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San Diego State University

Division of Undergraduate Studies - Graduate Mentors:

Kathy Nguyen, Graduate Lead Mentor

I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Communication and Asian American Studies from UC Santa Barbara. While I am not a Gates Scholar, I am a Dell Scholar, which helped ensure my success at UCSB. Prior to returning to graduate school, I was working with an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) grant at a community college in Orange County. Currently, I am finishing up my Master's in Postsecondary Educational Leadership and Students Affairs. I'm serving as a graduate assistant in the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement, a graduate intern in Counseling & Psychological Services, and a research assistant at the Center for Counseling & Community Engagement. I also am a 2017-2018 California Pre-Doctoral Sally Casanova Scholar, which you all should consider applying to! I plan to pursue my Ph.D. to address issues of access, equity, and retention for under-resourced communities, the importance of generational narratives, and the role of education in transforming communities.


Gates Millennium Scholar Alumni Mentors:

Christy Quiogue

I am a double alumna from SDSU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership. I was a Gates Millennium Scholar during my graduate program. Currently, I am the Career Development & Diversity Engagement Counselor at SDSU Career Services. My passion is working with under-represented college students in achieving their career and professional development goals while building meaningful connections to empower and elevate our communities.


Fiorella Morales

Originally from San Jose, Costa Rica, Fiorella was raised and still lives in Southern California. As a Gates Millennium Scholar, she completed her BA in Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of San Diego (USD) and is now a Graduate Student at San Diego State University (SDSU) pursuing her degree in Post-Secondary Educational Leadership with an Emphasis in Student Affairs. She works as a Graduate Assistant in International Engagement at SDSU for the Division of Undergraduate Studies, where she helps Compact Scholars and Weber Honors College Students with questions about study abroad, scholarships, and programs that will help them fulfill their international experience requirements at SDSU. As an undergraduate student, Fiorella studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, with IAU College, where she strengthened her French and lived with a host family for 5 months. This transformational experience sparked her interest in International Education as a career. Fiorella is multi-lingual in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic. She loves challenging herself by learning new languages as a hobby, and is currently working on learning Serbian. Fiorella enjoys spending time with loved ones, traveling, cooking, and most of all supporting students through their educational journey. 


Jennifer Stafford

I graduated from Bullard High School in Fresno, CA and then SDSU in 2008. I am currently a licensed psychotherapist practicing in Manhattan. I received both of my Master’s Degrees in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from San Diego State University. My approach is open, understanding and compassionate. There is so much courage in merely thinking about talking to someone about your concerns in life. I empathize with clients and guide them as they courageously embark upon their journey to maximize their potential and achieve happiness. 


Jocelyn Pacheco

I graduated from King/Drew Medical Magnet High School in the LA/Compton area. I graduated from UCLA in 2012 where I majored in Sociology and double minored in Chicano/a studies and education. I have my Master's in Postsecondary Educational Leadership and Student Affairs from SDSU and am currently a Ph.D. in the Joint Doctoral Program in Education at SDSU and Claremont Graduate University. My ultimate goal is to transform the education system.


Magge Serrano

I am the daughter of two Mexican immigrants that settled in the agricultural town of Watsonville, CA. Education was always pushed and encouraged so after graduating from Watsonville High School, I went on and pursued a Bachelor's degree from UCLA with a major in Political Science and a double minor in Chicano/a Studies and Labor and Workplace Studies in 2012. After my undergrad, I went on and received my Master's in Postsecondary Educational Leadership with a Specialization in Student Affairs at San Diego State in 2014. After graduating, I began working at UC Santa Cruz as an academic adviser for undergraduate students. My ultimate goal is to pay it forward and help more underrepresented students not only make it to college, but also graduate with college degrees. 


Marcus Schaffer

Currently, I work as an electrical power systems engineer at Intel corporation in Santa Clara, CA. At SDSU, I had the opportunity to study power my final 2 years as an undergraduate electrical engineering student, and it propelled me to study power systems further in graduate school at Arizona State University. My current role at Intel is sustaining the electrical power distribution system at one of Intel's main manufacturing facilities. Everyday I have the challenge of keeping the factory running and responding to various electrical disturbances as well as planning for future site wide capacity. 


Mitchell Gresham

Mitchell Gresham is a student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Education affiliated with San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University, where he is matriculating with an emphasis on Policy, Evaluation, and reform. Prior to this program, he obtained a Master’s of Counseling from San Diego State University along with a Bachelor’s of Arts from St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM). In his counseling program, the Community-Based Block Program that places an emphasis on Multicultural Counseling and Social Justice Education, he was able to gain a theoretical understanding of counseling theories and techniques. Although he is not yet a board-certified counselor, he has experience working at a community-based mental health clinic located in City Heights, San Diego. Mitchell’s research interests include :mental health counseling and treatment outcomes; educational policies/laws that mitigate discipline practices; developing policies that improve collegiate mental health; faculty development. In Fall 2010, he received the Gates Millennium Scholarship. As a Peace Corps Intern for The Gambia Field Studies Program affiliated with SMCM, he had the opportunity to conduct ethnographic research on a school named The Gambian Senior Secondary School during the summer of 2014. In Spring 2015, he attended the National Association of Black Social Workers Conference. As of now, he is serving as the graduate assistant for a multicultural education course. 


Theresa Palafox

Theresa is currently a first-graduate student in the Multicultural Community Counseling and Social Justice program. Before she was accepted she worked an Achievement Coach at a non-profit organization in City Heights which supports, empowers and guides low-income students to go to college. A lot of her advocacy works is around supporting underprivileged communities get the services they need in order to be self-aware, healthy, and feel seen. Currently, she is a Therapist in Training at the Center for Community Counseling and Engagement and a Parent Advocate Intern at the Monarch School in Downtown San Diego. Theresa is passionate about community empowerment work and is constantly looking for opportunities to share with her colleagues and friends to continue the uphill battle. Once she graduates, she hopes to seek counseling licensure and apply to doctoral programs in public health. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her dog, Lexi at the Coronado Beach and playing football in OB. 


Vanessa Torres

I earned my BA in Spanish Literature and Environmental Economics & Policy from UC Berkeley. In 2014, I earned my Masters in Public Health (MPH) in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science from San Diego State University. Currently, I am a third-year PhD student at the University of Washington, in the department of Health Services with an emphasis on Health Behavior and Social Determinants of Health. I am working as a Research Assistant under Dr. India Ornelas’ supervision and funded by a diversity supplement from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). My research focuses on engaging Latinos in community-based participatory research (CBPR) to gain a better understanding of the most effective and culturally appropriate intervention approaches that address substance abuse among Latino immigrant communities. My research interests include social and behavioral sciences, CBPR, social determinants of health, health disparities, cancer prevention, substance abuse, and mental health. My career goal is to become a tenured faculty member at a research-focused university, with a faculty position. After completing my PhD, I plan to apply for post-doctoral research positions and then to a tenure track faculty position.