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First Year Experience

Meet the FYE team!

Academic Counselors

JessicaJessica Cerda

College/University/Grad School: Fullerton College, CSU Fullerton, University of La Verne

Major/Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Science in Educational Counseling

Hometown: Whittier, CA

Favorite snack/food: Pappardelle Pasta and CHEESE!!!!

One interesting fact: I use to Hawaiian Dance for 8 years. 

Piece of advice for FYE students: Make sure to utilize the resources on campus, ask lots of questions and build relationships with students, professors and staff.

EricEric Romero

College/University/Grad School: Cerritos College, UC Santa Cruz, CSU Long Beach & UC Los Angeles

Major/Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Master of Science in Counseling, option in Student Development in Higher Education, and Doctorate in Education (Conferred 2024)

Hometown: South Gate, CA

Favorite food: Egg (any style!)

One interesting fact: I have double vision so I have to wear glasses to see singular images.

Piece of advice for FYE students: Get involved on campus so you can make amazing memories! My favorite past times in college were with friends, not with tests so make your experience worth wild!

Success Coaches

Emily Photo

Full Name: Emily Ballesteros

College/University/Grad School: Glendale Community College (GCC), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California (USC)

Major/Degree: Associates of Arts in Sociology, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology & Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies, Master of Education in Educational Counseling (in progress)

Hometown: El Paso, TX 

Favorite snack/food: Fruit, Acai Bowls, Dark Chocolate, Thai Food, and anything vegan 

One interesting fact: I was once pranked on the Ellen Show by Emma Watson 

Piece of advice for FYE students: Be kind to yourself. Remember that this is YOUR journey. This is not a race and it doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line. Accomplishing your educational and career goals should come at your own pace. Utilize your resources and if you are unsure about what resources are available to you, ask us. You have a support system here ready to help you achieve your goals!


Kathy picFull Name: Euin Bi (Kathy) Lee 

College/University/Grad School: Citrus College, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California 

Major/Degree: Associate in Arts for Transfer, Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Education in Educational Counseling (In Progress) 

Hometown: Diamond Bar, CA 

Favorite snack/food:Sushi, and Korean food 

One interesting fact: I love to take spontaneous trips with my friends and exploring new places. 

Piece of advice for FYE students: Build yourself a community to help support you through your journey! Always remember that you are never alone, and there are support systems around you. Join clubs or extracurriculars to help find a group of people that makes you feel heard.

Brian PictureFull Name: Brian Castillo


College/University/Grad School: CSU Northridge, CSU Los Angeles

Major/Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Chicana/o Studies & Sociology, Master of Sociology (in-progress)

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Favorite snack/food: My favorite snack and food is FOOD! I can eat anything, from mole (a Mexican dish) to pizza, to Chinese food, vegan cuisines, you name it!

One interesting fact: I was the only one from my family to be born out of state. I was born in Washington State, but was raised in Los Angeles! All I know is L.A!

Piece of advice for FYE students: Everyone goes through their ups and downs, some more severe than others, but the fact that you remain dedicated to school shows how devoted you are. Acknowledge that you are able to overcome barriers, envision your success, and manifest your future! Only you can decide what you want for yourself. Make connections in school, utilize the resources offered, practice self-care, stay focused & strong! Motivate yourself, become your own support, but let’s not forget, WE ARE HERE TO HELP TOO! Remain Diligent Students!


GEAR UP Success Coaches

ClaudiaFull Name: Claudia Montalvan

College/University/Grad School: LA City College, CSU Dominguez Hills, Mount Saint Mary's University

Major/Degree: Associate of Arts in Psychology and Human Services, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Maser of Science in General Counseling (in progress)

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Favorite snack/food: Sushi, ceviche, pho and desserts

One interesting fact: I have a sweet tooth

Piece of advice for FYE students: The secret to getting ahead is getting started. Don't leave things for last minute and don't give up. Stay close to your professors and make friends so you all can create study grouups. Reach out for help!

Student Workers

Jose pictureFull Name: Jose Chavez

College/University/Grad School: LA City College

Major/Degree: Computer Technology (AS)

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Favorite snack/food: Pizza

One interesting fact: I am a huge pokemon fan and my favorite pokemon is Mudkip!

Piece of advice for FYE students: Take advantage of the resources available. Do not be afraid to ask for assitance, we are here to help you!

Edder Photo







Full Name: Edder Garcia

College/University/Grad School: (Current) Los Angeles City College, (Transferring) CSU Long Beach

Major/Degree: History

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Favorite snack/food: Tlayuda (Dish from Oaxaca, Mexico)

One interesting fact: For most of my life, I was extremely shy. I was scared to be chosen to read aloud or present a project in class. Asking people any sort of question was a real pain.

Piece of advice for FYE students: College is more than achieving academic excellence; interacting with people, and making connections is crucial. Employees are looking for people that have superb communication and social skills along with being a person that can work well with others. Strive to improve every day.