Karen Torrez, Marketing Student Assistant

Karen Torrez was Born in California, and raised in The East Bay. As a Nicaraguence – American, Karen takes pride in being a multinational in this day and age. Karen strives to become the first of her mediated family to receive a B.A. Now, Karen is completing courses with the Peralta Community College District and building relations with students and faculty in the Puente program through Accesso. In the interim of re enrolling into UCSC, Karen is an entrepreneur centered on Business strategies on Marketing, Developing and Financing. Karen gained her experience throughout her career at a former fortune five hundred Financial company as a Multi Team Manager in office within the Bay Area. Karen looks forward to expanding the ACCESO and Puente presence on social media.

Alejandra Duran, Success Coach

Community College: Sacramento City College
UC Riverside: Chicano Studies
Sacramento State: M.S in Counseling- Career Specialization

I come from a small town where both of my parents worked the fields for most of their lifetime. Growing up, I was not encouraged to reach my full potential; I was only encouraged to reach the limits of my environment. In a leap of faith, I left Dixon and moved to Sacramento. I began taking random self-selected courses at Sacramento City College. Eventually, I found counselors who dedicated their time to work with students like me: full of dedication and perseverance but limited guidance. I transferred to the University of California, Riverside, where I earned my B.A. in Chicano Studies. After finishing up, I relocated back to Northern California, where I completed my M.S in counseling from Sacramento State. My desire to work as a Success Coach with the Puente Project and ACCESO stems from my personal experience and my professional experience as a first-generation, low-income transfer student. Over the past six years, I have worked with disproportionately impacted populations within the California Community College, California State University, and the University of California systems in various roles. I want to help replicate the services that changed my life.

Claudia Ruelas, ACCESO Adjunct Counselor

Hola! My name is Claudia Ruelas I was born and raised in the Bay Area. Being a first -generation, and first to attend college my goal was to make my family proud. I started my education at De Anza College and was part of the Puente program. My mentors were my guidance in my educational journey. After completing my Associates of Art in Liberal Studies. I transferred to San Jose State University and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology. Later I earned my Master Degree in Education with an emphasis in Counseling at San Jose State University.

I have 9 years of experience working in a diverse student population in a higher educational setting. Working with students is my passion. I’m a huge believer in student equity and look forward to supporting the Latinx community and advocating for my students.

Ms. Mayra Arévalo-Agyapong, Student Services Specialist

Mayra Arévalo-Agyapong was born and raised in El Salvador. She emigrated to the Unites States as a teenager. Not knowing much English, she enrolled in Laney Community College as an ESL student, and from there moved on to transferring and getting a bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Mayra has more than 10 years of experience working in a community college setting, in student services areas such as Puente, EOPS, TRiO and  Gateway to College, as well as 5 years of administrative experience in the office of instruction.

As an immigrant and a first generation college student, Mayra is motivated to support community college students in their pursuit of higher education.


Danna Chavez Baquero, PUENTE/ACCESO Counselor

Danna Chavez Baquero was born and raised in Cali, Colombia. At age of 15, she moved to California. Danna started her education at Cuesta Community College. As an immigrant with limited English and resources, she enrolled in college. Danna’s mentors where there to supported her and guide her through her educational pathway. After completing her Associates of Arts in General and Transfer Studies, Danna transferred to Cal Poly University San Luis Obispo and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Later, Danna earned her Masters in Art in Education with Specialization in Counseling and Guidance from California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo.

Danna’s work experience started at Cuesta College where she worked for 10+ years in many departments including Transfer Center, Admissions and Records, English as a Second Language, and Student Support and Services Programs. She also worked at Los Medanos College for 2 years as a Transfer and Career Services Program Coordinator, helping students discover their career pathway as well as exploring their transfer possibilities to the four-year university. In addition, Danna taught Academic Career and Success Courses at Los Medanos College. Before Danna came to College of Alameda, she was a Career Technical Programs Counselor for Contra Costa College.

Danna has a strong passion to help students achieve their goals and to transfer to 4-year universities. She has worked with a diverse student population and understands the importance in cultural values influences students’ careers. She wants to help students succeed in their careers because she believes that investing in education is key to success.

Mr. Horacio Corona Lira, Director

Horacio Corona Lira was born in Las Tortugas, Michoacán, Mexico, and raised in Lindsay, California. He is the first in his family to attend and graduate from college, receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in education and Chicano studies from the University of California at Berkeley. He attributes much of his success to the work ethic instilled in him by his parents and his campesino upbringing. Horacio comes to College of Alameda with over 10 years of professional experience in student affairs, student equity, and leadership in higher education. He is passionate about working with students and creating a profound impact in his community.

Horacio received a master’s degree in public policy and administration at California State University, Sacramento. His master’s thesis focuses on academic probation, student retention, and equity outcomes.

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