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SSHA Academic Advisors

SSHA Academic Advisors

Meet your SSHA Academic Advisors!



Brenda Maldonado-Rosas

Director of Students Services

About Brenda:

Brenda Maldonado-Rosas grew up near UC Merced in Livingston, California. She attended the University of California, Davis (Go Ags!) and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish. She then headed to California State University, Sacramento where she completed her Master of Science in Counseling, with a specialization in Career Counseling.

"What I enjoy the best about my job is assisting students find the connection between what they want as a career and their major and experience at UC Merced. There is no set road for people to get to their dreams and goals, so being able to show students their different paths on how to get there makes my job worthwhile."

“Failing to plan is planning to fail" ― Alan Lakein


Lauren Brackett

Senior Academic Advisor, Student Success Coordinator

About Lauren:
Lauren Brackett grew up in southern California (Victorville, CA and LA County), and is forever fan of the Los Angeles Lakers! Lauren attended California State University, Fresno and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and a Master of Arts in Higher Education, Administration, & Leadership.
"I love the field of advising because of the interaction I get to have with students. I, myself, was a struggling student, and I want nothing more than to share my experiences and help students find their pathways to personal success. Advising allows for me to share the knowledge that I have gained and hopefully create opportunities for students to thrive in their college career."
“Everything negative - pressures, challenges - is all an opportunity for me to rise.” ― Kobe Bryant

Linda Safer

Transfer Coordinator

About Linda:
Linda was born and raised in Turlock, California, located here in the Central Valley. Linda attended Chico State University and received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with minors in Career & Life Planning and Family Relations. When she's not advising students, she is spending time with her loved ones, reading a good book, or soaking up the sun with her fur baby, Gigi!
"As a first-generation college student, I depended heavily on campus resources to help me succeed in school. My advisors, mentors, and professors played a huge role in my academic success. Being able to take the knowledge I learned from them and my own educational journey and share it with students is so rewarding. I love being able to empower students and see them make their dreams a reality."
"You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously." – Sophia Bush

Carolyn Barranco

Student Engagement Coordinator

About Carolyn:

Carolyn Barranco is originally from Los Angeles California. Carolyn graduated from UC Merced with a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. She then pursued graduate school at Fresno State University, where she completed a master’s in student Affairs and College Counseling. During her free time, she enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her furry companions or exploring the intricacies of the city. She prides herself in her accomplishments being a first-generation Latina college student and hopes that she leads the way for more diverse student populations to also pursue higher education opportunities.

"I developed a passion for advising as it allows me the opportunity to interact with students of diverse backgrounds and encourage them to pursue an education. During our 1:1 sessions I get to learn from them and what aspires them to push through life’s adversities."

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein

Valeria Salcedo Lomeli

Academic Advisor

About Valeria:
Valeria Salcedo Lomeli grew up in the Central Valley in the small town of Modesto, California. She is an alumnus of the University of California, Davis where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Chicana/o Studies. She then earned her Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership & Policy Studies from California State University, Sacramento.
"As a first-generation student myself, interacting with students from diverse backgrounds is such a rewarding experience. I love that my job allows me to support students in helping them reach their academic and professional goals. I firmly believe that every student can reach their fullest potential if they are given the opportunity to do so. Empowering and serving students (especially those from underrepresented communities like myself) makes my job worthwhile."
“Success is its own reward, but failure is a great teacher too, and not to be feared.” – Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Evelyn Cardona

Academic Advisor

About Evelyn:
Born and raised in Merced County, near UC Merced, Evelyn is an alumnus of Fresno Pacific University, go Sunny the Sunbird! There, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, specializing in Organizational Leadership. With a career in higher education that began in 2014, she is passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of students everyday. 
"I discovered early on that I had a passion for working in higher education, which changed the trajectory of my career. Working with students is incredibly rewarding because not only do I get to be a part of their academic journey and witness their success and overall growth, but I also get to be the voice of encouragement—reminding them that with courage and determination, they can do anything they set their minds to."

Elizabeth Whitmyre

Academic Advisor, Degree Completion Program

About Elizabeth:
Elizabeth was born and raised in San Jose, California. After moving to Merced, California, Elizabeth attended Merced College and CSU Stanislaus and received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Mathematics from CSU Stanislaus. She then dedicated 12 years to teaching mathematics and advising students in the A.V.I.D. program. When she’s not working, she enjoys reading, watching The Office, baking cookies, and working out with her friends.

“I found through my teaching career that I have a passion for helping students discover and develop their own strengths and empowering them to be independently successful in their academic careers. It’s an honor to be a part of each student’s journey and to help provide resources and be a guide that will allow students to bring their own goals and dreams to life. I love that UC Merced is dedicated to celebrating and embracing the diversity of its student and community population.”

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretsky” – Michael Scott

Maria Sifuentes

Academic Advisor, Degree Completion Program

About Maria:
Born and Raised in Merced, Maria is very familiar about this thriving community. She is an alumnus of Merced College, where she earned her Associates in Psychology and Social &Behavioral Sciences. Then transferred to our very own University of California, Merced where she earned her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with Minor in Sociology. Then received her Masters of Arts in School Counseling with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential from Fresno Pacific University.
“I find advising to be a fulfilling experience on assisting students with the resources and tools to grow academically while also providing them with support and encouragement to continue striving for their overall goals. To be able to have that positive impact on a student’s pathway is my motivation to keep moving forward. From being able to take on my own educational journey of ups and downs, I am passionate about sharing my knowledge to help students be aware of their own potential regarding academic and personal success."
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” – Dwayne Johnson