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Mario Chacon, EOPS/CARE, NextUp & CalWORKs, Associate Dean
Maria De La Cruz, EOPS & CARE Program Specialist
Jacqueline Valenzuela, EOPS Administrative Assistant
Pearl Lopez, EOPS & CARE Counselor/Coordinator


Dr. Pearl Lopez is a former EOPS student and former EOPS student worker who now serves as the Department Chair. She is a first-generation college student and is familiar with the many struggles EOPS students experience. She gives EOPS a lot of credit for her success and wants to return the favor by helping EOPS students. After receiving her Associate's Degree from Grossmont College, Pearl transferred to SDSU and completed her Bachelor's degree in English with an Applied Linguistics Certificate. She then obtained her Master's degree at SDSU in Counseling through the Community Based Block program with an emphasis in multicultural counseling. She received her doctorate degree from SDSU in 2014 in Educational Leadership. Pearl has been working for the Grossmont College District since 1993 in many different capacities. She has been an EOPS Counselor since 2004. Pearl also speaks, reads and writes Spanish fluently.  You can reach Pearl by emailing her at

Cintya Da Cruz, EOPS & CARE Counselor



Cintya Da Cruz is committed to supporting excellent educational opportunities to enhance access, success, and completion for all students. Her dedication to EOPS stems from her immigrant experience, her own journey in higher education, and her experience working with a diverse student population in the California Student Opportunity & Access Program (CalSOAP), a community college International program, general community college counseling, and from her years as an EOPS counselor in community colleges. She earned a Master of Science degree in Counseling with an emphasis on clinical and career counseling.  As a counselor, she prides herself on being a good listener and a student advocate, supporting and inspiring her students and mentoring first-generation college students as part of her commitment to multiculturalism, equity, and social justice. 

Cintya’s background as a community college student, formal education and training, and professional experiences have prepared her well to assist students as they navigate their educational and career paths to reach their goals and fulfill their dreams. You can reach Cintya by emailing her at

Michael Perez, EOPS & CARE Counselor/CARE Coordinator


Michael Perez transferred from Santa Barbara City College to San Diego State University where he earned a BS degree in Criminal Justice Administration. Michael returned to San Diego State obtained his MS in Counseling through the Community Based Block program with an emphasis in multicultural counseling and school counseling. Michael is the first in his family to graduate from college and has successfully demonstrated the ability to overcame many obstacles, which include a learning disability. He understands the many struggles students face today and strives to motivate and teach the skills necessary to assist students to obtain their educational and personal goals. He has been with Grossmont's EOPS program since September 2000. You can reach Michael by emailing him at

Christina Mora, CARE Adminstrative Assistant
Maite Valladolid, EOPS & CARECounselor


Maite Valladolid completed her bachelors at UC Santa Cruz with a Major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She received her Master’s degree at SDSU in Education with a focus on multicultural counseling. She is married and has two beautiful daughters. Maite has a diverse work experience, working with different populations and age groups. She has worked in the legal Juvenile department, taught English as a second language in Mexico to Kindergarteners and adults, supervised large after-school programs for elementary children, counseled at-risk youth, and provided parent education. She has lived, worked and traveled to many different communities which have allowed her to see a variety of lifestyles, injustices, and struggles individuals face on a daily basis. She truly believes an education is a powerful thing that no one can ever take away from you! That is why Maite has joined Grossmont College and the EOPS family to help create a positive community and to support each and every one of you in achieving your personal and academic goals despite ALL of the hardships you encounter. You can reach Maite by emailing her at

Brian Woolsey, EOPS & CARE Counselor/NextUp Coordinator
Sam Rigby, NextUp Program Specialist
Sylvia Montejano, EOPS & CARE Counselor
Jamila Schmidt, EOPS & CARE Counselor
Jim Tolbert, EOPS & CARE Counselor
Hadassah Nations, EOPS Counselor/Transition to Sucess Coordinator


Hadassah Nations started as a student at Grossmont College in 1998. Since then she has earned both traditional and non-traditional degrees. She earned a bachelor’s in Religious Studies with a minor in Psychology & Philosophy, and a master’s in Education & Counseling from San Diego State University. That led to her becoming a counselor here in 2005. Hadassah’s non-traditional degrees and certifications are in Life Coaching, Naturopathy, Yoga Therapy, and Quantum Medicine. She combines these fields of study to transform lives through holistic health and peak performance training. She enjoys supporting students with these unique skills in one on one counseling sessions and workshops. Hadassah credits the counselors and instructors she met along the way to her success. They had a profound impact on her life – just by their belief in her. She says her growth and development continues because of the gifts they passed along to her. You can reach Hadassah by emailing her at

“I get great satisfaction every time I get a chance to pay it forward, which is what I do every day I step foot on campus.”-Hadassah Nations

Ava Gill, EOPS, CARE & NextUP Counselor
Lorena Malo, EOPS & CARE Counselor

Lorean Malo completed her Clear Cross-Cultural Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at SDSU and an M.A. in Guidance Counseling with a PPS Credential at the University of Redlands. Lorena’s counseling career began in her late 20’s as an EOPS/CARE Counselor at Imperial Valley College. Her work has encompassed providing support services and guidance to first-generation college students from diverse economic, cultural backgrounds, interests and lifestyles. The on-going personal challenges and extraordinary resilience of the students in Lorena’s care keep her motivated, grounded and committed to exploring creative and innovative pathways that support their successful attainment of a college education.

Lorena’s expertise includes bilingual education, guidance counseling, teaching in K-12 and higher education, supervision of student teacher/counseling interns, establishing intersegmental collaborations, project development, and designing innovative outreach and retention programs for diverse student populations. This year Lorena completed her 18th year as a staff member at SDSU. She joined Grossmont College’s EOPS adjunct counseling team in the Spring of 2015. You can reach Lorena by emailing her at 

“It always seems impossible until it's done.” Nelson Mandela


Lina Kern, EOPS & CARE Counselor/SIP Coordinator



Lina Kern as a first-generation, low-income, young single mom she always questioned whether or not obtaining education was realistic. School became the place where she learned resiliency, strength, and courage as she fought to overcome every obstacle so she could provide to her children with a better life and more opportunity. After graduating from San Diego Mesa College with her Associate's in History and Psychology, she transferred to San Diego State University where she obtained her Bachelor's in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies and a certificate in an emphasis on social justice and advocacy. 

Using both her personal experience and formal education her dream and passion is to let every student know that anything is possible if we can just learn to trust the process. You are here for a reason and education is for everyone, Lina is a living proof. Lina thinks that we are all capable of amazing things, especially when we allow ourselves to be led by our dreams. We are all worthy of being here. You can reach Lina by emailing her at

And remember: "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." - Muhammed Ali

Last Updated: 07/11/2019
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