Faces of FGEN: Faculty and Staff | University of Portland

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 Associate 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

Valerie Banschbach

Valerie Banschbach College of Arts & Sciences, Dean

"As an administrator now, I am very committed to supporting initiatives that intentionally connect first-gen students with one another and with first-gen faculty and staff."

Learn more about Valerie Banschbach

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

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

Matt Deschner

Matt Deschner Dean of Admissions

"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.

Becca Henley

Becca Henley Program Manager, Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement

"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

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 Associate Director of Alumni Engagement

"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

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

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

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

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