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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rachel miranda

Rachel Miranda, Welcome Center Coordinator/Admissions Counselor

Rachel is a San Jose Native that takes pride in giving back to the community. She did her undergraduate at UC Merced in Psychology and now is working on her Master's in Counselor Education at SJSU. Rachel enjoys listening to live music on Twitch: EDM, Hip Hop, and Oldies. She also likes to cook filipino food, but more importantly, eat it. She also loves working out in U-Jam and Zumba classes. One of Rachel's favorite quotes is "Everything Will Be Okay In The End, If It's Not Okay, It's Not The End"- John Lennon

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julio ortega

Julio Ortega, Interim Transfer Admissions Counselor/Recruiter

Julio is from Southern California. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s from CSU San Bernardino. His favorite NFL team is the San Francisco 49ers and he has a passion for lending help to those in need.

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cecilia del toro

Cecilia Del Toro, Admissions Counselor/Recruiter

Cecilia is a Bay area native. She completed her BA in Communication Studies at CSU Stanislaus. Cecilia loves road trips and going camping! She likes watching funny shows; she thinks the Office is the funniest one. She likes having plants in her home and tries not to kill them.

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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

Hello! My name is Grace Bennett. I’m currently in my BFA year as an Animation/Illustration major with a concentration in Visual Development, and a Theatre minor. I’m from Carlsbad, CA, which is a short 45 minutes away from sunny San Diego! In my free time, I love baking, grabbing coffee with friends, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for the 1000th time. When school is in person, you’ll find me at the Art Building or hanging out on Tower Lawn with friends. I’ve learned so much about myself here at San Jose State, as both an artist, teammate and person. I can’t wait to see what my final year has in store for me!


Student Ambassador

My name is Cathy and I'm a first-year Software Engineering major. I am from El Sereno, CA but I just moved to San Jose to live on-campus. As someone who started at SJSU in the midst of Covid-19, I am really looking forward to everything our school has to offer in-person. San Jose is a great city and I can’t wait to fully explore it! Quick Facts: My favorite color is purple, I have a slight obsession with the Sims 4 and Kali Uchis, my favorite show is That 70s Show, and I love practicing and appreciating all forms of art!


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!


Student Ambassador

Hello! My name is Meha Rastogi. I am currently a second year studying Business Management Information Systems. I am from the East Bay, San Ramon. This is my first year living on campus due to lockdown last year, but I have finally been able to work hands on in person with the multiple organizations that I am a part of! I am a part of a Greek professional organization which is the more notable one. In my free time, I like to play video games, bake, listen to all kinds of music and try new coffee blends. I have been able to meet so many people virtually my first year and I know that being in person now will only mean more.

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.

SESP Peer Mentor

Hi my name is Jasmine and I am a fourth year at San Jose State University. I am currently majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Health.  I was born and raised in San  Jose, California. A fun fact about me is that I want to get my Masters after I graduate SJSU and work in a field where I can help others. I joined SOAR/SESP to gain experience working with students. Mentoring students has helped me learn a lot about others and has been beneficial for me in making a decision in what I want to do in the future.