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Dr. Kevin Correa has enjoyed working as a higher education professional for more than 14 years. He is passionate about helping students succeed and making a positive impact in their lives. Nearly his entire career has been devoted to the engagement, retention, and success of diverse student populations at large public universities, and much of his work has been in leadership capacities.
Dr. Correa has been with the First-Year Success Center since its inaugural year; he was part of the leadership team that led the center's growth from an initiative with about 35 staff to an award-winning center with nearly 90 staff conducting over 16,000 coaching appointments per year. While at ASU, Dr. Correa has also served as a mentor for the Obama Scholars Program, a facilitator for Access ASU's Future Sun Devil Families program, a facilitator for the university's SafeZONE program, and a board member of the Chicano/Latino Faculty & Staff Association.
Originally from the east coast, Dr. Correa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology degree, with an emphasis on race, class, and gender, from the University of Michigan as a first-generation out-of-state student. He earned a master's degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education and a Doctorate of Education in Leadership and Innovation from ASU. Dr. Correa's dissertation work was focused on out-of-state freshmen at ASU. As part of his research, Dr. Correa designed a large-scale intervention to address the specific needs and challenges of this substantial population; the intervention had a positive association with co-curricular engagement and homesickness frequency reduction.
In addition to leading the First-Year Success Center, Dr. Correa serves as a faculty associate in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, where he teaches graduate-level courses such as Organizational Theory and Diversity in Higher Education. Dr. Correa has also earned a certificate in personal development coaching from the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute.
Fun fact: Dr. Correa is an avid outdoor runner who is proud to have more than a 100-degree temperature range. He has run in the middle of Michigan winters in temperatures as low as three degrees, and he now regularly runs during the Phoenix summer, even when the temperature soars past 105!
Top five strengths: Achiever, Strategic, Relator, Responsibility, Analytical
Marisel is a proud, long-time member of the ASU Sun Devil family who has spent more than 20 years educating, motivating youth, and coaching college students and emerging professionals at a variety of higher education institutions. She has worked at ASU for over two decades in a variety of roles in both academic and student affairs, always with the commitment to ensure that students are well equipped to not only "survive" their university experience but to thrive in it as well. Marisel is a certified personal and executive coach, and she is the founding director of the ASU First-Year Success Center, which has impacted tens of thousands of Sun Devils' lives.
Her passionate belief in the power of education to transform lives has led her to extensive volunteerism and motivational speaking on both local and national levels. She speaks extensively on personal development and leadership, student success and other empowerment topics to diverse audiences including youth, educators, professional groups and leaders.
Marisel holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Marist College and a Master's in Education in Higher and Adult Education from Arizona State University. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Educational Leadership.
Marisel is the recipient of multiple awards in recognition of her leadership and service to the community including the Phoenix Business Journal's “Top 40 Under 40” and the City of Tempe Human Relations Commission “Diversity Award”. She was also one of 22 fellows chosen nationally for the National Hispana Leadership Institute, an elite institute focused on developing ethical world leaders.
Marisel has received leadership training from the Harvard University JFK School of Government and Center for Creative Leadership and advanced coach training and certifications from the Certified Coach Federation (CCF) and the Coaching & Positive Psychology (CAPP) Institute. Marisel has earned Facilitator Certificates in Strengths-Based Advising and Mentoring from Gallup. Lastly, Marisel is also the owner of a motivational speaking/coaching/consulting business and is an author of two books.
Fun college memory: Being trapped inside of an ancient castle in Southern Spain while studying abroad as an undergraduate. I didn't know about the tradition of shutting down businesses for a siesta but definitely enjoyed the opportunity for a once in a lifetime fiesta!
Top five strengths: Activator, Connectedness, Input, Woo, Communication.
Eleni is an assistant director of the First-Year Success Center, and is managing the center’s outreach and marketing efforts as well as the Center's VIP Suite (sophomore) and Transfer coaching programs.
Eleni has spent more than 20 years working in higher education with a focus on financial aid and student success initiatives. She has a passion for working with diverse students, especially first-generation and former foster care college students, and she has published an article in the Journal of Student Affairs, "Former Foster Care Youth: Experiences in the Pursuit of Higher Education."
Originally from Texas, Eleni earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology degree with a minor in Communications from the University of Texas at Arlington. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University.
Fun fact: Eleni is an avid music lover, especially live music, and has attended over 50 concerts across the U.S.
Top five strengths: Connectedness, Relator, Developer, Achiever, Ideation
Mercedes is an assistant director who oversees many of the First-Year Success Center’s daily operations. She also oversees Game Changers: a program for First-Generation college students.
Mercedes is a two-time alumna of Arizona State University. Her passion in higher education stems from her own personal journey as a student at ASU. As a First-Generation and multicultural student, Mercedes understands the importance of an education and the hard work that a college degree requires. After working numerous on campus jobs, Mercedes found her home at the First-Year Success Center as one of the very first peer coaches in the center’s first year, in October 2012. Mercedes received her Bachelor of Arts in communication from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in May 2013 and moved to work with students at the University of Minnesota. At UMN, Mercedes worked with students in Housing and Residential Life, The Women’s Center, and the Transgender Commission.
Since returning to FYS in 2014, Mercedes has served as a college liaison and coach supervisor on all four metro-Phoenix campuses, at FYS’s first coaching satellite site, and has worked closely with Indigenous American students. She earned her Master of Education in higher and postsecondary education through ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in May 2017. In February 2018, Mercedes was awarded the Council of Academic Advisors' “2018 Advising Support Non-Advising Staff Award,” for her continued commitment to the advising community and to the mission of advising in general, demonstrating a repeated willingness to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of advisors and students, often going above and beyond the call of duty.
In addition to serving students as the assistant director of operations at the First-Year Success Center, Mercedes has served as an Instructor for CHS 101 and as an academic associate for the Higher Education graduate program where she earned her MEd.
Fun fact: Mercedes spends most of her time exploring Phoenix, attending concerts/lectures, and volunteering.
Top five strengths: Strategic, Command, Activator, Self-Assurance, Relator.
Lauren was born in Upland, CA and raised in Tucson, AZ but don’t think she’s a fan of those little kittens. Lauren is an ASU Alumni earning her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. During her time at ASU, she was involved as a community assistant with campus housing, a tour guide with the Devils’ Advocates, and an avid Sun Devil football fan! She loves being immersed in student culture and believes that campus connections are the key to a great college experience.
Her amazing experience with her College of Liberal Arts and Sciences advisors awakened a passion for higher education and wanting others to have that same collegiate experience. After graduation, she became an academic advisor for military students at University of Phoenix. Lauren served on the graduation planning team as well as employee recognition committee during her 8 years at UoP. Also, during her time there, Lauren earned her Masters degree in Administration of Justice and Security. Lauren continued her work in higher education moving to Northcentral University as an academic and financial advisor working with the School of Business.
Lauren’s amazing experience at Arizona State has always been a reminder of her passion for learning and education, where she learned the Sun Devil Service that she brings to every interaction with every student, and has finally brought her back home to the buttes. She looks forward to helping all students thrive during their time here.
Fun Fact: Lauren has been a youth cheerleading coach for the last 12 years (found the position in the State Press as an undergrad) and currently holds two National titles.
Top five strengths: Restorative, Achiever, Relator, Responsibility, Activator
Brandon is originally from New Mexico and holds a bachelor’s in Agricultural Education with an emphasis in Ag. Communications from New Mexico State University. Inspired by his academic advisor and mentor, he felt empowered to support and impact students in a college environment. Brandon has worked in higher education in various roles, most recently as a coordinator with New Student & Family Programs at Arizona State University.
Brandon earned his M.Ed. in Higher & Postsecondary Education from ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. In all areas of his life, he seeks to help build others up and encourage positivity among those he comes in contact with. He is dedicated to helping others make a difference in our world, and enjoys connecting people with their passions to create real change.
Fun college memory: During my junior year of college, I was selected to be a social media and videographer intern for a week-long agricultural leadership summit in Puerto Rico. The food, beautiful scenic views and culture were incredible!
Top five strengths: Individualization, Relator, Futuristic, Strategic, Arranger.
Katie is originally from Boston, Massachusetts and holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She learned through her involvement in the Student Government Association, Peer Advising program, Student Activities Council and more that she enjoyed working with students in college instead of being in a lab and made the career move to go into student affairs.
Katie earned her Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration (Student Affairs) from the University at Buffalo, where she worked within Campus Living doing marketing and assessment, organization advising, and working with the leadership team on major projects. She was able to work across the campus in new student programs and closely with student activities to help make experiences for the students that would continue to shape their college experience.
Because since she can’t stay out of a classroom for long, in 2017 Katie started and completed a graduate certificate in Campus Crisis Management from Colorado State University, gaining knowledge on how to manage human, campus, and global crises from a large to personal scale; a skill that can translate over to almost every experience with students.
Fun fact: I am an online streamer that makes jewelry live while cultivating a community and making a safe place for folks to hang out online!
Top Five Strengths: Achiever, Learner, Individualization, Woo, Empathy
Originally from Ohio, Joe joins us from Northcentral University, where he served as an Enrollment Advisor, and Mesa Community College, where he served as an Adjunct Teacher in Leadership. He also brings experience as an Admissions Counselor for Ashford University and as a Senior Internet Marketing Consultant. Joe is an alum of ASU! He earned his M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Supervision from ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.
Fun fact: I love languages and if I had a superpower it would be the power to speak every language in the world. Currently, I am learning Brazilian Portuguese.
Top Five Strengths: Teacher, Motivator, Leader, Communicator, Learner
Desirai was born in Bronx, New York but was raised in Casa Grande, Arizona. Desirai is a two-time alumna of Arizona State University, earning both her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and her Master’s of Advanced Study in Marriage and Family Therapy. During her time at ASU, Desirai was involved as a community mentor with campus housing, a tour guide with Devils’ Advocates, and a Sophomore Success Coach. Before her current position, she worked in the Admissions office as a First-Year Student Specialist, traveling across Arizona and promoting college as an opportunity for students. Desirai greatly enjoys and looks forward to working with a wide variety of students while providing a supportive environment and lending hand. Her passion for helping students stems from her own personal experiences as a multicultural student as well as seeing the trials and successes that students experience during their time in a university setting.
Fun Fact: I love baking and trying new recipes! Some of my favorite desserts include almost anything lemon flavored, especially lemon bars.
Top Five Strengths: Positivity, Developer, Empathy, Includer, Relator
Keilani “Kei” Akoi Clark is originally from Laie, Hawai’i and started her professional career on the Polynesian Cultural Center Promotional Team in 2007. She put her academic career on a brief pause to perform with the most famous mice in the world at Tokyo Disney Resort.
Keilani recently graduated from Brigham Young University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, with an emphasis in public relations. As a student director of the multicultural group, BYU Living Legends, Keilani led a group of student ambassadors to promote higher education to K-12 students in Canada, Europe, the South Pacific, and on Native American reservations throughout the U.S. During her undergraduate studies, she assisted Marriott International in Mexico as a student social media consultant and worked as a digital marketing strategist for Utah agency Wallaroo Media.
Keilani already feels like a true Sun Devil and she especially appreciates the commitment to the success of multicultural students on the ASU campus. Her position in events, promotions, and digital coaching at the ASU First-Year Success Center will undoubtedly contribute to that mission.
Fun fact: During the BYU Living Legends South Pacific tour, I performed in a group cultural presentation for over five thousand attendants including the queen and the crown prince of Tonga. But that wasn’t even the most exciting part of the tour! My boyfriend (now husband) popped the question on a white sand beach in Fua’amotu.
Top five strengths: Learner, Responsibility, Achiever, Strategic, Input
Alainah is from Michigan. She has a strong enthusiasm for the advancement of all students, and she is excited to work to provide resources for underrepresented students here at ASU. Alainah is a believer for the development of educational opportunities and facilitating daily responsibilities to maintain an efficient office here at FYS to serve our students.
Alainah is a graduate of Western Michigan University and a very proud first-generation college student, former TRiO SSP student, Benjamin A Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship Alumna, and a Founding Sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. Zeta Lambda Chapter. She holds a B.A. in Political Science- Public Law and a B.A. in Spanish. She is currently working on her M.A. through Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, in Educational Leadership and Management with a focus on the use of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in Educational Settings.
Fun fact: Alainah is a devoted traveler and loves to try all different types of food from different cultures.
Top Five Strengths: Learner, Restorative, Futuristic, Significance, Context