Staff Biographies

Dr. A. Assadi, Director of Counseling Services

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), GCDF

We all have problems and everyone needs help at times. With more than 13 years experience, he provides professional/confidential mental health services to diverse persons. He does not discriminate based on ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or personal identification and he believes that through connection and compassion we can resolve any problem together. Our past experiences do not define us and our future is not yet written. Help is available and you are not alone. Let’s work towards building your life the way it was always meant to be: authentic, fulfilling and empowered. Let’s find/develop the best version of yourself! Positive change is possible even in times of great adversity. Together, we can work towards healing and resolution of your concerns, including: depression, anxiety, relationship and family issues, assertiveness training, career issues, stress reduction, adjustment issues, resiliency skills, grief, trauma or abuse, PTSD, LGBTQ concerns, self harm, and suicidal thinking. Dr. Assadi’s practice focuses upon client acceptance, resiliency, philosophy, growth and empowerment. Strategies he incorporates: Person Centered, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and elements of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for persons struggling with self harm and suicide. He also specialize in self exploration, career counseling, and habit formation.

Carolyn Wray

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), CRC

Carolyn Wray, LPC, CRC, is a licensed Mental Health Professional.   Carolyn completed her Associates degree at DeAnza and Foothill College in California, her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Design at BYU, Provo, and her Master’s Degree in counseling at UA Little Rock.  She has worked for the university since 2018.  Previously she has worked as a counselor in clinical, public school, and private settings.  Carolyn has also worked with youth and families for over 20 years as a counselor in her church. Her professional interests include but are not limited to: trauma therapies, grief, anger, relationship issues, improving communication skills and conflict management, as well as addressing multicultural and underrepresented populations issues. Carolyn is certified in telemental health, anxiety treatment, and in applied neuroscience for treating anxiety, panic, PTSD, and worry. Her main focus is helping students overcome barriers, recognize individual strengths and abilities, and gain greater sense of self, and self-actualization, in order to help them find solutions that fit their individual needs and desires relating to personal, educational and professional goals.

In her free time Carolyn likes to read, paint, quilt, sew, cook/bake, explore, take photographs, learn new things, travel, spend time with family and friends, camping, along with a variety of other interests. She has taken care of a lot of animals as well. At one time she had a cat named Tweetie, a bird named Spot, a dog named Colt, and a horse named Runt, she jokes that all she needed to complete the circle was a pig named Lightening. Carolyn has lived in 36 places in her life, 26 of them before she was 12 years old.  Because of her experiences living in different parts of the world, in different places, and circumstances, her focus is on helping students overcome barriers in order to help them recognize their individual strengths and abilities, and to help them reach their potential.

Tara Kittrell

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), LPC, PMHNP-BC 

Tara is passionate about mental health and feels honored to assist student in their wellness journeys.  She is a board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner since 2009 and Licensed professional counselor since 1998. She graduated summa cum laude from Springfield College in 1992 with a degree in Health Education, with 2 minors in health fitness and psychology. She went on to University of Georgia earning in 1994  a Master’s in Education in Community Counseling. Tara worked as a therapeutic foster care caseworker and a Mobile Crisis Counselor with Dekalb Police Department. and moved to Arkansas in 1996 to work for the Child Study Center- UAMS. She comes from a family of nurses and decided at the age of 30 to go to nursing school. She  shocked herself and those around her by graduating with nursing honors with a BSN at UAMS in 2002, and was awarded Most Supportive Student award from her peers. As a nurse she has worked at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, AR CARES, UAMS ER department and was also a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner). Tara went on to get her masters at UAMS in 2009 in the psychiatric nurse practitioner across the life span program. She first worked at UAMS Walker Family Clinic from 2009-2011, before making UA Little Rock her home.

She loves working with both traditional and nontraditional students, along with student athletes since she ran collegiate track. On her spare time she enjoys running and competitive powerlifting. Her focus is on trying to empower others through a holistic approach that focuses on not just disease, but also from a behavioral, dimensional, and life story perspective.

Hyginus Ukadike

Counselor, MPA, MSW

Hyginus’ role as a psychological and career counselor in UA Little Rock Counseling Services began in 2001, shortly after he finished his master’s degree in social work. He is honored to serve as part of the support system for students both on the main campus and at the Bowen School of Law. Currently, he is a member of the Chancellor’s Diversity Council and the Barrier Council Committee. In 2021, he was appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to serve on the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) Committee. For ten years, he taught the First-Year Experience course that was designed to provide a solid foundation for freshman students at UA Little Rock. In addition to his social work training, he has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in public administration. My professional experience includes years in the Arkansas Department of Human Services, where he was chosen to be the state’s first refugee resettlement coordinator. Hyginus also assisted in designing and launching the Temporary Employment Assistance (TEA) Program that is still in use to this day! Outside of work he enjoys reading, exercising, watching sports, and participating in African cultural events. He and his wife are the proud parents of a son who is a resident physician at UAMS.

Rachel Mercado

Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC)

Life is, inarguably, hard.  While the specifics may vary, suffering is an inescapable part of the human experience.  For many, their suffering impedes their ability to live their lives the way they would like to.  If this describes you, then Rachel can say with confidence that you are not alone.

Life doesn’t have to be this way! There is a way out of the cycle of suffering, rumination, and more suffering.  Rachel has worked with adults from all backgrounds to build up their lives regardless of what they have endured.  She helps people come into themselves, finding a greater understanding of who they are and what is important to them. She will be happy to assist you in fostering greater confidence and self-assuredness while assisting you in facilitating a life well lived.

While this process may not be easy or simple, it is certainly achievable – it can even be enjoyable!  Her office is a space where clients can feel comfortable to truly be themselves, so integrating a laid-back atmosphere and humor is critical to her counseling style.  Theoretically, she utilizes approaches primarily from Cognitive-Behavioral (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) therapies, guided by her training as a Master’s-level Mental Health Counselor.  Her foundational philosophy is that while acknowledging the hurt and pain of the past is necessary for healing, real change comes from what you decide to do with your suffering – how you relate to it, how you think about yourself, and what kind of life you want to live going forward.  As your counselor, Rachel would love to help you achieve these things and much more.

Jordan Brown

Administrative Assistant III

Jordan is an Administrative Assistant and undergraduate student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is pursing her degree in Social Work and minoring in Professional Communications. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school so she can fulfil her goal of becoming a Mental Health Therapist. Jordan believes that mental health is a vital aspect of life and she wants to be able to help others navigate this complex world  so they can live a fulfilled and joyful life and become the best version of themselves.