Alex Villeda, M.D., Childrens National Hospital
Alex Villeda, MD, Duke University, 2016-2017
After being the first in his family to graduate high school and college, Alex’s mission was clear—he wanted to be a role model for students like him and help illuminate pathways to education after high school. Alex wanted to provide students with the guidance he wished he had growing up. During his time as an adviser, Alex developed the Scholar Academy for Latinxs United for Diversity, or SALUD, which is a 12-session, culturally relevant program to support Latinx students who want to pursue healthcare careers. After his service, Alex returned to Duke University to complete medical school. In 2019, he was awarded the Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarship by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The award recognizes outstanding students who show leadership efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and health care. Today, Alex is a pediatric resident at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D. C. He is currently in the Leadership in Advocacy, Under-resources Communities, and Health Equity track at Children’s National Hospital, which supports his passion for youth empowerment and health justice for disenfranchised communities.
Alejandra Acosta, UC Berkeley, 2015-2017
Alejandra has been deeply committed to helping students overcome barriers to educational opportunities after high school since she joined College Advising Corps in 2015. After serving students at Willow Glen High School, an under-resourced school in San Jose, California, Alejandra went on to receive a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Michigan. Today, Alejandra serves as a senior policy analyst, inspiring and equipping elected officials and senior policymakers to make informed decisions that ensure students have an equitable pathway to higher education. The training she received while serving as an adviser provides her with a unique advantage and a solid grasp of the issues impacting equitable access. Alejandra is driven to help others on their journey to college because she knows first-hand how impactful a college degree can be for them, their families, and their communities. She reflects on her time with College Advising Corps as one of the happiest periods of her life.
Preston Kilgore, Legislative Assistant
Preston Kilgore, Pennsylvania, 2014-2016
As a first-generation college-going student, the college application process was at first a mystery for Preston. He did not fully understand financial aid or the benefits of attending a large or small school. His experience navigating the complex process was not unlike that of the students he would go on to advise through service with the Pennsylvania program. He was finally able to channel his desire to help people, and through the support of mentors inside and outside of the program, turn that passion into a career in public service. After he completed his two-year service, Preston went on to earn a master’s degree in urban and public affairs from the University of San Francisco. Today he works as a legislative assistant at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He says his work with College Advising Corps helped him to understand how organizational systems work, how policy informs governmental systems, and how to navigate bureaucratic processes. Preston continues to change lives and inspire others through his policy work.
Janki Viroja, Litigation Associate
Janki Viroja, Boston University, 2016-2018
Janki’s commitment to higher education began at a young age. Her parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from India, told her throughout her childhood that education was her “ticket” to a better life. As an adviser, Janki worked closely with students and parents, having honest and realistic conversations about her students’ plans after high school, and sharing things she wished that she had known when she considered going to college. After her service as an adviser, Janki continued to draw from her experiences even as she pursued a master’s degree in Education from Boston University. Today, Janki works as a litigation associate at a law firm. In her work, she has those same honest and realistic conversations with clients, relying on the tact and understanding she developed as a college adviser. As she continues to grow as a lawyer, Janki says she stays connected to her advising roots by caring for and supporting her clients and maintaining an active pro bono practice.
Sarah Chacon, UT Austin, 2011-2013
Sarah’s work as an adviser inspired her to become a high school teacher and fueled her passion to educate and empower students. Sarah uses her extensive experience serving as an adviser to equip and mentor today’s students. After earning a master’s in school counseling, she accepted a position to serve as an Early College High School advisor with the Socorro Independent School District in Socorro, Texas. Sarah helps support all of the seven Early College High School Programs throughout the school district which serves about 3,500 students by showing students how to track their credits to secure an associate’s degree. “Serving as a college adviser with the corps has provided me the foundation to promote and foster a culture of student accountability and advocacy that ensures students take ownership of their Early College High School journey and beyond as they continue their education at a postsecondary institution,” she says.