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Meet the Staff


Director

  • Dr. Belinda Zamacona (she/her/hers)

    Dr. Belinda Zamacona (she/her/hers)

    Hometown: Colonia La Venta, Acapulco de Juárez, Guerrero, México
    High School: Fallbrook Union High School
    College (BA & MA): San Diego State University
    College (Ed.D.): Joint doctoral program in Education Studies with UC San Diego & CSU San Marcos
    Favorite spot on Campus
    Y Mas
    On my bucket list:
    To spend an entire summer at the beach. 
    Advice to new students
    “No estudio por saber más, sino por ignorar menos”. ―Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

    Belinda is the founder of the Chancellor's Associates Scholars Program (CASP), conceptualizing the program when she was hired in 2014. Her responsibilities as the Director for CASP include the creation, development, and implementation of a comprehensive retention program to support students who receive the Chancellor’s Associate Scholarship, which recognizes and supports talented students with financial need who have great potential and motivation to succeed at UC San Diego. Belinda is a proud first-generation, English-language learner student, born in México. Belinda has been part of UC San Diego since 2009. She is passionate about issues of access and equity in education. Her professional background includes working with parents and families, community relations, and access, yield and retention programs. Belinda has served as a higher education leader nationally, being a past member of the leadership team for NASPA’s Socioeconomic and Class Issues in Higher Educational Knowledge Community, and an Advocate in the Advocacy Group for NASPA’s Center for First Generation Student Success. She is a member of NASPA, AHSIE, AAHHE, ASHE, and HACU. Her research agenda includes undocumented students and social class identity. 

    belinda@ucsd.edu | (858) 822-6740
    Office hours: By appointment.  
    Schedule an Appointment, https://calendly.com/bzamacona

Coordinators for Academic Support and Student Success

  • Karen Van Ness, M.A. | ACADEMIC SUPPORT COORDINATOR

    Karen Van Ness, M.A. | ACADEMIC SUPPORT COORDINATOR

    Hometown: Richardson, Texas
    High School: Plano Senior High School
    College (BA): Brown University
    MA & C.Phil: UCSD Department of Literature. Currently in joint doctoral program in education at UC San Diego and California State University, San Marcos
    Favorite spot at UCSD: The May 1970 Peace Memorial on Revelle Campus
    Bucket list: To finish my dissertation!
    Advice to new students: UC San Diego can feel big & impersonal, but you will find your place if you look for it.

    Karen has worked at UC San Diego for over 15 years as a writing instructor and as a program coordinator in Student Affairs.  She is currently working on her doctoral dissertation on the role of the University of California system in the success of non-traditional students.

    kvanness@ucsd.edu | (858) 246-0322
    Schedule an Appointment, https://calendly.com/karenvanness
  • Maria "Ria" Rodriguez, M.A. | STUDENT SUCCESS COORDINATOR

    Maria "Ria" Rodriguez, M.A. | STUDENT SUCCESS COORDINATOR

    Hometown: El Cajon, CA
    High School: Granite Hills High School
    College (BA): University of California, Merced
    College (MA): San Diego State University
    Favorite spot at UCSD: Price center because of all the food!
    Bucket list: Cage Diving with Sharks
    Advice to new students: “If you were born with the weakness to fall you were born with the strength to rise.” – rupi kaur

    Ria Rodriguez is the inaugural Student Success Coordinator in the Chancellor's Associates Scholars Program. In her role she oversees the peer mentorship program for first-year students, as well as summer transition interventions, alumni tracking, amongst other responsibilities. Ria is alumna of UC Merced, where she majored in Political Science. She completed her Master of Arts in Education in the Postsecondary Educational Leadership Program with a specialization in Student Affairs. As a first-generation college student, Ria is passionate about creating community and supporting students throughout their journey at UC San Diego. She has been with UC San Diego since 2015 and is excited to continue her journey of growth to better serve the students she works with.

    m4rodriguez@ucsd.edu | (858) 822-5392
    Schedule an Appointment,https://calendly.com/m4rodriguez
  • Mariana Valdivieso | INTERIM STUDENT SUCCESS COORDINATOR

    Mariana Valdivieso | INTERIM STUDENT SUCCESS COORDINATOR

    Hometown: San Diego, CA (City Heights)
    College (BA) University of California, San Diego
    Favorite spot at UCSD: M.O.M.
    Bucket listEat at Hell's Kitchen (any Gordon Ramsay restaurant)
    Advice to new studentsYou can do it! You belong here! Look at what you've done to get here, and think about what you'll accomplish.

    Mariana Valdivieso (she/her/ella) is the CASP 101 Program Coordinator. In her role, she plans and organizes CASP 101, the summer transitional program for incoming CASP students. She is a recent UCSD Grad and got her Bachelors in Linguistics with a focus in Language and Society with minors in Sociocultural Anthropology and Spanish Literature. She is a proud first-generation, low-income, Latina, born and raised in San Diego, specifically City Heights. She is a CASP student from the 2018 Cohort and has been working with CASP since 2020. Mariana is excited to continue working on CASP 101, the program that made her feel welcome at the beginning of her UCSD career and started her journey to find her community. In the future, Mariana hopes to continue building a community for students and paving the way for other first-generation students.

    mvaldivieso@ucsd.edu  | (858) 534-8366
    Schedule an Appointment, https://calendly.com/m5valdiv 

Student Retention Specialist

  • Maria Soto

    Maria Soto

    Hometown: San Diego, CA
    High School: Gompers Preparatory Academy
    College (BA) University of California, San Diego
    Favorite spot at UCSDMuir & Price Center!
    Bucket listCreate an organization that supports first-generation students applying to college!
    Advice to new studentsPlease do not be afraid to ask for help! There are lots of people on campus willing to support and guide you, as long as you ask. When things get rough, remember that you deserve and earned your spot-on campus!! Lastly, enjoy your time, try new things, and discover yourself on this journey.

    Maria Soto is a first-generation, Latina, alumna from the University of California, San Diego. She is part of the 2015 CASP Cohort and majored in Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education. Maria was born and raised in South East San Diego and it has always been her dream to come back and help students towards their educational goals. She is passionate about social justice issues, access, and equity in education.

    m8soto@ucsd.edu | (858) 822-6740

    Schedule an appointment, https://calendly.com/m8soto

Office Manager

  • Kimberly Rodriguez Jimenez (they/them/elle)

    Kimberly Rodriguez Jimenez (they/them/elle)

    Hometown Chula Vista, CA and Tijuana, B.C., México
    High School: Chula Vista High School
    College (BA) University of California, San Diego
    Favorite spot at UCSD: OASIS and UCSD Women's Center
    Bucket list: To visit every state in Mexico
    Advice to new students: "What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe." - bell hooks

    Kimberly has worked for the Chancellor's Associates Scholars Programs as of July 2016. As a first-generation, low-income student, Kimberly is passionate about social justice issues and has worked as a student counselor in various capacities throughout their time at UC San Diego. They are an alum of UCSD and where they majored in Language Studies and minored in International Studies and Business. Currently, they are enrolled in an M.A. in Couple and Family Therapy with the California School of Professional Psychology.

    ksr002@ucsd.edu | (858) 246-2788
    Schedule an Appointment, https://calendly.com/ksr002

CASP Course (EDS 50 & 150) Instructors

  • Abdul-Rehman Mohammed Issa (He/Him/His)

    Hometown: Long Beach, CA
    High School: Long Beach Wilson
    College: CSULB & CSUDH
    Favorite spot on Campus: 
    The canyon behind Geisel, or the Gliderport.
    On my bucket list: 
    I really want to see the Northern Lights. 
    Advice to new students: 
    “Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. ...live in the question.” -Rilke

    Email: aissa@ucsd.edu 

  • Erick Ramirez Manriquez (He/Him/His)

    Erick Ramirez Manriquez (He/Him/His)

    Hometown: Mexicali, Baja California
    High School: Calexico High School
    College: UC San Diego
    Favorite spot on Campus: 
    Caroline's Seaside Cafe
    On my bucket list: 
    Visit the northern lights in Alaska 
    Advice to new students: 
    Be afraid enough to feel the challenge, but not enough to dissuade you from trying it.

    Email: err018@ucsd.edu 

  • Ivan Valdovinos (He/Him/His)

    Hometown: Soap Lake, WA
    High School: Soap Lake High School
    College: Washington State University, Harvard Graduate School of Education
    Favorite spot on Campus: 
    Showa Ramen
    On my bucket list: 
    To paraglide at Torrey Pines Gliderport.
    Advice to new students: 
    Don't spend too much time trying to achieve the perfect GPA. Enjoy your time as an undergraduate student. Discover new passions through extracurricular involvement and seek support early on when facing adversity.

    Email: ivaldovi@ucsd.edu 

  • Jenee Love (She/Her/Hers)

    Hometown: Memphis, TN
    High School: Overton High School
    College: University of Memphis
    Favorite spot on Campus: 
    Blue Pepper
    On my bucket list: 
    Perform spoken word to a large audience(50+)
    Advice to new students: 
    Learn with curiosity!

    Email: jlove@ucsd.edu

  • Jesse Enriquez (He/Him/His)

    Hometown: Oxnard, CA
    High School: Hueneme High School
    College: CSU Chico, SDSU, UC San Diego
    Favorite spot on Campus: 
    North side of campus that oversees the ocean (Rady School of Management Area)
    On my bucket list: 
    Write a book (turn my dissertation research = book)
    Advice to new students: 
    Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it (e.g., academic, physical & mental health)

    Email: jenrique@ucsd.edu 

  • Mihir Pratap Singh

    Mihir Pratap Singh

    HometownDelhi, India
    High School: Mother Khazani Convent School, Delhi, India
    College: UCSD (MS ECE), BITS Pilani-India (BE EEE, MS Economics)
    Favorite spot on Campus:
    Art of Espresso
    On my bucket list:
    Ice swimming in the nordic seas, Drive an F1 car, Watch a UCL match in Anfield-Liverpool, Watch Nadal play at Roland Garros, and learn how to swim.
    Advice to new students: 
    College days are going to be some of the most important days of your life. They are also going to be some of the best days. Make friends, explore various subjects, get ample sleep and stay hydrated. Don’t shy away from asking for help and give help whenever you can. Be kind.

     

    Don't ever, for any reason, do anything to anyone for any reason ever, no matter what, no matter where, or who, or who you are with, or where you are going, or where you've been... ever, for any reason whatsoever...” - Michael G. Scott

    Email: m8singh@ucsd.edu 

  • Pratik Ratadiya (He/Him/His)

    Hometown: Pune, India
    High SchoolAmrita Vidyalayam, Pune, India
    College: Pune Institute of Computer Technology, UC San Diego
    Favorite spot on Campus: 
    IGPP Munk Lab
    On my bucket list: 
    Skydiving, Visiting 50 countries, Winning a tennis tournament
    Advice to new students: 
    Do not ever be ashamed of your identity or things that you like. Own it, and set an example for everyone else in your community to follow. Be yourself, be honest, judge less, and accept more. Most importantly - help, be kind, enjoy, and have the time of your life!

    Email: pratadiy@ucsd.edu 

  • Wendy Cheung (She/Her/Hers)

    Hometown: Temple City, CA
    High SchoolArcadia High School
    College: UC Berkeley
    Favorite spot on Campus: 
    4 Floor Patio at Social Sciences Public Engagement Building in Sixth College
    Advice to new students: 
    Above all, be kind to yourself. Center your joy, your happiness, and find a way to share that with others.

    Email: wwcheung@ucsd.edu 

College Academic Advisor Liaisons

  • Arnel Tan, M.A. | REVELLE COLLEGE

    Arnel Tan, M.A. | REVELLE COLLEGE

    Email: art004@ucsd.edu
  • Karla Kastner | JOHN MUIR COLLEGE

    Karla Kastner | JOHN MUIR COLLEGE

    Email: kkastner@ucsd.edu
  • Michael "Mike" Markulin| THURGOOD MARSHALL COLEGE

    Michael "Mike" Markulin| THURGOOD MARSHALL COLEGE

    Email: mgmarkulin@ucsd.edu
  • Amado Berrios | EARL WARREN COLLEGE

    Amado Berrios | EARL WARREN COLLEGE

    Email: mgmarkulin@ucsd.edu
  • Lydia Ramirez | ELEANOR ROOSEVELT COLLEGE

    Lydia Ramirez | ELEANOR ROOSEVELT COLLEGE

    Email: lpramirez@ucsd.edu
  • Erin Nicole Vedar, M.A. | SIXTH COLLEGE

    Erin Nicole Vedar, M.A. | SIXTH COLLEGE

    Hometown: San Diego, CA
    College (BA, MA & MA): San Diego State University
    Favorite Spot at UCSD: Anywhere I can see the ocean or a good sunset
    Bucket list: Travelling safely with the people I love, and eating all the delicious food I can find
    Advice to new students:  Ask for what you need. There are so many people on this campus that want to see you succeed, but we won't know what you need until you speak up. Make yourself HEARD and KNOWN. We got you!

    About me:
    Erin Nicole (she/they) Vedar is the proud daughter of Filipino immigrants, and a recent graduate from the San Diego State University MA in Postsecondary Educational Leadership, specialization in Student Affairs program. A brand new Academic Advisor to Sixth College, she utilizes both a student affairs and mental health lens in her work with underrepresented students, and first-generation students of color. Erin Nicole is passionate about supporting students through their educational journeys in a holistic way - whether it's physically, mentally, academically, personally, or professionally. In her spare time, she loves traveling with her loved ones, chasing sunsets and good food, and dancing the night away.

    Email: envedar@ucsd.edu

  • Kelly Guerriero, M.S | SIXTH COLLEGE

    Kelly Guerriero, M.S | SIXTH COLLEGE

    Hometown: Anchorage, AK
    College (BA): CSU - Chico
    College (MS): Colorado State University
    Favorite Spot at UCSD: Fallen Star
    Bucket list: Swim with dolphins
    Advice to new students: Enjoy your time in college. Work hard and plan, but do not put too much pressure on yourself to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Take this time to explore different topics/subjects and find out what your passions are!

    Email: kguerriero@ucsd.edu

  • Vanesa de Boer | SEVENTH COLLEGE

    Vanesa de Boer | SEVENTH COLLEGE

    Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    College (BA):
    UC Riverside
    College (MA): University of Redlands
    Favorite spot at UCSD: 
    Walking along Ridgewalk
    Bucket List: 
    Traveling with my family to Spain & Indonesia
    Advice to new students: 
    Take this time to explore your interests! Seek opportunities to connect with the various communities at UC San Diego and reach out when you need support.

    I am currently a Senior Academic Advisor at Seventh College. Before my current position, I was an Academic Advisor for the School of Biological Sciences for many years. I enjoy helping students navigate their path while at UCSD and providing the resources that will assist them to be successful in their journey.

    Email: vdeboer@ucsd.edu 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Liaison

  • Kimberly Knight Ortiz

    Kimberly Knight Ortiz

    Hometown: San Jose, CA
    College (BA):
    UC San Diego
    College (MSW): San Diego State University
    Favorite spot at UCSD: 
    Forest behind RIMAC
    Bucket List: 
    Going to Thailand
    Advice to new students: 
    Find your people and community, they will make your UCSD experience so special!

     

    Kimberly Knight Ortiz (she/her) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been working at Counseling and Psychological Services since June 2021. Kimberly attended UCSD, studied psychology and identifies as a first generation Latina. She strives to provide a safe space for individuals of all sexualities and genders. She is also bilingual in Spanish and English. In her role as the liaison to CASP she provides consultation with professional staff, presentations/workshops to students and has set aside 3 intake slots a week for CASP students. If you want to schedule an appointment with Kimberly please contact CAPS directly at 858 534 3755 or request an appointment online through the caps.ucsd.edu website. You can find more information on Kimberly's therapeutic style through this link: https://caps.ucsd.edu/about/staff.html#Counseling-Staff 

Student Office Coordinators

The Chancellor's Associates Scholars Program has occasional vacancies in positions for students to serve as office coordinators to support the Office Manager and assist with activities. E-mail Kimberly if you're interested.

  • Melany Guzman, Class of 2023

    Melany Guzman, Class of 2023

    Melany is the the Student Supervisor for the CASP Office Coordinator Team.
    Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
    High School: F. Bravo Medical Magnet High School
    John Muir College, Ecology, Behavior and Evolution 
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Biomedical Library
    On my bucket list: Learn to speak French or Italian 
    Advice to new students: Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources on campus that can really help you, but always remember to take a break and have some fun.
  • Claire Inhae Lee, Class of 2025

    Claire Inhae Lee, Class of 2025

    Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
    High School: Benjamin Franklin High School
    Thurgood Marshall College, Business Psychology (Korean Studies minor)
    Favorite Spot on Campus: CASP Office
    On my bucket list: Traveling to various countries and to learn another language
    Advice to new students: Go at your own pace and don't be afraid to experience new things!
  • Jasmine Landeros, Class of 2023

    Jasmine Landeros, Class of 2023

    Hometown: San Diego, CA
    High School: Lincoln High School
    Thurgood Marshall College, Sociology (Human Developmental Sciences minor)
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Women's Center
    On my bucket list: To see the Aurora Borealis!
    Advice to new students: Getting out of your comfort zone plays a big role in making your college experience great! Start small and build your way up :)
  • Jennifer Becerra Rodriguez, Class of 2024

    Jennifer Becerra Rodriguez, Class of 2024

    Hometown: Spring Valley, CA
    High School: Monte Vista High School
    Earl Warren College, Sociology & Education Science
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Ridge Walk Academic Complex (RWAC) 5th Floor Outdoor Terrace
    On my bucket list: Visiting the national parks and hiking trails all over California! 
    Advice to new students: Don’t be afraid to choose the path that is right for you rather than sticking to what you are told to do or what everyone else is doing. Choose what you desire and love what you do.
  • Joseph Park, Class of 2023

    Joseph Park, Class of 2023

    Hometown: Yorba Linda, CA
    High School: Valencia High School (Placentia, CA)
    Eleanor Roosevelt College, Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Stein Clinical Research Building
    On my bucket list: visit Korea
    Advice to new students: Remember to take a break every once in a while!

CASP Peer Leaders (CPLs)

The CPLs work with a caseload of 8-10 CASP students providing peer mentorship, support, and counseling related to academic, personal, and sociocultural issues affecting their college transition. The role of the CPLs is to foster a welcoming, safe, and inclusive community among entering students and to encourage student development and identity awareness through one-on-one meetings and quarterly group events. Any questions about our CPLs, or if you’re interested in applying to be a CPL in the future, please contact us at casp@ucsd.edu.

  • Cassandra Lotero, Class of 2024

    Cassandra Lotero, Class of 2024

    Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
    High School: Bravo High School
    Earl Warren College, General Biology (Psychology minor)
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Views by the Canyon
    On my bucket list:I really want to travel to Iceland and see the Northern Lights in person!
    Advice to new students:Don't be afraid to ask for help! Someone is more than willing to help you out!
  • Fahira Anwar, Class of 2025

    Fahira Anwar, Class of 2025

    Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
    High School: Bravo High School
    Eleanor Roosevelt College, International Business (Computational Social Science minor)
    Favorite Spot on Campus:The Contemplation Lounge in Price Center
    On my bucket list: To discover the unseen
    Advice to new students: Don't worry too much. There is a reward after every obstacle so if you feel unsuccessful, know that with perseverance, the future will still bring happiness.
  • Kristen Eng, Class of 2025

    Kristen Eng, Class of 2025

    Hometown: Philadelphia
    High School: Cherry Hill High School East
    Thurgood Marshall College, Public Health (Political Science minor)
    Favorite Spot on Campus:MOMs Coffee Shop
    On my bucket list: Learning another language fluently
    Advice to new students: Explore and go to a lot of clubs/orgs!!
  • Marau Garcia, Class of 2023

    Marau Garcia, Class of 2023

    Hometown: San Diego, CA
    Community College: San Diego Miramar College
    Sixth College, General BIology and Human Health Psychology
    Favorite Spot on Campus: MOMs, Garden Rooftop at Sixth and The Zone
    On my bucket list: 1) kayaking 2) Paragliding
    Advice to new students: School is a balance of mental health and academics, make sure to take care of your mental health in order to transcend
  • Ngoc Trinh Phung, Class of 2023

    Ngoc Trinh Phung, Class of 2023

    Hometown: Poway, CA
    Community College: San Diego Miramar College
    John Muir College, Biochemistry
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Hammocks at Price Center
    On my bucket list: To try skiing and snowboarding
    Advice to new students: You may have classmates and friends pursuing the same major and future career as you. Do not compare yourself to them. Everyone's journey is different and that is what makes each and every one of us special!
  • Noemi Vera, Class of 2023

    Noemi Vera, Class of 2023

    Hometown: Ramona, CA
    Community College: Grossmont College
    Revelle College, Human Biology
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Price Center
    On my bucket list: Visit every Disney park around the world!
    Advice to new students: Make time for yourself! It is so easy to forget to take care of yourself when you’re working hard so it is important to prioritize a little self care everyday!
  • Tamara Buitrago, Class of 2023

    Tamara Buitrago, Class of 2023

    Hometown: Simi Valley, CA
    High School: Moorpark High School
    Thurgood Marshall College, Political Science/Public Law & Study of Religion
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Old Student Center
    On my bucket list: Travel to the Amazon!
    Advice to new students: Take advantage of the resources at UCSD!