Come by and visit the Outreach office in Room A-104.
Jessica Murguia grew up in a single-family household of modest means, and couldn't afford to enroll at a four-year college or university upon graduating from Valhalla High School. “I’m a first- generation college student, and I didn't really have anyone to turn to regarding the college application process or the financial aid process, but I always knew from a young age that I wanted to go to college,” said the Student Success Coordinator in the High School and Community Relations (Outreach) Department.
Cuyamaca College was a logical choice. It was close to home. It was affordable. And it was chock-full of supportive services aimed at promoting student success. Between classes, she worked in various areas on campus, including Counseling, Disability Support Program & Services, and Student Affairs. She became a full-time Student Services Specialist in 2013, became Acting Student Success Coordinator in 2014, and was named Interim Student Success Coordinator in 2015. Along the way she has earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in postsecondary educational leadership from San Diego State University.
Jessica oversees Cuyamaca’s Outreach staff, including student ambassadors, works to strengthen partnerships with local high schools, and promotes Cuyamaca College’s programs and services in the larger community.
Kevin Brown’s academic journey has been anything but traditional. A graduate of Valhalla
High School in 2012 and with no real plans for the future, he enrolled at the University
of Nevada, Las Vegas, but left after a semester, returned home and attended Cuyamaca
for a semester before moving on to Southwestern College in Chula Vista. The La Mesa resident has now graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in political science
and a minor in economics.
“I joined the Cuyamaca Outreach department because I think all individuals are capable of being successful academically, so long as they are faced in the right direction and made aware of their resources,” Kevin said.
Jordan AhMu - El Cajon Valley High School graduate - has lived in the region her entire life and is now attending UC San Diego, where she is majoring in International Business.
“I have been working in Outreach for a little over three years now, and I have enjoyed getting to meet new people, experience new things, and most importantly, help students succeed in applying and attending Grossmont and Cuyamaca College,” said Jordan.
Aklas Sheai was born in Baghdad, Iraq. She is the fifth of 12 children raised among
a traditional family that valued education and believed in its power to provide a
better future. Aklas earned a bachelor’s degree in statistics from Baghdad University
in 1979 and launched her career in education in 1999 at the United Nations Development
Program, but she fled her country in 2003 during the Iraq war, arriving in the United
States two years later.
Aklas re-started her educational journey at Cuyamaca College in 2007 when she joined the World Languages Department as an Arabic language instructor and Student Services as an interpreter and community liaison. Through both roles, Aklas serves ESL students in need of looking to start a successful and rewarding experience at Cuyamaca College. In 2010, Aklas earned an associate degree in social work from Cuyamaca, and in 2018 she earned a master’s degree in English as a Second Language and bilingual education from the online American College of Education.
Aklas created the Arabic version of the college’s assessment test and WebAdvior tutorials. Because her dedication to her students is unlimited, she conducted informational orientations to provide the new ESL students with information about the college and important resources in the campus. Her guiding principle is to create a welcoming atmosphere in and out of her classes to make students feel at home from the moment they walk into this campus, and her worked earned her designation as Outstanding Faculty member in 2014 and 2016.
“I love Cuyamaca College and being part of this family,” she said. “I put my heart, mind, and soul into my profession and look forward to continuing growing professionally and personally through the coming
years to keep going to serve Cuyamaca students.”
In her free time, Aklas enjoys spending quality time with her family.
During her last year at Monte Vista High School (Class of 2016), Yesenia De La Torre was planning to attend a private college en route to becoming a veterinarian. She changed her mind after hearing from a group of Cuyamaca College student ambassadors. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on the prerequisites needed before she could attend veterinary school Yesenia could instead take her general education courses at Cuyamaca for a fraction of the cost.
“Cuyamaca ambassadors, as well as the Pathway Academy Program, truly helped me decide that this is what I wanted to do and helped the transition from high school to college a lot smoother,” said Yesenia. “Now, I am working on getting my associate’s degree towards becoming a veterinary technician.”