Skip to Main Content


What We Are About


The Graduate Studies Support Center (GSSC) at National University is dedicated to ensuring every graduate student's academic success and providing faculty with the necessary tools and resources to excel in teaching in the one-to-one model. The ultimate goal of the GSSC is the creation of an engaged graduate culture.


The Graduate Studies Support Center is dedicated to supporting/advancing teaching and learning by working collaboratively with faculty, staff, administrators, and students to provide quality services, resources, and programs to improve the overall National University graduate experience.  The GSSC is a catalyst for a positive and collaborative university culture.

Meet the GSSC Team

Claire DeMarco, Director of the Graduate Studies Support Center

Claire has been with the National University family for over eight years and loves the innovation and excitement that comes with being part of a growing organization. Claire has spent  14 years in the field of employee development and 15 years in higher education. Outside of work, Claire is a proud wife and mother of beautiful Isabel. In her spare time, she likes to take family walks with her two rescue Chihuahuas: Dollie and Emme.

Nicole Kitchen, Associate Director

Nicole Kitchen came to NU as an Academic Trainer in February 2019.  Nicole started her career in education and training as a high school health science teacher, which then led to teaching varying health science courses at the post-secondary level, both online and on-campus.  Over the course of her career so far, Nicole has developed a love of instructional design and technology, which has led to varying positions on corporate L&D teams, including Instructional Design Specialist, Lead Instructional Designer, and Director of Online Education.  In her spare time, she loves spending time exploring Florida waterparks, springs, and theme parks.

Michael Lynch, Creative Director

Michael Lynch began his career as an Academic Trainer for the GSSC in the summer of 2018. Prior to joining NU, Michael has experienced several professions over the years. He served as a post-secondary instructor, where he taught graphic design for over 20 years. He is also an award-winning graphic designer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and a Master of Arts in Education. Over the course of his career, he has created several hundred book covers for a wide variety of clients, including Wilt Chamberlain, Jessie Jackson Jr., McGraw-Hill Scholastic Books, the L.A. Dodgers, and many more. Michael was also a professional musician who played bass in a blues band and traveled the country entertaining thousands of people. Michael has been married to the same lovely woman for 30 years, has two grown children that are the apples of his eye, and currently has three dogs and two cats, where he resides in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Emily Spranger, Graduate Learning Specialist

Emily Spranger came to NU as an Enrollment Advisor in 2013. She moved to serve on the Learning and Development team as a Training Specialist in 2014. She took some time to be a mother. During her time away from NU, Emily taught Adjunct at Glendale Community College and was a Dance Director at a public high school. Emily has been involved with education in some form for 12 years. She has served in enrollment, teaching, training, and development and has come back to NU as a Graduate Learning Specialist for the GSSC. In her spare time, she loves to be with her husband and two girls. She likes dancing of any kind, hiking, and adventures with her family.

Jena Johnson, Graduate Learning Specialist

Jena Johnson came to NU as a Compliance and Quality Analyst in the Office of the Registrar in the Fall of 2018.  Now, she is a Graduate Learning Specialist in the Graduate Studies Support Center. Jena has spent the last 14 years in higher education, holding many different roles, such as Registrar, Learning Resources Manager, and Director of Student Records/Learning Resources.  She has had the opportunity to work with both residential campuses and online divisions, allowing her to see the different perspectives of each.  Her work has been focused on reporting and analysis, creating and facilitating training, developing relationships, ensuring compliance, and enhancing or improving processes.  Jena is an Arizona native who enjoys taking walks with her Chihuahua rescue, Riley.  She also enjoys spending time with family and friends outside of work.