Our People

Meet the AESSS Staff

Valerie Embry Valerie Embry, Director

Valerie comes from a low income and first generation urban background and is a person with a disability. She is the parent of two young, adorable children; a boy and a girl.  She completed her master’s degree in educational guidance and counseling while a single parent of two kinship children. She has also completed coursework towards a master’s in College Student Personnel Administration along with coursework in American Sign Language.  Her work experience at CU includes service as Assistant Director of both the Admission Office and the Office of Financial Aid, the start-up Coordinator of the Dennis Small Cultural Center where she coordinated special programs for disadvantaged students and held financial aid training for community service workers. She has served as a national TRiO trainer in counseling, program regulations, disability, and new director assistance.

Valerie is well versed in the education of disadvantaged populations and has served as a presenter/trainer in numerous forums on and off campus, locally as well as nationally. She has co-written a notetaking services guidelines manual with Betty Becker that has been shared with other programs across the country. She has initiated cooperative programming with campus departments to make resources more available to low-income, first generation, and students with disabilities. Valerie is a recipient of the CU Equity and Excellence Staff award and has been honored as a Woman Who Makes a Difference by the CU Women’s Resource Center.  She brings over 25 years of experience to SASC.

Debra Naranjo

Debra Naranjo, Assistant Director
Debra is a second-generation Colorado native.  She is the youngest of ten children from a low-income family, and the first person to complete a college degree in her entire family.  Her life experience led her to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State University, with a focus on Adolescent Development.  Like many students from similar backgrounds, Debra chose to pursue a career in the private sector in order to earn a stable income.  After several years of doing so that included a move to Minneapolis; she realized that following her passion for helping others and giving back to those like her were more important than money.  She left her high paying job work with TANF families, before networking her way into her new career with TRiO programs.  She began by working with inner city high school students through the University of Minnesota Upward Bound program, and returned to Colorado to work with adolescents and adults through Colorado State University’s Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) program in Adams County.  Debra has been the Assistant Director for the Academic Excellence Student Support Services program since September of 2009.

Kathie Sharp Kathie Sharp, Administrative Assistant
Kathie Sharp is our Administrative Assistant. Before coming to CU, her most recent positions included database cataloger at the Hawaii Medical Library and ASA Sailing Instructor. She has lived all over the United States, holding positions as librarian, office work as a personnel assistant, contact representative, computer assistant and contracts administrator. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S. in Conservation. Previous large university affiliations include the University of California, San Diego.
Kelly Lloyd Kelly Lloyd, Retention Specialist
Kelly Lloyd PhotoKelly never saw herself working in higher education as her undergraduate degree was in child development and her first fulltime professional position was with youth services with Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. Returning to complete a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University in counseling, she launched into a new career in higher education. Over her 18 years in higher education, Kelly has held a variety of roles including academic advisor, director of an academic learning center, instructor for freshmen year experience courses and multiple positions in athletic administration. Her journey has had her at small private institutions and large public universities including Northern Arizona University, University of New Mexico and College of Santa Fe. In addition to holding her formal roles, she has been involved with facilitating and developing team building workshops and leadership seminars for diverse student groups across campus and higher education professionals.

Kelly holds a bachelor of science degree in Child Development and Family Relations from the University of Arizona and a master’s of education in Counseling/Student Personal from Northern Arizona University.
Brett Madsen

Brett Madsen, Graduate Mentor
Brett Madsen is the Academic Excellence Program Graduate Mentor.  He works individually with students in matters ranging from registration to career aspirations, with a time management lecture thrown in regularly.  He runs TASC – the TRiO Advanced Study Community – which helps underclassmen learn about graduate school via workshops, group discussions, one-on-one counseling, and ultimately a semester-long research project through the university's Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program.

When he's not doing any of that, he's probably writing music on the way to his doctorate in composition at the college of music.  He is drawn to abstract art music for the jet-setting lifestyle synonymous with modern academic composition.  In the meantime, he is watching football, and will be happy to talk with you about his beloved Miami Hurricanes for as many hours as you can spare.

He received his BM from the University of Miami and his MM from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Tina Do, Imani Haupt, Daisy Ngo, Thy Nguyen, Shimshon Rappaport—Peer Mentors
Peer Mentors