Our People

Meet the AESSS Staff

Loretta Wahl, Interim Director

Transitions are a natural part of life. Between the beginning and the end of our lives are numerous transitions; some great, others small. Some that will bring insurmountable joy and some that may cause doubt. My goal is to support students' successful academic and cultural transitions to the university during their first year, through graduation and beyond. My aspiration, throughout my life and especially during my career in human service and education, has been to guide and support others to reach their full academic, personal or professional potential. TRiO Student Support Services is known nationally for its excellence in supporting successful transitions into college, graduate school or a career.  In addition, the legacy of TRiO programs is providing access to higher education for students who are first in the families to attend college, low-income, have disability or who have homelessness or foster care.  As a first-generation college student, it is an honor to work in SASC and to serve students in the TRiO SSS-Academic Excellence Program.

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.

Tiya Ashantia, Graduate Assistant
My name is Tiya Ashantia and I am originally from New York, but spent the majority of my life in Colorado Springs.  I was raised by a single mother and always aspired to go to college right after graduating high school, but my dreams were deferred due to being teen mother.  I worked and attended a Community College, but my life was not going in the direction I needed or wanted it to, so I moved with my two sons to Longmont, CO and shortly after I earned my Associate's Degree from Front Range Community College in psychology and theater.  I graduated FRCC and started attending CU.  Once I got acclimated with campus I realized I was in the wrong field and changed my major from psychology to Ethnic Studies and Theater and ended up minoring in Women and Gender Studies.  I was so amazed at all of the information that I was receiving in the classroom that I wanted to get more involved with CU's community, especially with under-represented communities. 

In order to get more involved I started acting in the Interactive Theater Project, became the Student Assistant for Outreach and Diversity in the Ethnic Studies Department, wrote a proposal to be funded to go to Dartmouth for a Black Theatricality Conference, started a student group called Eye Resist and even brought a documentary called As We Forgive to campus.  The skills that I learned throughout my classes and employment will assist me in graduate position here in SASC.  
I am very excited to share my knowledge of workshops, community building, networking, reading and editing papers, cooking/shopping on a budget and even, role playing with the students of SASC.  For the past two years I have pursued my Masters Degree in Education (Educational Foundations Practice and Policy) and am currently in my last semester. I have also worked at a treatment facility for girls assisting them with day to day life as well as showing them what an education can do for you.  With that said I come to SASC ready to assist students with reaching and achieving their goals within the educational system and outside of it.  I am open to teaching and learning from students and staff, so if you ever have any questions, comments or concerns let's break bread.
peace, love, happiness and many blessings
always tiya ashantia

Urooj Raja, Graduate Assistant
Urooj Raja is a PhD candidate in environmental sociology studying natural and manmade disasters. She is also a Research Assistant at the Natural Hazards Center housed within the Institute of Behavior Sciences.  Prior to this, she was a Research Analyst at Climate Central, a research and news organization headquartered in Princeton. She has worked as an adviser to country and transnational missions to the United Nations, where she advised delegations on economic, humanitarian, and environmental issues. Previously she worked as an instructor in Columbia University’s Community Impact initiative, the Harlem Children’s Zone and as a Community Liaison for a New York State Assembly Member. From Bronx, NY, she is an avid Yankees fan. She graduated from Princeton University with honors and majored in history. 

Interests: Research Design, Survey Design, Archival Research, Statistical Coding, GIS, Career Development Advice, Political and Social Organizing: Issue Orientation, Blueprinting Courses at CU to Maximize Material Retention
Tina Do, Imani Haupt, Daisy Ngo, Thy Nguyen, Shimshon Rappaport—Peer Mentors
Peer Mentors