Meet the SOAR Team

SOAR Professional Staff

drew agbay

Drew Agbay, SOAR Director

Drew is a Spartan through and through. He graduated with a BA degree in Behavioral Science, Double Major in Psychology and earned his MA in Counselor Education both at SJSU. Originally from San Leandro, Drew is proud of where he comes from but has called San Jose State his home for over 20 years. His hobbies include playing and watching basketball, riding his road bike, staying active all while being a huge "foodie" too. His favorite part of his job is traveling and interacting with different people from all walks of life.

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amanda aldama fernandes

Amanda Aldama Fernandes, Spartan East Side Promise Program Lead

Amanda has been with SOAR for 6 years, and absolutely loves being able to work with new students and their families, and give back to the community she grew up in.  She is a San Jose native, and a graduate of the East Side Union High School District. She is an SJSU alum, having completed her Bachelors in Sociology with a minor in Political Science, and is currently completing her MA in Counseling and Guidance. Fun facts: plays guitar, super into Marvel/the MCU, and a frequent user of bitmojis. For any questions about SJSU or Spartan life, please feel free to reach out!

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Nicole Albillar

Nicole Albillar, Welcome Center Operations Specialist Admissions Counselor/Recruiter

Nicole is a proud SJSU Alum and received her BA in Global Studies with a Minor in Journalism. She has experience with all things campus tours and is happy to give back to our University. Nicole is originally from Santa Paula, CA but is always looking for different opportunities to explore and travel. She loves learning about new cultures, interacting with people with different backgrounds, and meeting people from around the world! Her favorite pastime is swimming and being near the water. Stop by and take a tour of our beautiful campus!

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Axel Garcia

Axel Garcia, Admissions Counselor/Recruiter

Axel was born and raised in Oakland, California. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Hispanic Linguistic Studies from Saint Mary's College of California. He is a huge fan of Soccer and is a Jersey Collector for the Guatemalan National Soccer Team. The oldest jersey from his collection dates to 1967! He also has a passion for giving back to the community and guiding students through the college application process.

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Itzel Aquino Ortiz

Itzel Aquino Ortiz, Admissions Counselor/Recruiter

Itzel was raised in East Palo Alto, CA, a small town in the Bay Area. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from UC Merced in Spanish Language and her Masters in Management. She loves to spend time outdoors and enjoys visiting new places. She also enjoys reading and loves to try out different ramen places around the Bay Area. She is really passionate about supporting first-generation students and families learning more about the college application process.

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Yichen Shao

Yichen Shao, Admissions Counselor/Recruiter

Yichen has been serving as a college admission and career counselor for the Bay Area students and families since 2018. She earned her graduate certification in college admission and career counseling from UC Berkeley. Prior to her transition to be a counselor, she was a high school teacher at Chicago public schools. Born and raised in China, Yichen attended a boarding school in New York when she first came to the US. She understands the challenges that international students face when applying to colleges and she wants to help more students from all backgrounds to achieve their fullest potential. She enjoys traveling to different places, learning new languages and culture (especially food) and interacting with people from all walks of life. She looks forward to serving more future Spartans!

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Marlene Perez

Marlene Perez, Admissions Counselor/Recruiter

Marlene is originally from Orange County, California. She graduated with her BA degree in Sociology with a minor in Chicana/o Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. She is a proud Puente mentor at her local community college, and is dedicated to guide first generation, underserved students to their desired path of education. Her favorite pastimes are hiking, traveling and tending to her plants. Marlene is eager to assist prospective students with their admissions journey to SJSU!

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Student Staff

Student Ambassadors

Student Ambassadors

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