Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Office for Access & Opportunity

Meet our Office of Access and Opportunity Staff!!

Welcome! Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our Office of A&O staff here at Washington State University. 

Meet our Directors

Lucila Loera 

Director, High School Equivalency Program 

Lucila (Luci) Loera serves as the Executive Director of the Office for Access & Opportunity in the Division of Students Affairs at Washington State University (WSU). In addition, she has led efforts on Food and Basic needs, First-Generation initiatives (such as First-Gen Study Abroad), and Strength-based education training. Throughout her career, she has developed a deep understanding of college access and success considerations, particularly focusing on low-income, first-generation, and minoritized students in higher education. After years of working in higher education, she knows that not all college students have the same access to opportunities to advance their futures. As a result, she learned to seek external funding and has procured up to $29 million in federal, state, and private funding to support students directly.  Leadership experience includes serving on WSU’s Alumni Association board, National Council for Education (COE) board member, and as President of the regional TRIO Northwest Association Educational Opportunity Programs (NAEOP).  She earned her master’s degree in counseling psychology at Washington State University and her bachelor’s degree in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine. As a Student Affairs professional, she feels a responsibility and desire to improve her practice, which led to her decision to pursue her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership at Colorado State University. Born and raised in Southern California, she has been in Pullman for over 25 years with her husband, son, and newly adopted dog Mojito.

Meghan Carranza 

Director, Upward Bound

Meghan graduated from Concordia University-Portland in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in business administration. Since then she has lived in Oroville working and volunteering in this great community.  Meghan has been with the program since 2015, taking over as director in 2017. Her favorite part about working with Upward Bound is seeing the students grow as they discover new college and career opportunities outside of North Central Washington.

Michael Heim 

Director, Migrant Education Student Access & Support (MESAS)

Michael has worked to help farmworkers gain access to and be successful students in HEP since 2004. Born in Walla Walla and raised in Pullman, WA, he is a WSU Alumnus, he has a strong belief that our students who take advantage of HEP's support and testing services move on to become some of the best examples of drive, motivation, and resilience. They are resilient while pursuing their academic careers and dedicated to enhancing their lives through education. "HEP students have always held a special place in my heart. I got my first work experience in Higher Education at WSU HEP, and continued working with HEP at The University of New Mexico. I am honored to help lead HEP at WSU." He loves soccer, thinks green chile makes most things taste better, likes drinking Mexican Coca-Cola in 500 ml bottles, the color blue, action movies, and hanging out with his family on Friday nights.
Michael has served as a New Director Mentor/Coach for The National HEPCAMP Association and served as an external evaluator for HEP and CAMP projects. He also currently serves as the Chair for The National HEPCAMP Marketing and Communications Committee and on the Historical Committee. He currently teaches the UNIV 104 and UNIV 101 courses for CAMP students at WSU. Part of his historical research related to The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) has been published in the Journal for Migrant Education. Future research includes measuring retention and graduation rates for students who are migrant and/or seasonal farmworkers (MSFW) and evaluating CAMP project effectiveness. He has spoken broadly at conferences regarding student success, approaches to academic coaching, academic advising, and federally funded project management and evaluation. 

Carrie Bullock Ben-Yisrael

Director, TRIO SSS

Carrie is TRIO for LIFE and brings with her over 15+ years of experience in TRIO Programs (from Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math Science, McNair, ETS, and TRIO SSS) and over 20+ years’ experience with access programming to higher education. Her undergraduate degree (Mount Holyoke College) was designed specifically to address community development and organization on collegiate campuses, with a concentration on the needs of institutionally underrepresented populations at historical/predominantly white institutions (H/PWIs). Her graduate work (The Citadel) is in student affairs and administration. In the last twelve years before coming to WSU, she specifically concentrated on STEM/STEAM education access and exposure programming.
As the most recent academic coordinator/retention specialist she saw it as her  job to make sure our scholars and their families were prepared academically, emotionally, socially, and financially, to successfully enroll in and complete undergraduate, graduate and/or professional studies. As the founding associate director of TRIO’s McNair Scholars program, founding director of ACCESS programs at the College of Charleston, and the Upward Bound Math & Science (UBMS) academic/program coordinator at Trident Technical College, she knows and loves her craft of empowering scholars and has appreciated the opportunity to practice it in various environments, including rural and urban areas. Go Cougs!

Samuel Rodriguez-Flecha

Director, Team Mentoring Program

Samuel earned his PhD in educational psychology at WSU. He has an MA in English literature and a BA in English Secondary Education from the University of Puerto Rico. His professional experience includes teaching at the high school and college levels. Before joining the A&O team, he worked in the WSU Office of Research for over 10 years in different roles both in research administration and development, most recently as the assistant director of the Office of Research Advancement & Partnerships. He is passionate about education and loves to be a facilitator, promote a welcoming environment, and contribute to the success of those around him. He enjoys learning about different cultures and traveling—from educational trips to Quebec, Canada; Panama; and China; work-related trips to Dubai, UAB; Afghanistan; and Pakistan; to vacationing across the country (Alaska and Hawaii + 45 of the 48 continental states). He loves spending his free time with family.


Meet our Program Staff

Hildegarde Velasco-Faga'autau

Program Coordinator, TRIO SSS

Hildegarde joined the TRIO Student Support Services team in the Fall of 2012 after receiving her B.A. in Sociology from Washington State University (Go Cougs!). She came to WSU as a first-generation, out-of-state student – not having seen the campus, or even traveled to Washington until coming for Fall New Coug Orientation right before classes began. She quickly fell in love with the campus and community and found support through mentoring and various leadership opportunities as an undergraduate. She enjoys being a part of an amazing team that is invested in helping our students develop, achieve, and graduate. Hildegarde is originally from O'ahu, Hawai'i but enjoys living here in the Pacific Northwest and being able to experience all four seasons – especially fall. Outside of work, she loves attending student events, WSU athletics events, and spending time with her family, husband, and friends.

Nancy Hernandez

Academic Coordinator/Retention Specialist, TRIO SSS

Nancy is a first-generation college graduate from the University of Idaho with her bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relationships and her Master's in Family Consumer Science with a thesis on Latina Entrepreneurs.
As an undergraduate, Nancy was a part of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and TRIO SSS as well as other student organizations focused on student recruitment.  Nancy is originally from Rupert, Idaho, and loves being a part of the Palouse community since she came to college.  Nancy enjoys walks, reading about financial literacy, and spending time with her family. As a new member of the Coug family, she hopes to create a positive atmosphere for all students and staff. 

Elise Zeiler

Program Coordinator, College Assistance Migrant Program

Elise Zeigler joins the WSU CAMP team from South Georgia. She graduated from Texas A&M University with an educational background in commercial agriculture and soil science. Her advocacy began in 2016 when she volunteered with local organizations to aid underrepresented populations in Georgia. Prior to WSU, Elise worked as the Administrative Assistant at Valdosta State University CAMP. “Being engaged in something bigger than myself has been a motivator throughout my educational and professional career. The goals and continuous efforts of CAMP is a blend of advocacy and being a part of our students’ efforts towards their education achievements.” Outside of the office, Elise enjoys listening to music, watching B-rated movies, learning new recipes, and spending time with her cat.

Jennifer Pineda

Academic Advisor & Retention Specialist, College Assistance Migrant Program

Jennifer Pineda is a first-generation WSU alumnus who received her B.A. in Sociology with minors in At-Risk Youth and Human Development in the Spring of 2022 (Go Cougs!). Since then, she has worked as a College Adviser for UW College Advising Corps and is now the new Academic Advisor & Retention Specialist for the College Assistance Migrant Program. She is passionate about advocating for students and families from underrepresented areas & providing them with the support that they need to reach their educational goals. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and friends, and going to the gym. 

Daniela Carvajal-Macias

Recruiter & Outreach Specialist, College Assistance Migrant Program 

Daniela is a first-generation college graduate from Washington State University with her bachelor's degree in Political Science with a double minor in Woman Studies and Spanish. During her undergraduate. Daniela was a part of WSU CAMP and TRIO SSS. Along with being involved in a variety of student organizations; MECHA, APASC, BSU, Pre-Law Society, Crimson Group, and Mariposas Poderosas. Daniela is originally from Wenatchee, Washington, where her family currently resides. She is excited to be the recruiter for CAMP and being able to connect with students from all over the state. As a previous, WSU CAMP student herself and knowing how much it helped her, she wants to be able to reach out to those students who would benefit from CAMP. She enjoys being outside with her dogs, spending time with her family, and reading. 

Elizabeth Mariscal

Instructor, High School Equivalency Program

Elizabeth was raised in Brewster, Washington. Daughter of immigrant farm-working parents, Elizabeth continues to carry their values and hard work through her academic endeavors. She is a WSU alumna eager to implement her educational training and experience. As a student, Elizabeth participated in La Bienvenida, CAMP, TRIO and other events and programs that supported her education as a first-generation Latina. Elizabeth understands that low-income, first-generation seasonal/farm-working students are often underserved and underrepresented. She is passionate about being able to come full circle and provide that ample support to HEP students and their families. She will be supplying HEP students with instruction, resources and support to help them reach their academic goals within the program and beyond.