Meet the Corps
The Southern California College Advising Corps is pleased to introduce our team for the 2016-2017 academic year:
- Program Manager, Ara Arzumanian
- Program Coordinator, Benjamin Robles
- Program Coordinator, Dennis Funes
- 31 College Advisers
Ara Arzumanian (B.A., University of California, Irvine) is the program manager of the Southern California College Advising Corps for the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice. Mr. Arzumanian comes to USC from Proyecto Pastoral where he oversaw three youth programs and the development of a new mentoring program in Boyle Heights.
Prior to Proyecto Pastoral, Ara was the Vice President of Programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles overseeing several programs and managing mentoring for over 1,500 matches. He developed a new corporate partnership model with Union Bank winning the National Rising Star Award.
Before joining Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ara had been tapped by the international non-profit, Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) to direct the Generation Next Mentorship Program (GenNext). As the director of GenNext, Ara assembled the team that grew the program five times in size and increased its services to students with the award of a prestigious US Department of Education Grant. During his tenure at GenNext, Ara served as the chair of the Glendale Healthy Start Collaborative and sat on Glendale Unified School District’s Student Attendance Review Board and the violence prevention committees of five schools.
It was his experience as a youth outreach worker with the City of Glendale’s Youth Outreach Program that brought Ara to AGBU’s attention. He was a member of the three-person team that developed it from the ground up, providing intensive case management to students facing high risk factors. Specializing in violence intervention/prevention, direct street outreach, runaway recovery and cross-cultural peace-making, Ara and the team worked with over 1,800 students in five years.
Due to his experience and expertise in the field of youth development, he has been invited to guest lecture at USC, CSUN and CSULA on youth development and issues facing at-risk youth.
Benjamin Robles (B.A., University of California, Los Angeles) is the program coordinator for the Southern California College Advising Corps for the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice.
Most recently, Benjamin managed outreach efforts for a nonprofit serving minority communities within South Los Angeles. As head of community engagement, he implemented a community partnership strategy to recruit and train school and library personnel within the greater Los Angeles area interested in implementing new science education curriculum with underserved and underrepresented children. Benjamin also leads a volunteer team of veterans, active duty service members, guardsmen and reservists. United by the common bond of military service, this group offers people the opportunity to make an impact in their community.
As a native of Los Angeles, a veteran, and a first generation college graduate, Benjamin enjoys working within culturally diverse and multidisciplinary teams that are committed to making a positive impact locally, and nationally. Service has always been important factor in Benjamin’s life, and he is very excited to join the Southern California College Advising Corps.
Dennis Funes (B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara) is the program coordinator for the Southern California College Advising Corps for the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice. Dennis is a graduate of UCSB who grew up in South Gate, CA. His interest in counseling and education began during his adolescent years when he became a high school peer counselor. He continued this passion for education at UCSB where he majored in Psychology and Sociology and minored in Education. Seeing a need to address language barriers amongst Latino families, he became a teaching assistant for an ESL class, where he taught beginning English skills to Spanish speaking mothers. Furthermore, Dennis became a research assistant for the UCSB School of Education, where he studied family relationships as it pertains to topics of education and sexuality. Upon graduation, Dennis became a Supplemental Educational Services (SES) Provider through Total Education Solutions and tutored numerous students with exceptional needs. As a member of SCCAC, Dennis is thrilled to use his experiences to help students overcome their own educational obstacles.
College Advisers are placed at 27 schools across Los Angeles, Long Beach and Garden Grove Unified School Districts.
Chidi Agu placed at Polytechnic High School, LBUSD. (B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara). His two years spent at Mount San Antonio College navigating the transfer process with the invaluable help of instructors and college advisers inspired him to get involved in helping students reach college and succeed when they get there. While at Mt. SAC, Chidi served as a writing and English language arts tutor and participated on the national champion forensics team, which informed his analytical approach to social justice issues. Upon transferring, he worked as a Mental Health Peer for UCSB’s Counseling and Psychology Services department, advised the Men of Strength club committed to promoting health masculinity, and served as a student worker in the Women, Gender, and Sexual Equity department. In addition to this, Chidi collaborated with the Black Student Union to support Black students on campus, reached out to high school students and incoming transfers, revamped a publication dedicated to giving a platform to the voice of Black students, and presented on the impacts of discrimination and the importance of diversity and inclusion. Through his work, he seeks to create a more equitable society that is fully invested in the social, economic, and psychological outcomes of all people.
Yvette Aguirre placed at Millikan High School, LAUSD. (B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz) is a first year adviser who received her bachelor’s degree in Politics and Latin American & Latino Studies. After graduating, she began working as an AmeriCorps Member with City Year Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization that provides support to students who are in danger of dropping out of school. She had the pleasure of serving ninth grade students in the community of Boyle Heights. During her time there, she took the initiative to create engaging college related presentations about college-student lifestyles and the extensive opportunities that an undergraduate education provides. Through this initiative she was awarded a certificate of recognition which states that she goes above and beyond expectations to display her belief in the power of young people. As a daughter of Mexican immigrants and a Los Angeles native who grew up in the city of Compton, she recognizes the great need that there is to give back to the community. She is passionate about sharing her personal experience as a first-generation college graduate with young people who will soon become successful leaders of our nation. Outside of Yvette’s role as a College Adviser, she takes pride in being a member of the Belmont Shore Women’s Rugby Club of Long Beach. As she enters her fifth year of playing rugby she has learned how to relate her physical and mental strength to solving real world problems that require great amounts of endurance and perseverance. Her dedication to intentionally planning steps to help students’ reach their goals has led her to become an influential asset to the Southern California College Advising Corps.
Raquel Alas placed at Cabrillo High School, LBUSD. (B.A., University of California, Berkeley) was born and raised in South LA to immigrant parents. She’s an avid believer that learning is a lifelong process and that every moment and every experience we have is an opportunity to learn something new: about ourselves, about something or someone else. This commitment to learning has given her a wide range of professional, educational, and life experience. At Berkeley, she took advantage of the education abroad program and studied abroad in Russia; she was immersed in a new culture and learned how to better adapt to situations when she was out of my comfort zone, all while improving her Russian language skills. As part of her major, she also had the opportunity to be part of a team at the International Rescue Committee in Oakland that facilitated ESL classes for recently resettled refugees. Upon graduating, these experiences led her to become an English and Math Tutor for students in grades K-12 who were at-risk for not meeting grade level performance standards. Her goal was to serve those communities she had been a part of just years ago. As a college adviser, she wish to inspire the same thirst for knowledge, experience, and personal growth by making post-secondary education – and all of the opportunities it provides – more accessible to underserved communities.
Stacey Badger placed at Garden Grove High School, GGUSD. (B.A. University of Southern California) placed at Garden Grove High School, GGUSD is a first year adviser with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She spent her senior year at USC as an advising intern in the Dornsife Academic Advising Office, as well as her four years volunteering in the Engemann Student Health Center as a Wellness Advocate. Whether she was president of the Women’s Rugby Club at USC, or leading meditation and counseling sessions for her peers at the health center, she was always trying her best to keep people motivated and seeing their best selves. She had more experience with this when she was tutoring underserved elementary schools around USC with the hope of improving reading scores. This showed her that a strong foundation can lead to successful and confident students. Once she graduated, she spent some time as an advising assistant for the Dornsife Advising Office where she was able to help the incoming freshmen decide how they wanted their next four years to look. This is when she knew she enjoyed guiding students to finding their interests. Working with the college students was her favorite part of the advising office, but she wanted to be the person who could guide them before they got to college. Since she was lucky enough to have people in her life who were able to help her receive a higher education, she wanted to be able to do the same for others who may not have the same resources. This is what drew her to towards the Southern California College Advising Corp. She knew she loved guiding students to what their possible futures might be, and the Corp. is going to be the place to let her do it.
CJ Cabbil placed at Rancho Dominguez, LAUSD. A proud member of the Southern California College Advising Corps. The son of two educators, one who has coached for over 20 years and another who has transitioned to high school counseling, which was played a huge part in wanting to work for USC and the Corps. CJ believe that communities who have been historically underserved deserve our best effort in correcting the past and building a stronger future, whether that is hands on or hands off. That belief has led him to teach English in the Cantogalo favela in Rio de Janeiro and in Cali, Colombia with programs whose purposes are to provide the population with an in-demand skill to help them in the future, whether they choose to use English to work or study. This is the same purpose that brought him to Los Angeles and USC. He wants to play his part in providing college access to students who otherwise might not go. CJ is excited to be here as a part of the Corps and as a new Angelino.
Jennifer D. Cardoza placed at Firebaugh High School, LYUSD. (B.A., University of Southern California) Being a South Central Los Angeles native has definitely influenced the work that she involves herself with. She firmly believes that a neighborhood and high school does not define the value and abilities of a student and should not be the determining factors of whether or not they graduate and go on to college, that is why she has been vigorously involved in serving high schools with underrepresented and underserved students. When she was in high school she was very fortunate to be a part of the USC Upward Bound programs, that is why when the opportunity to server as a residential summer advisor presented itself, she took it in a heartbeat. During and after her time at USC, she involved herself in organizations and groups that shared her same passions and visions. Through these organizations and groups, she has worked as a mentor, college access councilor, youth conference organizer, tutor and English teacher for undocumented students. Her involvement with undocumented students made her realize the scarcity of resources available to them, which is why she started the Daniel R. Jimenez (DRJ) scholarship, to be able to better support them. It is truly a beautiful and heart warming thing when the fruits of her labor have blossomed and the students that she has once worked with are now at various highly prestigious institutions across the nation. She’s beyond excited to work with the Southern California College Advising Corps because the corps is just as dedicated as she is in helping low-income, first-generation students better themselves and their communities by obtaining a college degree.
Rebecca Carreon placed at Dominguez High School, CPUSD. (B.A., University of Southern California) Is returning this year to USC Rossier’s Educational Counseling Program for her graduate studies. She was born and raised in South L.A. Both her parents emigrated from Mexico and did not receive a level of education higher than grade school. Her father worked hard; working long, arduous hours to provide for them. Her mother was a seamstress who met her quota from her personal sewing machine at home so she wouldn’t have to leave the kids alone (paying a babysitter was not in the budget). Despite her lack of education, her mother was determined to instill in her a love for education. It was through her that she learned that education is not a privilege for a select few but an essential human right for all. It wasn’t until later on in high school and through her experiences like volunteering at a preschool in South Central and helping at a grade school in Guatemala, that she realized that this essential human right is not exercised freely and equally across the country and the rest of the world. During her time at USC, she worked with Americorps as a preschool teacher, became the leader of the youth ministry at her church as well the leader for the girls ministry the following year, volunteered in alternative spring break trips in Hawaii and Guatemala, and advised several high seniors during the college application process at her church. She most recently, worked as a bookkeeper at West 27th Place Apartments. Currently, she remain the leader and one of the teachers for the girls ministry at her church. All of these diverse positions have not only given her hands-on experience in working in a classroom setting, they have also taught her valuable lessons on teamwork, leadership, and the value of mentorship. Currently, as mentioned before, she will be studying at USC Rossier while working as a college adviser through the Southern California College Advising Corps, she looks forward to her time as a USC Rossier student and a college adviser. There are many more lessons to be learned.
Kassandra Destiny Casillas placed at Jordan High School, LBUSD. (B.A., Amherst College) but goes by Destiny, she grew up in Inglewood and Santa Ana. Growing up she had always envisioned herself going to a small college in the east coast. However, she didn’t know how to make this a reality as she hadn’t seen or known of anyone like her who had gone to college. Naturally, she joined organizations seeking help and guidance. She was fortunate to find more than just that, she found mentors who inspired her to challenge herself. Whether it was at home, school, the Higher Education Mentoring Program or the Scripps College Academy, she always had access to someone who cared about her future and success. Four years later, she graduated from Amherst College with a double major in Psychology and History. At Amherst she had numerous jobs ranging from caterer, seamstress, mentor to research assistant. One of the most fulfilling jobs was being a mentor for the Questbridge Telementoring Program, where she advised high school seniors from all over the US on the college and financial aid process. She felt as if she was returning the favor that so many people had done for her, which is something she pledged to do when she had received her acceptance from Amherst. She was also very involved in La Causa, the Latinx affinity organization on campus. They built a family away from home, created a Sagrada Familia, built networks and worked towards making the Latinx presence on campus stronger. They pushed for a Latinx study program, for a safe space on campus and advocated for themselves and their communities. As someone who identifies herself as a Chicana, she has always sought opportunities where she can continue to advocate for Latinxs and other ethnic minorities. Serving diverse communities for her has always been an aspiration which is why for the past year she has worked as a behavior therapist for children diagnosed with autism and other related disorders. She has learned to be patient and find alternative ways to teach. She has also learned to listen and really see everyone as an individual with their own story. She has learned to reflect on her approaches and see what changes she needs to make. She hope to continue to improve upon these skills and always lead with these principles in mind. She plans on exposing herself to other communities and to continue what she started at Amherst. Thanks to the generous financial aid packages at Amherst she was fortunate to study abroad in Paris. While in Europe, she traveled to cities such as France, Spain, Prague, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. She find myself constantly on my Expedia app looking for airfare prices to other countries and US cities. Turkey and Morocco have been on her list for a while and hopefully she’ll get to experience and learn about these and other cultures and histories.
Hyewon Cho placed at Millikan High School, LBUSD. (B.A., from the University of California, Los Angeles). During her time as an undergraduate student, Hyewon participated in several internships and jobs to raise awareness about higher education and help students with their college applications. She worked with mainly first generation and minority high school students, mostly Korean, to help them overcome the language and cultural barriers and successfully complete their college applications. She has been passionate about the field of education as her previous teachers, mentors, and counselors helped me during my journey trying to learn and work with the education system in the United States. As a member of the SCCAC and a College Advisor, She is thrilled to provide the same resources that helped her change her life and share the experiences with the students.
Bryan Coreas placed at Santee Education Complex, LAUSD. (B.A., Pomona College) is a native of La Puente, California and a proud graduate of Bassett High School. While studying at Pomona College, Bryan coordinated various education outreach initiatives including Pomona Partners, a program aimed at connecting with 7th and 8th graders to the prospect of college, the arts and current events. Always looking for new challenges, Bryan played the role of both mentor and actor as a part of Theatre for Young Audiences, an ever-growing transformative theatre program for middle and high school students at Fremont Academy. After graduating with a B.A. in Mathematics, Bryan returned to Pomona College as the inaugural Post-Baccalaureate Fellow for Education Outreach at the Draper Center, gearing students in the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation. Bryan’s role as a college advisor allowed him to personalize the application process to meet the needs of students and their families. His passion for education stems from his goal to see communities become proud of their heritage and seek empowerment though each new achievement. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys practicing his culinary skills and organizing local community events, all while capturing his adventures and the local landscape with his camera.
Jessie Cruz placed at Compton High School, CPUSD. (B.A., University of California, Irvine) is from South Central Los Angeles and a proud Anteater where he earned a Bachelor’s of Art in Anthropology and a minor in Archaeology in 2014. He is the son of immigrant parents and is proud of his culture and indigenous Mayan roots which motivates him to break down barriers. His interest in education and college access began during his high school years at West Adams Preparatory HS as a College Ambassador, informing and guiding his peers to campus resources. Thanks to the proactive impact of his college counselors, Jessie developed a “pay it forward” mentality, as he saw the necessity to be an active member in his community and college to promote higher education and retention. He used his experience as a UC Irvine Bridge Scholar—a program which gave early access to academic and social experience to incoming freshman, as foundation for higher education advocacy. During his sophomore year, he organized and led bilingual workshops at his local church in order to educate his students and parents about college access and value of a higher education (higher education option, financial aid, etc). After his life changing experience while studying abroad in Bordeaux, France, Jessie aspires to one day work for the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer (e.g. diplomat) in order to promote and advocate for multicultural education. While abroad, he had the privilege to volunteer and speak in U.S. Consulate outreach events at French high schools discussing with students about American culture but most importantly, the uniqueness of being ethnic, that is Mexican-American. He is excited to join the Southern California College Advising Corps to empower students to discover their potential and start the journey towards a higher education.
Briana Delgado placed at Wilson High School, LBUSD. (B.A., California State University, Long Beach) is a first year college advisor, she majored in Communication Studies and minored in Sociology. All four years of college she worked at an after school program and this created her passion for wanting to help our youth realize that they can amount to anything they set their minds to. This job encouraged her to be more ambitious and be an advocate for students who want to go to college. Her dream is to be a school counselor so she can continue to help students discover their strengths and help guide them to go to College.
Victor Estrada placed at Roosevelt High School, LAUSD. (B.A., University of California, Irvine) (M.A., University of San Francisco) is a native of East Los Angeles, CA. Majoring in History, he began to reflect on his high school and college days where he grew to truly appreciate those people who helped him and students like him achieve their dreams of going to college. He decided to focus his future on education, and received his master’s degree in International and Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco. While in the Bay Area, he worked for College Track San Francisco tutoring and helping some of the city’s young students get to college. Victor is very excited to join the Southern California College Advising Corps and hopes that his future career will allow him to serve similar students from underrepresented and underserved areas get to college or achieve greater once in college.
Cindy Gaytan placed at Fremont High School, LAUSD. (B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz) was born and raised in South Los Angeles and is a first generation Latina. She focused her undergraduate degree in psychology and education so she could return to her community to give students the opportunity to improve their chances of success for themselves and their families. She believes that every student can be successful, but some may lack the support or knowledge to further their futures. She has a passion for enriching the community and giving students the chance to explore their education, themselves, and the world.While she was working at a non-profit organization called Strive L.A., she witnessed the struggle many young students face in South Los Angeles. Reflecting on her past struggles, she was able to understand and really connect with her students. This experience working with underrepresented youth as a teacher and a tutor has not only increased her interest in the community, but has sparked a fire to send more students to college. The College Advising Corp at USC has given her the opportunity to learn and grow in the field of advising, and is excited to be part of an amazing team.
Omar Ivan Hernandez placed at Santiago High School, GGUSD. (B.S. California State University, Fullerton) was born in Guerrero, Mexico but raised in Garden Grove, CA since the age of one. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services and is a DREAMER. His passion to advocate for higher education comes from the new opportunities and endeavors that became viable through the pursuit of his own professional career. Thanks to his supportive high school counselor and teachers who always believed in him, he avoided becoming a statistic of Latino males that do not attain a secondary education. He recently studied abroad in Vieques, Puerto Rico to better understand the low enrollment of higher education. This experience only reinforced Omar that his dream career is to one day be an academic guidance counselor at his local school district of Garden Grove. He wants to give back to his community by providing the resources and motivation needed to help students believe that anyone from any background can attain a college education. He wants to plant a growth mindset in students so they too can believe that college can be a reality. Omar is very excited to be a part of the Southern California Advising Corps at his former alma mater.
Flavio Guzmán Magana placed at Thomas Jefferson High School, LAUSD. (B.A. Cal Lutheran University) was born in Colima, Mexico and was brought to the United States by his mother at the age of six. Since the age of six, Flavio has grown up in the San Fernando Valley. Flavio is a proud graduate of Arleta High School. Despite the obstacles Flavio faced because of being a first generation student, being undocumented, and coming from a family that could not afford to send him to college he was able to attend California Lutheran University upon graduating from High School. At Cal Lutheran, Flavio was a leader in starting the first ever MEChA club at Cal Lutheran, worked closely with the Center for Equality and Justice, helped establish a union for the food service workers, and spent a semester in DC interning with an immigrants’ rights organization. Flavio also played defensive end on the University football team, which won two league championships and made it to the NCAA playoffs twice. In only three years, Flavio graduated Magna Cum Laude and with departmental honors in both of his majors, Spanish and Political Science. Flavio is now attending the University of Southern California to earn his Master of Public Policy and is a Norman Topping Scholar. In High School, Flavio never envisioned himself working in education. However, in his senior year Flavio participated in a workshop put on by a college access nonprofit. That sparked in him a passion for education. Upon graduation from High School Flavio began volunteering for and worked for that nonprofit, College Summit. Over the course of five years working with College Summit Flavio was able to work his way up from workshop participant to Regional Point of Contact and Community Engagement Manager for the Southern California and Northern California Regions. In the five years that he worked for College Summit, Flavio had the privilege of working with over 10,000 students from Southern and Northern California. Flavio credits much of his success to passionate educators, organizations like College Summit and mentors like his High School College Counselor, Beth Winningham, who believed in him when he was not able to believe in himself. Apart from education and volunteering in the community, Flavio enjoys politics, playing and watching sports, taking road trips and attending music festivals with his wife.
Nadine Isaacs placed at Jordan High School, LAUSD. Nadine is a recent graduate from the University of California, Riverside with a degree in Political science. During a life changing internship in South Africa, she was given the opportunity to be of service to destitute communities. Within these communities she interacted with extremely bright students who excelled academically despite the lack of resources within their schools. These students were capable of being exceptional assets to society within the future, however they were not given the opportunities to maximize their potential due to their economic circumstances. Nadine then realized it was her life’s mission to help underserved students obtain the resources they required necessary to succeed in life. Since then she has been an active force in her community and has been thoroughly invested in gearing high school students toward higher education institutions. She firmly believes that students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds do not have to a product of their environment because it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.
Mariah M. Kelly placed at Cabrillo High School, LBUSD. (B.S., San Diego State University) is no stranger to the Long Beach School District as a 2010 graduate of LB Wilson Classical High School. Mariah is elated to return to Long Beach as she believes that she would have never understood the process of applying to higher education without the guidance and assistance of near-peer counselors and now wants to assist current students in the same way. She is very passionate about providing access pathways to college for students, especially those from low- income and minority back rounds. Mariah is currently a master of science candidate at the USC Marshall School of Business. She attributes much of who she is today, both personally and professionally, to her the time spent at San Diego State University where she was highly involved on Campus. She expressed that two of her leadership roles proved to be most formative to her, student body government Vice President of Financial Affairs and President of the Afrikan Student Union because she was able to make the largest impact on her campus community. She is very excited to now be in a role to help students realize their power and potential for success.
Khtija “Kat” Khair placed at Carson High School, LAUSD. (B.A., University of California, Irvine) was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and moved to the United States when she was three years old. Kat is a first generation college graduate from Central Los Angeles, CA, and is also the first person in her family to successfully complete K-12 schooling. For four years, she was an active member of the Muslim Youth Group (MYG), where she served as the Community Service Director for two years. As the Community Service Director, she hosted collaborative fundraising and service events to combat hunger and poverty in various communities around Los Angeles. During her undergraduate career, Kat studied abroad in Bali, Indonesia to study public health principles with the Bali Institute for Global Renewal. During her time there, she interned for a non-governmental organization (NGO) called PUSPADI Bali where she helped provide educational access for children with physical disabilities. Working closely with underprivileged families helped solidify her passion to develop a career in mental health, wellness, and counseling. On her free time, Kat enjoys cooking, reading, and taking her cat out on walks. Through the Southern California College Advising Corps, Kat hopes to empower students to achieve their dreams, build a bright future, and strengthen their communities.
Xin Ma placed at Downey High School, DWUSD. (B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara) Xin was born in China but she grew up in Los Angeles, California. During high school, she participated in youth organizing through the Southeast Asian Community Alliance where she learned about the importance of representation, equity, and justice for low-income students of color. Alongside, she had the opportunity to be part of a mentorship program that provided the kind of inclusivity and support system necessary in preparing for college. Her passion for transformative social change followed her to college as a first generation college student from a low-income background. This inclined her to become involved with advocacy and organizing for non-profits and student organizations along with developing her passion for educational reform and access to higher education. On her free time, she enjoys hiking, biking, going to the gym, reading, watching foreign films, and asking to pet other people’s dogs.
Lila Mendoza placed at Diego Rivera Learning Complex, LAUSD. (B.A., Pitzer College) is a first-generation Pitzer College graduate who was born and raised in South Los Angeles. Having had an outstanding support and mentoring system throughout her educational trajectory, she has always shared a great passion for education. During her time at Pitzer Lila mentored, tutored, and taught students in K-12. Upon graduating she received a Fulbright to teach English in South Korea for a year. There, she lived with a Korean family and worked at an all-girls high school. As much as she enjoyed her time in Korea, she knew she wanted to become involved in education back home. She most recently worked with Motivating Our Students Through Experience (MOSTe), the college access and mentoring program that exposed her to Pitzer among other schools. Lila truly believes in the power of education and that it should be accessible to all individuals. She looks forward to working in her community, sharing her experiences and guiding students through their college application process.
Adeeva Myers placed at Wilson High School, LBUSD. (B.A., University of California, Berkeley) is from the city of Carson, CA. While attending Berkeley, Adeeva took an active role in her community as an intern for the Black Recruitment and Retention Center, aiding to increase acceptance and graduation rates of African American students at UC Berkeley. Most recently, Adeeva worked with the LA’s Promise organization as a Community Representative offering education resources at John Muir Middle School in South LA. As a product of an under-resourced high school, Adeeva understands the plight of students needing added support in their efforts to achieve. Her goal is to see our education system grow into a more equitable institution where students of all backgrounds can achieve equally. Her dedication to this has urged her to diligently work in spaces that have put her in the position to help cultivate young lives, especially concerning their academic success. Therefore, she is very excited about working with the College Advising Corps, guiding our next generation of students to higher education.
Asani Myers placed at San Pedro High School, LAUSD. Asani was born and raised in Carson, California. From a young age, her parents raised her on the foundation of hard work, education, and faith. With this foundation, Asani found the importance of being an asset to her community. She attended San Francisco State University, earning her BA in Psychology in 2016. Along with working with SFSU’s Residential Life, Asani was apart of B.R.U.H (Black Residents United in Housing) and Gospel Gators. Asani is excited to be apart of SCCAC and the Trojan family, and is planning to use her experience to serve her community.
Omolara Oluyemi placed at Lakewood High School, LBUSD. Nicknamed Lara, first year adviser received her Bachelors in English with an emphasis in creative writing in 2015. Her parents migrated to the United States from Lagos, Nigeria after winning the lottery for the diversity visa hosted by the United States Department of State. Lara strives to make her parents proud by being an active member in her community an advocating for those that cannot advocate for themselves. Her passion for service has led her to the education and non-profit sector. Prior to becoming a college adviser with Southern California College Advising Corps, Lara was the program coordinator of Knowledge Revealed, a college and career readiness mentoring program hosted by Arrowhead United Way in San Bernardino, Ca. Lara and her team of volunteers worked to motivate young students to pursue higher education and exceed their life goals and aspirations. She is excited to use her previous experience mentoring and providing college assistance to non-traditional students from diverse backgrounds to provide college access to students in the greater Los Angeles area.
Dajanae Palmer placed at Polytechnic High School, LBUSD. (B.A. San Diego State University). While at SDSU she was able to take advantage of so many opportunities. Dajanae was able to study abroad twice during her time at SDSU, traveling to Oxford, London, Paris, and Kingston. Not only was study abroad a major experience for her she was also a mentor for the Harambee program. The program was focused on mentoring the first time freshman African American students attending SDSU. She was able to give the freshman a sense of guidance and family during their fist-year experience. After this involvement she realized that she wants to work in higher education and help students navigate their time at university to become as successful as possible. She is enrolled in the Postsecondary Education and Student Affairs program at USC. She is very excited to start working with the College Advising Corps at USC. She is ready to help students achieve their higher educational goals.
Estevan Palomino placed at Torres High School, LAUSD. (California State University, Long Beach). Beginning as a student at Pasadena City College, Estevan transferred to CSULB in 2013. While working towards his degree in Communication Studies, he acquired a job with CSULB’s Outreach department. It was his time with Outreach that served as the catalyst for his interest in college advising. When not working, Estevan spends his time writing music and endlessly watching movies.
Cassidy Plair placed at Compton High School, CPUSD. (B.A., University of California, Riverside) is a first year College Adviser. Her interest was sparked in education and youth development during their time at Community Colleges across the Los Angeles area as well as University of California, Riverside where she studied Political Science & International Relations as well as Philosophy. Studying Politics developed for Cassidy an interest in the processes of justice, social mobility and the various policies surrounding them. As higher education is at the core of these interests, Cassidy dreams of demonstrating to all of the positive things about a college education while working to increase that opportunity for as many people as possible. When they are not thinking of ways to make the world a better place Cassidy enjoys record collecting, beat-making, art and fitness. An artist at heart, Cassidy takes a creative approach to getting young people on the path to college success.
Richard Ramirez placed at Dominguez High School, CPUSD. (B.A., San Francisco State University). Richard is a South Los Angeles Native in which he is proud of. During his time at San Francisco State he was on the board for Hermanos Unidos a non-profit student organization that strives to give back to the local community and youth, through various community services and school outreaches. Richard coordinated and facilitated numerous student outreaches for underrepresented , low income and first generation youth and that is when he realized his passion for helping the youth get to college and remain in higher education. He is excited to embark in this new journey as a college adviser and cant wait to implement what he’s learned in his undergraduate career. His goal is to one day be a College Counselor in similar neighborhoods that he grew up in to further help first generation, underrepresented youth with the process of going and staying in higher education.
Adriana Reyes placed at Los Amigos, GGUSD. (California State University of Dominguez Hills) as an advisor, Adriana had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students. It was one of the greatest experiences ever because she was able to help my colleagues with advice on class schedules, what major could possibly be the best route for their career interest, ensured students were on the correct path towards graduation, assisted students with graduate school information, such as deadlines, requirements, test dates etc., and most importantly she was able to create a bond with colleagues and share her experiences with them. In addition to being a Peer Advisor, Adriana was a Youth Developmental Professional for the Boys & Girls Club at a middle school in the GGUSD. There she was able to mentor underrepresented students and guide them towards a better quality of life. It was great for her, being able to interact with our future generation and implement activities that thought them leadership roles. Growing up as a first generation student, Adrian’s household lacked guidance towards the post-secondary education. Therefore, she had her adversities in her college career. she had to build up her ambition and self-drive to want a better quality of life. With the guidance from wonderful professors over at Santa Ana College and CSUDH, she was able to pick herself up from being on academic probation to making the Deans List and graduating with honors at CSUDH. The professors really made an impact in her life and valued Adriana as a student and as a Peer Advisor. As a College Adviser, she’s excited to work with a great group of diverse students and encourage them to reach their highest potential in life. Students undergo a huge transition leaving high school into the college life; therefore, it is important that we share our experiences with them and provide the proper guidance towards a successful post-secondary education.
Roger Rivera placed at Lynwood High School, LYUSD. (B.A., University of Santa Cruz). After college, Roger worked for a non-profit organization called Proyecto Pastoral as an after school program coordinator called IMPACTO at Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez High School. Roger created opportunities for students to participate in various physical, academic, and educational enrichment activities after school. After his service at Proyecto Pastoral, he continued his work in youth development with students in the South Los Angeles area through the Service Works program at CD Tech. Roger coordinated and facilitated the Service Works program at Santee Education Complex and Maya Angelou Community High School, offering students the opportunity to learn personal and professional development skills that would assist students in accomplishing their personal and academic goals. As an educator and advocate, Roger strongly believes that every student deserves the right to receive the highest level of education. He is honored to continue to support students in achieving their academic and professional career goals through the Southern California College Advising Corps.
Christine Rocha placed at Bell High School, LAUSD. (B.A., University of Southern California) grew up in South Los Angeles and graduated from Manual Arts High School (MAHS). She recently earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. As an undergraduate, she continuously worked on research projects, such as the I AM Mentoring Program and SummerTIME Program at the Pullias Center for Higher Education at USC’s Rossier School of Education. At her time there, she mentored numerous graduating high school seniors with their college and financial aid applications. She also served as the lead advisor for two school sites (i.e. Manual Arts Sr. High School and Foshay Learning Center). Most recently after graduating, Christine served as the College Knowledge Instructor for the USC SummerTIME writing intensive four-week Program. As the Instructor, her duty was to teach students the importance of GRIT, college planning and preparation, and college and financial aid applications. Aside from teaching a class, Christine continued to mentor her SummerTIME students after school to make sure they were on track and address any questions or concerns they had about the application process. Christine believes education is key to moving society forward and creating a new foundation for the following generations. Being a first-generation student at MAHS, she took part in outreach programs to get the guidance and support needed to be college bound. Therefore, she believes giving back to her community by providing the same support to her students, she is contributing to help society move forward.
Mitzi Rosales placed at Jordan High School, LBUSD. (B.A., California State University, Long Beach) grew up in the city of South Gate, CA. She is the first person in her family to go to college and is passionate about sharing her gained experience and knowledge with first generation, low-income, and underrepresented high school students. While at CSULB, Mitzi worked as a residential assistant for the Educational Opportunity’s Summer Bridge Program, as a college counselor for the University Outreach School Relations Department, and as a volunteer for the Latina Connection Conference. Through these jobs, she assisted students transition from high school to college, advised students how to successfully navigate through their college career, and helped promote a conference in order for Latina students to empower one another. Mitzi is very excited to be a part of the Southern California College Advising Corps and looks forward to helping students take the next step in their life.
Sarah Ruderman placed at Warren High School, DWUSD. (B.A., University of California, Los Angeles) is an Oakland, California native and a graduate of the Oakland public schools. After high school, Sarah moved to Los Angeles where she has lived for the past five years. Sarah attended UCLA and spent four incredible years immersing herself in campus life, studying Sociology and Gender Studies, conducting research and working with student-athletes. Her academic and professional interests center around youth, education and diversity in all capacities. As a student and since earning her bachelor degrees, she have worked in various educational and non-profit settings and would like to pursue a career that allows her to engage with young people on a daily basis. Sarah owes her success to her wonderful family and amazing friends who have motivated and supported her unconditionally. She enjoys spending her free time with these people laughing, discussing, running, practicing yoga, traveling, cooking and trying new restaurants. In both personal and professional life, she seeks out new experiences and strives to engage with her community while building strong, positive relationships with those around her.
Tori Saruwatari placed at Lakewood High School, LBUSD. (B.A. University of California, San Diego) is a first generation college student from South San Gabriel, CA. After graduating from high school, she attended Rio Hondo Community College where she found an interest in the studies of Sociology and Education. She then transferred to UC San Diego in 2013, where she continued her studies in Sociology and was able to further develop her passion within the field of education. She briefly worked at the Preuss Charter School where she served as the Student Services Intern and she also interned at a community center on campus known as SPACES (Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service). A student initiated space which provides access and retention programs for historically underrepresented and underserved students. Tori is so excited for this opportunity to work with the Southern California College Advising Corps providing students with better access to higher education.
Sharqaua Smith placed at Centennial High School, CPUSD. (B.S.S., Ohio University) is a first generation college student from Cleveland, OH. During her collegiate career, after seeing the powerful impact peer leadership had on her first year of undergrad, she served as Peer Mentor for Ohio University’s Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention. In this role she mentored first year multicultural students, holding them accountable to maximizing their full potential. Eager to reach more students, with several peers, she co-founded the Urban Renaissance Achievement Program (URAP) for low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented high school students in low performing schools. In this role she presented the importance of a college education to high school students through workshops in college admissions and financial aid, as well as hosting an overnight campus visit. Upon relocating to California she worked as a Promise Corps Member at the Academy of Scientific Exploration at Cesar Chavez Learning Academies, improving STEM skills among High School students. She is very excited to continue working with students, and looks forward to helping them on their journey to higher education.
Ann Kim Vu placed at Gardena High School, LAUSD (B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara). After completing her general education at Golden West College, Ann transferred to UCSB, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Asian American Studies with a minor in Educational Studies. During her time at UCSB, she worked as both a Department Assistant and Peer Adviser for UCSB’s Department of Asian American Studies, an Admissions Advocacy Volunteer for UCSB’s Office of Admissions, and a tutor for a Transitional Kindergarten classroom. Through her roles, she maintained constant interactions with diverse students and pushed to provide inclusive and safe environments for minorities to succeed. Following graduation, Ann returned to Golden West College to work as an Admissions and Records Assistant, where she assisted students with their applications and course registrations to ensure a smooth transition into a college atmosphere. Ann enjoys working with students and their families to increase college awareness and wants to use her own educational experience to guide others. Her involvement with students from multiple age demographics allows her to assess and approach unique situations with the care and urgency they require. Currently, she is a graduate student in the Guidance and Counseling program at Loyola Marymount University. As a first-generation college graduate, Ann is committed to help and advocate for students in underserved communities so that they may achieve their educational goals. She believes her enthusiasm for higher education will benefit not only SCCAC, but extended and surrounding communities as well.
Alissa Young placed at Carson High School, LAUSD. Alissa Young is a proud member of the Southern California College Advising Corps. As a first-generation college student from a low-income community in Los Angeles, she viewed college as unattainable for not only herself but also other students in her community. Encouraged by great family, mentors, and teachers from her high school (C.A.T.C.H), Alissa learned college was indeed attainable for students from similar backgrounds, just like her. As a result, she attended Loyola University New Orleans and received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a concentration in Social Justice and Inequality. During her four years as an undergrad, Alissa was involved with Loyola’s First In The Pack organization, mentoring freshman first-generation college students throughout their academic career. She also Co-Chaired Loyola’s chapter of Students For Education Reform (SFER), focused on drawing attention to the educational inequalities facing low-income students of color. Through this organization, she was able to spread awareness of the problems facing disadvantaged students and worked with countless educators and policy makers to create solutions for these social problems. Inspired by SFER’s mission and purpose, after graduation from Loyola, Alissa moved on to pursue her Masters of Social Work with a concentration in Children, Youth and Families from the University of Southern California. Ultimately, her goal is to become a School Counselor in Los Angeles and eventually open up her own non-profit called G.R.O.W. (Giving Resources to Others Willingly). Aside from SCCAC, Alissa is also a mentor in Compton Mayor Aja Brown’s Bloom Young Ladies Mentoring Initiative and continues to be of service to others through volunteering and mentoring.