of my favorite books. My favorite book is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde has a small memorial in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in London that I went and saw this past summer when I studied abroad.

kyler webster
Kyler Webster

Residential Counselor

Hi, I’m Kyler Webster. I’m from Ballard County, born and raised. I am a Junior here at Murray State University, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Social Welfare. I may not have attended CHA as a student but this will be my second as a residential counselor! During the school year, I am a member of the Social Psychology club in my department, as well as a member of my fraternities executive council. When I am free, I spend a majority of my time hanging out with my dog or enjoying the very bipolar weather of Murray, Kentucky with my fraternity brothers.

eliza heinrich
Eliza Heinrich

Residential Counselor

Hi! My name is Eliza Heinrich, and I am a sophomore nursing student here at Murray State! My hometown is Friendship, Tennessee but I have lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and now Kentucky too. I attended CHA in 2021, so I am thrilled to be able to experience CHA again as a residential counselor. I like to stay pretty busy when I am on campus, so during the school year I work as an on-campus chemistry tutor and I am a tour guide for the university, an honors student ambassador, social co-chair of honors student council, and a member of Alpha Delta Pi. On top of all that, I do undergraduate research on Blue Zones (I’ve been known to ramble on about my research, so ask me about it at your own risk)! June cannot come fast enough because I am so ready to meet you all during CHA 2024!

abigail mott
Abby Mott

Residential Counselor

I'm Abby Mott, a Sophomore at Murray State University majoring in Elementary Education. I am from Murray, KY, and a CHA Alum. It is my first year with CHA, and one fun fact is that I love to travel and go hiking!

nadia stone
Nadia Stone

Residential Counselor

Hi, my name is Nadia Stone, and this is my first year as a resident counselor for the Commonwealth Honors Academy. I am a senior at Murray State University and will graduate in May with my bachelor's degree in social work. I usually like to watch TikToks or spend time with my friends in my free time. One of my goals as an RC is to make this a memorable experience for every student. I am excited to be a part of the Commonwealth Honors Academy this summer and get to know you guys!
Instagram: @nadiastone_

Contact Us

If you have questions about faculty roles and responsibilities, please contact Dr. Laura Sullivan-Beckers at

Leadership Team

  • Laura Sullivan-Beckers, Academic Dean
  • Melanie McCallon Seib, Student Life Dean
  • Jonathan Durr, Counseling Director