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Meet Our Counseling Staff & Faculty

Michael Schwarz

Michael Schwarz.

Interim Dean, Student Services
Phone: 925.424.1412
mschwarz@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 Q

  • Ph.D., Higher Education, Indiana University
  • M.A., Counseling, University of San Diego
  • B.A., Psychology, University of California, Davis
  • A.A., Liberal Arts, Santa Rosa Junior College

Michael has worked at Las Positas College since 2006, when he joined the counseling faculty as Transfer Center director, counselor, and instructor. As a former community college student who participated in the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program with UC Davis, he is passionate about helping community college students achieve their educational goals. Prior to joining LPC, Michael worked at the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), as a counselor at UC Davis, as a counselor/instructor with San Diego Mesa College and Santa Rosa Junior College, and in bank operations at multiple financial institutions. He recently completed a doctorate in Higher Education, focusing his research on student engagement outside of the classroom and its impact on transfer student success. When not working, Michael enjoys spending time with his family, sports, outdoor activities, and travel. Michael currently serves as the Interim Dean of Student Services, and is excited to be part of the administrative team at LPC.

Ginger Ripplinger

Ginger Ripplinger.

Administrative Assistant to the Dean, Student Services
Phone: 925.424.1421
gripplinger@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 P

  • A.A., Chabot College – Commercial Art
  • Certificate, Chabot College – Photography

Ginger Ripplinger has worked at Las Positas College for five years as the assistant to the Dean of Student Services. She has served on the executive team of SEIU and on Classified Senate. She previously worked at Chabot College where she won the Chancellor’s Award for her work in producing videos for Distance Education.

Her most memorable time in college would be the 25 years she worked in the Chabot College Television studio starting as a student assistant then being hired on as full time staff. She produced, shot, directed and edited videos to support education including distance education programs, college sports, theater productions and college news. Her degree in Commercial Art helped her design graphics and animations for the videos. She won four Telly Awards, two BACE, a WAVE, Videographer’s Award, hometown video award and received a Cable Ace nomination for videos she directed. She has four magazine articles to her credit in “Television Technology” and “Video Toaster User” magazine about software used in developing graphics for television. She co-produced and directed the “Video Latino en Concierto” concert series. This was a Spanish language singing contest used to raise money for Latino student scholarships in collaboration with Univision and KSOL radio. She also directed “Lo Mero, Mero” an English/Spanish language show highlighting the Latino culture. Additionally, in collaboration with DSPS, she directed and edited “Spotlight on Disabilities”, a show dedicated to highlighting the issues and accomplishments of the able challenged community.

Celeste Rowe

Celeste Rowe.

Counseling Assistant
Phone: 925.424.1478
crowe@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 Front Office

Cindy Robinson

Counseling Assistant
Phone: 925.424.1416
crobinson@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 Front Office

  • A.A., Las Positas College – Liberal Arts & Science with emphasis in Social Science

Cindy has worked in the Counseling Office as a full-time Counselor Assistant since 2016. Prior to this, she worked in the Counseling Office and the Student Services Department as a Student Assistant from 2009-2011. Currently, Cindy is working on earning her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Business from California State University East Bay.

Outside of work Cindy enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering. She is a mother to four children and a proud grandmother of three. Cindy is very active in her home community with women’s groups and single parent groups.

Kimberly Burks

Counselor
Phone: 925.424.1437
kburks@laspositascollege.edu

  • M.A., Saint Mary’s College – Counseling
  • Registered Professional Clinical Counseling Intern (PCCI)
  • B.S., San Francisco State University – Business Administration (Accounting)

After building a career in designing and managing global learning programs in high-tech and biotech industries, Kimberly shifted careers to follow her passion in counseling. Kimberly started her career in counseling and teaching at LPC in 2015. In effort to support college access and equity, Kimberly co-coordinates the Umoja learning community, a two-semester student success program. Kimberly enjoys meeting the needs of Bay Area communities in a variety of capacities, such as currently serving on the board of Santa Clara based non-profit, Jump into Writing (serving K-14), creating a program to treat depression and alcohol abuse in Contra Costa County that was funded $1,000,000 through an innovation grant, and providing free career services to Santa Clara and San Mateo County residents (2009 – 2014).

Kimberly’s favorite hobbies are playing piano and traveling domestically and internationally. She said that serving the great students of Las Positas College is a dream come true and she can’t think of a better place to live out this dream.

Gabriela Discua

Counselor
Phone: 925.424.1486
gdiscua@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 N

  • M.S., San Francisco State University – Counseling
  • B.A., California State University Hayward – Human Development

Gabriela has been a full-time counselor and instructor at Las Positas since fall 2014. She is bi-cultural and bi-lingual (English/Spanish). Gabriela provides academic, career and personal counseling in both languages, and enjoys working with students from diverse backgrounds on a one-to-one basis to help develop a successful academic experience. As a counselor, Gabriela works closely with ESL students, provides online counseling services, and teaches the Psychology-Counseling 30 – Student Success and the College Experience course. Prior to Las Positas College, Gabriela worked at Chabot College, Laney College, Merritt College and College of Alameda as a part-time counselor for various learning communities & special programs including Centro Latino, TRIO, Adelante, APASS, Gateway to College, and General Counseling, as well as the One-Stop-Career center. Her past career included Case-Management services with parenting teenagers throughout Alameda County & leading high school groups. On her space time you can find her enjoying time with her family, and attending cultural events in the community.

Joel Gagnon

Joel Gagnon.

Counselor
Phone: 925.424.1439
jgagnon@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 T

  • B.A., University of California at Santa Barbara – Business Economics
  • M.A., Saint Mary’s College of California – M.A. Counseling

Joel Gagnon started working at LPC in 2011. His responsibilities include counseling student athletes and general students regarding their personal, academic and career related issues. He enjoys teaching Psychology Counseling 8 – Theories and Concepts of Group Process, as well as Psychology- Counseling 13 - Multicultural Issues in Contemporary America. When he’s not working he enjoys spending time in the outdoors and relaxing with his family. If he could give one piece of advice to his college aged self, it would be to read more.

Heike Gecox

Heike Gecox.

Counselor
Phone: 925.424.1436
hgecox@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 J

Kent Gomez

Counselor
Phone: 925.424.1485
kgomez@laspositascollege.edu

  • M.S., San Francisco State University – Counseling
  • B.A., California State University, Stanislaus – Psychology
  • A.A., Mission College – General Studies

In Fall of 2016, Kent joined Las Positas College as a general academic counselor. As an immigrant from the Philippines, Kent speaks Tagalog and Bisaya (Filipino languages). Kent has a community-based approach to helping students, drawing on the unique strengths of the community where the student belongs to empower them to achieve their goals and give back. Kent teaches Psychology-Counseling 30 - Student Success and Experiences, Psychology-Counseling 15 - College Study Skills, and Psychology 1 - General Psychology.

Kent’s most memorable experience in college happens every semester when he witnesses a community developing in his class. Believing that failure is important to success, Kent’s advice to college students is: DUST YOURSELF OFF AND TRY AGAIN. To Kent, college is like a marathon. It takes a lot of preparation, hard work, self-monitoring, and patience. The journey is long and often painful, but the process is, ultimately, rewarding!

Jared Howard

Counselor/HSI G2S Counselor
Phone: 925.424.1473
jhoward@laspositascollege.edu

  • M.A., San Jose State University – Counselor Education
  • B.A., University of California at Berkeley – Sociology
  • A.A., Chabot College – Liberal Arts

Jared Howard is currently serving as the counselor for the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Gateway to Success (G2S) program at Las Positas College. Jared has been a full-time counselor at Las Positas College since 2016, but has been a part of the Las Positas family since 2011 serving a number of different functions. He comes with counseling and teaching experience from a number of Bay Area Community Colleges, including Diablo Valley College, Santa Rosa Junior College, Ohlone College, and Merritt College.

As a former community college student, Jared has a clear sense of what it takes to get through the community college degree and transfer process! Make sure you schedule a time to meet!

Christina Lee

Christina Lee.

Counselor
Phone: 925.424.1484
clee@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 S

  • M.S., San Francisco State University – Counseling
  • B.A., University of California at Berkeley – Political Science

Christina Lee has been a counseling faculty at LPC since 2006. She provides academic, career and personal counseling services to all students at LPC. Christina also enjoys teaching Psychology Counseling 10 - Career & Educational Planning and Psychology Counseling 13 - Multicultural Issues in America courses. Christina appreciates and welcomes the opportunity to work with students from all diverse backgrounds and experiences to help them reach their educational and career goals. In her spare time, she likes to read, try out new cooking recipes, and garden.

Marina Lira

Counselor
Phone: 925.424.1400
mlira@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 B

  • M.S.W., UC Berkeley - Social Welfare
  • B.A/B.A, Sonoma State University - Criminology and American Multicultural Studies
  • A.S., Santa Rosa Junior College - Liberal Arts and Sciences

Marina began her community college career in 2005 where she has served in various capacities as a counselor, instructor and program coordinator. She joined the LPC counseling team in 2011 as the Puente instructor/counselor/coordinator and Articulation Officer, and currently serves as the Articulation Officer and as a general counselor/instructor. While her background also includes supporting students as a Financial Aid and Transfer counselor, she is most impassioned by her time supporting students in special programs such as Puente, EOPS and CalWORKs. She also enjoys teaching Psychology-Counseling courses such as Multicultural Issues in America, Study Skills, University Transfer Planning and Student Success and the College Experience. Prior to embarking on her community college career, Marina worked with Migrant Education supporting at-risk, first generation, second language students and their families with their transition from high school to college.

When asked about what she likes most about counseling, Marina said, “I most enjoy providing a source of support and guidance for students while instilling hope and confidence in those who may be overwhelmed with the process of navigating college culture and the system of higher education. It is truly an honor to help shape the life of a student and to watch them grow, develop and succeed.”

Rafael Valle

Rafael Valle.

Counselor
Phone: 925.424.1483
rvalle@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 M

  • B.S., San Francisco State University - Business Administration & Computer Information System
  • M.S., Capella University - Psychology with Specialization in Counseling Psychology

Rafael Valle started at LPC as a counseling intern in 2010, and was hired as a full-time counselor in 2014. He worked with the Puente Program and in general counseling for the first three years. In 2016, he transitioned as Director of the HSI Gateway to Success (G2S) program. He teaches several courses as required in the Puente program, but also enjoys teaching Psychology Counseling 13 - Multicultural Issues in America and Psychology-Counseling 30 – Student Success and the College Experience. Prior to working at LPC, Rafael spent three years working at Skyline College also as the Puente counselor. Simultaneously he was the Director of the Tri-Valley One Stop Career Center. And prior to that, he worked for a little bit over ten years in the financial field, more specifically in the brokerage and banking industry.

Rafael’s most extraordinary moments in his counseling career have been attending his Puente Northern California Regional Conferences. Rafael said that having an opportunity to collaborate with individuals of similar backgrounds, and who overcame similar challenges, was very rewarding. He said his involvement with the Puente Program was extremely memorable because everyone had the same goal of making higher education more accessible and a better place.

Angella VenJohn

Angella VenJohn.

Counselor/ Student Interventions Developer
Phone: 925.424.1476
avenjohn@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 R

  • M.S., California State University, Sacramento - Counseling
  • B.S., University of Iowa – Sociology

Angella joined LPC in 1998 as Student Interventions Developer & Counselor. Her responsibilities included developing programs that help students be successful. She has spent much of her time researching student success best practices, and putting several of those strategies into practice in programs here at LPC. Some of her areas of expertise are Positive Psychology, Growth Mindset, & Grit. Angella also enjoys teaching Psychology-Counseling 30 - Student Success and Experiences, Psychology-Counseling 10 – Career and Education Planning. Angella enjoys working with a variety of student groups including basic skills, new and returning students, career/technical and transfer students, and students who are on probation and dismissal status. Before joining LPC, Angella worked as a social worker with foster youth in Sacramento and Napa.

In her spare time, Angella likes to hike the trails in the Bay area, read, travel to Europe, attend the theater, and workout at her favorite gym- Orange Theory Fitness!

Michelle Zapata

Michelle Zapata.

Counselor/Transfer Center Director
Phone: 925.424.1487
mzapata@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1616 F

  • M.A., Saint Mary’s College of California – Counseling
  • M.P.A., University of Washington – Public Administration
  • B.A., University of California at Berkeley – Political Science

Michelle Zapata started at LPC as a counseling intern in 2010, and was hired as a full-time counselor in 2014. She worked in the CalWORKs Program, and now works with students in general counseling and with transfer students as the Transfer Center Director. She also enjoys teaching Psychology Counseling 18 – University Transfer Planning. Prior to working at LPC, Michelle spent three years working at Diablo Valley College in Student Life, and prior to that, she worked for nearly ten years as a policy analyst with the U.S. Congress.

Her most memorable moment in college would be as a participant in UC Berkeley’s Chicano/Latino graduation ceremony. Michelle said that it was a powerful experience sitting among about 200 other Cal graduates who had similar backgrounds and challenges as her, yet were all celebrating their accomplishments together! Her advice to other first-generation college students would be to surround yourself with a support group of peers and experienced college professionals. She said that it’s important to find allies who can provide resources and help you navigate the college maze! She believes that all students can be successful. Stop by the Transfer Center to say hi!

Susan Hiraki

Susan Hiraki.

Counselor Emeritus
shiraki@laspositascollege.edu

 

Elisa Castro

Part Time

 

Nadia Dadgar

Part Time

 

Doris Garcia

Part Time

 

Eric Handy

Part Time
ehandy@laspositascollege.edu

 

Sharon Hope

Sharon Hope.

Part Time
shope@laspositascollege.edu

 

Leanna Jack

Part Time

 

Chelsea Kubischta

Part Time
ckubischta@laspositascollege.edu

 

Kristin Moore

Part Time

 

Marcelo Sanchez Heredia

Part Time msanchezheredia@laspositascollege.edu

 

Todd Steffan

Part Time
tsteffan@laspositascollege.edu

 

Email a Counselor
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Student Handbook
2017-2018

Counseling Appointment Schedule

Can start scheduling an appointment

August
Drop-in only
September
8/28 for September
October
9/25 for October
November
10/30 for November
December
Drop-in only

 

Counseling Department

Office Hours & Contact Info:

Monday
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday
9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Wednesday
9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Thursday
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Friday
9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Closed: weekends & holidays

Call Us: 925.424.1400

Fax: 925.424.1402

Building 1600, First Floor