Meet the Staff

Malin Pereira

Malin Pereira, Ph.D., Executive Director

Chief administrator of the Martin Scholars Program and Professor of English, Dr. Pereira joined the Honors College as Executive Director in 2012 after chairing the Department of English. Professor Pereira’s area of scholarly expertise is contemporary African American poetics. Her vision for the Honors College is to make honors opportunities available to all high achieving students; to that end, she provides support to all honors students on campus. Her favorite honors course to teach is called “Reading in Slow Motion.”  


Jeffrey Leak

Jeffrey Leak, Ph.D., Martin Scholars Program Faculty Fellow

Dr. Leak recently joined the Honors College as the Martin Scholars Program Faculty Fellow. A Professor of English and African American Literature, he joined the faculty in 1998. He is the former director of the Center for the Study of the New South in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and, most recently, served as UNC Charlotte's Faculty President (2015-2016). He values the opportunity to engage with a range of students and looks forward to working with them as they enter the Martin Scholars Program.


Karen James, J.D., M.A.T., Associate Director for Scholars Advising

Ms. James came to UNC Charlotte and the Honors College in 2013 from the Morehead-Cain Foundation in Chapel Hill. Ms. James advises Martin Scholars, as well as students in the University Honors Program, those preparing to apply for prestigious awards and fellowships such as the Truman or the Goldwater, and students interested in pre-health professions. Ms. James earned three degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, and she practiced law for ten years before returning to Chapel Hill to work with students. She becomes a full-time student two days every year to keep her law license active.


Shannon Zurell-Carey

Shannon Zurell-Carey, Administrative Associate

Mrs. Zurell-Carey has worked at UNC Charlotte for over 13 years, joining the Honors College in August, 2013. She provides administrative support for all Honors College programs, courses, and events, including the Martin Scholars Program. She enjoys attending her kids' extracurricular activities, bowling, reading, and cooking.


Gretchen Bagley

Gretchen Bagley, NCCP, Administrative Assistant

Gretchen Bagley joined the Honors College in early 2015 from the legal industry. She provides administrative support for the University Honors Program and Martin Scholars Program, as well as other Honors College programs and events. Mrs. Bagley is a North Carolina Bar Certified Paralegal and a North Carolina Notary Public.