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Our Staff

Come by and visit the Outreach office in Room A-104.

Jessica Murguia, M.A. - Student Success Coordinator

Jessica Murguia Image

Jessica Murguia grew up in a single-family household of modest means, and couldn't afford to enroll at a four-year college or university upon graduating from Valhalla High School. “I’m a first- generation college student, and I didn't really have anyone to turn to regarding the college application process or the financial aid process, but I always knew from a young age that I wanted to go to college,” said the Student Success Coordinator in the High School and Community Relations (Outreach) Department.

Cuyamaca College was a logical choice. It was close to home. It was affordable. And it was chock-full of supportive services aimed at promoting student success. Between classes, she worked in various areas on campus, including Counseling, Disability Support Program & Services, and Student Affairs. She became a full-time Student Services Specialist in 2013, became Acting Student Success Coordinator in 2014, and was named Interim Student Success Coordinator in 2015. Along the way she has earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in postsecondary educational leadership from San Diego State University.

Jessica oversees Cuyamaca’s Outreach staff, including student ambassadors, works to strengthen partnerships with local high schools, and promotes Cuyamaca College’s programs and services in the larger community.

Kevin Brown - Outreach Resource Specialist

Kevin Brown

Kevin Brown’s academic journey has been anything but traditional. A graduate of Valhalla High School in 2012 and with no real plans for the future, he enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but left after a semester, returned home and attended Cuyamaca for a semester before moving on to Southwestern College in Chula Vista. The La Mesa resident has now graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in political science and a minor in economics. 

“I joined the Cuyamaca Outreach department because I think all individuals are capable of being successful academically, so long as they are faced in the right direction and made aware of their resources,” Kevin said.

Jordan Ahmu - Outreach Data Specialist

Image of Jordan Ahmu

Jordan AhMu - El Cajon Valley High School graduate - has lived in the region her entire life and is now attending UC San Diego, where she is majoring in International Business.

“I have been working in Outreach for a little over three years now, and I have enjoyed getting to meet new people, experience new things, and most importantly, help students succeed in applying and attending Grossmont and Cuyamaca College,” said Jordan. 

Aklas Sheai - Interpreter & Community Liaison

aklas

Aklas Sheai was born in Baghdad, Iraq. She is the fifth of 12 children raised among a traditional family that valued education and believed in its power to provide a better future. Aklas earned a bachelor’s degree in statistics from Baghdad University in 1979 and launched her career in education in 1999 at the United Nations Development Program, but she fled her country in 2003 during the Iraq war, arriving in the United States two years later.

Aklas re-started her educational journey at Cuyamaca College in 2007 when she joined the World Languages Department as an Arabic language instructor and Student Services as an interpreter and community liaison. Through both roles, Aklas serves ESL students in need of looking to start a successful and rewarding experience at Cuyamaca College. In 2010, Aklas earned an associate degree in social work from Cuyamaca, and in 2018 she earned a master’s degree in English as a Second Language and bilingual education from the online American College of Education.

Aklas created the Arabic version of the college’s assessment test and WebAdvior tutorials. Because her dedication to her students is unlimited, she conducted informational orientations to provide the new ESL students with information about the college and important resources in the campus. Her guiding principle is to create a welcoming atmosphere in and out of her classes to make students feel at home from the moment they walk into this campus, and her worked earned her designation as Outstanding Faculty member in 2014 and 2016.

“I love Cuyamaca College and being part of this family,” she said. “I put my heart, mind, and soul into my profession and look forward to continuing growing professionally and personally through the coming years to keep going to serve Cuyamaca students.”

In her free time, Aklas enjoys spending quality time with her family.

 

Kenya Avilez - Lead Student Ambassador

Kenya Avilez notes that Cuyamaca College wasn't the Valhalla High School graduate’s first choice. “I originally planned to go to a four-year university and prepped by taking AP classes, got involved extracurricular activities, and even took the ACT.”

But after being accepted to Sonoma State University, Kenya’s parents came to the conclusion that the expense was too high. “I was sad that I didn't get to go to a four-year university but I don't regret it at all,” she said. “I ended up loving Cuyamaca because I love how small the campus is and how friendly the environment is.”

Kenya has to transferred to San Diego State University and is majoring in business administration. She then plans to earn a master’s degree and become a healthcare administrator.

“I wouldn't have discovered the field I wanted to go into if it wasn't for the great educational programs Cuyamaca has to offer and hopefully, you will feel the same way too!"

 

Yesenia De La Torre - Student Ambassador

During her last year at Monte Vista High School (Class of 2016), Yesenia De La Torre was planning to attend a private college en route to becoming a veterinarian. She changed her mind after hearing from a group of Cuyamaca College student ambassadors. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on the prerequisites needed before she could attend veterinary school Yesenia could instead take her general education courses at Cuyamaca for a fraction of the cost.

“Cuyamaca ambassadors, as well as the Pathway Academy Program, truly helped me decide that this is what I wanted to do and helped the transition from high school to college a lot smoother,” said Yesenia. “Now, I am working on getting my associate’s degree towards becoming a veterinary technician.”

 

Dylan Leonard - Student Ambassador

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Dylan Leonard graduated from Helix Charter High School as part of the Class of 2016. Dylan transferred to Helix from Citrus Valley High School in Redlands, which sits just east of San Bernardino. Dylan was involved in high school sports, but was forced to focus beyond athletics due to numerous knee injuries and surgery.

That’s how he discovered the field of kinesiology and exercise science, and Dylan now hopes to earn an associate degree at Cuyamaca before transferring to San Diego State University for a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a future career in athletic training. In the meantime, he’s helping other high school students find their future as a student ambassador at Cuyamaca College.

 

Dominique Lewis - Student Ambassador

 Dominique

Dominique Lewis graduated from high school in Tacoma, Washington, in 2013. He currently attends Cal State University, San Marcos, where he is majoring business management.

“In my senior year of high school, I wasn’t too sure what to expect out of college nor did I have ambassadors to come inform me about how things work and meet me halfway,” said Dominique. “I just knew I had a 3.5 GPA and I wanted to continue playing basketball in California. So, that's exactly what I did. I made the team at CSUSM and began playing. I noticed my drive for basketball and academics didn’t match. As a result of that, I fell behind very quickly. I also had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.”

Then he met with an academic advisor.

“Since the first appointment with her, we've developed a clear roadmap of my classes I need to take, I learned some things about myself along with career interests, and I’ve really turned it around after gaining some direction,” he said.

The following summer, Dominique attended a community college class for the first time and learned how to become, as he said, “an actual student – time management, study techniques, utilizing my resources on campus, and getting involved.”

Now he’s in his last year at CSUSM and on track to graduate next spring. His plans include moving on to business ownership and enterprises with his father.

Meanwhile, he’s taking what he learned about the community college experience, including smaller class sizes and more one-on-one time with his professors – to others.

Leyda Sbeih - Student Ambassador

Ledya

Ledya Sbeih graduated in 2017 from Valhalla High School, where she excelled in her studies and enrolled in several advanced placement math and science courses. Ledya applied to three universities, including two in the University of California system. Her academic credentials resulted in a full-ride scholarship to one of the universities, but she couldn’t enroll there because her family’s traditions precluded Ledya from moving into a dorm.

That prompted Ledya to look into San Diego State University as an option (she had been accepted there), but the financial aid offered at the school was not enough to cover the costs of attending the nearby campus.

“Then I decided to look into community colleges, and that is when I gained interest in Cuyamaca,” she said. “Let me assure you that was the best decision I have ever made. Here at Cuyamaca, the classes are smaller, which allows you to truly connect with your peers and teachers. The teachers we have teach at a four-year university as well as Cuyamaca, so the quality of the education we get is the same, but it is much, much cheaper.”

This is Ledya’s second year at Cuyamaca College, where she is focusing on civil engineering. She hopes to transfer to San Diego State University as a junior, secure a bachelor’s degree, and embark on a career in construction management.

Last Updated: 10/23/2018

Contact

Jessica Murguia
Student Success Coordinator
Email: jessica.murguia@gcccd.edu
Phone: (619) 660-4264

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