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Our Staff

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

Jessica Murguia - Student Success Coordinator

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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.

Jordan Ahmu - Outreach Resource Specialist

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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 mathematics.

“I have been working in Outreach for a little over a year 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. 

Kenya Avilez - Lead Student Ambassador

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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.”

Now a student ambassador, Kenya is planning to transfer to San Diego State University in fall of 2017 and major in business administration before earning a master’s degree and becoming 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!”

James (Jimmy) Miller - Lead Student Ambassador

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James Miller graduated from Monte Vista High School in 2015 and promptly enrolled at Cuyamaca College, where he now serves as a Student Ambassador.

“In high school, I was always indecisive on how to approach things and I had no idea what I wanted to do,” he said. “Initially, I thought nursing school was a good option for me since my mom was a nurse herself but that all changed when I received a campus tour at Cuyamaca. During my visit, my whole perception of the college, what I thought I wanted to do, and my aspirations changed as I was introduced to the amazing layout of the campus. I quickly changed my major to landscape design because I realized that I would like to have this effect on other people, based upon the setting. After I get my degree, I'm hoping to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona to further my education in landscape architecture, so I can create settings that are impact, just as Cuyamaca’s were to me.”

Cristal Balk - Student Ambassador

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Cristal Balk is a Monte Vista High School graduate who left Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles because she couldn’t afford the school’s high costs. After living with her grandmother in North Carolina for four years, Cristal returned home and enrolled at Cuyamaca College.

 “My sister recommended Cuyamaca because she was attending there and she had told me it was a great school and it was close to our home,” said Cristal. “I enrolled and she was right, it is a great college to attend!”

 Cristal is set to earn an associate degree in communication from Cuyamaca and will follow that up with a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Point Loma Nazarene University through a new program that offers the degree at the Cuyamaca College campus. Cristal is putting her experiences to good use in helping others as a student ambassador.

Yesenia De La Torre - Student Ambassador

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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.”

Yad Hamawe - Student Ambassador

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As a child of immigrants, Yad Hamawe didn’t have much guidance in planning for college, but he later discovered he could get an early start on his postsecondary education by taking courses at both Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges while still in high school. He went on to graduate from Grossmont Middle College High School on the Grossmont College campus with several college courses under his belt, and now he’s at San Diego State University majoring in Business Administration. His end goal: earning a master’s degree in business administration and perhaps land a career in human resources.

 Yad is proud to give back to the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District by serving as a Cuyamaca College student ambassador.

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.

Shantala (Shanti) Ponce - Student Ambassador

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Shanti is a graduate of Hilltop High School in Chula Vista who found her passion for designing clothes after taking a costume illustration course at San Diego City College. That led to more courses at San Diego Mesa College before moving on to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. But the cost that came with an education at the Fashion Institute was too much to bear, so Shanti switched gears and enrolled at Cuyamaca College.

General education requirements in hand, Shanti was able to transfer to San Diego State University, where she is aiming to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics. Now she’s taking what she’s learned from her educational journey to help guide others as a Cuyamaca College student ambassador.

 

Last Updated: 09/22/2017

Contact

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

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