Meet the SOAR Team

SOAR Professional Staff

deanna gonzales

Deanna Gonzales, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach

Deanna is a Bay Area native and proud alum of SJSU who has served the community for many years. She is a San Francisco Giants fan and enjoys gardening and taking walks. Deanna is dedicated to the success of SJSU, its students, and the surrounding community.

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drew agbay

Drew Agbay, SOAR Associate Director

Drew is a Spartan through and through. He graduated with a BA degree in Behavioral Science, Double Major in Psychology and earned his MA in Counselor Education both at SJSU. Originally from San Leandro, Drew is proud of where he comes from but has called San Jose State his home for over 20 years. His hobbies include playing and watching basketball, riding his road bike, staying active all while being a huge "foodie" too. His favorite part of his job is traveling and interacting with different people from all walks of life.

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amanda aldama

Amanda Aldama, Spartan East Side Promise Program Lead

Amanda has been with SOAR for 4 years, and absolutely loves being able to work with new students and their families, and give back to the community she grew up in.  She is a San Jose native, and a graduate of the East Side Union High School District. She is an SJSU alum, having completed her Bachelors in Sociology with a minor in Political Science, and is currently completing her MA in Counseling and Guidance. Fun facts: plays guitar, super into Marvel/the MCU, and a frequent user of bitmojis. For any questions about SJSU or Spartan life, please feel free to reach out!

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Nicole Albillar, Student Ambassador Coordinator

Axel Garcia

Axel Garcia, Admissions Counselor/Recruiter

Axel was born and raised in Oakland, California. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Hispanic Linguistic Studies from Saint Mary's College of California. He is a huge fan of Soccer and is a Jersey Collector for the Guatemalan National Soccer Team. The oldest jersey from his collection dates to 1967! He also has a passion for giving back to the community and guiding students through the college application process.

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erick macias chavez

Erick Macias-Chavez, SESP Program Transition Coordinator 

Erick proudly serves the East Side Spartan Community. He is an SJSU alumni (‘19) majoring in Sociology with a concentration in Race and Ethnic Studies. His focus is to connect students to the resources and opportunities that can get them steps closer to their goals. Born and raised in San Jose, Erick is committed to his family, education, and community solidarity. He is dedicated to serving his community and supporting students in their path to an education. “Working for the SESP Program is a great privilege because we are tasked to support local students in their pursuit of a degree.”

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Student Staff


Student Ambassador Lead

Hi y’all, my name is Alison Ross-Medina and I'm a fourth-year Communication Studies major, with a minor in Sociology. I moved to San José from a small NorCal town called Placerville, and I got involved working with SOAR because I have a passion for helping underprivileged and first-generation students. In my free time, I love exploring new places, and I definitely miss going to music festivals before the pandemic. My overall goal is to have one new experience every week, whether that’s trying a different food or meeting someone new! I am proud to be the General SA Lead and serve as a resource both to prospective students and this wonderful team.


Student Ambassador

Hi everyone! My name is Chris Core and I am a current graduate student studying Public Administration here at San Jose State. I’m from Benicia, CA, which is about an hour drive north of San Jose. In my free time I love to play disc golf at some of the great courses in San Jose, go to concerts anywhere between San Jose and Sacramento, and also keep up with some of my favorite sports teams (Let’s go Jags, Giants and Dubs!) Prior to applying for my masters program, I received my bachelors degree in journalism at SJSU as well. During my undergrad, I studied abroad to report on the European refugee crisis and was the opinion editor at the Spartan Daily. The connections I made through the Spartan Daily and other great organizations on campus made it clear to me that SJSU is truly my home. Because of this, I am excited to begin my masters program at SJSU and also get to know so many more future and current Spartans as a student ambassador.


Student Ambassador

Hi everyone! My name is Destinee and I am a 3rd year student at San Jose State! I am majoring in English with a Concentration in Professional and Technical Writing with a minor in ChAD. I am from Vallejo, CA which is roughly an hour away from campus without traffic! I love going to concerts, the park to do homework or hangout, grabbing food with friends, and scooting through SJ on my pink Razor scooter! San Jose State has given me so many opportunities to grow as an individual and I cannot wait to see what else SJ has to offer.


Student Ambassador

Hi Everyone, My name is Joshua and I am a 2nd year-student majoring in Advertising on the Marketing/Communications track with a minor in Public Relations. I was born & raised in San Diego, CA. I’m a huge volleyball player whether it be in the gym or on the beach courts. I’m also a marvel/DC fan! In my free time, I enjoy traveling/camping, making cool drinks, going to the beach, trying new foods, & playing my go-to super smash bros! I got involved with SOAR after being asked to serve on a Spartan to Future Spartan Academic Webinar Panel by Rachel in Spring of 2020, it then made me realize my passion for wanting to help & communicate/talk a lot with many individuals, especially at SJSU. I really enjoy meeting new people and helping them achieve their goals whether that may be in higher education or in general. If y’all see me around, say hello!

SESP Intern

My name is Nasrin Rohim. I’m currently a junior majoring in marketing. I was born right here in San Jose and graduated in 2018 from Andrew Hill.  One fun fact about me is that I can speak 3 languages. I joined the SOAR/SESP team to help others get access to valuable information about their education, as well as being a part of the process that helps students from the local high school district get admitted to SJSU.