Meet Your Admission Counselor

Assumption is a welcoming community eager to support you in your journey and throughout the application process. As you begin your college search, one of the first parts of the process is getting to know your personal admission counselor.

Excited to meet high school students looking to attend college, each counselor travels to different parts of the country (virtually and in person!) to meet with students and school counselors, sharing information about what makes Assumption special as well as what the admission process is like. Most of the time, the person you meet at a college fair or high school visit is the person who will read your application. It's an excellent opportunity to make that great first connection with the place you can call home for college! 

Meet your counselor in a city near you

Since you share so much with us throughout the admission process, we thought we'd share a little bit about ourselves with you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. We're eager to get to know you and work together during this new chapter in your life!

Rylee PlourdeRylee Benzing-Plourde
Undergraduate Admissions Counselor

Email Rylee

Territory: Massachusetts Counties (Essex, Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire); Delaware; Ohio; Maryland; Montana; Nebraska; Pennsylvania; Virginia; Washington, DC; West Virginia

Where are you from? I have spent half of my life in Wallingford, Connecticut, and the other half living in Hillsdale, Michigan, so I truly feel like I am from two places!

Education: B.A. in Psychology from Western New England University 

Why did you choose to work at Assumption University? Assumption is a comprehensive university, but it provides the personal support of a small college. The tight-knit community here is incredible!

What inspired you to work with students? As an undergraduate student, I worked as a student ambassador giving tours to prospective students. Through this experience, I fell in love with guiding students and families through the college selection process. I find it so impactful to share information and help lay the foundation as students begin looking at what their next steps are after high school. I'm so grateful that, as an admissions counselor, I now have the opportunity to do this in a more official capacity!

​​​​​What is your favorite restaurant in Worcester? I could eat pizza all day, every day; I would have to say that Volturno is my favorite! 

What is your favorite sports team? I am a big soccer fan, so the United States women’s team!

Fun fact about yourself: I have three sisters and one brother - Kassidy, Aubrey, Kyra, and Bryce. 

Shanell CartagenaShanell Dopson
Director of Undergraduate Admission

Email Shanell

Territory: Massachusetts - Suffolk County; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Missouri; New Mexico; Puerto Rico; Texas; US Territories; International  

Where are you from? Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Education: B.A. in International Business & Economics and MBA from Assumption University (formerly Assumption College)

Why did you choose to work at Assumption University? As an Assumption alumna, I immediately felt part of the community even going through the application process in my home country, the Dominican Republic. I want students from all over the world to know everything that Assumption has to offer. 

What inspired you to work with students? As a former international student, I understand the complexity of researching, applying to, and selecting an institution that will be the "right fit" academically and socially. I enjoy helping students through the college search process.

What is your favorite restaurant in Worcester? Bocado Tapas! I love their paella. 

What is your favorite sports team? As much as I love the Red Sox, my favorite sports team is “Tigres del Licey” which is a professional baseball team based in Santo Domingo, DR. 

What is your favorite thing about Assumption? My favorite thing about Assumption is the people. At Assumption, I found a dedicated and supportive community. 

Fun fact about yourself: An interesting fact about me is that I’ve been to 21 countries; I've served in four of them as a volunteer and have worked in three.

Brother Richard GanonBro. Richard Gagnon, AA
Transfer Counselor

Email Bro. Richard

Territory: All transfer students from U.S. and International

Where are you from? Born in Portland, Maine, and raised in Saco, Maine. I’m still a Mainer all the way, although I haven’t lived there for many years.

Education: B.A. from St. Francis College of the University of New England in Secondary Education and Foreign Languages, M.Ed. from Boston College in Education and Theology

Why did you choose to work at Assumption University? Assumption is the realization of our founder's dream for a Catholic university and continues to be sponsored by the Augustinians of the Assumption.  It is an important, motivating ministry for the entire order.

What is your favorite restaurant in Worcester? Since I love Italian food, I’ll say VIA.

Fun fact about yourself: As an Augustinian of the Assumption, I have lived in 5 different states and 2 foreign countries

Anastasia HagerstromAnastasia Hagerstrom
Associate Director of Admission

Email Anastasia

Territory: Massachusetts - Bristol, Norfolk, Plymouth;  Kansas; Minnesota; Mississippi; Oklahoma; Wisconsin; Transfer and Spring Applicants

Where are you from? Maybrook, New York

Education: B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Rhode Island and a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University

Why did you choose to work at Assumption University? I wanted to work at an institution that values its students, provides countless opportunities, and believes in enriching society with well-rounded educated graduates.  Assumption does all those things and more! I feel lucky to be a part of such a special and unique community.

What inspired you to work with students? As a first-generation college student, I found navigating the college search process and transitioning to college to be very overwhelming experiences. I was lucky enough to have support and guidance from family, friends and mentors in my life. I quickly discovered, through my college opportunities, that working with students and their families was a way to combine my love of helping others and my passion for education. 

What is your favorite sports team? As a native New Yorker, the Yankees and Giants of course!

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been to 17 out of the 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and I’ve swam with manatees (my favorite animal)! 

Teddy KiritsyTheodore Kiritsy
Undergraduate Admissions Counselor

Email Theodore

Territory: Massachusetts - Middlesex County; Arkansas; Illinois; Iowa; Louisiana; Tennessee; New York - NYC Counties (Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond), Long Island Counties (Nassau and Suffolk); New Jersey; Spring Applicants

Where are you from? Grafton, Massachusetts

Education: B.A in Musical Theatre and M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Providence College

Why did you choose to work at Assumption University? I grew up right outside of Worcester and it is nice being back home surrounded by my friends and family. Additionally, throughout my life, I've had family and friends attend Assumption and I would always drive by the beautiful campus. It is locally known that Assumption University is recognized for its phenomenal staff, faculty, and (of course) students! As a result, I've always wanted to be part of this amazing community. 

What inspired you to work with students? I come from a family of educators and knew early on the personal impact, and opportunity, education can provide. Being able to talk with, counsel, and educate students through this time of transition, regardless of how they define themselves, is inspirational on its own.

What is your favorite restaurant in Worcester? Hands down the Boynton. It is a family and personal favorite that I have been going to forever. I will take it one step even further and suggest their buffalo chicken pizza as it is always a go-to! 

What is your favorite sports team? The musical, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”… oh wait. 

What is your favorite thing about Assumption? Truly the community and the friendliness everyone exudes. There is at least one staff/faculty member or student who will hold a door open for me when I am 30 ft away… and wait for me to get there! Plus, everyone smiles regardless of the season or weather or time. I love seeing that and being apart of that camaraderie!

Fun fact about yourself: I have watched every season and movie of Star Trek at least twice.

Alison KoningAlison Koning
Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment

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Territory: Massachusetts - City of Worcester, Shrewsbury, Auburn;  Alaska; Colorado; Idaho; Maine; New Hampshire; Utah; Vermont; Washington; Wyoming 

Where are you from? Carlisle, Massachusetts

Education: B.S.B.A. in Sports Management with a Concentration in Marketing and a Master of Science in Management with a Concentration in Sports Leadership from Mount Ida College

What inspired you to work with students? I enjoy counseling students on to the next phase of their educational career. I always had someone there to guide me and I enjoy being that person for others.

Why did you choose to work at Assumption University? I loved the best of both worlds feel that the campus provides. You are set back on a beautiful suburban campus but, you are minutes from the second largest city in Massachusetts which provides students a lot of opportunity.

What is your favorite thing about Assumption? I love the school pride and the community feel. I also love how involved students are in clubs, intramurals, athletics and organizations.

Fun fact about yourself: I love spending time in New Hampshire...hiking, swimming, water skiing, and alpine skiing!

Daniel MacelveenDaniel MacElveen
Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment

Email Daniel

Territory: Massachusetts - Worcester County (excluding City of Worcester, Shrewsbury, Auburn); Alabama; Indiana; Kentucky; Michigan; New York - upstate, lower counties, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess (every NY county except Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, and Suffolk); International 

Where are you from? Poughkeepsie, New York

Education: B.A. in Sociology from Hartwick College

Why did you choose to work at Assumption University? My brother worked here before me and he always told me how amazing the community is; how dedicated the faculty are; and how Assumption truly cares about the individual. These attributes are important to me and are ideals that I believe in.

What is your favorite sports team? The Giants, sorry New England!

What is your favorite thing about Assumption? The Community is so special here. The atmosphere is very friendly and open so you will never feel like an outsider.

Fun fact about yourself: I can walk on my hands longer than most people can on their feet!


Jessica McCaugheyJessica McCaughey
Director of Recruitment

Email Jessica

Territory: Rhode Island; Connecticut - Windham County; North Carolina; South Carolina

Where are you from? Coventry, Rhode Island

Education: Bachelor's Degree in International Business Foreign Language Spanish from Immaculata University; graduate certificate from UCLA in College Admission Counseling; current Master of Science student at Boston University in Enterprise Risk Management

Why did you choose to work at Assumption University? Assumption is a community that embraces one another and supports one another. Working at Assumption allows me to be part of this transformative community, but also to have access to some of the best restaurants and venues right here in Worcester!

What inspired you to work with students? As a college tour guide, I fell in love with helping students through their college search process. Being a part of such a significant choice in a student’s life is an honor. My career path has allowed me to work with students as an admission counselor, an assistant coach, and in marketing - all culminating in my current role at Assumption where I spend my days conversing with students about their futures - what’s better than that?

What is your favorite restaurant in Worcester? Do I have to pick one? Because I can’t do that! Instead I will give you the perfect four-course meal. Get yourself the potato nachos at Oak Barrel Tavern; have an Oahu Acai Bowl at Nu Kitchen; the Chicken Wellington “O’C’s Styler” from O’Connors; and any cupcake from the Bean Counter! Not that hungry? Grab a sandwich from New England Roast Beef (NERB) – might I suggest the Assumption?

What is your favorite book? Anything written by Wally Lamb, a New England native with six New York Times best-selling novels!

Fun fact about yourself: In my career I have supervised hundreds of tour guides – many, many of whom I am still in contact with.

Brooke Porter-JordanBrooke Porter-Jordan
Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment

Email Brooke

Territory: Connecticut Counties (Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, Tolland); Cape Cod Counties (Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket); California; Arizona; Nevada; Oregon; North Dakota; South Dakota

Where are you from? Brooklyn, Connecticut

Education: B.A. in Communication and M.S. in Higher Education Administration - both from Southern New Hampshire University 

Why did you choose to work at Assumption University? I could immediately feel how welcoming the entire campus community is! The more I learned about Assumption University and its unwavering commitment to student success, I knew I needed to be a part of this incredible institution. 

What inspired you to work with students? As a first generation college student, I know the confusion that comes with the admissions process and the anxiety of making one of the biggest decisions of your life. I never had the support system to help me navigate through the college search process; I want to be that person for all of my students! I’m extremely committed to supporting my students in every capacity to make the admissions process as seamless (and fun!) as possible. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Worcester? Easily, The Flying Rhino Café. I highly recommend their brunch on Sundays!

What is your favorite sports team? Boston Red Sox all day!

What is your favorite thing about Assumption? Besides the incredible community here, the campus is absolutely beautiful! It's tucked back in the suburbs outside of Worcester with plenty of outdoor space to enjoy the seasons but you have the excitement of the city of Worcester right down the road!

Fun fact about yourself: I’m completely obsessed with Halloween! For 10 years, my family had a giant Halloween maze in our backyard for the entire neighborhood to enjoy. We would dress up and volunteer to scare kids as they went through the maze, pass out candy, etc. It was to the point where this Halloween maze got so big that we had, on average, 2,000 people walk through our yard every Halloween! As you can imagine, that’s a lot of candy to go through!