Meet the Staff

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Luz Ponce, Director

Luz Ponce currently serves as Director for TRIO Upward Bound at CSU Dominguez Hills. Previously, she served as program coordinator for the Upward Bound Centinela Valley grant.  As a champion for first-generation students like herself, she aims to increase the opportunities for underrepresented students at all educational levels. Mrs. Ponce received a bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Irvine in Political Science and Chicano/Latino Studies and later a master’s degree in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Nivardo Martinez, Assistant Director

Nivardo has been part of the TRIO Upward Bound at CSU Dominguez Hills since 2008. He first began his involvement with Upward Bound as a math tutor while being a full-time student at CSU Dominguez Hills where later he would receive his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. After receiving his undergraduate degree Nivardo assumed the role of Program Coordinator serving the Upward Bound participants and building relationships with LAUSD staff. As a TRIO-ETS alumni, Nivardo understands the key role TRIO plays in the life of a low-income and first-generation potential college student.

Paola Garay, Program Coordinator - CVUHSD

Paola Garay is the program coordinator for the UB Centinela Valley grant which serves Hawthorne and Leuzinger High School. She is a first-generation, low income UB alumni from our CSU Dominguez Hills graduating class of 2011. She graduated from Whittier College as a Social Work and Spanish major in 2015, and is now a professional in the career she is passionate and cares for. Working with her students and being a witness of them not only obtaining admissions from their top school, but graduating and obtaining their degree is the best reward she can have and proof of her dedication to her job and students. 

Bianca Silvestre, Program Coordinator - Jefferson HS

Bianca is a first-generation low-income scholar from Los Angeles, CA. The disparity in access to college mentorship in her own neighborhood has been her motivation to support scholars from underserved communities. Bianca received an AA in Psychology and in Social & Behavioral Sciences from ELAC in 2017. She then graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2019, receiving her BA in Psychology. Her role in CSUDH Upward Bound began shortly after her role as a Parent Engagement Specialist at Alliance College Ready Schools. Bianca aspires to empower scholars to be catalysts of intergenerational change through their exertion of leadership, self-advocacy, and completion of post-secondary education. 

Katherine Martinez, Program Coordinator - LAUSD

Katherine Martinez is a TRIO Alumna from Loyola Marymount University Upward Bound. Following her time in the program, she continued her education at California State University Channel Islands. December of 2019, she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a double minor in Art and Chicanx Studies. Katherine is the Program coordinator for Carson & Gardena Highschool and is passionate about educating, supporting and empowering students to continue their education at a Higher Ed. institution.  

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