Success in college can never start too early. From preschool and kindergarten all the way through high school, there are things we can do today that will help prepare our young minds for higher education—no matter what stage they may be at now.
The U's Office of Engagement connects community with the promises of higher education in important ways—through first helping young people IMAGINE and really believe they can go to college, then by mentoring and preparing them through the process, and finally by helping them DO—fostering real achievement though counseling, engagement, and the creation of a safe space to learn and discover.
Sandi is a lover of Zumba, old cars, fast cars, and every animal she's ever met. Except for snakes. She doesn't love snakes. She is passionate about access to higher education for all and is grateful for the opportunity to work in this space every day. As the Assistant Vice President for Engagement, she spends her time working with all of our programs, and loves the opportunity to raise money to build pipelines to and through higher education. A first generation college student, Sandi earned a BA in Dance, an MPA, and a Ph.D. in Public Administration. She teaches in the MPA program here at the U, and will soon also be teaching Zumba on campus! Her daughters tell her that she is like Dug from "Up" because...squirrel!
Extreme Alps Ice Climbing, X-Games Skateboarding Champion, and Fresh Water Shark Training are just a few of the activities that Nicole will never do. Because YOLO, you only live once, and nobody ever got hurt sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Instead of seeking thrills that might break her fragile bird bones, Nicole currently spends her free time obsessing over government politics, avoiding ginger damaging sunlight, and working on her Ph.D. in Political Science. As a first generation college student, Nicole completed both her B.S. in Communication and Masters in Public Administration at the University of Utah. Nicole enjoys collaborating with her talented University of Utah colleagues as Managing Director of the Office of Engagement and Director of the Utah College Advising Corps.
Rachel is an ardent admirer of Chihuahuas and Kombucha. When Rachel isn't hanging out 25 feet in the air practicing aerials and performing with the Aerial Artists of Utah, you might see her around campus promoting access to higher education as the Assistant Director for the Utah College Advising Corps. Not only does she keep the office in line with her amazing administrative duties, she also enjoys catching Pokemon. So far she has a Vapereon with a CP of 930 and climbing. One day she will control the gym located at the U.S. Army Fort Douglas Monument. Rachel is a first generation college graduate. Her favorite rockstar politician is Wendy Davis and meeting Gloria Steinman is a high bucket list priority; #feminism. She received a B.S. from Westminster College and an MPA from the U. The Office of Engagement could not function without her Pcard pizazz, parsimonious budget tracking, and her ability to multitask whilst seeing a squirrel!
Jack of all trades, master of, well, Social Work; at least as far as education goes. Gluttonous consumer of information on an eclectic array of topics: currently bingeing on alternative dwellings, solar energy, and bicycles. Unrelentingly verbose in both spoken and written forms. Reads nearly exclusively adolescent fiction. Obsessed with food—particularly cultural and familial traditional cuisines. Pop-culture Luddite. Urban-phobic, free-range, solar-powered human. Passionate about college access and the transformative opportunity college can be for first generation students. Community-based social worker with a flair for individualization, broad application of harm reduction principles, and mentor/reciprocal relationship empowerment. One goal in life: to help each person discover and passionately pursue their dreams, on their own terms, towards their own definition of success. Believes that, "There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story." –Mary Lou Kownacki
A self-proclaimed iced coffee snob hailing from Idaho Falls, Logan joined our team as the new Defining your Path Field trip coordinator. With a B.A. from Utah Valley University of Utah in secondary art education, he loves to create art. His most recent paintings portray Labradors of all different colors and sizes. He minored in digital media thus making him a Photoshop Master of no Mercy! Logan's first job was at the community swimming pool coaching kids to find their inner Michael Phelps. Think whistles, planks, and bubble contests. A reluctant hipster who collects vinyl records, cross stitching needle point art, with a love of film photography and local rock in roll shows. He strives to change the perception of college for the K-12 community. Through his field trips, he shows that college is accessible, engaging and immersive. He plans on doubling the number of student participants from last year. So, when you see a giant group of K-12 students scuffling the campus you know he is well on his way to amassing over 4,000 students this next year!
Jarred Martinez is home-grown in Salt Lake City and Kearns, with family roots throughout the southwest and northern Mexico. Soon after returning home from earning a Masters in Youth Development from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012, he began working with the Office of Engagement. Jarred's role places him in a number of community settings, particularly the Glendale\Mtn. View Community Learning Center, where he works with youth, community members, and other organizations to support critical learning and the creation educational pathways. When not in Glendale, Rose Park or on campus, he is probably out exploring the world, playing in the mountains, or dancing cumbias!
Martha travels to Fort Duchesne every week. In between trips she hikes, skies, bikes and otherwise enjoys all the outdoor adventures in Utah. You can probably find her floating down the Colorado River or buying chocolate at Trader Joe's. One time in June her and her husband spotted a patch of snow in Eastern Utah at 11,000 ft and hiked 45 minutes across a scree field with their skis and boots for a total of 8 thrilling turns! She is a fantastic videographer creating stunning images of her work within the office and the Ute Indian Tribe.
Marisol is a first generation student and Dreamer. She graduates spring 2017 with a double major in Ethnic Studies and Sociology. Marisol is our fearless Beacon Scholars leader. Aside from planning for the Beaconeers and helping new students entering the University she gets to boss around her four younger sisters. She also has four cats two of them are adopted, the other two adopted her (they came from the outside and won't leave). Fun fact, she used to have a pet duck and created a cat video once using the Whitney Houston song, I Will Always Love You.
A descendant of farmers, cooks, doctors, and teachers, Emilio decided to add folk-dancer to his families' ever growing list of careers. Beacon Scholar Advisor by day, and Southern Chinese Lion Dancer by night, Emilio also loves preserving, teaching, and performing traditional Filipino rural dances at different Asian and Pacific Islander festivals throughout the state! Smell something good? He's probably serving and sharing a mean lunch with his students as Emilio not only loves to eat, but lives to cook indigenous foods from his roots and the surrounding Southeast Asian cuisines. When he's not dancing, cooking, or eating, he's probably inside watching reruns on Netflix, outside hiking, or out with friends making and capturing memories! Emilio was the first in his family to graduate, with none other than a degree from the University of Utah (BA in Communication, minor in Asian Pacific Islander Studies). He wouldn't have been able to do it without the friends and chose family he made from AASA, BSU, ITSA, MEChA, and PISA at the U! Community organizer, aspiring activist, son of the Pacific—get familiar, talk about social justice issues, and call him 'Kuya'!
Dayan's name is pronounced as 'Diane' but it's spelled the way it is because her father didn't know how to spell Diane, so he sounded it out a spelled it as DA-YAN. She was born in Panama but raised with Peruvian culture. She has two brothers–one is a year and half, the other is 10, spaced out by decades. She is a first generation college student graduating in 2018 in Sociology. From the backside, you might think Dayan is in grade school because she is only 4'11", but make no mistake, she packs a punch. She is an avid dancer who can't get enough of the color turquoise.
Alejandra, AKA, Ali is a first generation college grad (also first generation high school grad) studying Exercise and Sports Science. She LOVES anything that is related to dance. She gets her heart rate going in Zumba classes and she also taught herself Michael Jackson's moonwalk moves from watching YouTube videos. This is Ali's second year in the Beacon Scholars program, first as a mentor and now a leader. Her favorite color is green and you might find her outside hiking or running when she isn't in class or working up in the ANNEX.
When Sam isn't hiking, you'll see him around the office helping first year students at the U. As a first generation, undocumented student, Sam is learning his way through higher education and shares his experiences with others. He is a self-proclaimed 'absolute nerd' set to graduate in 2019 with a degree in computer science. Sam was a Beacon first year participant in 2015-16 and did such a stellar job he was asked to be a Beacon leader for 2016-17. He is left handed and his mother makes amazing papusas!
Caffeine-dependent Alonso (coffee sip) searches for inspiration and enlightenment in cat imagery ranging from magnets to calendars. When Alonso is not in the office working with students, you can find him, well, working some more in the community, editing papers at local coffee shops, or playing with his cats, Gabo and Kiwi, and re-watching Parks and Recreation for probably the fifteenth time. NO KIDDING. Alonso is passionate about working with undocumented students and families and seeks to share all his knowledge and experiences with the undocumented community as well as the community at large. In 2013, Alonso graduated from the University of Utah with an Honors B.S. in Sociology and in 2016 with a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy with an emphasis in higher education administration. (coffee sip)