GS undergraduate and Postbac Premed Program alumni are members of the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) and the General Studies Alumni Association (GSAA), and are provided a broad array of services, benefits, and discounts. This includes a directory of alumni clubs, events, interest groups, access to Columbia facilities, and support from the Center for Career Education.
The Columbia University Postbac Premed Program gives students with their bachelor’s degrees—whether they’ve built a successful career in another field or are just realizing their passion—the opportunity to complete the necessary requirements for medical school with tailored support. Alumna Sheng Chow left behind her career in fashion and was able to accelerate her path to medical school through the Program’s linkage partnerships after enrolling in 2015.
After an almost ten-year career as a makeup artist and stylist, alumna Yasmeen Ibrahim ‘18 began to feel a shift in the beauty industry and within herself. She decided to return to school, first attending community college and then transferring to the School of General Studies, where she thrived. Now, as an analyst for Accenture, Ibrahim reflects on her academic and career path thus far.
Stephanie Hart '12CC, ’15PBPM is now a third-year medical student at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and is planning on pursuing a career in pediatrics. But medical school wasn’t always the plan.
Meet the Team
Dean Karahalios joined GS in 2002. In addition to her regular advising responsibilities, Dean Karahalios oversees the study abroad appeals process for the School of General Studies and collaborates with senior staff in academic affairs on matters related to academic policy and advising. Prior to GS, Dean Karahalios held positions as faculty advisor and assistant dean at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. An award-winning teacher in classics, she has taught courses on strategies for academic success, Latin, and ancient and modern Greek. She holds a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.A. from the University of Virginia.
Dean Decker joined GS in 2015. She leads the School's graduate and professional school initiatives, and in collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, develops new initiatives to support undergraduate research. She also assists with curriculum development for GS's international dual- and joint-degree programs, helping build degree plans across a range of academic disciplines. Prior to joining GS, Dean Decker worked at MIT, where she focused on access for underrepresented students into STEM fields. In this role she was recognized by Harvard and Google for her pioneering research initiatives. A native Californian, Dean Decker moved across the country to start her career as an English teacher with Teach for America in Paterson, New Jersey. In this role, she was named a District Model Teacher. A first-generation college student, Dean Decker’s scholarship focuses on student access to tertiary and graduate education. She holds a B.A. in English and history from Agnes Scott College and an M.S.Ed. in higher education administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dean O'Connell joined the GS Dean of Students Office in 2017 after graduating from the School of General Studies. He oversees the daily operation of the Academic Resource Center (ARC), and supports academic and learning initiatives within the Dean of Students Office. His role includes working in academic support programs, overseeing the ARC Tutoring Center, teaching University Studies, managing the Peer Advising team, and serving as an academic advisor. His dedication to education is supported by teaching and advising roles with AmeriCorps and Boston Public Schools. Dean O'Connell holds a B.A. in history and sociology from Columbia University.
Stephanie joined GS in 2016. Before joining GS Student Life, she worked in the GS Dean of Students Office as an administrative coordinator. Stephanie holds a B.A. in political science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is currently completing an MSEd in higher education administration at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs. She manages the daily operations of the office and assists with the coordination of all events planned by GS Student Life, the Dean of Students Office, and Academic Affairs, including graduation and the New Student Orientation Program. Additionally, she manages the allocation of student lockers and assists with space and venue reservations for GS students and staff.
Sean joined the School of General Studies in 2010. At GS, Sean oversees GS Student Life and advises the General Studies Student Council (GSSC). Sean received a B.S. in marketing from Rutgers University and an Ed.M. in higher education administration and student affairs from the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. Sean enjoys traveling, cooking, exploring New York City, and skiing in his leisure time.
Dean Remedios directs the Academic Resource Center in addition to overseeing the Dean of Students Office's academic and learning initiatives. Prior to joining GS, she worked to restructure the CUNY Pipeline Honors Program, dedicated to assisting exceptional undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds in gaining admission to doctoral programs. She is also an accomplished teacher. Dean Remedios holds a B.A. in English and political science from Washington University in St. Louis (2009), an M.Phil. in English literature from the City University of New York (2014), and a Ph.D. in English literature from the City University of New York (2016).
Dean Ede joined GS in 2018 and has a long history with Columbia University. From 2010-2016, Dean Ede was the Associate Director of Global Education in the Office of Global Programs before joining GS as an advising dean from 2016-2017. As an avid traveler and supporter of international education, Dean Ede spent time studying Spanish and traveling abroad before serving as the Outbound Advising Manager for government-sponsored scholarships and fellowships, including the Gilman Scholarship and the Boren Awards, at the Institute of International Education from 2017-2018. Dean Ede holds a B.A. in anthropology and archaeology from Tufts University and an M.A. in international education from SIT’s Graduate Institute.
Dean of Students, School of General Studies
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences
Dean, School of General Studies
Professor of Sociomedical Sciences
Dean Carrasquillo advises Postbac Premed and undergraduate premedical, preveterinary, and predental students. Prior to joining the Postbac Premed Program, she served as an academic advisor for undergraduate and graduate students at New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She earned a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.A. in student personnel administration in higher education from Teachers College, Columbia University
Larry has been with Columbia University for 20 years and with the Dean of Students Office at GS for 13 years. He has completed studies at the Chubb Institute in Network Security, and is currently a student at SUNY Empire State College working on his B.A. in history. He is also President of the Black Male Initiative (BMI) student group where he helped start a scholarship that is now fully endowed.
Dean Barbacane joined GS in 2019 with a wealth of experience in academic advising and a long history with Columbia. Before coming to GS, she was an assistant dean of graduate student affairs at Columbia Engineering, where she was responsible for the planning, implementation, and management of programs and services to support graduate students. Before that, she held roles as Director of Advising at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and as a senior advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising at Columbia College and Columbia Engineering. Her teaching experience includes teaching music history courses at Barnard, Fordham, and Columbia. Dean Barbacane completed her Ph.D. in historical musicology from Columbia University and her research interests include nineteenth-century French music and the relationship between colonialism and music.
Dean Strzalkowski joined GS in 2016. Before coming to GS, she spent two years with the Office of Student Affairs at the Columbia Business School, working as a member of the academic team. At GS, Dean Strzalkowski serves as the study abroad advisor for Columbia-administered programs and as the liaison to the Office of Global Programs and the SEE-U program. She also assists with developing programming to support the international student community at GS. Dean Strzalkowski completed her B.A. in history at the University of Michigan, where she was a member of the varsity rowing team. She also holds an MSt in modern British and European history from Oxford University and an M.Ed. in college student affairs from Rutgers University.
Dean Edwin joined the GS Dean of Students Office in 2014. His role includes working in academic support programs, teaching University Studies, and advising on health and wellness issues. His teaching experience at Columbia includes creative writing workshops for veterans and GS sections of University Writing, as well as consulting in the Writing Center. He has published widely as a poet, translator, and reviewer. Dean Edwin holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Emory University and an M.F.A. in poetry and literary translation from Columbia University's School of the Arts.
Jawad joined the School of General Studies in 2013. As Associate Director of Special Event & Programs, he oversees and collaborates on all special events throughout the school. Prior to joining GS, Jawad worked at Prep for Prep, an educational nonprofit in New York City with the objective of identifying and developing leadership in underrepresented groups. Jawad holds a B.A. in critical social studies with a concentration in marginalized populations from Hobart & William Smith Colleges and an M.S. in higher education from Syracuse University. In his spare time, he likes eating spicy food, running, and cheering on Syracuse basketball.
Dean of the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program
Dean Rojas joined Columbia University in 2007, working in development at the Business School. Before joining the GS Dean of Students Office, she spent more than three years as part of the admissions team, traveling to community colleges across the country to attend transfer fairs and host information sessions for nontraditional undergraduates. As part of the admissions committee, she evaluated applications and assessed transfer credit for incoming students. She earned a B.A. in psychology from Brown University and an M.A. in American studies from Columbia University.
Dean Novarr joined GS in 2009. As a mentor to fellowship candidates and Postbac Premed students, he helps students assess the meaning of their lives' trajectories, identify their long-term goals, and express their intellectual interests in comprehensible and appealing ways. He also assists in managing the academic honors and prizes awarded by the college. He holds degrees in English literature, law, and political philosophy and has 15 years of experience as an educator.
Dean McGibbon began her career in international education in 2007 as a curriculum developer and consultant for the Ministry of Education of Thailand and teacher at The Prince Royal’s College. She would later expand that work to China in 2009 with the Crimson Cultural Exchange Foundation and Hong Kong University. In the U.S., she has held positions at the College Board as Assistant Director of Professional Development for SpringBoard programs and most recently at New York University as Assistant Director of Academic Affairs, Global. At NYU, she worked on behalf of the College of Arts & Science and Office of Global Programs to expand and refine the undergraduate study abroad curriculum across 13 study abroad sites and two portal campuses. Dean McGibbon joined Columbia University in 2017. In addition to student advising, her work at GS focuses on planning and policy for international programs associated with the School's dual- and joint-degree programs. She holds a B.A. in sociology from Princeton University and an Ed.M. in education policy and management from Harvard University.
Elizabeth manages the Academic Resource Center (ARC) Tutoring Center, provides support for ARC programs, and works directly with students in academic support sessions. Prior to joining GS, she served as programs coordinator for the Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning, and has also worked with the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Teachers College. Elizabeth received her B.A. in psychology and Spanish from the University of Arizona and her M.A. in social-organizational psychology from Teachers College. During her time at Teachers College, she was awarded the Davis Projects for Peace grant and the Institute of Latin American Studies grant to develop and facilitate a series of conflict resolution workshops for teachers in Phoenix, Arizona and Bogotá, Colombia.
Dean Keefe is an award-winning artist, educator, and administrator who joined GS in 2015. From 2001-2009, he served as a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, and from 2006-2007 he completed a tour of combat duty in Iraq as a riverine infantry scout. For the last four years, he has directed the Combat Paper NJ Program (CPNJ) at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey, a community-building art program that brings veterans and non-veterans together to make paper and art out of military uniforms. For the last six years, Dean Keefe has been an Adjunct Professor of Art at Montclair State University where he developed and still teaches the Combat Paper for Veterans class, a course that uses the CPNJ model of storytelling and community building—the only class of its kind in the country. He holds an M.F.A. from Montclair State University and a B.F.A. from the University of Delaware.
Vice Dean, School of General Studies
Senior Advisor to the EVP of A&S and Dean of Faculty
Dean Allen advises Postbac Premed and undergraduate premedical, preveterinary, and predental students. Prior to joining the Postbac Premed Program, he served as an advisor for students who were interested in careers in science. He earned a B.S. in computer science and an M.S. in college student personnel and administration from the University of Central Arkansas.
Dean Graham joined GS in 2018. Before joining GS, Dean Graham served as a Senior Academic Advisor at Borough of Manhattan Community College, the Junior Class Advisor for Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School, and as a Career Advisor at Sacred Heart University. His dedication to education is supported by over a decade of professional experience in higher education, which includes academic advising, career education, and program development. Dean Graham holds a B.A. in English and an M.B.A., both from Sacred Heart University, and continues to study toward an M.A. in liberal studies with a concentration in urban education from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Ashley joined the School of General Studies in the fall of 2018. As Senior Assistant Director of Student Engagement, Ashley manages the School's leadership development programs, supports multicultural and social justice education programs, serves as a central resource for student organization training and support, serves as lead on undergraduate-wide, four school co-curricular programs, and manages student engagement initiatives for GS Student Life. Prior to joining GS, Ashley worked at Civic House, the University of Pennsylvania's hub for student-led community service and social advocacy work. Ashley holds an MSEd in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in history from The Ohio State University. In her free time, Ashley loves to travel and explore new places through food.
Ashley joined the School of General Studies in the spring of 2020. As Student Life Program Manager, she supports the management and implementation of the School’s multicultural and social justice education programs, and serves as the lead for all Postbac Premed student programs, initiatives, and collaborations. In addition, she advises several GS-focused student organizations and contributes to various student engagement initiatives, including co-advising large-scale multicultural programming that includes all four of Columbia’s undergraduate colleges.
Prior to joining GS, Ashley worked at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), where she served in a dual role as Campus Life Coordinator of Greek Life and Housing Operations, and has significant knowledge and experience around diversity and inclusion best practices and student engagement development. Ashley holds a BA in humanities and an MA in criminal justice from FDU. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, traveling, and attending concerts and music festivals.
Dean Sunshine advises Postbac and undergraduate premedical, preveterinary, and predental students. In addition to his advising responsibilities, he is the Postbac Premed Program liaison for veterinary medicine, MD/ Ph.D. programs, and international students, and coordinates the linkage programs. Prior to joining the Postbac Premed Program, he was an assistant dean of students at Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science. Dean Sunshine earned his A.B. from Columbia College and his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Columbia University.
Dean Griffiths joined GS in 2016 and has a strong history with Columbia and GS. From 2009-2010, she worked as a financial aid counselor with Student Financial Services, providing counseling and guidance to new and continuing students on federal financial aid programs. She was named Columbia's first Manager of Military and Veterans Affairs in 2010, a position she held until 2014, and later served as Director of the Veteran Crisis and Suicide Prevention Program with Services for the Underserved.
In 2016, she returned to Columba as an advising dean at GS, providing academic advisement to students and coordinating academic and learning initiatives for the Academic Resource Center. In 2019, she became the School's first Associate Dean of Student Wellness. In this role, she serves as the primary supervisor for all student wellness initiatives and the point person for emergency response, in coordination with campus and community partners. Dean Griffiths completed her B.A. at California State University Northridge, and her L-MSW at Columbia's School of Social Work in May 2015.