Staff Bios

Joanna M. Hernandez, Director 

Student Success Initiatives

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Joanna Hernandez grew up as a first-generation Latina & former foster youth student. Over her past 10 years of work experience in higher education, she has specifically focused on advocating for first-generation & low-income students' needs, is a practiced counselor, and seasoned program developer. She is passionate about the future of higher education and ensuring it is a safe & inclusive environment for all student communities. Joanna completed her master's in Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan, and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Latin American & Iberian Studies from UC Santa Barbara. She currently serves as the Director at the Student Success Initiatives Office providing leadership to programs that support foster youth, student parents, undocumented students, transfer success programs, community partnerships, as well as first-generation and low-income students. Prior to this appointment, she served as the TRIO project director at UC Irvine and worked as an EOP counselor at UC Santa Barbara. Joanna is a dog & cat mom, hiking enthusiast, aspirating plant-based home chief, urban art lover, and music appreciator. Please feel free to reach out to her if you would like additional support or want to get connected to any of the SSI programs.

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Office: 2200 Student Services II
E-mail: joanna.hernandez@uci.edu

Adeeva Myers, Counselor/Coordinator 

Gateway Initiatives & Gateway Scholars Program

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Adeeva is a Southern California native from the city of Carson. She earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed her Masters of Education degree in Educational Counseling from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. While in undergrad, Adeeva participated in various leadership roles on campus including working as a Resident Assistant and being a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. She has extensive experience in college access, previously working with organizations such as TRiO Upward Bound and the USC College Advising Corp where she assisted the majority of low-income, first-generation students in applying and enrolling in college. As a product of an under-resourced high school, Adeeva understands the plight of students needing added support in their efforts to achieve within higher education. Her goal is to see our education system grow into a more equitable institution where students of all backgrounds can achieve equality. Therefore, she is dedicated to helping cultivate young lives concerning their academic, personal, and professional success! Adeeva would love to chat with you. Please contact her with any questions about the Gateway Scholars program.

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Office: 2200 Student Services II
Email: ammyers@uci.edu

Blanca Villagomez Cedeño, Counselor/Coordinator 

DREAM Scholars & Transfer Programs

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Blanca (pronouns: she/her/ella) grew up as a first-generation student and daughter of immigrant parents in the San Fernando Valley. She currently serves as the Counselor/Coordinator for DREAM Scholars and Transfer Programs. She has dedicated the last ten years of her career to developing initiatives and resources supporting first-generation, low-income, transfer, and undocumented students. Her commitment to educational equity and social justice is rooted in her belief that students are empowered and transformed when they are provided with holistic support and safe spaces. Blanca completed her M.S. in Counseling, Student Development in Higher Education (SDHE) at CSU Long Beach. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from UCLA (Go Bruins!). In her spare time, Blanca enjoys exploring scenic spots, watching sci-fi movies, and doing yoga at the beach.

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Office: 2200 Student Services II
E-mail: villagob@uci.edu

Carlos Martinez, Student Success Programs Office Coordinator

Freshman Edge and Transfer Programs

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Carlos serves as the Office Coordinator for the Transfer Student Center. As a former transfer student himself, he earned his Associate of Arts for Transfer in Psychology from Glendale Community College in California. He went on to graduate from UC Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Behavior.

Carlos’s responsibilities revolve around maintaining an inclusive and welcoming environment for both current and prospective Transfer students and their peers. In his role, he oversees front desk operations, as well as the student service needs for a variety of Student Success Initiatives programs, including the Freshman Edge, Transfer BOOST, and Student Parents and Families programs. Carlos also serves as the initial point of contact for TSC guests, families, and campus partners, connecting them with the appropriate campus resources.

Carlos enjoys playing video games, jamming out on the keyboard, and sharing recommendations for shows to binge watch. Feel free to reach out to him with your transfer student experience questions, or to simply share a bright moment in your day.

Office: 2100 Student Services II
E-mail: carlosmm@exchange.uci.edu

Ananda Van Boeyen, Counselor/ Coordinator 

Transfer Programs, Formerly Incarcerated and Systems Impacted (FISI) & Student Parent and Families (SPF)

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Ananda Van Boeyen grew up as a first-generation, low-income, immigrant family student. She chose to complete her Master of Social Work, having experienced first-hand the power of mentorship and having someone believe in your dreams, dignity, and worth. Ananda has spent over 15 years working with families, early intervention mental health services, people without housing, survivors of domestic violence, immigration detainees, and reentry services. Ananda is passionate about creating a sense of community and belonging for all students while helping them find their voice and power. Ananda loves the outdoors, whether it is hiking, the beach, or napping under the sun. She enjoys listening to music, attending concerts and festivals, reading, running, working out, podcasts and napping. Please contact her with questions and for support.

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Office: 2100 Student Services II
E-mail: avanboey@uci.edu

Martha Lucero Contreras, Counselor/ Coordinator 

Foster Youth Resilience in Education (FYRE)

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Martha Lucero Contreras serves as the current Counselor/ Coordinator for the UCI FYRE Scholars program. Martha grew up in Huntington Park in the county of Los Angeles. She is a first-generation Latina graduate from Cal State University, Fullerton where she received a Bachelor's degree in Chicana and Chicano Studies and Sociology, as well as a Master's Degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Education. As a first-generation, low-income student, Martha values the community she found at CSUF that helped her navigate the university. That experience sparked a passion to continue supporting students throughout their educational journeys. Prior to this role, Martha worked at CSUF GEAR UP- working with students in Anaheim to access higher education. Martha's goal is to build a community of support, respect, and empowerment for all current and former foster youth at UCI.

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Office: 2100 Student Services II
E-mail: m.contreras@uci.edu

Wiley G. Wilson Jr., Program Coordinator 

UMOJA Program

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Wiley Wilson grew up as a low-income, First-Generation, African American, and Black student in both Southern Alabama and Southern California. Wiley earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at the School of Social Sciences at the University of California, Irvine.  As an undergraduate student, Wiley had founded numerous campus organizations and programs such as the UMOJA Community Campus Organization and the Seat at the Table Project and had advocated for, and guaranteed funding from the Associate Student of the University of California, Irvine going toward assisting marginalized groups on UCI’s campus. As a recent graduate, Wiley understands the needs of current students in the current University system. He has extensive experience working within the UMOJA Community as an UMOJA Ambassador in the Transfer Initiatives Program under the Office of Admissions and Relations at UCI and was honored as the 2021 UMOJA Alumni of the Year and the Black Thriving Scholar under the Black Thriving Initiative. Wiley’s goal is to make sure that students have options, not ultimatums, as they journey through the Academic System. Wiley in his spare time loves to hike, travel, watch cartoons and anime. If you have any questions about the UMOJA Pre-Pilot Program, are interested in being a part of the UMOJA Community, or wish to collaborate, please contact him.

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Office: 2100 Student Services II
E-mail: wgwilson@uci.edu