Meet The Awesome People In The Office
OFFICE OF ENGAGEMENT
Assistant Vice President
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!
OFFICE OF ENGAGEMENT
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.
OFFICE OF ENGAGEMENT
Mandi loves pickles but hates cucumbers, has read every Shakespeare play at least once, can tell you Snapple facts about at least five breeds of penguins , and hates writing about herself. She received her BFA in Theatre from Westminster College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She is extremely passionate about access to education, especially higher learning, and is honored to be a part of this super-star team.
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!
first star academy
Alexa has spent the last ten years accumulating skills no one needs anymore, like making fire from rubbing two sticks together and walking across the desert without GPS. She also spent a lot of time coming up with plans she never followed through on, like starting a homemade ice cream business in Salt Lake City. Despite this, Alexa earned a B.A. from the University of Utah and an MFA in creative writing and writing pedagogy from The Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College. Alexa is passionate about supporting others through trauma to achieve educational and learning goals. She is grateful to pursue this work in her role as the Director of the University of Utah First Star Academy, a program that aims to improve the educational outcomes of youth in foster care. Alexa is also adjunct faculty in the Outdoor Education and Leadership department at Westminster College. In her spare time, she writes stories and continues to improve useless skills like climbing rocks.
FIRST STAR ACADEMY
Cats and Netflix is pretty much the perfect paradise for Marisol. She often says she has four pet cats, but in reality they are her family. Marisol was born and raised in Mexico, and has lived half her life in Utah. When not at work, Marisol loves spending time with her three sisters, parents, cats, and friends—actually, most of the time, Marisol just loves spending time alone, hoping one of her cats will love her. Marisol completed her B.S. in Ethnic Studies and Sociology from the University of Utah. After graduation, Marisol was shook to be accepted for the First Star Coordinator position to work with foster youth.
FIRST STAR ACADEMY
A descendent of warriors, voyagers, and navigators, Nisi La’a has made her way across the Pacific Ocean to the state of Utah. Born and raised on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, in a little town on the West side called Nanakuli. Nisi is a proud first generation student and who transferred from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa to the U her sophomore year. She is majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in Psychology and Health promotion and education. Nisi is heavily involved in the Salt Lake City community working as a volunteer coordinator for a non-profit organization called pik2ar (pacific island knowledge 2 action resources) where she helps bridge people to resources and education. As she is engaged with her community, on campus she is committed as one of the board members of the Pacific Islander Student Association (PISA) and also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. In her free time, she enjoys beautiful hikes, watching Netflix, and hibernating in the winter
glendale/mtn. view clc pathways
Sol Jimenez is the Education Pathways Coordinator at the Glendale-Mountain View Community Learning Center (CLC) and she is hardly ever in her campus office! 9/10 times you will find her at the CLC chatting with parents, students, or her best friend and CLC coordinator Keri Taddie! When Sol is not having fun in the Glendale neighborhood she is usually with her family and close friends. Some of Sol’s favorite things to do are garden, triathlons, make smoothie bowls, clean and organize, shop at Trader Joes and drink sparking water! Sol loves working for the Office of Engagement and the CLC and cannot think of anywhere else she rather be!
Uintah basin PATHWAYS
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.
Defining Your path field trips
Logan Meyers, a self-proclaimed "local celebrity" hailing from small town Idaho, works as the Defining Your Path Field Trip Coordinator. With a degree from Utah Valley University in Secondary Art Education and Utah State Teaching License, he loves to create art, and surprisingly, he actually enjoys running around campus with large groups of rowdy students. He also loves technology and digital media, thus making him a Photoshop Master of No Mercy! Logan's first job was at the community swimming pool, saving lives and encouraging small children to "just keep swimming!" Think whistles, planks, and bubble-blowing contests. Sure, he may be a reluctant hipster who collects vinyl records, cross-stitches needle point art, loves film photography, and rocks out at local punk shows, but he also strives to change the intimidating perceptions of college held by many students in the K-12 community. Through his field trips, he shows that college is accessible, valuable, and FUN! So, when you see a giant group of K-12 students scuffling the campus, you know Logan isn't far behind!
DEFINING YOUR PATH FIELD TRIPS
During Sarah's lifetime she has been known as "goth moth", "edgelord", and as of late, the "mom friend". All of these titles she gladly embraces and flaunts with poise and pride. She has a "slight" obsession with cats, owning numerous articles of clothing dedicated to felines and also owning two of them (their names are Baby and Chubby). Lastly,when she isn't working on school or work related projects, you can always find her looking at recent memes and laughing (essentially dying of laughter, really) because she is very easily amused. Sarah is currently majoring in Social Work and minoring in SUDC and Korean. Her purpose in life is to create an environment that embraces all walks of life, and it is strongly influenced from her multi-cultural background and way of upbringing. Her biggest inspiration in life that motivates her to keep strong is her mom.
Alonso R. Reyna Rivarola
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. On his spare time, Alonso is working on a Ph.D. in Sociology. (coffee sip)
Dayan is one of our graduate assistants and is currently a student in the Masters in Public Administration (MPA) Program at the University of Utah. When she is not in school or babysitting her two younger brothers, you can usually find her watching her favorite beauty vloggers or looking online for deals to travel somewhere. She is a huge food lover, so share your favorite restaurants with her! Dayan gained passion for working with the undocumented community through her experience as a former undocumented student, then later as a Utah College Access Advisor. In 2017, she graduated with her Bachelors in Sociology and through her professional career she hopes to continue working with students to help them fulfill their goals and aspirations.
Brenda is one of our graduate assistants and a student in the Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP) Program. She is an alumna from Salt Lake Community College and Utah State University. She recently graduated from USU with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Brenda has been at the forefront of advocating and providing resources for undocumented students. Brenda has helped implement the Bruin Dreams scholarship, and the UndocuAlly training as an active member of the Undocumented Student Resource Committee at SLCC. She is eager to continue her work at the University of Utah's Dream Center. When she is not in school or at work, she enjoys traveling for music festivals like EDC, exercising her creativity, and spending time with her family and three dogs: Duke, Chispa, and Bandit.
Luis Trejo *drag queen enthusiast and expert* is an undergraduate student at The University of Utah majoring in Health Promotion and Education. He was raised in Utah, but born in Mexico. You can usually find Luis at his house or at the Del Taco drive thru buying 5 fiesta packs for himself. He likes to get the best of life. He wants to be able to help people achieve their goals in life. Luis' own personal life goal is to meet his role model and savior, Bianca Del Rio, while saving the world from rats and spiders. His hobbies are sleeping, eating, complaining, and bothering people.
beacon scholars program
Colombian born and raised, this Latina has energy for days! With passion for her culture and heritage, she always adds her Colombian flavor to anything she does. Linda embraces her multinational experience, which often means communicating in Spanglish (with everyone, really). She is the Beacon Scholars Manager by day and fitness coach by night. Thats right, Linda teaches a fitness class called 'Bodypump!' Exercise is her escape from daily stress. She is grateful for the opportunity to empower students to find their identity and embrace their background as a way to succeed and grow in academics. As a First Generation College Student, Linda received a B.A. in International Affairs from La Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia in 2007, and in 2011, she earned a Masters of Public Administration from East Tennessee State University. When she is not at work, you can find Linda obsessively cleaning her house, and spending quality time with her son, Gabriel, and husband, and ironically playing and dancing to En Barranquilla me Quedo in Utah. Never forget your roots, por que tus raices son lo más importante.
Emilio Manuel Camu
BEACON SCHOLARS PROGRAM
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'!
BEACON SCHOLARS PROGRAM
'I am a potato' is all Christina is about. Anything from a baked potato to potato pizzas are Christina’s favorite food item to talk about. When she isn’t obsessing over being a potato she enjoys eating and hanging out with friends and folks she meets. As the oldest of four in her family Christina is studying Ethnic Studies and Sociology. She comes from a long line of great family cooks and refugees from Laos. When she isn’t in Beacon you can usually catch her chilling in the lounge or in CESA attempting to do homework or passionately talking about how she wants academia to be more accessible to everyone or just eating something that her grandpa cooked for her that day. She enjoys walks NOT hikes with fresh air and loves to embrace her potato-ness.
BEACON SCHOLARS PROGRAM
Jeidi is a first generation student that is still learning the ropes of college, but is willing to help and learn along the the way. Currently studying Human development and family studies and loving it! She really enjoys doing crafts and DIY projects. She tries to do them whenever she can and usually that translates into her making a lot of gifts and some crafty decor (all though it may not always work out!). She is super afraid of scary movies so do not count on her to watch them with anyone. I also am learning to speak nahuatl, and speak spanish. When she's not in BEACON, she's usually studying and trying to improve herself. She is a Sun sign and Moon sign Aries which a lot of people do not see because she does not act like a fire sign but, ya know everyone has their opinion. She is the oldest child in her family so that tend to comes out in her interaction with others. Often called as the, “emotional mother”, for that. She often spends her time stressing about minor details and tends to overthink. I enjoy going out to dance with my friends and acquaintance.
BEACON SCHOLARS PROGRAM
Karla is a sun sign so summer is my favorite season, yellow is my favorite color and I’m a Gemini rising in Virgo. According to Chinese astrology, her peak years will be from 27 on up so wait on her. She's a social work major here at the University of Utah, She loves to jog and her ultimate goal is to be a immigration lawyer. She cares about undocumented student/family issues and Latinidad. Standing at 5 ft exactly, she can’t reach most things so she tries to make friends with people who are taller than her. She's bilingual, in her third year of college, the oldest of her siblings and glamorous. Her brown skin sparkles in the sun and her favorite fruit is oranges. Xoxo gossip girl.
Shania Portilla Santana
BEACON SCHOLARS PROGRAM
When she’s not representing her Latinx culture through Ballet Folklorico dance, Shania enjoys taking long walks at the capitol and spending time with her four children (dogs). Shania is a first-generation college student hopefully majoring in elementary education. She is a light brown/red headed girl with freckles that loves going to concerts and on spontaneous adventures with her friends. Shania has a loud annoying laugh that you can hear from across the room which goes with her sense of humor, so hit her up if you want to have a good laugh.