Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment

Laura Owen

Dr. Laura Owen


Dr. Laura Owen, NCC, NCSC, is the Executive Director for the Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment at San Diego State University. A prior urban school counselor, district counseling supervisor, and district crisis team lead, she is a passionate advocate for closing postsecondary opportunity gaps. Her research focuses on evaluating the impact of practices designed to address the systems, structures and policies needed to remove barriers for historically marginalized communities. Dr. Owen has researched interventions targeting FAFSA completion, the high school to college transition, virtual advising, the use of technology in college counseling, how students prefer to receive college and career information and the pandemic’s impact on students’ postsecondary choices. She is committed to the discovery of models that support access, retention and completion of postsecondary credentials aligned to the workforce and connected to high wage, high demand jobs. Dr. Owen received teaching awards from Johns Hopkins University and San Diego State University. She co-led the SDSU White House Convening on Strengthening School Counseling and College Advising and assisted with American University's White House Convening on Culturally Sustaining Practices in College Counseling. She served on the Governor’s Community Engagement Subcommittee for the California Cradle to Career Data System and as an affiliated researcher for the Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Dr. Owen is currently the co-editor for the Journal of College Access, co-chair for the Association of Counselor Education and Supervision's (ACES) Career Development Interest Network and co-editor for the 2022 Equity-Based Career Development and Postsecondary Transitions book (in press).

Diana Camilo

Dr. Diana Camilo


Dr. Diana Camilo, Ed.D., LCP, NCC is an Assistant Professor at CSU San Bernardino. Her expertise is in school counseling, student services, and administration. As an administrator for Chicago Public Schools, she provided district-wide planning, management, and the evaluation of interventions and policies to support and sustain the implementation of school counseling programs. Her teaching and research interests include culturally responsive practices and supervision, school counseling, the college and career readiness of minoritized populations, stress management, and practitioners’ experienced secondary traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Camilo is a Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) national trainer. She also served as the Director of the San Diego State University School Counseling program. She was the founder and chair of the Supporting Access to Higher Education for Immigrant and Undocumented Students conference and is a member of the UndocuResearch Collaborative. She has served as an advisor to the Career Council for the University of Mississippi, Chi Sigma Iota-Epsilon Mu Chapter, and Education Without Borders at SDSU. She also served as a mentor for the MANA-Hermanitas Mentoring Program. Dr. Camilo earned her BA and MS from the University of Rochester, NY, and Ed.D. from Argosy University, Chicago. 

Mercedes Albarran

Mercedes Albarran


Mercedes Albarran is the Director of College Persistence with the Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment and works with Avenues for Success and Hoover High School alumni to support their degree completion. She has been with SDSU since 2015 where she recently served as Counselor for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Ethnic Affairs, which supports first generation, low-income, and historically underserved college students. In addition, Mercedes previously served as the Academic Advisor for Compact Scholars and Academic Student Success Programs where she advised both Compact Scholars from Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) and freshmen commuter students at SDSU. Mercedes has over a decade of experience working as a professional advocate for student success with diverse students in various educational settings including early childhood education, the K-12 sector, and in higher education. Her interests align with her experience in developing data driven retention strategies to support the needs of historically marginalized students in persisting toward degree completion in higher education. She is an alumna of San Diego State University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Child and Family Development from SDSU and a Master of Science degree in Educational Counseling with a Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential from the University of La Verne. Mercedes has a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion in an educational setting. She is committed to working with students holistically and is dedicated to providing guidance and support to students in reaching their educational and career goals.

Director of Evaluation

Tricia Hodge


Tricia Hodge is the Research and Evaluation Director for the Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment and Avenues for Success, a college and career access program at Hoover High School. Her strong desire to support young people make positive life choices led her to a Masters degree in Public Health from San Diego State University where she studied social science research methods, health promotion, and youth development. Tricia’s earlier accomplishments in evaluation have been interdisciplinary with grants funded at local, state, and federal levels; projects such as early childhood literacy, social-emotional counseling for military-connected youth, and childhood physical activity. Her work in postsecondary research and evaluation include a U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP grant with UC San Diego (2008) and subsequently, with an SDSU GEAR UP grant (2014). Additionally, Tricia served on the federal GEAR UP APR Redesign Initiative which reexamined all career and college readiness GPRA measures and reporting. Tricia is well-versed in proposal development, strategic planning, building evaluation capacity, data systems, and outcome reporting. Her dedication to working with education specialists has provided the following:  answering questions to achievement gaps, creating opportunities in postsecondary pathways, and addressing challenges to student success.

Claudia Martinez

Claudia Martinez


Claudia Martinez (she/her/ella), M.A., is the Director of Career Pathways and Social Capital for the Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment at San Diego State University (SDSU). She is passionate about career & leadership development, diversity equity & inclusion, and academic excellence. Since joining SDSU in 2013, she has led and managed the development of the career readiness certificate program; created and directed projects which connect internships and community engagement to students’ career development; served as a liaison to employers in social change fields, including and not limited to nonprofits and service gap year employers; and founded and Co-Chaired the SDSU Social Justice Summit, highlighting career pathways for students interested in connecting social justice and careers.  She also teaches the internship course for the SDSU Leadership Minor, and she is an advisor to the SDSU Pacific Islander Student Association (PISA) student organization. Outside of SDSU, Claudia serves as the Scholarship Committee Co-Chair for MANA de San Diego, a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop, nurture and empower Latina leaders through education, leadership development, advocacy and community service.

Prior to SDSU, Claudia served through AmeriCorps’ Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA) program and the Hawai’i and Pacific Islands Campus Compact (HIPICC), where she coordinated STEM programming for K-12 students from historically underserved populations,  and managed student volunteers in after-school programs through Kapi’olani Community College’s Service Learning Department.

Born in Peru, raised in Italy, and studied in France and the United States, Claudia has had the privilege of experiencing various cultures and school systems in her life. Through her own life experiences, she values the impact that lived experience has on individuals' career journeys and lifelong learning. She is a proud first-generation college graduate and a proud mother. Claudia has a Bachelor’s in Science from Excelsior College, and a Master’s degree in Postsecondary Educational Leadership with emphasis in Student Affairs from San Diego State University. Claudia is trained in counseling on the Strong Interest Inventory career assessment, a career assessment which connects personal interests to career pathways. Her professional affiliations include the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Mountain Pacific Association of Colleges & Employers (MPACE).

Rocio Zamora

Rocio Zamora


Rocio Zamora is the Director of College Enrollment with the Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment at San Diego State University. She recently completed a State Policy Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of California, where she drafted and helped pass state legislation rooted in gender and racial justice. She has been with SDSU since 2015 where she recently served as an Outreach Specialist for the Office of Educational Opportunity Programs and Ethnic Affairs. In this role, she coordinated college outreach initiatives for first-generation and low-income students from across the state, acted as the lead coordinator for the BEST Summer Bridge Program, and founded the EOP RISE Volunteer Program. In addition, she previously served as the Assistant Coordinator for the Center for Educational Partnerships, Outreach and Success. As Assistant Coordinator, she guided students from the Sweetwater Union High School District towards successful completion of the Compact for Success requirements, oversaw the Compact for Success Mentoring program, and supported the Price Community Scholars program. Prior to this, she worked for Upward Bound and Girls Incorporated. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her Master’s degree in Postsecondary Educational Leadership from San Diego State University. Her experience becoming the first in her family to graduate high school and earn a college degree is what fuels her passion towards creating educational equity, fighting for social justice, and supporting communities from historically marginalized backgrounds.

Vania Silva

Vania Silva


Vania Silva is a Master’s in School Counseling student at San Diego State University. Her interests include working with low-income, first-generation, and/or students of color on college access. She received her B.A. in psychology and anthropology from Georgetown University. Much of her anthropological work at Georgetown University was centered around the experience of historically underserved communities (first-generation, LGBTQ, minority students, etc.) at higher education institutions. She also has experience working in foster care and adoption, as well as in the adult workforce field as a Career Coach.

Avenues for Success (Hoover Cluster College and Career Access Program)

Jackie Rodriguez

Jackie Rodriguez


Jackie  Rodriguez has served as the Avenues for Success (formally College Avenue Compact) Family Success Coordinator since 2017. Prior to that, she worked as the Parent Center Parent Coordinator at Hoover High School and Wilson Middle School. Both schools are located in her hometown of City Heights, which is one of the most diverse communities where the majority of students are from first-generation, low-income families. Jackie has more than 10 years of experience serving underserved families as a mentor and advocate not only in the education field, but also assisting them to find the resources they need to support their students so they can live more fulfilling lives through education.


Giovana Duong


Giovana Lizbeth Duong is the Student Coordinator with Avenues for Success. She has been providing valuable college and career services to students in City Heights since 2012. Her work began as a college mentor and then as a Student Coordinator for middle school students where she developed aspiring learners with innovative and engaging activities. Giovana has helped build a college-going culture at Monroe Clark and Wilson Middle School. She helped administer the PSAT for the first time to 8th Graders. She has helped create English and Math Enrichment Spring and Winter programs. She earned a Bachelor of Arts at San Diego State University and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership at Point Loma Nazarene University. Based on her current studies, she believes that collaboration with counselors and teachers are vital for student success and looks forward to supporting future generations. 

Bao Lam

Bao Lam


Bao is a Vietnamese-American, first-generation, low-income, and queer individual who uses He/They pronouns. He graduated from San Diego State University in May of 2022 with his Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Counseling and Social Change, Criminal Justice, and Sociology. Also, a minor in Leadership. He spent his four years of undergraduate assisting The Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) & Ethnic Affairs from a variety of roles which include, Public Information Assistant, SOAR and Summer Bridge Mentor, RISE volunteer, and was the Public Relations and President for the EOP Student Advisory Board. He joined Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Inc., a Latino-based fraternity with multicultural membership in the Fall of 2021. It was a great experience getting to know different chapters from Coast to Coast. He enjoyed creating the brotherhood with his line brothers and getting to know the Psi Gamma chapter alumni. He is very student-centered, loves learning about social justice topics, and creating change through advocacy. 

Ashley San Jose

Ashley San Jose


Ashley San Jose is a San Diego State alumna. She earned her bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Counseling, Psychology, and Sociology. Ashley is a first-generation college graduate and is a proud member of the Latinx community. She is passionate about equity in the education system and helping those of historically marginalized communities access higher education. Her community involvement has included volunteering for Resiliency and Inspiration for Success in Education (R.I.S.E) and working as a student assistant for B.E.S.T Summer Bridge which are both initiatives under the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) at San Diego State University. 

Rong Zhang

Rong Zhang


Rong was born and raised in City Heights as a first generation student. He graduated from Hoover High in 2012. With the support of College Avenue compact Rong attended San Diego State University graduating in 2017 with a Bachelors in Sociology. Later, he pursued my Masters in College Counseling and Student Development at Point Loma Nazarene University graduating in 2019. He found his passion and the skill set needed to give back to his community as an educator. Since then, Rong has worked and supported underserved students with the college application process. The vast majority of his experience is grounded and built upon supporting students (specifically first-generation/underserved) through the entire college application process. Rong's most recent experience ranges from counseling and supporting students through the UC/CSU/Common Applications process, FAFSA/Dream Act applications, SIR commitment process, and the community college route.

Katy Z.

Katy Zaragoza


Katy Zaragoza has served as the Administrative Support Coordinator for Avenues for Success (formally College Avenue Compact) since 2016. She received an Associate in Science Child Development degree from Miramar Community College, and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Arts and Sciences in Child Development from San Diego State University. Prior to this position Katy worked with preschool students and families for eight years. As a first generation college student, Katy is honored to have the privilege to work with the students and families as they prepare for college.

College Counseling Now Campaign

karen arnold photo

Dr. Karen Arnold


Karen Arnold, Ph.D., is a Professor of Higher Education at Boston College. She is the author of books and articles in the fields of college access, international higher education, talent development and longitudinal study methods. Her most recent book is “The Ecology of College Readiness,” published by Jossey-Bass. Her current work on college access has been funded by the Department of Education (IES) and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Dr. Arnold directed the Big Picture Longitudinal Study of low-income high school graduates and the Illinois Valedictorian Project. She has served as Vice President for Student Services at Reed College, Visiting Fellow at the Murray Research Center for the Study of Lives at Radcliffe College, and Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Oxford. Her recent international work in higher education includes teaching and faculty development in China, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia. 

Kathy Chau

Kathy Chau Rohn


Kathy Chau Rohn is a Ph.D. student of Higher Education at Boston College. Her research interests include college access and success, charter schools, and higher education. She is currently a member of Dr. Karen Arnold's research team and work on multiple research projects related to college and career success for marginalized students. She received her Ed.M. in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education while serving as a fellow to the Board Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. Prior to her career in higher education, she founded the College and Career Readiness program at Coney Island Preparatory Public Charter High School. As a researcher and practitioner with experience in both K-12 and higher education settings, she cares deeply about ensuring that counselors, families, and teachers have the resources necessary to help their students pursue a postsecondary education. At this critical moment, she believe that College Counseling Now provides an important opportunity for stakeholders to learn from each other and share resources with the goal of ensuring equitable access to college for all students. 

Lisa King

Lisa Sommer King


Lisa King is director of the American College Application Campaign, a national initiative of ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning. ACAC is designed to increase the number of first-generation students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. She served as the Campaign’s senior communications specialist before being named director. Prior to joining ACT, King served local, state, and national nonprofits and education institutions through her communications consultancy, Lisa King Consulting, LLC. She specialized in brand management, media relations, social media, and event planning. Before starting her consultancy, she worked for the Michigan College Access Network, Michigan Nonprofit Association, and Davis Brand Capitol. King holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University where she studied Integrative Public Relations and Public Affairs and completed the Leader Advancement Scholarship program. She recently completed a master’s degree in strategic communication at Michigan State University. Lisa currently serves as a board member of Eastminster Child Development Center, is an emeritus board member of the Michigan Breastfeeding Network, and is a founder of the CMU Volunteer Center Alumni chapter. She resides in East Lansing, Michigan with her husband and three children where they enjoy camping and exploring the outdoors.