Faces of FGEN: Faculty and Staff

Maybe you're wondering, "Who else is FGEN besides me here at UP?" Learn about some of the many faculty and staff here on The Bluff who are among the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college or university. In fact, why not reach out to them directly and learn a bit more about their experiences, both as a student and as a member of the University of Portland campus community? We hope that their stories inspire you and encourage you to thrive as a first generation student here on the Bluff.

Simon Aihiokhai

Simon Aihiokhai Assistant Professor of Theology

"During my undergraduate studies, I had three professors who helped me to become what I am today. "

Learn more about Simon Aihiokhai

Yvonne Ayesiga

Yvonne Ayesiga Residence Life

"My experience as a first-generation college student made me resilient and hardworking."

Learn more about Yvonne Ayesiga

Genevieve Brassard

Genevieve Brassard Associate Professor and Chair, Department of English

"Don't be afraid to ask for help; professors and staff are here to support and guide you."

Learn more about Genevieve Brassard

Karen Bridges

Karen Bridges Marketing and Communications Coordinator

"You are already so strong, resourceful, and successful just by being here, and you belong here."

Learn more about Karen Bridges

Brendan Brunner

Brendan Brunner Residence Life

"The greatest lesson I received from navigating my undergraduate education as FGEN was the value behind perseverance and the humility in asking for help. "

Learn more about Brendan Brunner

Bryce Buckley

Bryce Buckley

"I had no idea how much I loved higher education until I started working on campus and actively participating in student organizations."

Learn more about Bryce Buckley

Eddie Contreras

Eddie Contreras Assistant Provost for International Education, Diversity and Inclusion

"Because the four-year college experience was different for my parents, they didn't know about many aspects of college life, so I had to advocate for myself and learn on my own by trail and error."

Learn more about Eddie Contreras

Aimee Davidse

Aimee Davidse Academic Program Counselor, College of Arts and Sciences

"My experiences as a FGEN truly paved the way to my profession. Each year my confidence grew and I became a stronger individual."

Learn more about Aimee Davidse

Ezequiel Delgado-Cervantes

Ezequiel Delgado-Cervantes Assistant Hall Director, Christie Hall

"Speaking from personal experience, there are numerous academic, social, personal, and spiritual resources available to all students. Utilize every person and tool available at UP to help you navigate college successfully."

Learn more about Ezequiel Delgado-Cervantes

Matt Deschner

Matt Deschner Admissions Counselor

"Ask questions. Always. We are here to help and assist students through their higher education experience."

Learn more about Matt Deschner

Father John Donato, C.S.C.

Father John Donato, C.S.C. Vice President of Student Affairs

"My first years in college prepared me for my studies abroad in Italy and then gave me confidence as I entered the workforce."

Learn more about Father John Donato, C.S.C.

Casandra Esparza

Casandra Esparza Admissions Counselor of Diversity & Inclusion

"Everyone on campus is here to help our students become successful, especially those that are struggling with the transition to college life."

Learn more about Casandra Esparza

Allen Hansen

Allen Hansen Shiley School of Engineering, Technician Supervisor

"I still have a passion to learn something new ever day of my life, and it all started because I proved to myself that I could do it and enjoy it."

Learn more about Allen Hansen

Becca Henley

Becca Henley Academic Program Counselor, College of Arts and Sciences

"You will find that so many people at UP are so excited just that you are here on campus and they will be more than willing to make some time to meet with you, you just have to ask. "

Learn more about Becca Henley

Yuri Hernández Osorio

Yuri Hernández Osorio Coordinator for Diversity and Inclusion Programs: Student Activities

"I would advise student to speak up and to not let others people's narratives of you define who you are and what you can accomplish."

Learn more about Yuri Hernández Osorio

Randy Hetherington

Randy Hetherington Assistant Professor, School of Education

"Being FGEN and having to navigate my own way through the muddle of first and second year, I believe awoke in me a higher level of independence than I had at high school and introduced me the concept of servant leadership in a formal way."

Learn more about Randy Hetherington

Montana Hisel-Cochran

Montana Hisel-Cochran Instructor of Leadership, Professional Development, and Global Acumen: Pamplin School of Business

"I learned that it is okay to ask for help, and it is okay to make mistakes, and I won't always be good at everything."

Learn more about Montana Hisel-Cochran

Marija Kovacevic Hobbs

Marija Kovacevic Hobbs Financial Aid Counselor

"My college experience was life-changing. I would not have made the personal or professional contacts I did had I not attended the University of Portland."

Learn more about Marija Kovacevic Hobbs

Sr. Angela Hoffman

Sr. Angela Hoffman Chemistry Professor

"Find out about and use all the resources available that will help you."

Learn more about Sr. Angela Hoffman

Deana Julka

Deana Julka Associate Professor, Psychology

"Faculty/staff want you to succeed -- come and ask questions -we invite them!"

Learn more about Deana Julka

Gwynn Klobes

Gwynn Klobes P4 Program Director, Pamplin School of Business

"Use this four years to explore who you are as a person so that you are better able to find a right fit vocation in life."

Learn more about Gwynn Klobes

Jericho Knight

Jericho Knight Administrative Assistant to the Associate Provost

"The professors and staff want to be a resource to you and love to help you learn and succeed."

Learn more about Jericho Knight

Jeromy Koffler

Jeromy Koffler Director of Student Activities

"I think what helped me the most was having that close group of friends to support me, especially throughout my first year."

Learn more about Jeromy Koffler

Laurie Laird

Laurie Laird Director, Moreau Center for Service and Justice

"Seek support from other FGEN students as well as faculty and staff. There are so many resources available to you but sometimes faculty and staff aren’t aware of what you need."

Learn more about Laurie Laird

Elizabeth Lee

Elizabeth Lee Director of Institutional Research

"Sure college is a time to earn a degree to set you on a successful career trajectory, and yet it’s also a time to evolve and nurture emerging interests."

Learn more about Elizabeth Lee

Patricia McDonald

Patricia McDonald Graphic Design Manager

"Find a circle of people (whether at an internship, volunteering, online groups, like-minded) with shared interests who encourage one another."

Learn more about Patricia McDonald

Herbert Medina

Herbert Medina Provost

"Having to learn how to navigate the university system taught me perseverance, independence, how to be tough, how to work harder than my peers, etc. The experience has helped me in every aspect of my professional life."

Learn more about Herbert Medina

Connie Ozyjowski

Connie Ozyjowski Associate Director, Donor Engagement

"Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, even if it seems like a silly question."

Learn more about Connie Ozyjowski

Michael Pelley

Michael Pelley Director of International Student Services

"Learning how to be a better student can, and will, have a positive impact in other areas of your life."

Learn more about Michael Pelley

James Pena

James Pena Hall Director, Schoenfeldt Hall

"I cannot recommend finding a mentor highly enough. So much wisdom, experience, and support to be shared from people like these!"

Learn more about James Pena

Katie Richardson

Katie Richardson Academic Program Counselor, College of Arts & Sciences

"My advice to any first gen students facing challenges would be to reach out and ask questions. "

Learn more about Katie Richardson

Casey Shillam

Casey Shillam Dean, School of Nursing

"I learned to embrace opportunities to take on leadership roles and knew those experiences would directly lead to my ability to be successful."

Learn more about Casey Shillam

Paula Tower

Paula Tower Biology Lecturer

"Lots of us know what you are facing and knowing that a professor overcame challenges can empower you."

Learn more about Paula Tower

José Velazco

José Velazco Digital Lab Coordinator

"I believed that education was a tool that could help me succeed as a first generation immigrant."

Learn more about José Velazco

Father Art Wheeler, C.S.C.

Father Art Wheeler, C.S.C. Associate Professor, History; Pastoral Resident, Mehling Hall

"During my thirty years at the University of Portland, I have taught and lived with many first generation students, many of whom qualified for scholarships, fellowships, admission to graduate and professional schools, internships, studies abroad programs and many other opportunities."

Learn more about Father Art Wheeler, C.S.C.

Aaron Wootton

Aaron Wootton Professor, Mathematics

"Perhaps the best piece of advice I can offer is the following: speak to people. Different people have tremendously different experiences, and more often than not I find people are willing to share those experiences in ways from which you can learn."

Learn more about Aaron Wootton

Erin Zarafshan

Erin Zarafshan Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Financial Affairs

"So many of us have been in your shoes and can offer a listening ear or advice. "

Learn more about Erin Zarafshan