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2019 NASPA NPGS Consortium Cohort

New Professionals and Graduate Students
March 9, 2019 Dustin Grabsch Southern Methodist University

Meet the 2019 NASPA Consortium Cohort who will be meeting four times throughout the NASPA Annual Conference for an advanced professional development experience. 

Consotrium Chairs

Mitchell Holston serves as the Coordinator for Student Engagement and Leadership within University Housing at Colorado State University. He graduated with his B.S.B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Auburn University and a M.A.Ed. in Higher Education from Virginia Tech. Mitchell's time in this field has led him to develop his own personal philosophy, which is that student affairs professionals should prepare students to make the world a better place by serving and leading through their unique talents. He enacts this philosophy through his interests in higher education, which include student development, student leadership, assessment, and social justice.


Khalia Ii has nearly ten years of experience as a Student Affairs Higher Education professional. After several years serving as an Administrator at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. In 2017, Khalia departed from her role as Associate Director of Masters in Teaching programs where she demonstrated expertise in managing student services (online & on-ground), academic advising  and program operations. Currently, Khalia is a full-time doctoral student at the University of San Diego, where she also received her MA in Higher Education Leadership. At USD, Khalia’s work focuses on the leadership experiences of Women of Color in higher education. Khalia also serves as a course instructor and a Doctoral Assistant with the division of Student Affairs and the Department of Leadership Studies.


Kelsey Kunkle, M.Ed., is currently an Academic Counselor and a third year doctoral student in the Higher Education Ph.D. program at the University of North Texas. She earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Maryland and an M.Ed. in College Student Personnel from Western Carolina University. Kelsey previously served as the Coordinator for the Transfer Center in the office of Orientation and Transition Programs at UNT.


Gelli Ann J. Dayrit (she/her/hers) is currently the Intercultural Specialist for the Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi American (APIDA) Student Initiatives in the Office of Student Life Multicultural Center at The Ohio State University. She completed her B.S. in Child Development at San Diego State University and her M.Ed. in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs at University of Southern California. She was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Arvin, California when she was five-years-old. Her current interests/hobbies include: weight lighting and practicing yoga, traveling, cooking and being a foodie, expanding her wine palette, and spending time with her loved ones and 1-year-old Maltipoo, Augustus.

Consotrium Cohort Members

My name is Alexa Bueltel and I grew up in Evansville, IN and attended the University of Southern Indiana where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Business Management in 2016.  In 2018, I earned my M.Ed. in Higher Education—Student Affairs from Iowa State University. I have experiencing working with multicultural programming, family orientation, first-year experience, and honors. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, watching movies, reading, working out, traveling, and quoting/making references to my favorite TV show, “Friends.”


Danielle Bolling (she/her/hers) is a Career Advisor at Vanderbilt University’s Career Center. She provides individual career consultation and supplemental programming for all first-year students, undeclared majors, foreign languages, and cultural and gender studies in addition to overseeing the Career Center’s diversity initiatives. She has found a passion of advocating for college-to-career readiness and bridging the racial gap between education and workforce preparation.


Claudia Campos is a first-generation college student born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from UC Irvine and is a first-year master’s student in the Counseling, Student Development in Higher Education Program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). She currently serves as the Diversity & Fellowship Coordinator for the Graduate Division at UC Irvine. As a core member of the outreach, recruitment, and retention unit, she is responsible for coordinating programs that support the retention and success of diverse graduate student populations at UC Irvine. Additionally, her scope of work includes administering diversity, recruitment, and continuing fellowships for graduate students and assisting with graduate recruitment and preparation programs.

Her interests revolve around creating inclusive and equitable spaces in higher education in an effort to increase the retention and persistence of at-risk student populations in higher education. She hopes to serve students in higher education in multiple capacities and aspires to one day become the director of a program or unit that serves diverse and at-risk student populations.


Shasha Cui is a Doctoral candidate in the Higher Education program at the University of Rochester, Warner School of Education and Human Development. She has an MA in International Education concentration in International Higher Education from George Washington University. She brings years of experience in working in both the nonprofit organizations and for-profit sectors in the areas of education and human development. She hopes to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to improve their intercultural competence and communication skills. She believes that respect is at the heart of intercultural campus leadership. Her research interests are international student integration, student leadership development and internationalization of higher education.


Andrea Davis is a first year Master's student at The Ohio State University, studying Higher Education and Student Affairs. She is particularly interested in critically examining the intersection of race and education and is striving towards transforming the institution of higher education into a more equitable space for marginalized students. Outside of the classroom, Andrea serves as the Graduate Administrative Assistant for the Ohio Union Activities Board and is also a Greek House Director for Kappa Delta Sorority.


My name is Jose Morales Diaz and I am currently a second-year first-generation master’s graduate student in the M.Ed. Educational Leadership and Policy with an emphasis in Student Affairs Program at the University of Utah. Born in Mexico City, I was raised in Salt Lake City since the age of 5. In May 2017, I graduated with my B.A. in Communication from the University of Utah. At the end of my first year in college at SLCC, I developed an interest working within higher education/student affairs after working as a peer mentor at my institution. I currently a member in good standing of the National Society of Leadership & Success. I am also a member of the Crimson Transfer Honors Society (CTHS). In the Fall of 2016, I received the “Outstanding Panther in the Community” award in recognition of my outstanding excellence at my alma matter, West High School, and achievements in life. I am a recipient of the Dreamers Without Borders, a prestigious binational educational opportunity, that gave me the opportunity to travel to Mexico to learn about Mexico’s current economic, political, and social condition. I had the opportunity to meet business executives, civic leaders, government officials, and attend meetings at the Tecnólgico de Monterrey. My research interests include: transfer student experiences, first-year experience, program development, college outreach and access programs, critical race theory, transnationalism/binational education, mentorship, and educational equity for Latinx students and other underrepresented students in higher education.


Oscar Duran is a first-generation Chicano transfer student from Fallbrook, CA (North County SD). He is the son of Mexican immigrants and the oldest of three brothers. He began his higher education journey at Palomar College in the fall of 2008. Due to academic challenges and personal circumstances, he left school for three years before returning to Palomar in the fall of 2013 and successfully transferring to San Diego State University in the fall of 2015.

During his time at SDSU, he was involved in various programs, student organizations, and fellowships. Some of these included a research assistantship for the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL), working as a transfer student mentor for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and as a peer adviser for the Counseling and Social Change Club (CSCC), serving as the Vice President of the Latin American Studies Student Organization (LASSO), and being named a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar. Oscar has also been the recipient of several scholarships, presented at national conferences, and studied abroad in Spain and Cuba. This summer, he will be studying abroad in Thailand.

In the fall of 2018, Oscar began his graduate studies at CSU Long Beach for the M.S. in Counseling - Student Development in Higher Education program. Currently, he is employed at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, CA under the Student Equity Office. He serves as a Student Success Coach for the RISE (Reaching Institutionalized Students in Education) Scholars Initiative; a program that provides services and empowerment to formerly incarcerated students or those impacted by the criminal justice system. He also serves as a Graduate Assistant for Cal Poly Pomona’s Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers under the Native American Student Center.


Kriti Gopal is a first year doctoral student in the educational leadership program at Central Michigan University. Originally, from Mumbai, India, she came to the US several years ago to pursue her dream of studying abroad. As a first generation college student, Kriti's primary research interest is focused on understanding the struggles of first-generation international students in the US. Through NASPA, she hopes to make new connections and particularly understand the dynamics of the first-gen international student population within Higher Education in America.


Melanie Harris is an experienced Implementation Project Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the P20 education industry. Melanie is skilled in Leadership, Student Development, First Generation Programming, Student Leadership, and Training. Melanie is a strong program and project management professional pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Leadership, Higher Education from Clemson University.


Mel Lafferty, MA, is a doctoral student in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). She has a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Illinois University and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. 

At UNC, Mel serves on the Vice President’s Advisory Community on Climate, working with other students to implement initiatives for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She serves as an International Ambassador, mentoring an incoming international student to aid in their transition to the university and broader community. This past semester, Mel served on the Student Success Task Force, making recommendations to the university in areas of student success and retention.


Haley Lomax (she, her, hers) is the Coordinator of Student Activities for Muir College at UC San Diego. In this role, she advises a student government body, student organizations, and event planning, while supporting other college programs and initiatives. Haley received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and her Masters of Arts in Postsecondary Educational Leadership / Student Affairs from San Diego State University in May 2017. Haley brings a variety of experiences within Student Affairs, having also served as a Graduate Assistant in UC San Diego’s Student Veterans Resource Center, a Veterans Resource Specialist at Grossmont College, and the NODA Orientation Intern at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina. In her free time, she spends time with her two dogs and volunteers for organizations committed to youth impacted by HIV/AIDS.


Eric Lopez graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in English Literatures focusing on the representation of racial and ethnic difference within 20th and 21st century literature. Previously working as an admissions officer at Tufts University and Wesleyan University, as well as time in the private sector at an education startup in Cambridge, MA, he’s found his calling here at Kilachand. He’s currently focused on understanding the relationship between the transition to college and the ways institutions like BU can prepare families & students across the socioeconomic spectrum for the decisions that lie ahead. In his free time, he’s an avid fútbol fan and has a deep appreciation of music videos.


Mandy Mekhail is currently a second year graduate student at the University of San Diego where she is pursuing her Master's of Arts in Higher Education Leadership Studies and a proud alum of UCLA where she received her Bachelor's of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Disability Studies. Originally a Los Angeles county native, Mandy is thrilled that the NASPA Annual 2019 Conference will be held so close to home. She has worked in academic advising, orientation, identity-based services, peer coaching, wellness, conference services, and residential life. Wherever her first opportunity takes her post-graduation, she hopes to stay in Southern California and continue grounding her work in restorative justice principles and a lens of holistic and intersectional wellness. When not working, Mandy loves to solve Escape Rooms with friends or catch up on the latest video game.


My name is Travell Oakes (T.O.), and I am currently a Graduate Assistant in the Sarah R. Opperman Leadership Institute at Central Michigan University. I am a second-year graduate student pursuing my MA in Higher Education Administration. In addition to my academics and assistantship, I am a member in the NASPA GAP Association, Pathways mentor, Student-Athlete Academic Advisor (Internship), and a facilitator for LeaderShape. My preferred functional areas is Leadership Development, Academic Advising, Admissions, or working with Student-Athletes. In my free time, I work out, play basketball, and enjoy spending quality time with family and friends.


Carlos Pinkerton is originally from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Carlos has a BA from The Ohio State University, where he studied strategic communications and was super involved on campus. Carlos went on to work at tOSU as a Program Assistant with The Ohio State University Foundation and also worked with Sorority and Fraternity Life. He later went to the University of Toledo where he received his M.Ed. in Higher Education Student Affairs Administration before making the transition to Texas A&M University. He served as a Community Director for three years and is a current PhD student in the Higher Education Administration program. Currently, Carlos work at the RELLIS Academic Alliance for the Texas A&M University System Office as a Student Engagement Coordinator. Outside of work and the classroom Carlos is super active in the Houston Community where he is a member of the Houston Area urban League Young Professionals and Emerging 100 Houston where he serves as chapter Secretary.


Born and raised in the urban city of Paterson, New Jersey, Jackeline Reyes developed a passion for education at an early age. You could always find Ms. Reyes working on some sort of educational activity. While persuing her bachelors degree at William Paterson University, Ms. Reyes realized that she needed to immerse herself in the university community to fully make her college experience memorable. This new outlook lead Ms. Reyes to become an orientation leader, a peer leader and a civic engagement project specialist which all focused on working with first year students and introducing them to the university community.  

Currently Ms. Reyes a first-year graduate student at Seton Hall University pursuing a Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs. She works at William Paterson University in the Division of Student Development and the David and Lorraine Cheng Library. Ms. Reyes is excited to have been selected to be part of the 2019 cohort for the New Professionals and Graduate Students Knowledge Community Consortium as NASPA has been an important organization in her student affairs journey.


Jeffrey Southall II is a native of Omaha, Nebraska. After graduating from Omaha North High School, Jeffrey continued his education at the historically black university, The Central State University, in Wilberforce, Ohio. He became the first and only member of his family to attend college and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from The Central State University.

After graduating from college, Jeffrey moved to Austin, Texas to devote a year of service as an AmeriCorps member with A Community for Education as an Early Literacy Intervention Coach. When his year of service was complete, Jeffrey moved back to Omaha to work in his community. He has held positions with nonprofits, Upward Bound, Communities in Schools as a Site Coordinator and Partnership 4 Kids as a High School Program Coordinator. While serving, as the Certification Assistant in the Office of Academic Advising and Field Experience in the College of Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Jeffrey completed his master’s degree in Counseling with a concentration in Student Affairs Practices in Higher Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. With enthusiasm and humility, Jeffrey currently serves as the Assistant Director in the Office of Civic and Social Responsibility at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is an active member on several university committees and organizations one of paramout being a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.