The career center team is comprised of dedicated individuals who support and guide students and alumni as they navigate their career journey.
Michelle Ponce is the Director of Career and Professional Development at Claremont Graduate University. She has led her career as a visionary leader with an eclectic style of engaging career professionals through individualized career self discovery and self journey. Her goal is to envision and implement innovative strategies to enlighten life-long learners. She is energetic and creative with a unique ability to influence and integrate collaboration between internal and external stakeholders.
She has dedicated her career to coaching and guiding students and alumni towards exploring and engaging in their career journeys. Her roles have included Assistant Dean and Director positions within Southern California. In addition, Michelle is a career expert recognized nationally and regionally via professional committees and various executive roles. She authored a chapter in the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) book, “Cases in Career Services: A Working Guide for Practitioners, Engaging Adult Learners Toward Their Career Journey” as well as articles and references to support the career services industry.
She is driven by her life philosophy “It’s not what you do in life, but who you are to others”.
Michelle holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Chapman University, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and an Associate of Arts from Marymount College.
Ro Lee is the Associate Director, Career and Professional Development at Claremont Graduate University, offering career development and professional partnership opportunities. His prior experience includes policy development in nonprofits working with underrepresented populations, heading pro bono programs for large firms in New York and spearheading employment efforts for international education companies as a Program Manager of Southern California. “I believe that Career Development is an extremely valuable resource for those seeking a return on their educational investment and should be a mandatory skillset all students should learn to advance their personal growth.” In addition to his career in academia, he has practiced law in the areas of litigation and immigration. He has taught and served students at UC Riverside, Rio Hondo College, Korea University, and is an adjunct professor at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine Caruso School of Law.
Ro earned a JD from St. John’s University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the State University of New York, Stony Brook.
Debra Nasipak is the associate director of Career and Professional Development office at the Claremont Graduate University. She brings with her a wealth of experience of over twelve years in higher education, working with international students and domestic graduate students in admissions and program management. She has also worked in financial and administrative roles in both for profit and nonprofit organizations drawing on her understanding of business budgeting and financial reporting, as well as planning and strategy.
With an approach to career strategy that is student centered, Nasipak is an advocate for students. She provides a welcoming atmosphere for students, alumni, and fellow staff/faculty members through team engagement, mentor development, staff relations, cultural competency, and diversity initiatives.
Debra Nasipak holds a Master of Arts in Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Azusa Pacific University. When she is not mentoring students in their career strategy, she is with friends enjoying good food and wine.
Campus and Industry Partnership Specialist
Ciara Hernandez is a doctoral student, pursuing a PhD in social psychology. She also works as a student researcher in Dr. Hogg’s Social Identity Laboratory. Ciara serves in honorary roles as Chair of the Social Socials Committee and as a member of the Psi Chi International Honors Society. Ciara’s personal research interests are social psychological underpinnings of geopolitical current events, international conflict resolution, and diplomacy. She recently interned at President Carter’s Carter Center in the Conflict Resolution Program, in this role she researched the Israel-Palestine conflict. In her free time Ciara loves to read Shakespeare and watch the sitcom Frasier. She is a recent graduate from the University of California, Irvine, where her academic focus was cognitive neuroscience.
Data and Analytics Specialist
Kasturi Gavali is an international student, currently pursuing her master’s degree in Information Systems and Technology at Claremont Graduate University, with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems. She completed her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and worked for Project Management and Pipeline Survey Consultancies in India. With growing interest in GIS, Analysis, and curiosity of developing cutting edge GIS solutions technology, she decided to pursue her master’s degree. She believes that if you have a strong will and patience, you can achieve many things.
She likes working out, cooking, painting, and learning new skills for professional as well as personal development.
Industry and Campus Partnership Specialist
Vaishnavi Mansabdar is an international student, currently pursuing her DrPH in Leadership & Management at Claremont Graduate University with a focus in Healthcare Policies & Community-Based Translational Research. Her background is in Biochemistry with a dual degree in Food Science & Quality Control along with her Master’s in Public Health. She is also working towards teacher training and a Master’s in Fine Arts with a major in Bharatnatyam (Indian Classical Dance) under UNESCO. Through her professional experiences, her research goals lean toward advancing healthcare oncology policy for cancer survivors and creating a concept of dance therapy that goes hand-in-hand with physical therapy in healthcare treatments.
Digital Communications Specialist
Katrina Saria is an international student, currently pursuing her Masters in Business Administration at Claremont Graduate University. She completed her undergraduate degree in Legal Management at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. She has worked in both Banking and Construction as a Legal Assistant and Human Resources Assistant, respectively. With a growing interest in Human Resources and Marketing, she decided to pursue a master’s degree.
Outside of academics and work, she likes reading, traveling and following Formula 1.
Data and Analytics Specialist
Katja Crusius is an international student from Germany, currently pursuing her PhD in Information Systems and Technology at Claremont Graduate University with a focus in IT Innovation and Design. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from Georg-August University Göttingen along with a Master of Science in Information Systems from Long Beach State. She has served as Vice President for Association for Information Systems and for Beta Alpha Psi, an international honor society. She is excited to give back to the community and advocate for her fellow students and make a meaningful impact in the Information Systems industry while playing an active part in shaping the future through the opportunities of cutting-edge technology.
In her free time she likes traveling and exploring new places, hiking, playing tennis and skiing. She is an alumna of Zeta Tau Alpha which promotes Breast Cancer Education and Awareness, where she volunteers and helps to organize events.
Peer Career Consultant
Zach is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in positive developmental psychology at CGU. He also works as a student researcher in Dr. Kendall Bronk’s Adolescent Moral Development Lab. His goal is to help students and alumni identify and pursue potential career purposes to facilitate their career journeys. He is interested in establishing positive academic, business, and community institutions that cultivate individual strengths and organizational values towards collective well-being. Zach values personal development, service, and everyday leadership. “I believe we all have tremendous potential to help ourselves and our communities through the pursuit of meaningful work.” His strengths-based coaching approach combines authenticity, curiosity, and enthusiasm to align client’s values, interests, and motivations throughout the career exploration and planning process. In his free time, he enjoys reading, exercising, and spending time with family. Zach earned a Master of Science in Psychological Sciences from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Christopher Newport University, where he also minored in Leadership Studies, and Philosophy and Religious Studies
To empower and help students and alumni leverage their skills and competencies as they navigate their career journey.
Welcoming and Supportive Environment
Fosters an environment that is welcoming, positive, and provides a safe space of support to navigate individualized career journeys.
Student and Alumni Centered
Implement and execute dynamic and innovative programs and events.
Collaboration and Strategic Relationships
Build and maintain strategic partnerships with internal and external stakeholders. Institute connections and networking opportunities for career growth and succession.
Focus our resources towards opportunities and connections that value education.
Commitment to Anti-Racism
- Increase knowledge of anti-racism practices in academia and industry.
- Provide resources for those who have experienced systemic workplace discrimination.
- Support allies with anti-racist resources.
- Expand the Culturally Competent Leader workshop.
- Make cultural competence an essential component of core programming.
- Develop partnerships with employers who value and embody social justice, equity and anti-racism in the workplace.