Student Success Mentors

Contact Us

Ellen Quish

Director of First-Year Programming and Student Success
Room: M-311B

Estefany Gonzaga

Coordinator, Student Success Mentor Program
Room: M-311A

David Brandt

Professional Development and Communication Coordinator for CTL Student Success Programs
Room: M-311

Meet the Mentors

The Student Success Mentors (SSMs) facilitate the FYS Studio Hour. They are either current students at LaGuardia, or LaGuardia alumni who have transferred to four-year colleges. Learn more about them, their experiences and what motivated them to become mentors by clicking on each mentor’s biography below. You can also contact them via email.

john griffinJohn Griffin


John Wesley Griffin Jr. was born, buttered, and bred in the Mississippi Delta. He moved to New York at age 5 with his brothers and sister. Growing up, John loved art and video games. As a kid, he chose a dark path and suffered violent consequences for it; never finishing high school. Because of this, he faced hardships, went to court and lost his freedom. Later on, he improved his life and decided to go to LaGuardia to study Human Services/Mental Health, where he is currently pursuing his degree. He wants to give back to the community through this field. His passion is Human Service. John’s motivation as an SSM is to show students by example that past mistakes can turn into positive career choices. As an SSM, he hopes that his students learn from his life experiences and make good decisions.

Nancy Meza-TorresNancy Meza-Torres

BiographyNancy was born and raised in Queens, New York but her nationality is Mexican-American. Nancy is an alum of LaGuardia Community College. She graduated from LaGuardia Community College in June 2020. Currently, she is studying Education at Queens College. As a first-generation college student, Nancy knows the importance of having a proper education. Therefore, Nancy wishes to become an elementary school teacher in the future. Being an SSM has given Nancy the teaching experience she needs to become a great and efficient leader to guide and educate future students. Nancy’s goal is to guide future students in the right direction and to graduate from LaGuardia Community College just like herself. As she knows how difficult college can be; especially for first-generation students like herself. Nancy hopes to guide as many students as she can toward graduating from LaGuardia Community College and transferring into a 4-year college.

kaylin riveraKaylin (Kay) Rivera


Kay Rivera is Puerto Rican American, non-binary and was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. They love to read and would finish 700-page books in a day. Their love for the fantasy world pushed them to start writing at 12 years old. Shortly after high school, Kay decided to go to LaGuardia to be able to explore their options. They had multiple passions, from drawing to playing guitar and even wanted to go into psychology. Liberal Arts: Social Sciences and Humanities was the perfect major.

Now they’re a LaGuardia alum, and in their senior semester at Queens College majoring in English and minoring in writing. With their experience at LaGuardia, they made a vow to guide and helps others while pursuing their dream to become a CUNY English professor and well-known author.

Kristina GrahamKristina Graham


Kristina Graham was born and raised in North Carolina and has now lived in Queens, NY, for over 10 years. She is currently studying Film and Television at LaGuardia Community College. Kristina hopes to continue gaining knowledge and experience in media-related fields.

One of Kristina’s passions is storytelling;especially storytelling through the visual arts of photography and videography. She applies storytelling to share her interpretations of the world in general and complexities of human emotions in particular. Kristina’s aspirations range across several disciplines, such as media, counseling, and teaching.

However, no matter what professional directions she pursues, Kristina’s hope as an SSM is to inspire students to be both passionate about discovering one’s own talents and also compassionate about difficult journeys of self-discovery that others take.

milagros guillenMilagros Bellido Guillen


Milagros was born and raised in Lima-Peru. She studied for five years and earned a bachelor’s degree in education. She worked for over five years as a lead teacher with kids of different ages. She moved to NYC some years ago and studied at LaGuardia. Milagros loves teaching and being part of the student’s learning process. She works at LaGuardia as an SSM, Spanish tutor, ASL tutor, and Spanish Professor.

Currently, Milagros is doing her master’s degree at Brooklyn College. Once she finishes, she wants to start her doctorate. One of Milagros’ favorite quotes is, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” – Stephen Hawking. Milagros came to NYC intending to improve her English only, but then, in the process, her goals became more ambitious and more significant than she ever thought. She is happy to say that the sky is the limit.

As an SSM, Milagros always remembers that once she was there, at the starting line. Back then, she was a little lost within this new world called LAGCC. But with all the resources and guidance, she achieved her goal and graduated with higher honors. Now, she wants to share her experiences and guide new students to success, hoping they learn and enjoy their success process.

md rahmanMD Mushfiq Ur Rahman


MD Mushfiq Ur Rahman was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and moved to the United States at the age of 20. He is currently studying accounting at LaGuardia Community College. Mushfiq hopes that by learning accounting, he will learn many other technical skills such as being able to calculate quickly, as well as soft skills.

He plans to graduate in Spring 2022 with an associate degree and transfer to a four-year program to complete his bachelor’s degree. He wants to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

As an SSM, Mushfiq desires to help new students by sharing his own knowledge and experience. Also, he wants to inspire and assist new students in achieving their goals, graduating on time, and transferring to a four-year college.

Yadanar MinYadanar Min


Yadanar was born and raised in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma), and came to the US in 2021. She regarded herself as the one who enjoys living more in the countryside than in urban areas because she used to live in Kentucky. However, she moved to New York City because she believed that there would be more opportunities waiting for her there. After she graduates from LaGuardia as a Biology: Biotechnology track student, she will transfer to a four-year college or university with the goal of becoming a biotechnician, applying her knowledge in growing research areas. Yadanar’s passion is trying to pursue her interests with determination.

She loves helping and supporting others based on her knowledge and previous experience, which gives her happiness. . She is a very detail-oriented person and loves meeting people from diverse backgrounds, and from that, she ensures she will become enriched with different knowledge and experiences.

Yadanar represents herself as the one who always keeps in mind why she started. In that way, she will encourage her fellow students to remember their dreams and goals, even though they are facing challenges and ups and downs. One tip for students from her is “do not hesitate to ask for help or ask questions.”

Rubina RahmanRubina Rahman


Rubina Rahman was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She came to the USA in 2015. She initially started her college back in 2013. However, she could not continue for some circumstances. She wants to finish her college and educate herself in order to be a role model for her daughter.

Rubina has started her college here in LaGuardia in Fall 2018 and hopes to finish her AS in spring 2021. She is a member of the ECLC Board of Directors and Phi Theta Kappa honors society. She wants to become a CPA and wants to open her own business one day.

When she worked as an Office Assistant in the CUNY/Math Start Program, she got to know more about students and was able to help them. As she started her new journey as an SSM and she is hoping to help students with her knowledge of what she earned as a student.

Allana SinelovAllana Sinelov


Allana was born and raised in Brazil. Her family migrated to South America during the war. She is half Portuguese and half Polish. After moving to the United States in 2017, Allana had the opportunity to improve her English, learn new skills, and meet new people. Currently, she is a biology major at LaGuardia Community College.

As soon as Allana graduates from LaGuardia, she plans to transfer to a four-year college to complete her bachelor’s degree. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Allana intends to attend medical school to become an OBGYN. She has always been interested in health care, especially women’s and children’s health.

Christopher PiconChristopher Picon


Born in Queens to a Polish mother and Peruvian father, Christopher Picón grew up with a passion for learning. Christopher took a break from education after dealing with mental health issues in high school and college. However, after enrolling at LaGuardia, he rediscovered his passion for learning and history. Christopher has learned much from his experiences and failures, including the value of patience and hope. Christopher hopes to use these experiences to help students face the challenges of college life. He also hopes to use his experience as an SSM to gain more experience as a mentor and lab facilitator, since it’s his ambition to teach history in the future.

Arianna PenaArianna Pena


Born and raised in NYC, Arianna Pena spent most of her life wandering the streets of Queens and Manhattan.

Growing up, she didn’t have a positive role model to look to for guidance and navigated much of her life on her own. Her current morals and values did not come from the lessons of wise adults but from years of bad decisions and learning from the consequences.

Arianna decided to improve her life by focusing on what she could control, the first being her college education. She dedicated herself to her studies to see just how much success and achievement she was capable of, and finished her first semester at LAGCC with straight A’s.

Arianna aspires to become the positive, successful mentor she wishes she had growing up. As an SSM, she is determined to motivate and push students towards the achievements they are more than capable of attaining.

Benjamin Taveras GonzalezBenjamin Taveras Gonzalez


Benjamin came from the Dominican Republic to major in Fine Arts, though at the beginning he started as a science major student. The college courses that he took so far have made him realize what he truly wanted, which is to illustrate and design. Intrigued by the broad fields of knowledge that life and art hold, he’s always wanted to be a part of the art community for the sake of liberation and inclusion of everyone through art.

Assisting others in learning how to find what they truly desire academically during their path at college is one of his goals as an SSM.

Giselle GalindoGiselle Galindo


Giselle Galindo was born and raised in Queens, New York by an immigrant Mexican family. At an early age, she developed an interest in films and film making. She loved to watch the behind-the-scenes productions during movies and write stories of her own. Her passions are to direct/write her own films and be able to teach film to future students at LaGuardia. Giselle earned her associate’s degree in Film and Television at LaGuardia and is currently in her last year at Hunter College to earn a bachelor’s degree in Film.

During her time at LaGuardia, Giselle grew an interest in wanting to help others and teaching. She hopes that by becoming an SSM she can help students who are nervous and anxious during their first year at LaGuardia by opening up new doors for the students, and to help them take advantage of the resources at LaGuardia.

Guilardo AraujoGuilardo Araujo


Guilardo Araújo was born in Brazil but moved to New York in 2017. He has experience in banking, marketing and customer service. He studied business for three years but couldn’t complete his studies due to work trips. He started studying Psychology at LaGuardia Community College in spring 2021.

He is a positive person and intends to be a psychologist to help people who suffer from domestic violence and abusive relationships. He also wants to be a professor and a motivational speaker. He is graduating next semester, Fall 2022 and going to Hunter College to get his BA in Psychology.

As an SSM, he is excited to interact with other students, and to help them with the support he can provide as an SSM, and of course, share support offered by LaGuardia. Guilardo intends to use his experiences to help students realize that knowledge is a powerful thing that can change their lives.

Jean Gabriel DecimusJean Gabriel Decimus


Jean Gabriel Decimus was born and raised in Haiti and moved to the United States in 2017. He is currently in his last semester at LaGuardia Community College majoring in civil engineering. He is working on transferring to the City College of New York where he will pursue a bachelor and a master in civil engineering.

Science and Art have always been his passion. That is why, beside working on fulfilling his dream of becoming an engineer, Jean is also a musician, playing piano for multiple Churches and choirs.

Jean’s goal as an SSM is to provide the new students with the necessary support, tools and examples that they need to better navigate their college lives. He believes that his experiences as a student can inspire others and help them remain engaged.

Johanna RamirezJohanna Ramirez


Johanna Ramirez Fernandez was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She studied in her country when she was young, but at 18 she went to New York and earned a GED to enroll in college.

She graduated from LaGuardia Community College and obtained her associate’s degree in spring 2022. Now, she will start attending Queens College to pursue her bachelor’s and master’s. Her dream job is to work as a teacher in an Elementary school. As an SSM, her dedication and proactiveness will help her to guide, assist and mentor new LaGuardia students in their academic journeys. She likes to learn new things and acquire new experiences. Now, she plans to encourage and engage new students with her skills and her knowledge while learning from her mentees, so both can achieve their academic and professional goals.

Julian PoliJulian Poli


Julian Poli was born and raised in Forest Hills, New York. He is currently pursuing an associate’s degree in civil engineering at LaGuardia Community College. Julian hopes to complete his bachelor’s degree at City College or Columbia University.

Julian always had an interest in math and science, participating in various youth programs such as the Software Engineering Program (SEP), Maker Faire, and Mouse Squad. However, after graduating high school, Julian was uncertain if college was the right choice for him. After taking a gap year to save money, Julian decided to enroll at LaGuardia Community College, promising himself that he would put 110% of his effort into succeeding. He soon came to realize that college was the right thing for him because of the environment and friends he has met along the way.

Julian hopes to one day work for the Department of Transportation in hopes to create high-speed rail networks in the United States.

Nadia SulaimanNadia Sulaiman


Nadia Sulaiman was born in Bangladesh and is studying Business Administration at Laguardia Community College. She moved to the U.S in 2022 to continue doing her classes. In addition, she is involved in various campus recreational and academic enrichment activities: PTK, ASAP, Student Success mentor, Presidents Society, and a few clubs. She is also a part-time digital artist who aspires to keep doing art as a hobby.

She aspires to be an SSM because she wants to inspire students to pursue their dreams and encourage them to break boundaries and stereotypes. She hopes upcoming students learn about the core SSM values, digital literacy, and all the resources and opportunities LaGuardia Community College offers.

Bryan PerezBryan Perez


Bryan Perez was born and raised in East Elmhurst. His parents are immigrants from Mexico and came to New York more than 20 years ago. Since he was a child, Bryan never knew what he wanted to do as his career, choices such as a professional wrestler or bass player for a band, but he was indecisive on what he truly wanted to do. He realized he enjoyed math and helping out classmates when they were struggling in math, he thought becoming a math teacher would be a great career choice and studied Secondary Mathematics Education at LAGCC, graduating with his Associates Degree in June 2022, Bryan currently studies at City College aiming for his Bachelors, then Masters in Math Education. Jumping at the opportunity to become an SSM, Bryan hopes to gain further experience in mentoring students and working in a school environment by sharing his experience with students.

Naima Diana IshratNaima Diana Ishrat


Naima Ishrat Diana came from Bangladesh in September 2019.After she moved into NYC, she completed her TASC diploma .She started her journey in Laguardia as a first generation student in March 2021.She will graduate in Fall II 2022.She wants to be Pharmacist in future .Her initial goal is to complete her bachelor’s degree and get into a good Pharmacy school.

As she lives in the U.S without her parents and without any support ,she is a full time worker and a full time student During her first year seminar course, she learned that she was also interested in helping other students .Then she got the excellent opportunity to become a Student Success Mentor. As a SSM she wants to create a safe, productive, informative, helpful and interesting environment for students.

Placeholder ImageYuxin Xiao


Yuxin Xiao was born and raised in China. He came to New York with his family and started his new educational path in New York. He first went to LaGuardia Community College as a business administration major. In 2021, he transferred to Baruch College to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Marketing.

In his spare time, Yuxin loves to play all kinds of sports like billiards, badminton, and fishing. Without question, he is an energetic person who enjoys competing in sports.

As an immigrant, Yuxin knows how difficult life is when people don’t know the language. So, as part of his role as an SSM, he wants to share his experiences with those students who just came to the United States, so that they can quickly adapt to the new environment in college.

Alexandra RiveraAlexandra Rivera


Alexandra Rivera was born and raised in Queens, New York. She is currently studying New Media Technology in the Digital Media track. She hopes to transfer to a 4-year college after graduating from LaGuardia.

From a young age, Alexandra enjoyed expressing her creativity in many ways, including singing and writing. As she aged, her desire to create only grew more robust, and she took on plenty of interests whilst attending LaGuardia, from game design to writing. Choosing the right major took multiple tries, but she eventually decided that Digital Media was the right place for her!

As an SSM, Alexandra hopes to approach her students in an empathetic way. She will emphasize that, just like her students, Alexandra is a current student as well. Many of the challenges the students will face, Alexandra has faced as well. She hopes to articulate that well in her future classes.

Anna FenovaAnna Fenova


Anna Fenova was born and raised in Russia. She moved here in 2018 when she was 17 years old and attended high school in Brooklyn. After taking a year gap she went to LaGuardia Community College in Fall 2020. She is majoring in Accounting and after graduating from LaGCC in Spring 2022, she transferred to Baruch College to pursue an Accounting major. In the future, she wants to get her MBA and then get a CPA license and work as an auditor in a Big 4 accounting firm. As a new SSM, she wants to make sure that every new student who attends LaGCC knows about resources and activities that we have at the College, as well as share her experience and knowledge to help each and every student she works with take everything from this experience.

Placeholder ImageBruna Vaz


Bruna Vaz was born and raised in Brazil, and moved to the US in 2018. She is a biology major student at LaGuardia, eager to transfer to a Biochemistry course at a four-year university with the goal of becoming a Physician-scientist, Cardiothoracic Surgeon. Bruna’s passion for science and hard work have been the ingredients for her academic success.

She decided to become a Student Success Mentor because it is an opportunity to give back to LaGuardia’s academic community which has greatly contributed to her personal and professional growth. Bruna is confident that the experience and knowledge she has acquired in and outside of the classroom is a valuable asset for those initiating their college journey.

Placeholder ImageGrace Campis


Graciela Campis was born in America and grew up in Queens. Graciela is currently a computer science major student at LaGuardia Community College, with a dream of attending the University of Michigan after she gets her associate’s degree. Her current dream is to become a Game Programmer as she believes games are not a waste of time, but a place where people could meet life-long friends.

Graciela joined the SSM program because she knows she’s a very anxious individual and thought that being a mentor and talking to multiple students at once would help her get better at public speaking. She hopes to help new LaGuardia students navigate a new chapter of their lives and will do so by being understanding and open to new things.

Manisha DindialManisha Dindial


Manisha Dindial was born and raised in Georgetown, Guyana, where she pursued Medical Imaging and became the youngest radiological technologist to supervise the mammography wing at The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation. However, she is currently residing in Queens, N.Y., and is in the process of becoming radiologically licensed in accordance with the U.S standards and shortly after will pursue a master’s in hospital administration.

Manisha is passionate about her family and her fascination with the healthcare system stemmed from being the eldest and thus always being propelled by her protective instincts to provide the best and most efficient patient care.

Manisha believes as an SSM, her friendly nature is her best quality to inspire her students. She considers kindness and compassion to be the greatest tools used in building any healthy relationship equipped with open communication and thoughtfulness. She believes this will allow her students to feel safe when expressing themselves.

Shirley Estefania FernandezShirley Estefania Fernandez


Shirley was born in Quito, Ecuador. She started to study Agricultural Science with a major in Sustainable Tourism and finished 4 semesters. However, she could not finish her studies and she moved to New York. By 2017 she started her new life in New York City. She loves to teach and her dream since she was a kid was to become a teacher. She decided to transfer her credits to follow her passion at LaGuardia. She is currently enrolled in THE Education major to become a Pre-K teacher. She likes to read and loves nature and camping. She is really devoted to her family and enjoys every single moment of her life. As an SSM she hopes to be a guide for future college students and show them that there is nothing to be afraid of. Everything has an answer and if there is not, we should create one.

Placeholder ImageMatthew Rolfo


Raised in Queens for almost 19 years, Matthew had an ambition forconstruction of mechanics and robotics. He pursued Lego Robotics in junior high school and chose Mechatronics & Robotics in high school, where he was introduced to circuitry. He graduated high school in 2021 and is pursuing an Associate’s Degree (expected by Summer 2023) at LaGuardia. He plans to major in Electrical Engineering after transferring to a 4-year college.

As an SSM, he feels like he is giving back to the College as well as leading and inspiring new students.

Ngwang TselhaNgwang Tselha


Ngawang Tselha was born and raised in India, where she obtained her MS Degree in Anthropology from the University of Delhi. She moved to the United States for a better future in 2019. She was motivated to try something new, so she entered the field of Data analysis. However, she wasn’t content with it.

In 2022, she enrolled in LaGuardia C.C. and decided to pursue Nursing- something she was always curious about, but never had the courage to do so.

Currently, she is in her first year of the Nursing (RN) Program at LaGuardia. She aspires to get her license and go forward to obtain her MSN in Informatics. Her dream to become a health analyst might be taking a detour. However, she earnestly believes that her efforts will all come to fruition one day. She wants to share her optimism and motivation to fellow students as an SSM.

Priyanka FnuPriyanka Fnu


Priyanka was born in Haryana, India and moved to New York when she was 20 years old as an international student. She always wanted to have a career in computer science, so she started her college journey from LaGuardia in Computer Science. Her goal is to be a software developer. She is very passionate about exploring new things, so she does whatever inspires her. As an SSM she is always motivated by her ability to do something better than before. The one quality that students can learn from her is never to give up as she was alone and started her education on her own. She never gives up whether in studies or in life. She has one tip for students which is never to miss opportunities.

Ailec TapiaAilec Tapia


Ailec Tapia Susana was born in the Dominican Republic. She came to the USA when she was 19 years old. She came to LaGuardia just to learn English and started studying in the CUNY Language Immersion (CLIP) program. After one year, she finally got to English 101 and started studying accounting, something that she is passionate about.

She plans to graduate from LaGuardia in Spring 2024 and continue her education at a four-year college to get her bachelor’s degree. However, that won’t be the end for her because she wants to get her CPA license and a master’s degree in accounting. She may one day come back to college as a professor.

As an SSM, she hopes to help students, with her enthusiasm, passion, and perseverance, achieve their goals. She wants to inspire students to continue their education. She expects her students to learn from her that they can succeed in life if they never give up.

Breazaih BrumfieldBreazaih Brumfield


Breazaih Brumfield was born in Rochester, NY. Breazaih moved to New York City in 2020 during the pandemic to help with local hospitals and long term care facilities due to shortages and the dire need for help. Breazaih is currently undeclared in Nursing with intentions to apply for candidacy in the fall I 2023 semester to pursue a Registered Nursing degree. The ultimate goal after working during the pandemic as a nurse is being involved with travel nursing. Bre has a passion for helping others and making a significant impact in various communities. Breazaih expects to share her past experiences here at LaGuardia to help and guide new incoming students. A tip for students to succeed is to please ask for help no matter how you may view the help that is needed. There is always a resource and or answer to any problem that may present itself.

Carolina Lenes ArreolaCarolina Lenes Arreola


Carolina Lenes Arreola was born in Colombia. She is a second-year Business Administration student at LaGuardia, a wife, and a mother of two daughters.

After LaGuardia, Carolina plans to further her Business Management studies at Baruch College and aspires to become a Business Analyst and a college professor.

As a student at LaGuardia, she has played different roles being a President’s Society ambassador, the treasurer of the Student Government Association (SGA), a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a Spanish tutor for the Modern Languages Department, a member of the PTK, an intern for the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses program, an inter for the S.O.A.R program at Boyce Technology, a volunteer for LaGuardia’s Foundation, and a Student Success Mentor.

In her community, she is a volunteer for the Fire Department where she serves as an advisor for the Junior Firefighters in Elmont, NY.

Chaw Nandar Chaw Nandar


Chaw Nandar, originally born and raised in the city of Yangon, Myanmar, finished her high school graduation in 2020. Then, the crisis of the pandemic and a military coup in her home country disrupted her future plans of education. At the age of 18, she came to New York City to begin her college academic journey in her passion of Engineering.

During her time at LaGuardia, she faced various challenges which have shaped her into a fast, adapting, and open-minded person. After graduating from LaGuardia, she intends to pursue her bachelor’s degree at City College of New York. Her academic aspiration is to become a professional expert in the field of engineering, where she can apply her skills and knowledge to build a better society.

As an SSM, her motivation stems from the desire to uplift and support students to overcome challenges similar to those she encountered during her journey. She aims to give back what she received from the College to fellow students to help them happily succeed. . Finally, she just hopes to create a supportive learning environment where students feel encouraged to explore, question and grow.

Ekaterine AbutidzeEkaterine Abutidze


Ekaterine Abutidze was raised in Tbilisi, Georgia. She graduated from high school in 2022, and because of the conflict with Russia, she made the decision to emigrate to the USA in order to continue her education in a location that can provide greater prospects and stability.

She is currently a psychology student at LaGuardia. Ekaterine aspired to work as a social worker, therapist, and writer. She is inspired to produce books in the field of psychology and has already published a modest book of short stories and poems.

Ekaterine has a variety of hobbies, the majority of which are related to nature. She enjoys swimming, camping, hiking, and jogging. She also devoted ten years performing Georgian folk dances, which she considers to be her greatest passion.

Ekaterine has experienced many difficulties, confusion, and anxieties as a foreign student . She wishes to assist new students in avoiding the difficulties she had to face. She aims to make her peers’ surroundings happier and less stressful.

These difficulties have made Ekaterine stronger, more self-assured, and inquisitive. She discovered how to push herself, take chances, and never be afraid of failure. She believes that these will be the most crucial abilities for her students to master from her.

Last but not least, Ekaterine wants to create a welcoming and educational environment where her students can begin their fascinating and educational adventure.

Janelly CalixJanelly Calix


Janelly Calix, born in the city of New York in 2003 to an Ecuadorian mother and Honduran father who had immigrated to the U.S. 30 years prior, began the journey of self-discovery in 2021 after her high school graduation. She was initially drawn to forensic science and technology, where she chose to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice at BMCC. However, after two semesters, she realized that Criminal Justice was not the major for her. Shortly afterwards, Janelly would take a gap year to dive more into her interest in technology, originally developed during the COVID lockdown of 2020. She found herself on her computer more than ever before, which provided her with an opportunity to learn more about the work field of technology. Currently, Janelly is pursuing an Associate Degree in Programming and Software Development at LaGuardia CC. Drawing from her own experience of transferring colleges and changing majors, her goal is to assist FYS students in making better informed decisions about their major choices while they still have the opportunity to shape their own future.

Jocelyn Emily CarrascoJocelyn Emily Carrasco


Jocelyn Carrasco is a first-generation CUNY BA & Psychology student at LaGuardia. She believes life’s triumphs and tribulations are stepping stones that hold the key to personal growth and self-discovery.

Her goal is to become a tenured psychology professor and do research to improve the current pedagogy in higher education, as she has observed within her experiences as well as the research and theory she’s read about that the current system promotes an

overtly passive form of learning that fails to engage students; she aims to change that.

With an infectious passion for pedagogy, she’s thrilled to lead first-year students and kickstart their successful transition into their educational expedition by arming them with resources/opportunities, while cultivating a safe and engaging space that empowers her students to uncover their true potential within themselves. Thanks to the mentors she’s had, she knows all it takes sometimes is one person to believe and support to make a difference in that student’s life.

Michael PenaMichael Pena


Michael Pena, a Latino American born in New York City, is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Michael previously took a pause from academia to become an Emergency Medical Tech, Michael’s determination and perseverance led him to find his second wind at LAGCC.

He remains profoundly grateful for the resources and assistance that shaped his journey, acknowledging their instrumental role in his success. Michael’s aspirations extend beyond his goals of becoming a professional engineer.

Having personally witnessed the profound impact of mentorship, he is eager to pay it forward and is driven to establish meaningful relationships with mentees, prioritizing their trust through genuine care, empathy, and unwavering support. By fostering an environment of openness and understanding, Michael aims to create a safe space where mentees can openly share their challenges, aspirations, and dreams, empowering them to pursue their full potential.

Steven PalominoSteven Palomino


Steven Palomino transferred from LaGuardia Community College and is now a junior pursuing a bachelor’s in computer science. Currently on an obsession with Hmart, he likes to experiment in the kitchen with whatever he can find from there. In his free time, he enjoys relaxing on the beach and the tasty crabs he can catch from there. When his mind isn’t on food he likes to think about the analysis of games or books he enjoys and tries to find new sci-fi movies to watch.

Xiaoqing UzukiXiaoqing Uzuki


Xiaoqing Uzuki, originally from China, relocated to New York City in 2013 to explore fresh opportunities. Driven by her passion for healthcare, she attained a Medical Assistant certificate and embarked on a journey in the Fetal and Maternal Center. During working there, she experienced the deep joy of contributing to the well-being of pregnant mothers and their unborn children. Her education continued in 2021, as she pursued a major in Systems and Programming at LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), graduating in the Fall of 2022. Undeterred, she grabbed another chance for growth, transferring to Queens College in Spring 2023 to major in Computer Science. While on her academic path, Xiaoqing embraced an opportunity to become an SSM at LAGCC. She is eager to inspire and support her fellow students on their academic journeys. And also, she is excited to share her own experiences with new students and provide them with the best resources to fit their needs.