195 South Central Campus Dr
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112
Amy Bergerson, Director
It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I packed my boxes and headed off to college. Once the boxes were unpacked, the roommates met, and my brother had driven away, I realized that there was a whole lot more to going to college than getting in and getting there. For some reason, that hadn’t crossed my mind before that moment. And, I learned that first semester that college wasn’t a cakewalk. Figuring out how to study at the college level, trying to imagine who I would be when my college journey was complete, and the pressures of working, making friends, and navigating a new environment all made for a challenging semester. Thanks to the special attention of one faculty member, I began to get my feet under me, and eventually I grew to love it so much that I’ve spent the rest of my 25-year career working at colleges and universities.The University of Utah’s Student Success and Empowerment Initiative is here to help you navigate many of the same challenges I faced many years ago – along with new ones that grow from our use of technology, the increasing size of our campus, and the growing diversity among you and your peers. Our Student Success Advocates are your guides to the college experience. They listen to your story and help you find the best ways to enhance your time on campus. They assist you in knowing what questions to ask now as well as when you plan for your future. They offer you a personalized attention that is rare on large campuses like ours.
All of us here at the Student Success and Empowerment Initiative want you to know that we value what you contribute to our campus. Our community benefits greatly when you find your niche on campus and develop a sense of belonging on our campus. And, in the process of creating your meaningful Utah experience, you benefit as well. We’re here to assist as you navigate the many ways you can leave your mark on the University of Utah, and we can’t wait to see what you imagine….and then do while you’re here!
195 South Central Campus Dr.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0511
Juan Rios, Administrative Assistant
When I first moved to Utah I only expected to be here for four years to do my undergrad. I chose to come to Utah because I had previously vacationed here and loved the scenery here. When I first moved here adapting to life was a bit hard. I was use to a very fast paced lifestyle and the beach was only 15 minutes away. Utah was the opposite, landlocked state and a much slower lifestyle. But over time I found new surroundings and adventures in the mountains. That’s probably the one thing I love the most about the U, everywhere you look, you have amazing views. As an undergrad I had no idea what I wanted to major in, I knew I wanted to major in business or law (I wish the Student Success & Empowerment Initiative was around when I was in school). While working on the pre-requisites for the business major I discovered marketing and public relations and fell in love with them. I’m lucky that in my current position I get to dabble in some marketing and P.R. projects.
In my free time I like to travel, go camping, watch movies, go running with my dog, and explore the great outdoors.
Sydney Magana, Intern & Lead Student Success Outreach Ambassador
I am a senior at the University of Utah completing a Human Development and Family Studies major, Leadership Studies minor and a Positive Psychology certificate. I have been involved with the Student Success and Empowerment Initiative (SSEI) for three years, serving as Intern and Lead Ambassador. Through my work with SSEI, I have discovered my passion for pursuing a career in higher education and more specifically, for college student retention and success. I helped create and implement the Student Success Outreach Ambassador Program and further developed my skills as a leader in this role.
As a first generation college student, Sydney has experienced and therefore understands how difficult and intimidating it can be to navigate college, especially during a time when you can feel completely alone. Working with SSEI has made me realize that all students have their own story to share. Sharing my story with the SSEI team provided me with a place of belonging on campus.
Interning with the Student Success Advocates (SSA) is such a fun and inspirational way to give back to campus life and to help students succeed. I admire this program and appreciate their overall mission of supporting students in making the most of their experience at the U. Connecting with an SSA establishes a great support system to have during your time at the U and it will be one of the best decisions you make as an undergraduate student.
Andrew Tsai, Outreach Ambassador
After completing elementary school in Taiwan, I moved to San Diego for middle school and high school. I attended the University of California, Santa Cruz for two years before transferring to Snow College and then the University of Utah. I am currently pursuing a computer science degree. It’s been an experience that I really enjoy even if I struggle a lot. My goals at U, besides getting a degree, are to polish my work ethic and make great friends.
In my free time I enjoy outdoor activities like rock climbing, backpacking, and biking. When the weather isn’t permitting, I like cooking, reading, and gaming. I’m always motivated to try new activities though!
As an Outreach Ambassador I want to connect my peers to resources that they may not know about in order to help them succeed as students at this school and in life. Our Student Success Advocates are incredibly knowledgeable in multiple disciplines and areas of student life. I’m fluent in Mandarin Chinese, too, so please don’t hesitate to ask me questions.
Dalys Leyva, Outreach Ambassador
My name is Odalys Leyva, and I am currently a Junior majoring in Health Promotion and Education with a Community emphasis. I have been working with the SSEI team for a year now, and I absolutely love it. Being part of the initiative has given me the opportunity to explore different options and to grow as a student and a leader. I love being able to make a difference in people’s lives and this initiative helps me do just that.
In my spare time I enjoy reading a good book and hanging out with my family and my two dogs, Bobby and Lucas. I am excited to be able to continue my amazing journey at the University of Utah, and I look forward to meeting you soon!
Derek Young, Outreach Ambassador
Hi, my name is Derek Young, and I am a transfer senior studying Biology with a Cell and Molecular emphasis. My career goals possibly include medical school, pharmacy school, or maybe even graduate school in Biology. All I know is that I want to continue my education because I absolutely love to learn. Education has always been an important thing to me, and I believe that it will be life-long pursuit.
I am originally from Price, Utah where I was born and raised. After high school, I attended USU Eastern, a junior college in Price. I then decided that I wanted to continue my education and that the University of Utah was the best place for me. Transferring from a small junior college to such a large campus like the U was a huge transition for me in everything from schoolwork to living in the big city. I was fortunate enough to come into contact with the Student Success Advocates through a transfer social that I attended. After that, I began meeting with an SSA every couple of weeks.
Having someone that I knew I could talk to and ask questions of was such an amazing thing. It is extremely easy to feel lost and overwhelmed when coming to such a large school. But knowing that you have someone to talk to about anything that you need help with, is something that should be utilized and not overlooked. Everyone should try and meet with an SSA so that they can get the most out of their college experience here at the U! I hope to do my best to help students in their transition to the U whether it be incoming students, transfer students or current students.
In my spare time, I absolutely love anything that has to do with sports. I enjoy playing and watching baseball, basketball, and golf. I have also recently begun to immerse myself in the rich variety of outdoor activities Utah has to offer, especially fishing, hiking and camping. I am also very passionate about music and have had a recent revival in playing the piano.
Halah Kahn, Outreach Ambassador
Hi my name is Halah Khan! I am a sophomore and the University of Utah studying a self-created major in Medical Humanities. I was raised in Utah and decided to stay in-state for college because I can’t seem to leave the mountains. I spend most of my free time playing with my goats and chickens on my family farm. I enjoy exploring other cultures, learning new languages, and volunteering to help people in my community. If I had an infinite amount of money I would travel all over South America.
On campus I am also involved with the BlockU program as a peer mentor for the Medical Humanities class and The United in Service for Humanity University (Utah Chapter) as the organization’s secretary. This is my first year as part of the Student Success Empowerment Initiative. Though I am new to the program, I do have personal experience with a Student Success Advocate. During my first year of college my SSA really helped me navigate the campus and needed resources. I wouldn’t hold half the positions I do on campus without my SSA. My ultimate goal this year is to help students find the right SSA for them who will lead them to success as my SSA has done for me!
Leigh Seeley, Outreach Ambassador
Hi! I’m Leigh Seeley, and I am a Junior in the Mining Engineering program! I have lived in Utah all my life, and I currently live in Salt Lake with my two dogs. I love to read a lot of books, and if asked what my favorite would be, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I have so many! I really like being with my family, especially when we pull out the board or card games. I enjoy watching old movies with stars such as Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn and Danny Kaye. Music artists such as Journey, Michele Branch, Fleetwood Mac, and Belinda Carlisle are frequently found on my music playlist while I do homework, work in my yard, or just chill in my room.
I am looking forward to serving as a Student Success Outreach Ambassador and having the opportunity to help other students become successful during their college experience. College can be hard. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone who can support you during the tough times? I want to help others as others have helped me.
Mandy Mabe, Outreach Ambassador
I am currently a junior planning to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Health, Society and Policy. I am working towards a career as a healthcare professional and spend a lot of time volunteering with hospitals and clinics.
Before I was at the U, I went to a community college to complete my general education requirements. While I enjoyed my time there, I did not collect the necessary skills for success at the university level. I went from being a big fish in a little pond, to a fish in the ocean. I spent the first half of my first semester at the U in a confused state trying to adjust to the university level. Luckily, I met with a counselor who told me about the Student Success Outreach Ambassador program. I decided to apply, and after the interview, I decided that a Student Success Advocate was the resource I needed to maximize my potential and be successful. With the help of my SSA, I adjusted to the university lifestyle and utilized different resources that contributed to my first successful semester.
I became an Outreach Ambassador because it allows me to help others in similar situations. Success is possible for every student and I look forward to helping you!