Graduate Learning Specialists Biography

Gina Armendariz

Dr. Gina Armendariz has been a GLS since 2012. She is a credentialed school psychologist and a licensed educational psychologist and earned her BS and MA in Psychology, and her Doctor of Education at CSUF. Dr. Armendariz works closely with her students in all aspects of graduate school, finding the experience rewarding: from academic assistance in developing writing through improving critical thinking skills, as well as studying, organizing, and integrating graduate school into daily life. She has sat as a committee member for master’s theses and doctoral dissertations and assisted her students in polishing their curriculum vitae and resumes to become more competitive after they graduate. Many of her students have stayed in touch with her and she has made lifelong friends.

Eliot Cossaboom

Eliot Cossaboom received his two BA degrees in Linguistics and in Japanese Language & Literature, and a MA in Linguistics from CSUF. He then attained a teaching credential in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of California, Riverside. He currently works as an English as a Second Language instructor for various institutions and serves as the University Thesis & Dissertation Reader. His academic interests include linguistics and cognition, sociolinguistics, and philosophy of language. In his time off he enjoys playing and listening to music, and spending time with his wife and dog.

Marissa Danielsen

Marissa Danielsen was born and raised in California. Growing up, she had many friends that were learning English as a Second language and she saw them struggle with the language and the social isolation that comes from facing language barriers. While she was attending Cal State Fullerton for her undergrad, she worked at the Writing Center and found the same feelings of frustration and isolation from the ESL and international students that she tutored. In 2011, she studied abroad in Italy and attended the Fine Arts Academy in Florence — a university taught entirely in the Italian language. She had a moment of epiphany when she shied away from my art professor because she didn’t want to speak to her in imperfect Italian. Realizing that this is what her students had been feeling, she immediately enrolled in an English Grammar class when she returned to America. She continued her studies in TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and graduated with her MS TESOL from Cal State Fullerton. She is now teaching at Fullerton College and Citrus College.

Michael Itagaki

Michael Itagaki earned his MA in Sociology from Cal State Fullerton and his BA in Social Science from UCI. After spending 14 years working for the Los Angeles Times as a copy editor and reporter for the sports department, he began teaching at CSUF, in both the Sociology and Kinesiology departments, in particular, the upper-division writing requirement course in Sociology (SOCI 308) and the Kinesiology elective course Sport Sociology (KNES 384). He enjoys spending time with his family, and playing/coaching/watching sports. Go Lakers, Dodgers, Angels!

Johanna Kim

Johanna Kim has loved language from a young age, though her love of teaching is a more recent development. After earning a B.A. in Literature, she worked as an undergraduate adviser and taught English in South Korea. She returned to her native California in 2014 and completed the M.S. TESOL program at CSUF in 2016. Johanna has worked as an English instructor for both Riverside Community College and University of California, Riverside, Extension.

Melissa Lopez

Melissa S. Lopez, Ph.D. has taught graduate level courses to a diverse student population on topics of leadership, policy analysis and thesis capstone course. She has advised students as they conduct thesis and independent research projects. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Lopez has designed and delivered seminars and training programs to support success among graduate students on topics such as writing, public speaking, and effective leadership. Dr. Lopez has published research on the topics of organizational change and strategic management with an emphasis on healthcare organizations. Melissa completed her bachelor’s degree at CSU Long Beach and her Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology at the University of Michigan. In addition, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship appointment in the department of Health Management and Policy in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

Taha Heidary Monfared

Taha Monfared is graduating from CSUF MS Statistics, with background in Marketing and Industrial Engineering. He has worked as a stock market analyst and a business analyst. Taha is proficient with R, SPSS, Minitab, Survey design, and statistical theories and tests. He is proud of being a supportive instructor while always pushing for a deeper understanding of statistical concepts from his students.

Maria Oropeza

Dr. Oropeza has been trained in qualitative and quantitative methods. As part of the Diversity Research Institute at the University of Washington, she honed her qualitative methods by examining the access of higher education services by cultural and linguistic minority students. Work on this project has led to the development of several manuscripts. Various classes in quantitative methods along with the support from the University of Washington’s Center for Social Science Computation and Research (CSSCR) provided training and on-site consultation on statistical and graphical software packages. These resources and additional skills led to a multi-method dissertation. Dr. Oropeza has also written articles that draw on narrative inquiry, case study, and discourse analysis.

Ralph R

Ralph Rodriguez found his calling for teaching while in the U.S. Army. It was there where he discovered his affinity for mentoring and instilling knowledge. After earning a B.A. in Anthropology, he worked as a Zoo Keeper with the Santa Ana Zoo. He returned to California State University, Fullerton in 2014 and completed the M.S. TESOL program at CSUF in 2016. Ralph has worked as an English instructor for ELS Education Services, and he is presently an Adjunct ESL instructor with North Orange County Community.

Dr. Elizabeth A. Suarez

Dr. Elizabeth A. Suárez earned her PhD in Educational Studies with a concentration in Qualitative Research from Claremont Graduate University, her MS in Education (Bilingual Education) from CSUF, and her BA in Comparative Cultures from UCI. She served on the faculty at CSUF and was the Coordinator of the CSUF Chicana/o Resource Center and, prior to coming to CSUF, was the Coordinator for Migrant Education and College Programs in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. Dr. Suárez’s interests focus on the reproduction of inequalities in the education of Latina/o students as manifested through institutional mechanisms. 
Dr. Suárez is a native of Orange County, and is a first generation Chicariqueña, of a Mexican mother and a Puerto Rican father.