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Meet the Staff: Resident Student Advocate Office

Justin Mercer | Director

I am a native of Fountain, North Carolina. At an early age I gave my heart to the Lord and worked in ministry with my family - Pastor James and Brenda Mercer, and younger sister Yolanda at Zion Grove Baptist Church in Aulander, NC. Upon graduating from high school, I departed for college to attend North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

As a student I joined the Upper Room Church of God in Christ; where the Pastor is Dr. Patrick L. Wooden, Sr. I accepted the call into the ministry during the summer of my freshman year. Under my Pastor’s leadership, I was driven to serve as the Campus Ministry President at the University. In 2009, I was appointed as an Elder and the President of Upper Room’s Children’s Church.

I have gained a variety of experiences in health care and sales industries, and Christian-centered education. All of these experiences have prepared me for my role at Liberty. I am happily married to my devoted wife, Lori. We have two young energetic sons, Justin Jr. and Kellan Matthew, and one daughter, Sarah Loren.

I am eager with expectation to serve at Liberty University. It is my belief that if you put God First he will take care of every aspect of your life. This is what Liberty has done to “Train Champions for Christ” in the past, the present, and I am willing to give my INFINITE percent to insure that it will continue in the future. GO FLAMES!

Favorite Food: Fried chicken wings
Favorite Hobby: Listening to my favorite gospel music hits
Favorite Movie: John Q
Favorite TV Show: Law & Order: SVU

Steve Thomas | Senior Student Advocate

I was born and raised in Newark, Delaware and I gave my life to Christ at the age of eight.  I have had the opportunity to learn in Christian schools since I was in second grade.  When I was a junior in high school, the Lord began to work through a variety of situations and people in my life to lead me to the point of accepting a call to full-time ministry.  It was at this point that I started looking into what school I should attend and eventually chose to attend Liberty University.

I began my time at Liberty University in the fall of 2006 as a freshman and immediately jumped into the role of a Prayer Leader on my hall. I continued on as a Spiritual Life Director the following year and then as a Resident Assistant the last two years of my bachelors degree, which I received in Youth Ministry. I served another two years as a Resident Assistant while doing two summer internships at churches before receiving my Masters of Divinity in Professional Ministry.

I currently enjoy serving in my local church with both the high school and elementary school ministries. I’m an avid sports fan and frequent many Liberty sports games. I enjoy spending time with friends, family and wife. I look forward to seeing where God leads my wife and I, both now and in the future.

Favorite Food: Seafood
Favorite Hobby: Working out
Favorite Movie: Here Comes the Boom
Favorite TV Show: 24 (really, is there any other option?) | (434) 592-6165

Timi Plyter | Student Advocate

I am a native upstate New Yorker. I accepted the Lord at the age of 26 and have had a wonderful walk with my Lord ever since. My husband, Richard and I have been married over 40 years! We have 3 happily married sons, five granddaughters, and two grandsons and another on the way!  They are my delight. My two younger sons served in the military ... one is retired Navy, one served 8 years in the Army. My oldest son serves in the Lord’s army here at home and heads the men’s ministry at a church here in Lynchburg.

We moved to Lynchburg in 1996 because our youngest son, through one of God's miracles, was going to attend Liberty University. My husband and I both began working here in 1997. He is now retired but worked for years in Admissions and I worked as the receptionist in the Registrar's Office for 7 years. I now have the honor of serving students as a Student Advocate since the office’s inception in 2004.

The Lord has given me a phenomenal love for all of the students here and I deem it an honor to serve His Kingdom members at this university. Liberty University is a wonderful place to have your faith undergirded and strengthened!  I give a mustard seed to each student with whom I meet and ask them to memorize Matthew 17:20.  We have even planted some seeds in pots in our office to encourage the students.

Favorite Food: Roast chicken dinner and pumpkin pie
Favorite Hobby: Sewing and scrapbooking, baking and cooking
Favorite Movie: War Room
Favorite TV Show: Live Free or Die, or anything Alaska-related | (434) 592-3984

Leigh Detzel | Student Advocate

When I was a freshman many years ago, I struggled heavily with eating disorders and deep depression. I took every step to make sure I hid my life of shame from friends and family. When I realized that I was at my absolute lowest, the Lord sweetly broke me. From then on, I began a serious journey in which God completely rocked my life; for the better!

I studied government and pre-law at Liberty University. My original intent was to go to law school, but I was offered a full time job here in 2009, and I am so thankful that I did not attend law school -- the Lord knows that I am too tenderhearted to be one! I love my job here.

My hobbies include cycling, running, swimming, and adventuring. I love reading, hand-writing letters to my grandparents, all kinds of movies and TV, and animals, including my two pet rabbits, Gryffindor and Luna. I have 2 sisters, one brother, and 2 brothers-in-law who live in Pennsylvania.

I have the best job in the world; I get to serve faculty, staff and students on a daily basis. Finding ways to make your experience at Liberty University positive, life-changing and challenging is an amazing aspect of this job. I want to help you succeed at Liberty!

Favorite Food: Cheese, tiramisu and Diet Coke
Favorite Hobby: Going to pet stores and staring longingly at all the pets
Favorite Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Alice in Wonderland
Favorite TV Show: Seinfeld. There is literally no. better. show. on. earth. | (434) 592-3151

Lindsay Burgess | Student Advocate

I was raised in Roanoke, Virginia all my life.  I was so blessed to grow up in what I think is one of the prettiest states in the United States as I get to enjoy and marvel at God’s beautiful creation whenever I see the Blue Ridge Mountains that surround the Roanoke Valley.  My older brother and I were homeschooled through high school, and I am grateful for the opportunity that we were given to learn at home through a Biblical worldview and be involved in events year round with other homeschoolers in the area.  As I approached my high school graduation, I decided that I wanted to pursue my love of music in my college career.  I had begun taking piano lessons when I was 7 years old, and I fell in love with music and the instrument.  Even though Liberty University was only a short hour’s drive from my home, I had not considered attending there.  But the Lord began opening doors and made it plain that Liberty is where He wanted me to be.  I graduated in May of 2012 with a Bachelor of Music degree.

I am blessed to still be a part of the Liberty family, and I am so excited to be serving the student body with the Student Advocate Office.  I have been struck by this office’s heart for the students and how they seek to help the students in any way they can to make their years on this campus a success, and I am humbled and honored to now be a part of that ministry.

Favorite Food: Roast chicken and Reese's Peanut Butter cups
Favorite Hobby: Playing the piano
Favorite Movie: Kate & Leopold
Favorite TV Show: Parenthood and The Voice | (434) 592-4614

Jonathan Dimanche | Student Advocate

I was born and raised in Long Island, New York. Being the middle child with four sisters, I spent a lot of my childhood playing backyard games, hanging out with friends and traveling with my father. I was raised in church but my rough and tough environment made it difficult for me to focus on my relationship with God. During the middle of my ninth grade year, my family moved to the eastern part of Long Island to plant a church. God changed my surroundings and I had no excuses to follow Him. As I began to take my relationship with Christ more seriously, a few friends and I began a bible study in my public high school.

I was accepted and began attending Liberty University in the Fall of 2008. As I developed in my studies as a student at Liberty, my family was directly impacted by the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010. I anticipated going to Haiti to help my family but it was not God's timing yet.  Three months later I was able to go on a missions trip to Haiti and also see my family. Since that time, God has allowed me to spend 185 days doing mission work in Haiti!

From the first time I heard of Liberty University, I knew that I belonged here. This warm Christian environment has helped cultivate many strong Christians. I am honored to be a part of the Liberty family.

Favorite Food: Haitian food
Favorite Hobby: Hanging out with friends, playing music and traveling
Favorite Movie: 300
Favorite TV Show: I don't really watch TV, but I'll go with Friends. #rossandrachelforever | (434) 592-3979

Britney Register | Student Advocate

I was born and raised in Roanoke, VA where I grew up with two younger brothers and a younger sister. I was homeschooled all the way through high school and then went on to attend Liberty University where I earned my Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion.

Since my early teens I have had a passion for missions and for helping others. I grew up in a local church where local and international missions was a priority. In 2012, I had the opportunity to serve in the Czech Republic teaching English in local schools and businesses while developing relationships with students and co-workers. During that time, my relationship with God grew so much. I have learned many things about ministry and being a servant no matter where God has you or what He has asked you to do.

I returned to the U.S. a year later and found that my reliance on God and my faith in Him was going to be stretched even further. I had to have complete reliance on God for His provision and had to trust His guidance to lead me wherever He wanted me to be. A year later, I find myself joining the Student Advocate Office where I serve students who are attending Liberty University. I am excited about joining the Student Advocate team and I am eager to be a part of this ministry on Liberty University’s campus.

Favorite Food: Buffalo chicken wrap and french fries
Favorite Hobby: Crocheting
Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music and Little Women, I watch them every year!
Favorite TV Show: The problem is, I really don't have a favorite TV show. I get bored with them! | (434) 592-6149

Jason Brake | Student Advocate

I grew up in Northeast Ohio, where at the age of 11 I accepted Jesus to be my Lord and Savior in my home church. Each step in life I have grown in my faith by God's grace. I graduated from Grove City College in 2000 with a degree in Mathematics & Computer Science and in the same year I married Jennifer. Out of college I worked customer service in industrial supply and insurance fields. We have two boys, Daniel and Josiah whom we homeschool, and as a family we have been on an adventure serving God. In 2009 Jennifer and I graduated from seminary in The Salvation Army and we were commissioned as officers sent to work in Maine and Vermont. We had many wonderful and interesting experiences while serving in this capacity doing the most good.

Having moved frequently, our family is really looking forward to settling down and placing our roots in Virginia. Jennifer is a graduate of Liberty University Online and she has brothers who are currently attending and working on campus. I am very blessed and excited to be a part of the Liberty family. It is my desire to bless and serve students and their parents as a Student Advocate.

Favorite Food: Italian food
Favorite Hobby: Going to new places
Favorite Movie: Lord of the Rings
Favorite TV Show: College football | (434) 592-6537

Stephen Stafford | Student Advocate

I was born and raised in sunny South Florida. I became a Christian during the spring semester of my junior year in high school. Upon graduating from high school, a friend and I traded the beach for the mountains and came to Liberty University. In 2012 I earned a B.S. in Religion with a minor in Greek and I’m now currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching. As a student, I was very involved in Student Leadership and thoroughly enjoyed my time on campus.

I met my wife during my junior year at Liberty and we have now been married for three years. We recently purchased a home in Lynchburg and enjoy exercising with our dog Riley, frequenting the community market, and teaching Sunday school at our church. I am very excited about joining the Student Advocate Office and look forward to helping students reach their goals during their time at Liberty.

Favorite Food: My wife's cooking
Favorite Hobby: Playing basketball
Favorite Movie: Braveheart, The Patriot or A Beautiful Mind
Favorite TV Show: Breaking Bad |  (434) 592-5854

Holly Nickerson | Student Advocate

I haven't always called Lynchburg my home. I am a Canadian citizen by birth and came to Liberty in 2010 all the way from British Columbia! Attending Liberty was a leap of faith. I remember the excitement and shock of driving onto campus for the first time as a freshman having never seen the campus and knowing that my family would be returning home thousands of miles away. Six years later, I couldn't be more grateful for this school. I gave my life to Christ my senior year in high school and the spiritual development that has occurred in my life since then has largely been fostered by the personal discipleship, spiritual programs, and environment that Liberty provides. I am passionate about our student body and believe in what our University has sent out to accomplish.

My desire as a Student Advocate is to assist students not only successfully complete their degrees, but also have the opportunity to grow in this incredible place. I graduate from Liberty in 2014 with a Bachelors of Science in Pre-Med Biology and am currently pursuing a Master's degree in Public Health. When I arrive on this campus I would have never guessed that I would meet and marry my husband, Jordan, or that I would develop some of the most edifying and deep relationships with others that share my faith. I didn't know that that I would work in student ministry as a PLGL, RA and RD wife or that I would be working eventually in the Student Advocate Office. I am unsure of what my future holds by I trust that the Lord is in control of every situation just as He is in each student's life at Liberty.

Favorite Food: Raspberries
Favorite Hobby: Running
Favorite Movie: I don't have a favorite. There are too many!
Favorite TV Show: Rehab Addict and Fixer Upper |  (434) 582-2355

Rosemary Shakro | Operations Coordinator

Born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, I grew up in a Christian home with three younger brothers, accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of four. Since grade school, I attended private Christian schools which supported my foundation in Christ. My parents taught me the importance of family through our American-Lebanese heritage, and, most importantly, taught me morals and values based upon the Bible. Attending one of Connecticut’s largest public high schools, I shared my faith with others by example as a leader of Youth Alive club.

I earned my Bachelors degree at Liberty University, where I grew spiritually, academically, and emotionally, graduating in 2012 with a degree in Elementary Education. I went back to Connecticut after graduation, but the more I prayed for direction, I lived with that sense of “You belong back at Liberty.”

In the meantime, I recruited two of my brothers to attend here. Once my youngest brother graduates from high school, he’ll be heading this way and we’ll be a true Liberty family!

Looking forward to this new opportunity to begin my career, I bring with me a heart to serve, support, and encourage each student to attain his or her full potential. As God has opened the door for me to return to Liberty, I am blessed and grateful to be a part of the Student Advocate team. I’m eager to assist Liberty students to have the best experience here at the world’s largest, most exciting Christian university, just as I did.

Favorite Food: Lebanese, Mediterranean or Italian food
Favorite Hobby: Singing
Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music
Favorite TV Show: Full House |  (434) 592-4844

Tylar Kirkpatrick | Office Assistant

I was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida, and have lived in the same house since birth. Moving to Liberty was a very big change for me. I had attended a private Christian school from Freshman to Senior year, being involved in the Fine Arts department, sports, and honor societies such as National Honors Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society. I was the treasurer of Key Club for three years, worked at Chick-Fil-A and was involved in much community service including singing with my choir at different events and charities. I love to travel and have been multiple places in Europe, such as France, Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.

Up until my senior year of high school, I was planning on going to school for musical theatre and working on Broadway in New York City until I realized God had a different plan for my life. I am proud to say I am a brand new student in the Fall of 2015 at Liberty University, planning to major in Interior Design, and minor in business while working in this office and at Chick-Fil-A. The Lord blessed me in many ways with getting here and I'm so excited and thankful to be starting my college career as a part of this office.

Favorite Food: Buffalo chicken bites
Favorite Hobby: Crafting and DIY activities
Favorite Movie: Frozen
Favorite TV Show: Once Upon A Time |  (434) 582-7200