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Program Staff

Emma Burgin, PhD, NCC, is the program director. She earned her doctoral degree from the University of Tennessee in counselor education and supervision. Her master’s degree in clinical/community psychology is from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and her bachelor’s degree is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her experience includes working as the internship and transition coordinator for FUTURE and as a clinical mental health counselor in various outpatient and inpatient settings. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, going to concerts, watching Tar Heel basketball, and traveling.


Macey Pierce, BS is the Program Support Assistant, acting in a fluid capacity to support students and staff in administrative and interpersonal roles. She previously worked with FUTURE as the Americorp Independent Living Coordinator and returned to assume this position. She has a Bachelor’s degree in both psychology and game design. She spends her free time napping and pursuing esoteric knowledge.



Katie Upchurch, BA is the AmeriCorps member serving as the Outreach Coordinator this year. Her main duties include management of mentors and making connection between the FUTURE Program and other on campus and in the Knoxville community. She was a mentor with FUTURE for 1 year and a board member of Best Buddies UTK for 3 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a concentration in disasters, displacements, and human rights. In her free time, Katie likes to read, go to concerts, and explore Knoxville.


Sydney Sandefur, BS is serving as the Career Transition and Independent Living Coordinator with the FUTURE. She is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Education and a minor Psychology. Her concentration was in Therapeutic Recreation. She is originally from Alpharetta, GA and enjoys hiking, shopping, and playing with her dog in my free time.



Hannah Collins, BS is a Graduate Research Assistant currently working as the Academic Support Specialist for FUTURE. She is a second-year doctoral student. in the School Psychology Program. She graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in Middle School Studies with an emphasis on Mathematics and Social Studies. She enjoys reading, traveling to visit family and friends, and walks! Hannah hopes to open her own multi-disciplinary psychology clinic one day back in her hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas.





Anna Moncada, MS, NCC, LPC-MHSP (temp) is a Graduate Teaching Associate teaching Career and Life Planning. She is a first-year doctoral student in UT’s Counselor Education program. She earned a master’s degree in Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood Development and Education. Her experiences include teaching elementary school, working to provide ABA services to adults with IDD, working with families as a therapist, and providing therapy to children, adolescents, and adults. In her free time, she enjoys listening to true crime podcasts, traveling to visit friends and family, and teaching herself new hobbies. Her hope is to provide herstudents with a strong foundation in social skills, emotional/behavioral skills, and vocational skills to promote independence and confidence for students transitioning to life beyond secondary and postsecondary school.


Paris Harrington, BA is the Internship Support Specialist for FUTURE. She is a first year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program. She recently graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Education. At USC she was an undergraduate research assistant and SEC cheerleader. She is originally from New Jersey and enjoys reading, shopping, traveling and being with friends and family.




Student Workers

Samantha Sigler is a lead mentor and one of our student workers this summer. While working with us, she supports our staff and students in the FUTURE program as needed. She is a current junior at the University of Tennessee studying Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Business Administration. She also holds the position of Chapter President for Best Buddies on campus.