UNCW produces a talented pool of undergraduate and graduate students who serve as lead instructors for most of our youth programs. Staff is selected for individual programs based on their content knowledge, specific skills, experience with a particular age range of youth, and positive attitude towards working with youth. Some of the UNCW students also serve as resident life assistants for the residential programs. All of our staff must pass a NC background check; have first aid & CPR training, and when appropriate, be certified in kayak instruction, lifeguarding, diving, or van driving; complete a training workshop where they learn best practices in communicating with youth and managing their behavior; and demonstrate their ability to teach specific program subject matter. Our student staff is supported by faculty mentors from different academic departments. These faculty may develop material for specific programs, serve as guest speakers, or participate in field activities.
Dr. Sue Kezios, Youth Programs Director
Dr. Kezios grew up in rural Maryland surrounded by history, music and the Chesapeake Bay. She earned her Ph.D. in biology from Princeton University. After spending the first half of her career conducting research on cell differentiation, Dr. K became concerned about the state of science education in America. This led to collaboration with the National Institutes of Health to create KinderScience, a hands-on science education program for young children. In 1999 Dr. K obtained her North Carolina teaching certification and began working at UNCW. In 2006 she was named Director of Youth Programs.
Kathy Ibbotson, K-12 Engineering Coordinator
Kathy is a North Carolina transplant after growing up in Michigan and Ohio. After receiving her Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton, she began her career as an industrial process engineer. Kathy now utilizes her engineering knowledge and experience to encourage kids to realize their potential as future engineers. Outside of work, she enjoys the beach, baking, and board games.
Kimberly Cockrell, Budget Manager
Kimberly spent most of her youth in Ohio and North Carolina. She is a UNCW alumnus with a Communication Studies degree and has been active in the UNCW Alumni Association. Her office duties include the fiscal and administrative aspects of Youth Programs. Kimberly brings with her experience in marketing, office management, budget management and youth leadership. She enjoys the adventure of two teenage boys, quiet time reading a good book and spending quality time with family.
Caitlin Viren, Communications Specialist
Caitlin is a Minnesota native who received her Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Management at Iowa State University. She has years of experience working with event management, online registrations, and social media campaigns. When she is not working, you can find her kayaking, camping, or playing with her adorable puppy, Allie.
For MarineQuest staff, click here.