The Urban Education Program Team

Dr. Azanda H. Seymour, Ed.D.
Executive Director
Center for Student Success and Engagement
Scanlon Hall 268

An alumna of Westfield State College and the Urban Education Program (’92), Azanda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication, a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and completed her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Hartford.  Azanda returned to the Urban Education Program as its fourth Director in July 2016 after working as the Executive Assistant to the President.  Prior to that, she was Staff Associate in the Academic Advising Center and the Assistant Director of the Urban Education Program, respectively. In October 2020, Azanda became the first Executive Director of the newly created Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE). Azanda will continue to supervise the Urban Education Program along with the Office of Academic Advising and Transfer Transition, Banacos Academic Center, Office of Retention and Engagement, TRiO Student Support Services, Honors Program, and Reading and Writing Center. Azanda has also held positions at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Mount Holyoke College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and INROADS.


Dr. Robert L. Thornton, Ed.D., Director
Scanlon Hall 255

Rob joined the Urban Education Program January 2014. He is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he grew up in the East End of the city. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History ('08) and a Master of Arts in Social Science ('10) from Edinboro University. He identifies as a first-generation and foster care alumni college graduate. Rob completed his doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Hartford December 2020. He successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, “Strengths from the margin: Foster care alumni and academic behavioral achievement for baccalaureate degree completion.”  Before joining Westfield State University, he was an Instructor at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA where he taught History. Since 2016, he became a visiting lecturer for the Department of History, was promoted to Assistant Director in 2017, and assumed the role as the Program's fifth Director in October 2020.


Omarthan Clarke, M.A., Academic Advisor
Scanlon Hall 248

Omarthan Clarke’s career with Westfield State University began the summer of 2003, when he matriculated through the Urban Education Program. As a student, Omarthan was committed to giving back to the college community – he worked as a Resident Assistant, Peer Tutor, Peer Counselor, and participated in several student clubs. He then graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Art. After his professional career brought him to teach in New York City, and back to WSU as a Resident Director for almost 4 years, Omarthan went on to earn and M.A. in Arts Policy and Administration at The Ohio State University. Currently, his focus is to utilize creative approaches to policy and programming to assist our students in focusing on their holistic health, leadership, and uplift for one another, as they navigate the collegiate community.


Xandria Sotomayor, B.A., Academic Advisor
Scanlon Hall 250

Xandria entered Westfield State University through the Urban Education Program in Summer 2012. Before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, she participated in the Disney College Program and participated in a winter short-term study abroad trip in Nicaragua. While on campus, she was involved with the following organizations: TRiO Peer Mentor, LAFE, SGA, Urban Education Peer Counselor, and the Ely Fitness Center. Xandria has previously worked within the Holyoke Public Schools as a representative of MassHire Holyoke, and within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst. Xandria’s professional careers have been centered on supporting first generation and at-risk youth as well as coaching students with career and professional development needs. Being first generation herself, Xandria is committed to empowering students as they navigate through their accomplishments in higher education.


Tatyana Villegas, B.A., Graduate Assistant
Scanlon Hall 249

Tatyana began her undergraduate career at Westfield State University during the summer of 2014 while completing the Urban Education Summer Bridge Program. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish in the fall of 2017. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Counseling with concentrations in School Guidance Counseling, School Adjustment Counseling, and Mental Health Counseling. Along with her Graduate Assistantship, Tatyana works for Springfield Public Schools as a substitute teacher. As a first-generation high school and college graduate, Tatyana is passionate in motivating young adolescents to further their education and supporting students explore their career goals.