WiSE Staff

​Chelle Lehman - Director for Outreach and Recruitment
1402 Seamans Center

My name is Chelle Lehman and I am a proud University of Iowa Alumna. I have two professional appointments at the University of Iowa College of Engineering. I am the Outreach Director for Project Lead The Way (PLTW), which is a nationwide STEM education provider for K-12 Engineering, Biomedical Science, and Computer Science curriculum. I am also the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Director for Outreach and Recruitment. In these roles, I work with schools and community colleges across the state to help them implement new PLTW programs or sustain existing programs. I also work directly with teachers to help them recruit girls and underrepresented minority students to their PLTW classrooms. I am passionate about early exposure for K-12 female students to science, technology, engineering, and math. As a result, I have developed a number of WiSE outreach programs to engage these young women. The outreach programming also provides an opportunity for our WiSE undergraduate women in STEM majors to develop leadership experience and serve as role models for the K-12 students. 

In my free time, I love to bike and create stained glass. I am also honored to volunteer for organizations that serve women. I chair the Grants Committee and am a board member for the Iowa Women’s Foundation. I am the Co-Vice Chair of the UIowa Council on the Status of Women. I also serve on the Celebration and Excellence and Achievement Among Women Planning Committee each year. I am involved in equity work at the state level where I serve on the STEM Equity Workgroup of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.

My primary professional background is as an educator. I have taught elementary, junior high, high school, and community college classes, and hold a current Iowa K-12 teacher certification. I am an Iowa alumna and earned a B.A. degree in Biology and Education from the University of Iowa. I obtained my M.S. degree in Biology from the University of Nebraska.

My husband, Michael, and I moved to Iowa City in 1990. We fell in love with the area and decided it was the perfect place to raise a family. We never left!

I am looking forward to working with our WiSE undergraduate women this year as we continue to develop outreach opportunities for girls across the state of Iowa. I look forward to growing this program together! Please feel free to reach out to me at any time chelle-lehman@uiowa.edu

Linda Varvel - Director for On Campus Programs
1402 Seamans Center

My name is Linda Varvel. I serve as one of the Co-Directors for the WiSE Program. I’m new to my role and excited to work with the women in WiSE because of the wonderful women who are part of this program, and the great reputation we have for supporting women majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

I have a bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal and Public Communication and a Master of Science in Counseling and Student Development. I spent the first ten years of my career working in university housing where I served as a live-in staff member, a coordinator for living-learning communities and leadership programs, and also served as the director of housing at a small private women’s college in Omaha, NE. I have a passion for supporting undergraduate students as they navigate their collegiate journey and this passion is a large reason I was drawn to WiSE.

Outside of the office I spend time with my husband of seven years, Jacob, and our two small children; daughter Quinn and son Isaac. We love board games and can often be found playing one of the 70 board games we own. Please know that my door is always open to you, and I want to be a support as well as one of your biggest cheerleaders while you’re at the University of Iowa. If you have questions for me or would like to reach out for any reason, you can email me at linda-varvel@uiowa.edu. On Iowa! Go Hawks! 

​Aralia Ramirez - Peer Mentoring and WiSE Ambassadors Graduate Assistant
3307E Seamans Center


Hello! My name is Aralia Ramirez and I am so excited to be joining the WiSE team as a graduate intern. I am originally from Chico, CA and I recently graduated from Chico State with a bachelor's in Sociology. I am now working towards my master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. I am a first-generation college student, which is where my passion for education stems from. During my time at Chico State I worked with student support programs such as the Educational Talent Search and the Educational Opportunity Program to help first-generation students navigate college.

In my free time I enjoy hiking, exploring new art exhibits, museums, painting, and traveling. I was fortunate to spend last summer in Key West, FL working for Camp Adventure as a day camp counselor on a military base. I hope to be able to visit the Galapagos Islands in the near future!

I look forward to meeting you all so feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at aralia-ramirez@uiowa.edu! Go Hawks!

Elizabeth Healy - Living-Learning Community Graduate Assistant
3307C Seamans Center

Hello! My name is Elizabeth Healy and I am excited to join WiSE as a graduate assistant! I also go by Ellie, so call me whichever name you prefer. I recently graduated from Iowa with a BA in International Studies and a Spanish minor. I am now working towards my master’s degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs. I am originally from the small town of Elkader, Iowa, but I have spent some time studying in Rome, Italy and interning in Washington DC. In my free time I enjoy reading, kayaking, hiking, and exploring museums and parks. I am also passionate about traveling and enjoy talking with people about their travel experiences.

Feel free to contact me at elizabeth-healy@uiowa.edu or stop by my office any time. I am happy to help you with any questions or concerns you have while navigating through college. Go Hawks!


Kakavandi - WiSE Undergraduate Assistant
3307 Seamans Center

Hi! My name is Rojahn Kakavandi, and I am the Peer Mentoring Assistant and Student Ambassadors Liaison. I work very closely with WiSE Ambassadors as the President, as well, and I am excited for our community outreach and member development plans for the year! You will see me at Ambassadors, Mentoring, and majority of LLC events this year. I am from Decorah, Iowa, and this is my forth year as a Human Physiology major and a French minor. Apart from the WiSE Community, I am involved in Dance Marathon and the Persian Student Organization. Outside of school, I love to hike (I blame Decorah's gorgeous bluffs and hills), yoga, frozen yogurt, and going on unexpected adventures with my friends!

I’m very excited for the year to come and to be able to work with all of the new and returning WiSE Women! Again, this is my forth time around, so feel free to send me an email (rojahn-kakavandi@uiowa.edu) with any questions, if you want to join our community, or if you want some good froyo recommendations :). We are so happy to have you!”

Gabby Kershaw - Be-WiSE LLC Student Programmer
3307 Seamans Center

안녕하세요 (hello)! My name is Gabrielle Kershaw, I am a sophomore in Chemical Engineering from Sicklerville, New Jersey (30 minutes from Philadelphia). I was a mentee and participated in events with WiSE over the past school year. As a result, I gained knowledge of college life and what it takes to be an engineer early on from my mentor. She encouraged me to get involved on campus so I really focused on branching out my freshman year. Within my first semester at Iowa I joined NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) and became a frequent visitor of the NEXUS office in the Engineering building. I also take Korean Language classes so that I can eventually study abroad in Korea during my time as an undergraduate. Here is my email if you want to contact me: gabrielle-kershaw@uiowa.edu. Welcome to Iowa!