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Chancellor's Associates Scholars: Meet the Staff

Program Manager

  • Belinda Zamacona, M.A.

    Belinda Zamacona, M.A.

    Hometown: Colonia La Venta, Acapulco de Juárez, Guerrero, México
    High School: Fallbrook Union High School
    College (BA & MA): San Diego State University
    Favorite spot on Campus: Ian's Garden next to the La Jolla Playhouse
    On my bucket list: To spend an entire summer camping at the beach. 
    Advice to new students“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” ―Arundhati Roy

    Belinda is the inaugural Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program Manager as of August 2014. A first-generation, english-language learner student and native of southern México, she has been part of the UCSD family since 2009. Belinda 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@ucsd.edu | (858) 822-6740
    Drop-In Hours: By Appointment, Click Here to Schedule an Appointment
    5th Floor Student Services Center #557, CASP Office

Academic Support Coordinator 

  • Karen Van Ness, M.A.

    Karen Van Ness, M.A.

    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) 534-0371
    Drop-in hours: By Appointment, Click Here to Schedule an Appointment
    5th Floor Student Services Center #556, CASP Office

Program Assistant

  • Kimberly Rodriguez Jimenez

    Kimberly Rodriguez Jimenez

    Hometown: Chula Vista, CA
    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: UC San Diego is a chapter in life that can be scary to start and scary to finish, but in the end it's up to you to decide how you'll fill each page. Live with no regrets!

    Kimberly has worked for the Chancellor's Associates Scholars Programs as of July 2016. As a first-generation, low income students, Kimberly is passionate about social justice issues and has worked as a student counselor in various capacities throughout her four years at UCSD. She recently graudated with a Language Studies Major and an International Studies and Business Minors.

    ksr002@ucsd.edu | (858) 246-2788
    Drop-In Hours: By Appointment, Click Here to Schedule an Appointment
    5th Floor Student Services Center #560, CASP Office                    

Graduate Assistant

  • Diana Figueroa

    Diana Figueroa

    Hometown: Bakersfield, CA
    High School: South High School
    College (B.A): University of California, Santa Barbara
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Snake Path
    On my bucket list: Return to Italy for a two week vacation.
    Advice to new students: You are on a journey of self-discovery and self-love.  Learn from your mistakes, ask for help and most importantly be gentle with yourself.

    Diana is currently a graduate student at San Diego State University in the Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership program with an emphasis in Student Affairs. Her passion for students and education started while working for Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) at her undergraduate institution. She encourages students to expand their horizons and to continue learning outside of the classroom. Diana enjoys seeking opportunities where her passion for education and her love for the arts can come together to inspire change.

CAPS Liaison

  • Roberto Luna, Psy.D.

    Roberto Luna, Psy.D.

    Dr. Luna is a bicultural immigrant and a first generation college graduate. He works from a relational model informed by contemporary psychodynamic theory, social constructivist theory, feminist theory, and cognitive behavioral approaches within a social justice framework.

    Dr. Luna strives to create a safe and welcoming space where the student is encouraged to share, explore, challenge, and deconstruct life experiences. In this space, you would work together to gain insight to the presenting concerns and promote adaptive changes to reduce symptoms, improve academic performance, and interpersonal relationships. He looks forward to be a source of support in your journey at UCSD.

    rluna@ucsd.edu | (858) 534-3755

Student Office Coordinators

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

  • Guadalupe Mendez-Lopez - Class of 2018 (Senior)

    Guadalupe Mendez-Lopez - Class of 2018 (Senior)

    Lupe is the Senior Student Office Coordinator and is the student supervisor for CASP.

    Hometown: Pomona, CA 
    High School: Ganesha High School
    Thurgood Marshall College: Structural Engineering, Business Minor
    Favorite spot on Campus: RIMAC, SME Bridge, Warren Mall (Fallen Star and Snake Path)
    On my bucket list: Visit the Seven Wonders of the World
    Advice to new students: Explore and get involved!

  • Juan Merida - Class of 2019 (Junior)

    Juan Merida - Class of 2019 (Junior)

    Hometown: Moreno Valley, CA
    High School: Citrus Hill High School
    Thurgood Marshall College: General Biology
    Favorite spot on Campus: Marshall Hump and the top of the Rady School of Management building
    On my bucket list: Going to Spain
    Advice to new students: It's ok to not know who you are yet, you'll learn along the way.

  • Julie Nguyen - Class of 2018 (Senior)

    Julie Nguyen - Class of 2018 (Senior)

    Hometown: San Diego, CA
    High School: The Preuss School
    Eleanor Roosevelt College: International Business, Economics minor
    Favorite Spot on Campus: ERC's "Green"
    On my bucket list: Treat my family to a tropical vacation
    Advice to new students: Be open to trying new things and meeting new people. Do things you never would have thought about doing in high school. Lastly, never be afraid to ask for help because we all need a little help sometimes!
  • Jeanette Peña - Class of 2019 (Junior)

    Jeanette Peña - Class of 2019 (Junior)

    Hometown: Riverside, CA
    High School: Citrus Hill High School
    John Muir College: General Biology
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Walking around campus!
    On my bucket list: Travel as much as possible
    Advice to new students: Don't be afraid to reach out for help!
  • Asha Haghi - Class of 2018 (Senior)

    Asha Haghi - Class of 2018 (Senior)

    Hometown: San Diego, CA
    High School: The Preuss School
    Thurgood Marshall College: Public Health (Major), Business (Minor)
    Favorite Spot on Campus: The Price Center! I love food!
    On my bucket list: To travel the world, I really want to visit Paris, Bora Bora and Hawaii.
    Advice to new students: Your four years at UCSD go by fast so make sure you work hard and have fun!
  • Karely Rodriguez - Class of 2018 (Senior)

    Karely Rodriguez - Class of 2018 (Senior)

    Hometown: San Diego, CA
    High School: Lincoln High School
    John Muir College: History (Major) Hebrew and Educational Studies (Minor)
    Favorite Spot on Campus: Geisel
    On my bucket list: Visit all of the national parks in the U.S.
    Advice to new students: Learn to take things one at a time. If you're having a bad day, take every bad moment as the first negative thing to happen that day. If you have a hard class, take it one assignment at a time. If you have too many responsibilities, focus on one until you're ready for the next. One day at a time! 

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.

  • Laura Castro, Class of 2018 (Senior CPL)

    Laura Castro, Class of 2018 (Senior CPL)

    Hometown: San Diego, CA
    High School: The Preuss School UCSD
    Eleanor Roosevelt College: Political Science - Public Law & Urban Studies and Planning
    Favorite Spot on Campus: SPACES and I-House
    On my bucket list: I would like to travel to a different country on another continent. 
    Advice to new students: It's okay if you change your major! You will figure it out eventually!

  • Valerie Stark, Class of 2018 (Senior CPL)

    Valerie Stark, Class of 2018 (Senior CPL)

    Hometown: Fountain Valley, Orange County
    High School: Fountain Valley High School
    Thurgood Marshall College, Human Biology major, Music minor
    On my bucket list: Travel all over Europe and stay in Spain for a few months
    Advice to new students: Find your niche! Think of coming to a new school as a new, exciting experience where you can learn more about yourself and an opportunity to build lasting friendships and explore subjects you're interesting in. Don't be afraid to try new things out but give yourself breathing room to check in on yourself and make sure you aren't getting too overwhelmed. You'll do great!  (:

     

  • Osvaldo Alcazar Pulido, Class of 2019

    Osvaldo Alcazar Pulido, Class of 2019

    Hometown: San Diego
    High School: Gompers Preparatory Academy
    Thurgood Marshall College, Communications major, business minor
    On my bucket list: Explore Europe, mainly Wales and Manchester
    Advice to new students: Remember to work hard and stay consistent because success is a journey not a destination.
  • Karina Barajas, Class of 2019

    Karina Barajas, Class of 2019

    Hometown: Pomona, California
    High School: Jurupa Valley High School
    Roger Revelle College, Biochemistry & Cell Biology major
    On my bucket list: Adopt a pug
    Advice to new students: In the end, you only miss the chances you don't take so explore your interests, create meaningful relationships, and focus on becoming a better version of yourself. Everything will be okay.
  • Samuel Blake, Class of 2019

    Samuel Blake, Class of 2019

    Hometown: Campbell,CA
    High School: Westmont High School
    Sixth College, Mathematics-Computer Science
    On my bucket list: Visiting France during the Tour de France with my Dad and my brother
    Advice to new students: Take initiative and meet new people. Work hard and pursue your interests, but don't forget to smile and laugh!

  • Kailah Cazares, Class of 2020

    Kailah Cazares, Class of 2020

    Hometown: Fontana
    High School: Bloomington High School
    Earl Warren College, Management Science with Business minor
    On my bucket list: I want to go to a Pittsburgh Steelers home game with my dad
    Advice to new students: Make time for yourself in doing things that you love to do. Try not to drown yourself in homework and responsibilities -- it's okay to take breaks and have a little bit of fun sometimes!
  • Verna Drieas, Class of 2020

    Verna Drieas, Class of 2020

    Hometown: Victorville,CA
    High School: University Preparatory
    Roger Revelle College, General Biology major
    On my bucket list: Travel the world and learn about the different lifestyles that people occupy from other areas
    Advice to new students: There may be moments where you question yourself and your capabilities, but make sure to just step back and remember a time where you thought you were not going to be able to make it, and then look at how far you have come!
  • Diego Feliciano, Class of 2018

    Diego Feliciano, Class of 2018

    Hometown: South East San Diego
    High School: Morse High School
    Thurgood Marshall College, Developmental Psychology major, Ethnic Studies minor
    On my bucket list: release a fire mixtape with my best buddies
    Advice to new students: Go to office hours--you might bond with your favorite professor over a compilation of the Funniest Spongebob Moments.
  • Mayra Garcia, Class of 2020

    Mayra Garcia, Class of 2020


    Hometown: Los Angeles
    High School: King/Drew Medical Magnet High School
    John Muir College, Public Policy major
    On my bucket list: Go scuba diving
    Advice to new students: Don't be afraid to make new friends, everyone is on the same boat as you, and you will find people you can connect with. Just keep an open mind, and don't be quick to judge. One important thing is to not be afraid to ask for help, reach out to people and the resources available to you on campus.

  • Kalani Krause, Class of 2019

    Kalani Krause, Class of 2019

    Hometown: San Diego (National City/Chula Vista)
    High School: Otay Ranch High School
    Sixth College, Social Psychology major
    On my bucket list: Travel and go backpacking!!!
    Advice to new students: Focus on what makes you happy--whether it's your major, your job, or just life in general. You can't live your life for other people.
  • Irene Lee, Class of 2019

    Irene Lee, Class of 2019

    Hometown: Yorba Linda
    High School: Orange County School of the Arts
    Thurgood Marshall College, Human Biology major, Global Health minor
    On my bucket list: With my own money, buy my parents a house by the beach
    Advice to new students: There is never one straight path to success. It is easy to doubt yourself when surrounded by such outstanding peers, but always remember you deserve to be here. Customize your path and don't forget to prioritize your own happiness and well-being in the process. Success is ultimately defined by you.
  • Amanda Lo, Class of 2018

    Amanda Lo, Class of 2018

    Hometown: San Leandro, CA
    High School: San Leandro High School
    Eleanor Roosevelt College, Biochemistry and Cell Biology major
    On my bucket list: Travel the world!
    Advice to new students: Take as many opportunities that come your way as you can, because you never know what doors will open for you or what you might gain from those experiences. You'll never know what you are capable of unless you try.
  • Michael Markulin, Class of 2018

    Michael Markulin, Class of 2018

    Hometown: San Jose, CA
    Transferred from San Diego City College
    Eleanor Roosevelt College, Political Science & Public Policy major
    On my bucket list: I want sit front row at an English Premier League soccer match.
    Advice to new students: Make the most of the chances you are given with a balance of hard work and happiness. Success is easy but having the right mentality is hard.
  • Kasra Mirzabeigifini, Class of 2020

    Kasra Mirzabeigifini, Class of 2020

    Hometown: Tehran, Iran
    High School: University City High School (San Diego)
    Roger Revelle College, Political Science - Public law major
    On my bucket list: Earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
    Advice to new students: We grow by learning from the past, not by dwelling in it.
  • Izzy Narvaez, Class of 2018

    Izzy Narvaez, Class of 2018

    Hometown: Sherman Oaks, CA
    High School: Van Nuys High School
    Thurgood Marshall College, Political Science and Critical Gender Studies double major
    On my bucket list: I want to have enough books (written by and from the perspective of underrepresented identities) in my house so that all the cool kids in my neighborhood  have a library that they can borrow from with books they can relate to.
    Advice to new students: The first year transition can be tough, but don’t let that discourage you. You got into UCSD because you deserve to be here! If you need to drop a class (or another commitment), do it. You matter more than your GPA! Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Many students are going through the same struggle, and there are so many resources and people that can help you get through a tough spot!
  • Yeji Shin, Class of 2019

    Yeji Shin, Class of 2019

    Hometown: Marina
    High School: Seaside High School
    Eleanor Roosevelt College, Psychology major and Speculative Design minor
    On my bucket list: Eat the best molten lava cake ever.
    Advice to new students: Do not be afraid of failure or mistakes! You learn more from your failures than you do from your successes.
  • Amanda Somo, Class of 2019

    Amanda Somo, Class of 2019

    Hometown: Santee, CA
    High School: West Hills High School
    Sixth College, Physiology & Neuroscience and Psychology Double major
    On my bucket list: Before I die, I would love to backpack Europe.
    Advice to new students: College is indefinitely a time to discover your passions and interests - you have four years to cultivate your talents, so don't have to feel you need to have it all figured out. Challenge yourself to try new things and expose yourself to the organizations on campus. My ultimate advice is to trust the process.
  • Melissa Mea Supsup, Class of 2019

    Melissa Mea Supsup, Class of 2019

    Hometown: Pacifica, CA
    High School: Jefferson High School - Daly City
    Sixth College, International Business Major with a double minor in Accounting and Psychology
    On my bucket list: It's my dream to travel/volunteer to as many countries as possible.
    Advice to new students: Hold the vision. Drop the excuses. Remember your why. Swerve around obstacles. TRUST THE PROCESS!
  • Brandy Torres

    Hometown: Brawley, CA
    Transferred from: Imperial Valley College
    Eleanor Roosevelt College, History, Law Empasis, Theater minor
  • April Tsuei, Class of 2019

    April Tsuei, Class of 2019

    Hometown: Torrance
    High School: West Torrance High School
    Eleanor Roosevelt College, Communication Major and Educational Studies Minor
    On my bucket list: Treat my parents to a backpacking trip in Europe
    Advice to new students: Be brave.
    Be brave to try new things that you never did before-- whether it be joining an organization you haven't done in high school, enrolling in that unusual class or signing up for a cool recreation class, do it!

    Be brave to tell yourself it is okay to not be okay. Being at such a huge and competitive university will be overwhelming. It takes courage to admit that you are not fine and take care of yourself.

    Be brave and push yourself. You have four years here so make them count. Take initiative and do something out of your comfort zone.

    Lastly, trust yourself. YOU got into UCSD for lots of reasons. When it seems like you can't handle it, remember that you were chosen to become a Triton out of 84,000+ applicants. YOU GOT THIS and HAVE FUN!!

  • Naquiba Williams, Class of 2017

    Naquiba Williams, Class of 2017

    Hometown: San Diego, Ca
    Transferred from: San Diego City College/Mesa College
    Roger Revelle College, Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Theater minor
    On my bucket list: Star in a play on Broadway
    Advice to new students: Congratulations! You are off to a great start towards your future. So while you're here, make the most out of the experience along with your grades, and find your passions. What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving them. Also,  remember that you have a great network of support, and never be afraid to ask for help. Focus on where you want to go, not what you fear.