Current Student Profiles

Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s Program
Continuing Students

Erika Becerra Gutierrez


Undergrad: Berry College
Major: Communication with concentration in Public Relations
Hometown: Calhoun, GA
Assistantship/Employment: Student Support Services (SSS)
Bio: Hi! My name is Erika (ella/she/her/hers), and I am from Georgia. I graduated from Berry College in Rome, Georgia in May of 2022 with a degree in communication and concentration in public relations. Outside of student affairs, my past employment and expertise falls largely within the realm of social media marketing.

As an undergraduate student, I was involved most heavily as a student coach on the speech and debate team on my campus, and later co-founded the first-generation college students' club. As a first-gen student and Latina, my interests within student affairs mainly involve providing career development programming and advising support to first-gen and undocumented students.

Currently, I am the graduate assistant for UConn's Student Support Services program, where I provide holistic support to first-gen and low-income students. I love my job because it allows me to work with bright and compassionate professionals and students.

UConn oak leaf blue


Undergrad: Ohio University
Major: Visual Communication: Interactive Multimedia
Hometown: Milton Mills, NH
Assistantship/Employment: Leadership & Organizational Development
Bio: Hello everyone! My name is Ellie Burke and I use she/they pronouns. I grew up in a tiny town along the New Hampshire/Maine border, but I’ve spent the past eight years living in Southern and Central Ohio. I attended Ohio University for my undergrad degree in interactive media (web design) and graduated in December 2021.

I started working with Ohio University’s undergraduate orientation programs in the summer of 2019, and quickly started to realize how much I enjoyed working with students. Throughout my time with orientation, I learned a lot about myself and grew exponentially as a student leader and an individual. When I started working with orientation, I was incredibly quiet and shy, and by the time I worked my last summer program in June of 2021, I was confident enough in myself that I was able to present our orientation welcome presentation.

After being introduced to higher-ed themed student leader roles on campus, I started finding other opportunities to be a mentor to students. I worked with our Learning Community Programs and was a peer mentor with one of our multicultural student support offices. Additionally, I spent a lot of time as a student worker with our First-Year and Student Transitions office, supporting our FYE programs. I enjoy working with students and connecting them with resources to be successful on campus throughout their time in their programs.


Undergrad: University of Rhode Island
Major: Psychology and Gender & Women's Studies
Hometown: Cumberland, RI
Assistantship/Employment: Center for Career Development
Bio: Hello there! My name is Avery (they/them/theirs) and I am from Cumberland, Rhode Island. I graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2020, where I majored in Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies. In 2019 I began working for the Gender and Sexuality Center at URI, starting my student affairs journey. While there, I facilitated the Trans and Non-binary support group, co-chaired the Trans Inclusion Committee, and had the opportunity to help plan and facilitate various programs and events. I want to continue to create spaces in which college students can develop while being able to be their full, true selves fearlessly. My long term goal is to work as a leader in the field of Diversity and Inclusion in higher education.

My undergraduate studies and post-graduate experience have greatly informed my passions and approach to student affairs. An overwhelming amount of students with marginalized and intersecting identities report feeling unwelcome and unsafe on college campuses, which impacts their ability to grow into themselves, their studies, and too often can lead to them discontinuing their education. It is crucial to remove barriers to success in higher education and accessibility rooted in racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism if we want to create a more just and equitable world.

In my down time I like to play video games and tabletop games, read fantasy and horror novels, listen to music, and cook good food to share with my loved ones. I’m beyond excited to start my journey in the UConn HESA program to learn the tools I need to support the wellbeing and growth of college students and make connections along the way! Go Huskies!

Ulises Garcia Jr.ULISES GARCIA, JR.

Undergrad: UC Berkeley
Major: Social Welfare
Hometown: Montebello, CA
Assistantship/Employment: Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC)
Bio: Hi all! My name is Ulises (he/him/his/él). I am a first generation Latino (Mexican) student from Los Angeles, California. During my first year of undergrad, I lived in a residential theme program that housed 30 self-identified Latinx students. That space became my home away from home and I had the honor of serving as the Resident Assistant for the program for three years. I also worked in orientation, public service, and multicultural student development while at UC Berkeley. Following graduation, I studied abroad in Barcelona for six weeks before returning home. During this time, I served as a case manager for a non-profit organization assisting low-income, marginalized families with child care subsidy and then worked at a high school as a resource navigator.

I am eternally grateful for the abundance of love and support I have received throughout my time in (and away from) education and I am excited to be back! My purpose in this field is to facilitate introductory conversations on language and social identity development and challenge one another through honest self-reflection and critical dialogue. Consequently, I hope we can curate our biases, bring communities together, generate a sense of belonging for all students, and support their holistic development and well-being.


Undergrad: Ohio University
Major: Communication
Hometown: Germantown, MD
Assistantship/Employment: UConn Law School: Graduate & International Programs
Bio: Hi! I’m Raquel Gleicher and I am originally from Germantown, MD. I graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication studies, minor in Journalism, Diversity Studies certificate and Social Media certificate. I am a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) which has cultivated my passion for people and minimizing barriers in communication.

During undergrad, I was a Hiring Manager in Culinary Services where I discovered my interest in connecting with students. Upon graduation, I moved to Cape Cod, MA where I was an Assistant Innkeeper at Luxury Boutique B&B. While I was welcoming guests across the globe, I pursued a TEFL (teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate.

Amidst the pandemic, I became an online English teacher to students in China (although my students were the true teachers). A few months later, I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as the Academic Coordinator to the Provost and Faculty Secretariat to the Faculty Senate at the College of Charleston. It is not one experience, but the accumulation of all that has led me to pursue a career in Student Affairs. I am enlightened to be a part of the HESA community and to learn how to foster an accessible and transformative student experience.

I am a lifelong learner of tarot, astrology, and meditative practices. When I am not binge watching the newest reality dating show (bad habit, I know) I’m in nature or planning my next adventure!


Undergrad: University of Connecticut
Major: Psychological Science and Communication
Hometown: Farmington, CT/ Manila, Philippines
Assistantship/Employment: Pre-College Summer
Bio: Hello! My name is Megan (she/hers) and I grew up in the Philippines before moving to Connecticut. I graduated with a B.A in Psychological Sciences and Communication, and a minor in Global Studies from UConn. (“Students Today, Huskies Forever”, right?) I was heavily involved on campus, including the Undergraduate Student Government, Greek Life, multiple mentoring programs, and various organizations under the Asian American Cultural Center. Being active within the cultural center played a significant role during my undergraduate years since my culture and roots are an integral part of my identity. To wrap up my senior year, I conducted my independent study on the diaspora of Filipino Nurses and their role during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

When I wasn’t running around campus, I was exploring Europe during my study abroad in the Czech Republic. After graduating, I taught English as a Second Language in Taiwan on a Fulbright Grant. Upon returning to the US, I became a Financial Assistant for UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Business Center while applying to graduate school. I’ve always been drawn to the education field but I finally decided to narrow it down to higher education and was admitted to the 2024 HESA Cohort. My previous experiences as a Faculty Intern for The Loomis Chaffee Summer Program prepared me for my graduate assistantship with the UConn Pre-College Summer Office and I am looking forward to working with both college and high school students throughout the year.

In my free time, I enjoy going to the gym, going on walks, doodling, and writing short stories, but above all, I love traveling. As someone who has been to 25 countries (and counting!) and has lived in 3 continents, I’m always ready for a new adventure! Can’t wait to see where HESA takes me next!


Undergrad: Eastern Connecticut State University
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Athens, Georgia
Assistantship/Employment: The Women's Center
Bio: Hey y'all! I'm Daniela Iniestra Varelas. I grew up in Athens, GA after immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 6. Growing up in this vibrant and busy college town in many ways shaped my views towards higher education. My education and experiences were tailored to make me the perfect candidate for university life; all I was missing was the legal status that the Georgia Board of Regents required.

Because of this, I had to search for other opportunities. After trials and tribulations and never ending searches and applications I was awarded the Opportunity Scholarship from to attend Eastern Connecticut State University for my undergraduate studies. Starting a new life at 19 across the country was no easy feat, but I worked towards finding my new community at ECSU.

I held various leadership positions within the Office of Housing & Residential life and was involved within cultural and social justice organizations on campus. My participation in both fueled my love for Student Affairs. Through vulnerable and conscientious conversations, meaningful collaborations, and diligent coursework I understood that the fight and need for equitable and accessible education is still just as present as it was when I first started my search.

I graduated from ECSU in May 2020, becoming the first college graduate in my family. Since then, I have served as a proud member of the first cohort of the UConn College Advising Corps, working at Windham High School. My ambition for growth hasn't stopped, I am proud and ecstatic to be joining the '22-'24 UConn HESA cohort. I hope to keep growing my perspectives and keep fighting for accessible, equitable, and empowering education for first-generation, underrepresented, and underserved students.


Undergrad: University of Connecticut
Major: English, Gerontology minor
Hometown: Waterbury, CT
Bio: Hello folks! My name is Jaelie Jackson, I am from Waterbury, CT and recently graduated from the University of Connecticut this past Spring with a Bachelor's of Arts in English and a minor in Gerontology.

My experience at UConn has directly impacted my passion for supporting college students. I had an extremely difficult first semester and ended up on academic probation. From there, I utilized all the resources UConn had available to me and was able to improve my grades and get involved in mentoring other students on academic probation. I have worked at the Academic Achievement Center since my sophomore year as a UConn Connects Mentor, an Academic Coach, and a Master Coach. Being a Black first-generation college student had enormous challenges and I hope to support and advocate for these students so they are able to succeed and thrive in college just as I was able to.

From being an Orientation Leader, a Resident Assistant, to even working in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, I have found that many college students face numerous difficulties that do not even deal with academics! I hope to be able to work in Student Support Services or become a Dean of students to provide holistic support for all students.

I believe that my struggles in college have shaped who I am today and have given me insight on the trials many students go through and I plan on using these experiences to further develop my passion for Higher Education and Student Affairs.


Undergrad: Miami University
Major: Sociology & Spanish
Hometown: West Chester, Ohio
Assistantship/Employment: Center for Fraternity & Sorority Development
Bio: Hello, everyone! My name is Sydney Jefferson and I am from a suburb outside of Cincinnati, Ohio called West Chester, Ohio. I graduated this spring from Miami University with a degree in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. During my time there I was Division 1 Student-Athlete on the Track and Field Team, a Student Orientation Undergraduate Leader, and Vice President of the National Panhellenic Council & the Zeta Mu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Chief of Staff for the Office of ASPIRE on campus. Through all of these experiences, I knew that I had a burning passion for supporting college students and I am excited to continue this work in a professional capacity. With that being said, I am incredibly happy to continue my education and support students through the UConn HESA program in the fall.


Undergrad: UConn
Major: HDFR
Hometown: West Haven, CT
Assistantship/Employment: UConn School of Business Office of Diversity Initiatives
Bio: I have over 20 years of Higher Education experience advising and retaining high-risk students, promoting and developing creative diversity recruiting and retention programs for students, staff and faculty at the High School and College levels.

I have authored and implemented retention specific outreach programs to monitor student academic progression to ensure the achievement of the school's diversity-initiated goals and outcomes.

I take pride in promoting diversity in Higher Education and is strongly committed to the value of cultural, racial, and socio-economic equity within the business world as a whole.

I believe that along with other components, including age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, nation of origin, disability, and life experience, contributes to academic diversity, which is one of the driving forces of scholarly analysis. With this in mind, I strive to promote an atmosphere that fosters a helpful, friendly, and holistic environment for all.


Undergrad: Brandeis University
Major: Politics with double minors in Legal Studies and Anthropology
Hometown: Nashua, NH
Assistantship/Employment: The Graduate School
Bio: Hello! My name is Tori Sanchez (she/her/hers) and I am originally from Nashua, NH. I graduated from Brandeis University with my BA in Politics and double minors in Anthropology and Legal Studies. During my time at Brandeis, I worked in housing, both in the capacity as a Community Advisor and as an Office Assistant. In addition to my work with Community Living, I had the opportunity to work with Academic Services and Student Accessibility Support. The mentorship I received from those three offices is where my passion for student advocacy and support was shaped.

My long term student affairs goal is to combine my undergraduate degree in Politics and my passion for student support to work in disability services and advocacy on college campuses. I know first hand how important it is to have support from disability services and I hope to become that support for students in the future. I firmly believe that all individuals should have the tools that they need to succeed both in, and out, of the classroom.


Undergrad: Saint Michael's College
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Boston, MA
Assistantship/Employment: Rowe Scholars Program Graduate Assistant
Bio: Hey what’s up! My name is Frantzy Suffrard and I am from Boston Massachusetts. I attended Saint Michael’s College in Colchester VT for my undergraduate years and obtained my degree in Psychology. During my undergrad, I dedicated my summers giving back to UMass Boston Upward Bound Program, which focused on assisting low-income, first-generation college bound high school students in the successful completion of secondary education and preparing them academically and socially for enrollment and completion of higher education. Through this program, I was fortunate enough to several years tutoring, mentoring, teaching, and empowering students that the path to postsecondary success is feasible and will test them in many ways. Those years showed me the importance of Black men taking space where there are not many and how impactful we can be.

While at UConn, I would like to study and analyze the upcoming trends of college student development and incorporate a holistic approach to serving students. I am also interested in developing early indication systems that help faculty and staff members distinguish between a student not performing well and if it contributes to a lack of support, confidence, or the stress of personal situations. I am excited to build relationships with members of the HESA family and UConn community.

In my free time you can find me listening to or creating music, doing something sports related and either cooking or eating with family and friends.

Abigail WebsterABBY WEBSTER

Undergrad: Wellesley College
Major: Classics
Hometown: Tacoma, WA
Assistantship/Employment: Student Union
Bio: Hi! My name is Abby Webster (she/her), and I am so excited to be a part of the 2024 UConn HESA cohort. I am from Tacoma, Washington and attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where I studied Classics with a minor in English.

My time at Wellesley was where I realized my love of student affairs and my desire to work in higher education. My favorite parts of my college experience were working as a Resident Assistant, serving on different administrative and advisory committees, and taking on various projects to build community on campus (e.g., creating a permanent outdoor recreation space, hosting the first Wellesley Community Conference, and delivering handmade valentines to every student on campus). I hope to work in orientation and new student advising in the future to help students feel welcomed and excited about the start of their college journey! It can be scary for college students to lean into joy and connection, and I want to keep myself rooted in finding and creating moments of joy for myself and everyone around me.

Some fun facts about myself are that I love doing theater (I’ve been performing in musical theater since I was 10), I enjoy spending time walking or hiking, and I hold two Guinness world records! I’m also a big fan of being outside in the snow, meeting new people, dancing whenever music is playing, and dad jokes.


Undergrad: The Pennsylvania State University
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Sugarloaf, PA
Assistantship/Employment: Community Outreach: Political Engagement and Dialogues
Bio: Hi all! My name is Cami Wilson (she/her). I graduated from Penn State University in 2020 with my Bachelor’s in political science with minors in civic and community engagement, and communication arts and sciences. During that time, I worked with Campus Vote Project, which provided me with direct experience and knowledge of democratic civic engagement work on college campuses and connected me with student affairs professionals who were doing this work. Meeting these professionals had me thinking: "This is exactly what I want to do.” I'm passionate about the role higher education and student affairs play in developing students into engaged citizens and leaders in their communities and the world, as well as learning what parts of the college experience promote or hinder civic engagement and deliberative democracy. My goal is to help college students develop into engaged citizens and leaders in their communities and the world, who make collaborative decisions, make those decisions with justice and equity in mind, and do service through the lens of public work. I’m passionate about social justice, mental health, and service-learning.

UConn oak leaf blue


Assistantship: Academic Center for Exploratory Students

Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s Program
Class of 2023 Cohort



Undergrad: George Washington University
Major: International Affairs
Hometown: Arlington, TX
Assistantship: Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Bio: Hello all! My name is Sarah Abbey. I grew up in Arlington, TX but moved to Washington, DC, where I currently live ... read more


Undergrad: Missouri State University
Major: Communication
Hometown: Lee’s Summit, MO
Assistantship: Office of Fraternity & Sorority Development
Bio: Hello! My name is Cara Connor (she/her/hers). I am from Lee's Summit, MO, right outside of Kansas City. ... read more


Undergrad: Kenyon College
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Dublin, OH
Assistantship: Dean of Students Office
Bio: Hello! My name is Claire Dutton (she/her/hers) and I'm originally from Dublin, Ohio. ... read more


Undergrad: Old Dominion University
Major: Business Management
Hometown:Ramsey, NJ
Bio: Hi! My name is Alicia Harlow, and I grew up in the small suburban town of Ramsey, NJ. ... read more


Undergrad: UConn
Major: Business management & Human Development and Family Sciences
Hometown: Milford, CT
Assistantship: Residential Life: Assistant Residence Hall Director
Bio:Hi everyone, I’m Shannon! I graduated from UConn in 2020 with a BS in Business Management and a BA in Human Development and Family Sciences. ... read more


Undergrad: Clark University
Major: Women's & Gender Studies
Hometown: Old Bridge, NJ
Assistantship: Office of Institutional Equity
Bio: Hi all, my name is Tarah (she/they). I graduated from Clark University in Worcester, MA in December 2020 with a degree in Women's & Gender Studies and a minor in Political Science. ... read more


Undergrad: University of Connecticut
Major: Human Development and Family Studies
Hometown: Coventry, CT
Assistantship: Community Standards
Bio:Hello! My name is Nicki (she/her/hers) and I graduated from UConn in 2018 with a B.A. in Human Development and Family Studies ... read more


Undergrad: Wagner College
Major: English
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
Assistantship: Student Activities- Major Events and Programs
Bio: Hey y, all! My name is Pedro Santiago, and I am from Staten Island, New York. I attended Wagner College for my undergraduate degree in English with a minor in ... read more


Undergrad: UConn Hartford
Major: Psychological Science and Human Development and Family Sciences minor
Hometown: Hartford, CT
Assistantship: Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Bio: Hola! My name is Crismar Santos, I was raised and born in the Dominican Republic ... read more


Undergrad: UC Santa Barbara
Major: Communication
Hometown:Los Banos, CA
Assistantship: Residential Life - Student Welfare
Bio: Hi! My name is Stephanie (she/her/hers) and although I moved around a lot as a kid, I consider myself to be from Los Banos, CA. ... read more


Undergrad: Kalamazoo College
Major: Mathematics and French
Hometown: Dearborn, MI
Assistantship: Residential Life: Assistant Residence Hall Director
Bio: Hello there! My name is Ani (she/her) and my chosen hometown is Dearborn, Michigan. ... read more