College Access & Success Ambassadors (CASA)

Ayesha Mohan


Hometown: Mount Pleasant, MI

Area of Study: Business/Computer Science

Why did you choose Michigan? I was involved in an outreach program named MREACH throughout my senior year of high school, which allowed me to visit the business school on campus, learn business concepts, and speak to real University of Michigan students about their experience at the University. Through this program, I learned that I felt a sense of community at Michigan and was drawn to this feeling when I was deciding where to go for college.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? Since I was introduced to the University through an outreach program, I love that CEO gives me the opportunity to engage and interact with other students and discuss the options for higher education. I also really enjoy working with my coworkers who share many of the same passions as I do.

Alex Maldonado

Hometown: Southwest Detroit, MI

Area of Study: Computer Engineering with a minor in Music

Why did you choose Michigan? I chose Michigan, because growing up I was able to experience many opportunities through different U of M programs. If it wasn’t for many of the engineering programs I did through Michigan while in middle and high school, I don’t know where I would be. Those programs allowed me to learn about things that weren’t taught in my academic classes. I really didn’t see myself going anywhere else but Michigan.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? I enjoy everyone’s company here at CEO. 

Brionna Coleman


Hometown: Saginaw, MI

Area of Study: Business Major, Minor in Community Action & Social Change

Why did you choose Michigan? My high school counselor had a huge influence on my decision to come to Michigan. It was not until senior year of high school that I thought about getting a degree in business and I knew that I wanted to stay in Michigan so we together looked at schools that would best suit me. Michigan was known for having a great business program and based on my strong academics my counselor and I thought that it would be a good fit. I was also blessed to have full ride scholarships to come here which was the icing on the cake.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? I am passionate about higher education so I love the fact that I get to work with people who have the same goals and aspirations as me and how it aligns to the work we do at CEO. I have been working with CEO since my freshman year and I have learned so much and have grown with the people that I work beside. The energy and personalities from everyone who works here is one of a kind; it makes me feel great about being here.

Evelyn Reyes


Hometown: Fresno, CA

Area of Study: Organizational Studies with a double minor in Business and Education for Empowerment

Why did you choose Michigan? I chose Michigan because the opportunity presented itself and I wanted to attend a prestigious university that would force me to step out of my comfort zone. People from all over the U.S and the world attend this institution, and I wanted to be at a place where I would have the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life. I also chose Michigan because of its “work hard, play hard” philosophy and its unique organizational studies program that LSA offers that met my academic needs and curiosity. 

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? It’s difficult to choose just one thing, but I would say what I enjoy the most are the people at CEO. This work space is filled with so many amazing and talented individuals that are passionate about educational outreach and want to truly make a positive impact on the community. Being surrounded by optimism and people who genuinely want to help you grow professionally and personally is something I truly value here at CEO.

Isha Shah

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

Area of Study: Business Administration with a minor in Law, Justice, and Social Change

Why did you choose Michigan? As a senior in high school, I always valued Michigan for its strong academics and school spirit. I was looking for a school that really emphasized the “work hard, play hard” mentality. As soon as I got in, I knew I would attend the University. At Michigan, I’ve noticed that my friends are very driven, yet always excited to go to football games or hang out.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? CEO is full of passionate and driven individuals. I truly feel like all my colleagues at CEO look out for another. Everyone is excited about giving students equal opportunities. I also love to interact with students and share my experiences!

Jillian Drzinski


Hometown: Grosse Ille, MI

Area of Study: Undeclared (International Studies and Economics, Minor- Education for Empowerment)

Why did you choose Michigan? Growing up, Michigan was always my dream school. I love meeting people, and Michigan’s large size with students from across the country and internationally drew me in. Michigan has an incredibly wide variety of prestigious programs, so I knew that I could find the right program(s) within Michigan. Lastly, I am really close to my family so it helped that Michigan is not too far from my home. I knew Michigan would present challenges, but i’ve always been someone who enjoys a bit of a challenge.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? I am inspired by the work done by CEO and everyone who is a part of it. Everything done at CEO is done with love and the people who work with CEO are genuine, kind, and caring people! Everyone works together for the success of the program, and ultimately the wellbeing of everyone involved. CEO offers a great support system both within the staff and through the outreach programs.I always feel welcome and motivated by my co-workers.

Nayef Taleb


Hometown: Dearborn Heights, MI

Area of Study: Sociology Major, Community Action and Social Change Minor

Why did you choose Michigan? I chose Michigan because it was the best school around me without being too far away from home. My sister and cousins graduated from Michigan and I felt I would be able to adapt to life at Michigan very well while keeping a connection with friends and family back home.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? I really enjoy being able to be a part of the outreach work done at CEO. From the campus visits to large scale projects, there is a lot of great work being done. Not only do I enjoy the being a part of the work, but acknowledging the people behind it. I see a lot of great leaders in CEO that have passion and commitment for the work that they do.

Salvador Vargas


Hometown: Detroit, MI

Area of Study: Political Science, potential minor in economics and Latinx studies

Why did you choose Michigan? Michigan was not my first choice, I had several soccer scholarships that were rescinded after I had a horrible fracture to my right foot senior year. Once I began to look into academic driven schools, UofM was by far the best institution that I got into. Also, when I was attending workshops and had communication with anyone from the university, they were always very helpful, made me feel very welcomed, and at home. Since my stay here, I can definitely say that Ann Arbor has become a second home.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? What I enjoy the most about CEO is definitely the people that I get to work with. Every time that I step into the office or I am around CEO colleagues, there is an abundance of high spirits and people’s willingness to have good conversations and help you grow. This is a stepping stone to becoming a better me.

Samala Cosey


Hometown: Chicago, IL

Area of Study: Undecided Business with a specialization in marketing and maybe a minor in Asian Language

Why did you choose Michigan? I chose Michigan because of the reputation and academic rigor of the school, but most importantly financial aid played a huge role in my decision to come to Michigan. My college application experience was totally different from my sisters, who is a junior at one of the nations top Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I needed a nice financial aid package to ensure that I did not put a huge financial strain on my mother while having two children in college. Luckily, Michigan was the school that did not cause too much of a burden, but also is a very renowned and established university.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? I enjoy the connection I get to form with everyone, Being able to share my passion of the importance of education and make sure that children all around know how important education is in life. I love being able to share my story and let people know that everyone no matter the background has an opportunity to educate themselves in some way shape of form. Mentorship was and still is a very important part in my life and if I can do that for others that makes CEO the best opportunity I could have ever asked for.

Silisha Sooknanan


Hometown: Ypsilanti, MI

Area of Study: Biology, Minor in Gender, Race, and Nation

Why did you choose Michigan? I wanted to attend a university as prestigious as the University of Michigan as well as stay somewhere close to home. Family is very important to me, so distance was a large factor. I also aspire to become a physician, and among many things, Michigan is known for their rigorous sciences and distinguished medical school. Additionally, I was drawn to all of the opportunities Michigan offered to form communities and further different passions.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? As a student leader, I have worked with many underserved middle and high schools similar to the ones I attended. Being able to lead by example to students that share some of my own personal attributes: first generation, low income, minority, etc., has been both a tremendous honor and an intimate experience. Inspiring these students to pursue higher education has been my favorite part of CEO and my favorite part of the University of Michigan in its entirety.

Soraya Zrikem


Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

Area of Study: Biology, Minor in Gender, Race, and Nation

Why did you choose Michigan? Being from Ann Arbor, I’ve been able to witness first hand the amazing opportunities the University of Michigan creates for its students and the state as a whole. The University’s diverse range of opportunities, both academically and extracurricularly, further motivated me to join the Michigan community. Furthermore, the University’s large undergrad population guaranteed that I would be able to interact with a diverse range of backgrounds and interests while still remaining in an area that I am very comfortable with. Altogether, the University of Michigan would have, and has, allowed me to explore and contribute to my hometown and home state in ways I could not have anywhere else.

What do you enjoy most about working at CEO? Over the past two years, I’ve been very interested in finding ways to address the achievement gap in the United States. CEO, which works directly towards promoting postsecondary access and assisting college students in K-12 work, has been a perfect space to learn more about this type of work and how large public institutions can help create this type of change. More importantly, I love working with students and have find my work with CEO to be an exciting way to learn more about schools and students in the area. Altogether, my work with CEO allows me to see, and contribute, in impacting student lives and futures.