UC San Diego SearchMenu

Peer Coaches

Meet the peer coaches from UC San Diego's Student Success Coaching Program. They are here to help you succeed.

Make an online appointment with a Peer Coach.

  • Abraham Velasquez

    Abraham Velasquez

    Major & College: Applied Mathematics, Warren College

    Peer Coach for Warren College

    Hometown: Perris, California

    What does being first-generation mean to me? Being first-generation means often having discover things as you along and not having a clear picture of what to pursue. It also means thinking of what’s best not only for myself, but also my family. It means taking advantage of every opportunity that exist during this time, not only academically, but also in one’s extracurriculars, community work, and social life.

    Top goals for the year: Provide the same support and guidance for incoming first-generation freshman that I received and benefited from. To be more involved in the education studies department and open it up to incoming students. Challenge myself in new ways and grow both in my education and my passions.

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Empathy, Adaptability, Intellection, Ideation, and Input

    Personal Gender Pronouns: He, Him, His

  • Albert Hernandez

    Albert Hernandez

    Major & College: Mechanical Engineering, Muir College

    Peer Coach for Warren College

    Hometown: Canoga Park, California

    What does being first-generation mean to me? It’s a label that embodies the beginning of a new era in my family’s history, where the possibilities of my future and those that follow are limitless.

    Top goals for the year:

    • Obtain an internship/study abroad for Summer 2019

    • Successfully manage a team of undergrads to design and manufacture a drill and payload system

    • Build a bond with all the students I interact with through SSCP

    • Learn to program/code through hands-on activities

    Strength Finders Top 5: Restorative, Individualization, Learner, Analytical, Achiever
    Personal Gender Pronouns: He, Him, His
  • Alania Salazar

    Alania Salazar

    Major & College: Clinical Psychology, Muir College 

    Peer Coach for Marshall College

    Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA

    What does being First Generation mean to me:Being a First Generation means creating a path to explore potential opportunities and learning new ideas and perspectives so that I can spread that gained knowledge to others. 

     Top goals for the year: 

    • Be a helping hand to other first-gen students in a way that will provide them assistance whether it be academic or personal. 
    • Spend at least an hour throughout the week to create and update on my weekly planner
    • Go to the gym at least three times a week. 
    • Have fun! 

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Empathy, Input, Individualization, Restorative, intellection 

    Personal gender Pronouns: She/Her/Her

  • Annie Chen

    Annie Chen

    Major & College: Human Biology, Revelle College

    Peer Coach for Revelle College

    Hometown: San Francisco

    What does being first-gen mean to me? Because I’ve grown up without much guidance from my parents, being first-gen means that I feel independent, strong, and free to confidently make my own decisions

    Top goals for the year:

    • I really want to learn more about the BS/MS program and possibly apply to it
    • I also want to network with professors

    Strengthsfinder Top 5: Achiever, Relator, Learner, Focus, Individualization

    Personal gender pronouns: She, Her, Hers

  • Aysia Pease

    Aysia Pease

    Major & College: Physiology and Neuroscience, Eleanor Roosevelt College (ERC)

    Peer Coach for Eleanor Roosevelt College

    Hometown: Los Angeles, California

    What does being First Generation mean to me: Being first-generation to me is an opportunity to grow and pave a path based on my own experiences. Taking the right steps towards building a future as a first-generation student displays both strength and independence. It also means having the opportunity to become a role model for other students who may not feel prepared or confident enough to seek out their goals. 

    Top goals for the year: 

    • Study abroad before my senior year.
    • Find a better balance between my academic life and personal life.
    • Make a better effort to connect with my professors.
    • Become a positive and helpful mentor in the Success Coaching Program. 

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Restorative, Strategic, Relator, Positivity, Adaptability

    Personal gender Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

  • Brandon Arias

    Brandon Arias

    Major & College: Human Biology, Muir College

    Senior Peer Coach for Marshall College

    Hometown: San Fernando, CA

    What being first-gen means to me: First-Gen means opportunities. As a first-generation college student, I definitely feel like any opportunities given to me is truly an honor to have and is something I take seriously in choosing which ones I take.

    Top goals for this year: To maintain a balanced life in both my personal and professional settings. I want to hold myself more accountable for situations in my life.

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Arranger, Includer, Restorative, Positivity, and Individualization 

    Personal Gender Pronouns: He, Him, His

  • David Nunez

    David Nunez

    Major & College: Human Biology, John Muir College

    Peer Coach for Muir College

    Hometown: San Diego, California

    What does being First Generation mean to me: To me, being first-generation means creating a path, not only for myself but for those in my family who wish to pursue higher education in the future. It means going into a completely new environment, learning to make it your own, and be able to thrive in it. As a Latinx student at UC San Diego, I see it as a term of reflection, perseverance, and empowerment. 

    Top goals for the year:

    • Focusing on improving my physical & mental health
    • Become more involved on campus through organization affiliations
    • Begin networking with professors & faculty members at UC San Diego
    • Assist with the professional & personal development of my Success Coaching Students 
    • Overall growth that will lead me to be the best version of myself that I can be

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Restorative, Achiever, Focus, Strategist, Discipline, 

    Personal Gender Pronouns: He, Him, His

  • David Sibrian

    David Sibrian

    Major & College: Spanish Literature, Warren College

    Peer Coach for Revelle Coach

    Hometown: Sacramento, California

    What does being First Generation mean to me: It’s power. Occupying higher education institutions that were never made with the first-generation student in mind is incredibly powerful to me. I want to know that my students got into one of the best universities in the nation. The possibilities that that has. The influence that that has. The generational impact that that has. We truly are revolutionizing higher education culture by simply being here.

    Top goals for the year: Publish a thesis, get my license, start my podcast, and eat more Indian food. Oh, and budgeting because my bank account knows that I need it. 

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Input, Deliberative, Restorative, Intellection, Futuristic

    Personal gender Pronouns: He, Him, His (He/Him/His)

  • Eustaquio (Stacho) Aguilar-Ruiz

    Eustaquio (Stacho) Aguilar-Ruiz

    Major & College: Physics, Eleanor Roosevelt College

    Peer Coach for Eleanor Roosevelt College (ERC)

    Hometown: Desert Hot Springs, California 

    What does being first-generation mean to me? Being first-generation means creating an entirely new route. These students have the drive and opportunity that has allowed them to be in the position they are now. For many including myself, our prior generations have sacrificed and endured a lot. I come from grandparents who only knew agricultural life in a third world country. Pursuing my education at a university has given me the liberty to create the career path of my choice. Being first-generation has and will continue to be a challenge, but our struggles will have a social and systematic influence. One that will give more youth the opportunity of being the first in their generation to attend college.

    Top goals for this Year:

    1. Networking with Professors and Peers to learn about career paths, organizations, and research opportunities.
    2. Constantly focus on bettering my mental and physical health.
    3. Land a lab opportunity, and summer internship

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Strategic, Restorative, Relator, Input, Belief

    Personal Gender Pronouns: He, him, his

  • Jacinda Luong

    Jacinda Luong

    Major & College: Political Science- International Relations and Communications, ERC

    Peer Coach for Eleanor Roosevelt College (ERC)

    Hometown: Los Angeles, California

    What does being first-generation mean to me: Being first-generation means that the opportunity to pursue higher education stems from the hardships my family has endured. Though navigating college is challenging at times, I strive to make them proud and give them (and future generations) the quality of life they have given me.

    Top goals for the year: Pick up a minor in Business Marketing, consume less excess sugar, budget track my expenses for the school year, and successfully balance my jobs and academics.

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Communication, Empathy, Woo, Individualization, Adaptability

    Personal Gender Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

  • Jerry Palacios

    Jerry Palacios

    Major and College: International Business, Sixth College

    Peer Coach for Sixth College

    Hometown: Coachella, CA

    What does being first-generation mean to me? Being first generation means to me is building that connection for the community back home. Building that connection for students like me who would have not been able to have known the steps to get into a four year university. It means that I am showing my parents and community, that everything they have done for me, was worth it because I will be giving back to them.

    Top Goals for the year:

    • Have a positive impact on at least two of my students first year at UCSD
    • Find happiness within one self

    Strengths Finder Top 5: I have not taken the test yet

    Personal Gender Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Julia Nunez

    Julia Nunez

    Major & College: Business Psychology, Muir College

    Peer Coach for Warren College

    Hometown:  Rialto CA, 

    What does being first-gen mean to me? For me, being a first-generation college student is a privilege and an absolute blessing but also a huge responsibility. By being the first in my family to attend college, I am living my parent’s dream while following my own dreams and giving other future gens the ability to dream beyond what they think is possible. Being able to pave the way for my younger sisters and my community is something that motivates me to strive to do better every day. 

    Top Goals for the Year : 

    • Find the best balance between academics, extracurricular, jobs and self care. 
    • Devleop new friendships. 
    • Expand network— find cool internship. 

     Strengths Finder Top 5: Futuristic, Achiever, Individualization, Relator, Strategic 

     Personal Gender Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

  • Katherine Arenas

    Katherine Arenas

    Major & College: Psychology, Sixth College

    Peer Coach for Sixth College

    Hometown: South Los Angeles, California

    What does being First Generation mean to me: Being a first generation college student means that I am breaking the cycle in my family. I am the living proof of the dreams my parents and grandparents had for future generations when they immigrated to the U.S. They have always told me of the importance of education and how it will change my life for the better. As the first in my family to attend college, I struggled and had no idea how challenging college would be but it has made me stronger, independent, and a positive influence to my younger family members. As first generation, I learned that everything is a learning experience no matter good or bad. The important idea to have in our heads is to just keep going and never give up. 


    Top goals for the year: To be the best support system to the coaching students and create a lasting friendship with each one. I want to be a great coach, one that they can rely on for any guidance as they navigate through their first year at UCSD. I want to develop more connections with professors. To try new foods and eat more healthier. Most of all I want to have a fun, happy, and memorable school year with my friends 

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Restorative, Harmony, Relator, Deliberative, Consistency

    Personal gender Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
  • Kayla Kim

    Kayla Kim

    Major & College: Education Studies & Marshall

    Peer Coach for Marshall College

    Hometown: Manhattan Beach, CA

    What does being First Generation mean to me: Being first generation means that I’ve been graciously given precious opportunities that my family members couldn’t experience. Nothing I did made me be first generation. It was only through the determination and faith of my family that I’ve been blessed to live the “American Dream.” Being first generation gives me the opportunity to stop and deeply appreciate all that my family has done for me.

    Top goals for the year: (1) to use my time wisely (2) to sit and listen more (3) to help someone grow in their relationship with Jesus

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Context, Connectedness, Belief, Individualization, Developer

    Personal Gender Pronouns: she, her, hers 

  • Maria Alvarez

    Maria Alvarez

    Major & College: Human Biology, Sixth College

    Peer Coach For Sixth College

    Hometown: Delhi, CA

    What does being first generation mean to me? A constant barrier breaker. The journey always entails breaking a barrier for the first time, and when you think you’re done, there’s more ahead.

    Top Goals for the Year: Become the most memorable peer coach to each one of my students.

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Learner, Input, Restorative, Strategic, Focus

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Marisol Gonzalez

    Marisol Gonzalez

    Major & College: Structural Engineering, Marshall College

    Peer Coach for Marshall College

    Hometown: Anaheim, CA

    What does being first-generation mean to me?  Being able to break barriers and show my younger siblings and relatives that it is possible to achieves our goals and go to higher education. which gives me mix feelings of responsibility since it brings some pressure ,but also being proud to take on this responsibility of paving the way for my families' options in higher education. The experience of being first gen and having to do important paper work or decision making on your own due to one's own lack of knowledge and families lack of knowledge as well is intimidating but after learning and being able to help someone in the same situation gives me a sense of accomplishment and joy. Being 1st gen allows me to pay forward with more passion since it is a very important part of me.

    Top goals for the year: Join clubs that aren't academic related/ get more involved in my interests , Do well in both school and in coaching, Decided if i want to stick to engineering or pursue math as my major, Get an internship related to my major for summer, Have fun.

    StrengthsFinder top 5: Harmony, Restorative,Achiever, Consistency, Learner

    Personal Gender Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

  • Sophia Elkihel

    Sophia Elkihel

    Major & College: Political Science, Muir College 

    Peer Coach for Muir College

    Hometown: Livermore, CA

    What does being first-generation mean to me? Being first-generation means that you are determined and persistent. You are creating opportunities for yourself, your family, and your community through self taught hard work. There can be a lot of pressure to not only fulfill the goals you have for yourself, but also to fulfill the dreams and sacrifices of your family. Furthermore, the difficulties of navigating the complexities of a large academic institution are greater and can therefore benefit from having resources in order to get the most out of your experience. 

    Top goals for the year: ● Travel locally ● Engage more with the San Diego community ● Be a resource for my fellow UCSD students 

    StrengthsFinder Top 5: Insight, Context, Restorative, Connectedness, Ideation

    Personal Gender Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

  • Topher (Christopher) Hutchinson

    Topher (Christopher) Hutchinson

    Major & College: Nanoengineering, Muir College

    Peer Coach for Revelle College

    Hometown: Costa Mesa, California

    What does being first-generation mean to me? Being a first-generation student means I’m a physical benchmark in my family’s history. More importantly, being the first in my family to attend higher education at a 4-year university symbolizes the amount of determination and tenaciousness of wanting to achieve something bigger than myself. First-generation to me means that you’re the first step towards a different tomorrow for your lineage, one that is purely shaped by the chances and decisions made by you, today. 

    Top goals for the year:

    • Create a plan to Study Abroad before the end of my college career
    • Learn and adapt in the Student Success Peer Coach position in order to better benefit other first-generation students
    • Be in at least one performance every quarter

    Strengths Finder Top 5: Includer, Achiever, Input, Adaptability, Connectedness

    Personal Gender Pronouns: He/Him/His