The Staff at Cal-SOAP is dedicated to working with our local schools to help facilitate and increase the availability of information to students about the existence of post-secondary education, the sources of financial assistance, and career opportunities. The Cal-SOAP Staff understand the adversities that majority of students endure while trying to reach higher education. Their enthusiasm in helping our students is driven by their own experiences in being first-generation, college-bound graduates.
Full-time Santa Barbara Cal-SOAP Staff
Joanna Romo has been working in the field of education for 16 years in various districts throughout California. Six of those years are experiences working in non-profit organizations helping develop education programs. Prior to joining the Cal-SOAP team, she worked for the Napa County Office of Education as part of the Northern California Career Pathways Alliance (NCCPA) that is funded through the California Career Pathways Trust. Her experience working with this grant allowed her to understand the need to increase the graduation rate and prepare underserved students for higher education which strengthened her passion for working with low-income, first-generation, college-bound students.
Joanna was born in Santiago, Chile and moved to Santa Barbara at the age of 8. She was the first in her family to attend college and graduated from UCSB. She later moved to Northern California to attend graduate school at Sonoma State University and lived in the North Bay area for 10 years. As a first-generation college graduate, and years of experience with public schools and nonprofits in rural and urban capacities, Joanna has developed a well-rounded understanding for the need to help students achieve academically and pursue career goals. She is elated to be back in her community and work with an incredibly talented team of first-generation college graduates!
Ana Villagomez has been working with underrepresented youth since 2011. Her passion for working with youth began when she became a Cal-SOAP Tutor her freshman year of college. In 2014, Ana earned an Associate of Arts degree in Administration of Justice from Santa Barbara City College. She then transferred to CSU Stanislaus and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Juvenile Justice. During her college career Ana mentored at-risk youth, interned with the California State Parole Unit, and volunteered at the Prison Education Project, where she facilitated workshops around college at the Department of Juvenile Justice. After college she began working as a counselor in various youth group homes, where her leadership skills were strengthened. Ana is currently a student at the Santa Barbara College of Law. Her goal is to combat the commercial exploitation of children by providing education around the subject in schools.
Jennifer Lopez is an up and coming young professional who is dedicated to working with underrepresented and first-generation, college-bound students. She is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara who double majored and received Bachelor degrees in both Sociology and Chicanx Studies. Her passion to work with youth stems from being part of a low-income community where her high school lacked the resources needed to pursue higher education. During her fourth year at UCSB, Jennifer began working as a Cal-SOAP tutor and participated for a year and a half. Throughout that time, she realized that she really enjoyed giving back to communities similar to her own. One of her goals in life is to pursue a Masters degree in Higher Education, where she would advance in her ability to continue helping students in need.
Eddie Moreno has been living in Santa Barbara for the past 7 years and has worked with all levels of education from preschool-aged children to university students. He has received both a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies with a Spanish minor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Arts in Education from Antioch University Santa Barbara. Originally from Orange County, he comes from an underrepresented background of low-income communities and is the first in his family to pursue post-secondary education and obtain multiple degrees. Eddie looks forward to continuing to serve the community through academic resources and educational opportunity.
Cal-SOAP Peer Advisors:
Our Peer Advisors are not only Cal-SOAP staff, they are also currently enrolled students at UCSB. Their objective is to meet with junior high and high school students to ensure that they are receiving adequate information pertaining to financial aid, college applications, career opportunities and academic support. They also serve as advocates to each individual for their academic needs and advisement and assist in informing their parents. Peer Advisor appointments and hours can be accessed here.
Madalyn is a 4th year UCSB student with a major in Sociology and a minor in Education. She is a first-generation college student from Northern California. Coming from a household where neither parent graduated high school and having attended a high school with limited resources for its students has driven her passion for education. Madalyn chose to work with Cal-SOAP because she identifies with its mission to support low-income, first-generation, college-bound students. She began working at Cal-SOAP in April 2018 as a tutor and as of June 2019 has now become a Peer Advisor. After graduating from UCSB, Madalyn intends to continue working with non-profit organizations that serve low-income, first-generation-to-college students.
Jenny is a 4th-year UCSB student with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. She is a first-generation college student who grew up in Los Angeles in a low-income community where resources were not readily available; however, she managed to find resources and soon enough, became part of the program Upward Bound at Loyola Marymount University. As a part of LMU Upward Bound, Jenny came to understand the importance of college-prep programs and the services they offer. Jenny began working for Cal-SOAP as a tutor in September 2018 and was promoted to the Peer Advisor position in April 2019. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school where she intends to obtain a degree in Social Work to create a college-preparatory program with services to assist students back in her community.
Marifer is a 3rd-year Sociology major with a minor in Education at UCSB. As a first-generation college student from a low-income community in the bay area (Hayward), she was drawn to Cal-SOAP in order to give back to the communities with limited resources and began as a Tutor in March 2019. Now, as a Peer Advisor (as of February 2020), Marifer is eager to mentor other students as she had once received assistance from her mentors for access to higher education. She aspires to pursue graduate school in Education after graduation and seeks to become an advisor/counselor for either high school or college students.