Dina Ibarra, Ed. M | She/Her/Hers/Ella
Dina Ibarra serves as Director for the University of Washington TRIO Educational Talent Search (UW ETS). Dina has been working in higher education for over 10 years, working primarily with underrepresented, first generation and income eligible students. Her prior experience has been working with the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at Heritage University (HU) and as an Assistant Director for Enrollment Counseling at Washington State University (WSU). In her professional work, Dina has worked with hundreds of students and families in central Washington in assisting them in achieving their dream of going to college. In 2017, Dina joined University of Washington’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMA&D) as the TRIO UW ETS Director. Dina also became involved with the Washington State TRIO State Association (WSTA) in 2019 supporting the state Mentorship Initiative Program and is currently the State President (2020-2021). Like OMA&D’s mission, Dina’s work revolves in creating pathways for diverse populations in creating access to postsecondary opportunities through support and guidance, the reason why she was excited to take the position at UW.
“I enjoy working with TRIO and UW OMA&D, as our work goes hand-in-hand.” -Dina
José “Tony” García | He/Him/His
Tony is the Director of TRIO at Grays Harbor College where he helps run two Student Support Programs. He started his TRIO career at San Diego State University (SDSU) Upward Bound STAR program as a counselor and after eight years, he became the coordinator for two UBMS programs for the next five years at University of California San Diego. For about three years, he worked at a non-profit in one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Diego after leaving UBMS, where he helped rebuild an after-school program for youth from local high schools. Tony was very excited for the opportunity to return to TRIO recently and is now at Grays Harbor College.
Tony comes with a wealth of experience and involvement within the TIRO community. He’s participated and chaired in various committees at the WESTOP regional organization while in California. Tony was also President of the WESTOP Southern California chapter during his involvement. When Tony moved to Washington he did not think twice about supporting the state association, and joined WSTA’s Professional Development Conference planning committee. Most recent he became a mentor of the WSTA Mentor Initiative Program (MIP), where he provided his UB leadership experience to support new TRIO Directors in Washington state. The past few months, he has supported WSTA members through the roundtables, serving as the moderator. He recently served at NAEOP’s conference leading the committee for New Members in Alaska!
Tony believes that although it is important to help our students, we must also provide support to the professionals that do the advocacy work for our students. Tony believes that there is no better way to do this, than to serve in a local TRIO professional organization like WSTA.
Kesia Ceniceros | She/Her/Hers
Catalina Villanueva, M. Ed | She/Her/Hers
Catalina Alvarez-Villanueva, who goes by Catti, grew up in Sunnyside, a majority Latinx city in the fertile eastern Washington valley known for apple orchards, vegetables and hops. Her parents, migrants from Mexico, divorced when she was young. Her mother works as a hairdresser, and her father worked in agriculture.
Alvarez-Villanueva struggled in high school and sometimes skipped class. With her boyfriend, Joseph Villanueva (now her husband), she became pregnant her senior year. She remembers a difficult conversation with her Papi (father) who made her promise to go to college. She attended Yakima Valley College (YVC) Grandview for two years and was encouraged to enroll at UW Bothell. At UW Bothell she majored in Society, Ethics and Human Behavior, and graduated in 2013. Immediately after graduation Alvarez-Villanueva enrolled in the Master of Education program. She also continued working for the University in positions that advanced her career. As an undergraduate, she was an admissions adviser and recruiter, with a focus on rural, low-income students who would be the first in their families to earn a four-year college degree. As a graduate student, she worked for the College Assistance Migrant Program at the University of Washington in Seattle. After receiving her M.Ed. in 2015, Alvarez-Villanueva returned to the Yakima Valley as the site director for the Ready to Rise program, which mentors Yakima Valley high school students.
Since June of 2018 she has been the director of TRIO Upward Bound, at YVC. The program helps high school students from Sunnyside, Granger, Wapato and Toppenish make the transition to college. Catti enjoys assisting students with the college process and getting students to think deeper about their post-secondary plans. During her free time she enjoys watching her son play sports and relaxing when possible.
Tony Au | He/His/Him
Tony Au is a Seattle native and product of the University of Washington Upward Bound Program. As a current TRIO professional, he views his current role as a great opportunity to both move Upward Bound’s work forward and pay it forward, supporting students in similar ways he was supported as a low-income, first-generation high school student. Tony graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (Specializations: Information Systems & Human Resources Management). He then obtained his Master’s in Education in College Student Services Administration (Concentrations: Leadership & Social Justice) from Oregon State University. Before coming back to TRIO, Tony spent a number of years working in housing/residence life, starting off as a Resident Advisor in college and later becoming a full-time Resident Director working directly with college students to support their development and success in the residence halls. In his spare time, Tony enjoys spending time with his nieces and nephew, going on “walks and talks” with friends, and listening to Mariah Carey.
Veronica Guadarrama, MHED | She/Her/Hers
Jimmy Merino-Cruz | He/His/Him
Jimmy was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington as a first-generation and low-income college student. Growing up, he never really envisioned himself as a scholar or someone who had college potential and was fully ready to go into the work force after graduating from high school. Jimmy began to realize his potential as a student when he joined the Upward Bound TRIO program at the Evergreen State College. Through the support of his mentors, he was accepted to the University of Washington and completed his undergraduate degree in American Ethnic Studies. While at the UW, he discovered his passion for research through the McNair scholars program. Jimmy is currently finishing up his Master’s in Social Justice and Equity in Education at San Francisco State University while working as an academic counselor for the TRIO program that supported him through college. His passion and purpose is to support students who come from similar backgrounds to his own and give back to the communities and programs that helped empower him as a student and professional. TRIO WORKS!
Stephanie Arciga, M. Ed | She/Her/Hers
Stephanie Arciga is the Director of Heritage University TRIO Student Support Services Program. She earned her Bachelors of Social Work at Heritage University and Masters of Education with a concentration in Education Leadership at Concordia University. In her prior work to TRIO, Stephanie worked in the secondary education system where she worked with at-risk students and provided services to encourage at-risk students to strive for a diploma and continue into higher education. Within TRIO, Stephanie has served on the Civic Leadership Conference Committee, Washington State Professional Development Conference Committee, and has held the WSTA East Representative position in 2018-2019, and currently holds WSTA Alumni Partner board position. Stephanie has a passion for working with young adults and allowing them to pursue their dreams.
Tech Committee Chair
CLC Committee Chair
Alex Eppel | He/Him/His
Alex Eppel attended UC Santa Cruz and graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies. He spent six years living in South Africa and working in youth and leadership development. He is trained in outdoor based experiential facilitation and enjoys creating adventures in learning for students. He is excited to bring that experience and a passion for unlimited growth to all the Upward Bound students on their journey towards college and beyond. Alex serves as the academic coordinator for Tonasket High School students.