Loyola University Maryland

ALANA Services

ALANA Services Staff

Raven's Photo

Raven Williams (Pronouns: She, Her, Hers)

I am Raven Williams, Director of ALANA Services and a native of Saginaw, Michigan.  My work in higher education has been focused on student retention, academic advising and intervention, staff and student training and development, cultural competency, and diversity/equity/inclusion awareness.  As the Director of ALANA Services, I oversee the retention and support services for students of color and other underrepresented students, as well as supervision of the ALANA staff.  I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Communication from Eastern Michigan University and my Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from Saginaw Valley State University.  My next academic goal is to begin working on my doctoral degree.  In my spare time, I love anything related to music, church, sports, traveling, shopping, and exploring new restaurants.  The one thing people will learn about me quickly is that I’m a social butterfly and I love connecting with people.  Most importantly, I love working with students!

 Dennis's Photo

Dennis Velez (Pronouns: He, Him, His)
Associate Director

My name is Dennis Velez, and I am the Associate Director for ALANA Services. I am a proud Connecticut native (though my parents were both born in Puerto Rico). I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Iona College, and received my Master of Arts degree in Sociology with a concentration in diversity and inequality from Fordham University. As Associate Director, I oversee the Ignatius Scholars Program, help oversee the academic enrichment programs, work on retention programs such as MAN2MAN, and provide general support services for ALANA students. When I'm not serving as a Higher Education professional, you can find me on the dance floor (I love dance fitness), checking out a cool restaurant (eating is a hobby), spending time with my family back home in Connecticut (I have two nieces and two nephews I'm obsessed with!) or keeping up with my favorite reality television shows (guilty habit). Go Greyhounds!

Julie's Photo

Julie Rivera (Pronouns: She, Her, Hers)
Assistant Director

My name is Julie Rivera, and I am the Assistant Director of ALANA services. My parents are originally from El Salvador and immigrated to the US in the 1980s. They made their life here and here I was born along with my other 4 siblings in Silver Spring, MD. I am a recent graduate from the University of Maryland School of Social having obtained my Master’s in Social Work with a concentration on Community Action and Social Policy. I also obtained my Bachelors in Social Work from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). I am responsible for overseeing of our programming, leadership development and student organizations, as well as supervision of our Graduate Assistants. I also support the Associate Director and Director with the daily operations of the office. When I’m not working, I enjoy eating out in many of the Baltimore hot spots, running, and exploring new activities, like hiking! I also love spending time with family and friends when I get the chance. 

 Mauricio Vargas Program Assistant for ALANA

Mauricio Vargas (Pronouns: He, Him, His)
Program Assistant

My name is Mauricio Vargas, and I am the Program Assistant for ALANA Services. I am an only child born into a family of migrant workers from Mexico who picked tomatoes and onions in the San Fernando Valley, California. I spent my infancy and early childhood in Mexico with 27 first cousins. Later, I was raised in a San Diego, California neighborhood situated beneath the shadow of the Coronado Bridge and next to Chicano Park, where I discovered I had a fear of heights and a love for Aztec (Mexica) dancing. I served in the Marine Corps from 2002-2011. In 2016, I graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. I am a first-generation U.S. college graduate. During undergrad, I volunteered through the Center for Community, Service, and Justice (CCSJ), teaching English as a second language (ESL) at Esperanza Center, helping teens from Spanish speaking immigrant families with homework through Education Based Latino Outreach (EBLO), and Spanish legal translating for children and families seeking refuge from violence and human trafficking with Kids In Need of Defense (KIND). At Loyola, I was the president of Model United Nations and founded a veteran’s support group. I am currently pursuing a Master's in Data Science. I hope I can use my experience as an undergrad person of color at Loyola to help students who feel out of place feel welcome. When I am not working, my fiancé and I are busy planning our wedding to take place in the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. When we’re not planning our out-of-control monster destination wedding, we are traveling, eating at our favorite restaurants, and doting on our elderly dogs Lucy and Sully.

Jared Louie (Pronouns: )
Graduate Assistant
Leadership Development

Hi, my name is Jared and I am a graduate at Hiram College and a current graduate student at Loyola’s Masters program for Clinical and Professional Counseling. At Hiram, I majored in psychology and minored in entrepreneurship in addition to fulfilling the role of setter and libero on the inaugural Men’s Varsity Volleyball Team. I hope to develop my skills as a counselor to provide mental health support and counseling for minority populations like the LGBT community. In my spare time I love to play volleyball, read, write, and spend time with friends.

Jessica Morales (Pronouns: She, Her, Hers )
Graduate Assistant
Mentorship & Assessment

Hi! My name is Jessica Morales. I am a second year Speech-Language Pathology graduate student and the new Mentorship & Assessment Graduate Assistant for ALANA Services. Some background information about myself, my family is originally from El Salvador (San Miguel & Jucuapa) and immigrated to the United States in 1974. They made a life for themselves in Prince George's County Maryland, where my older sister and I were born and raised. I am a recent graduate from St. John's University with a B.A. in Speech Pathology/Audiology. During undergrad, I was part of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. and the RISE Mentorship Program, which provided me skills that will help me with my responsibilities at ALANA. My career goals are to essentially help others, by opening a non-profit organization that provides free Speech/Language services to those in underrepresented communities. In my spare time, I love to watch sports and movies, listen to music, explore new flavors at different restaurants, and hang out with friends and family. I am excited to work with the ALANA team and meeting many of you! 

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Knekiya Harper (Pronouns: She, Her, Hers)
Graduate Assistant
Academic & Career Enrichment

My name is Knekiya Harper. I was born and raised in Waldorf, Maryland. I graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a focus in Life Sciences and a Minor in Rehabilitation and Human Services. This fall I will be in my last semester as a graduate student at Loyola University of Maryland pursing my Master’s degree in Clinical Professional Counseling. My career goal is to become a mental health counselor for adolescents and young adults. An interesting fact about me is that I am really into the performing arts. Since I was a child, I have been involved in local theatre productions. I also enjoy traveling. I usually save my money to go on different vacations and experience different cultures and foods. My life goal is to travel the world. I am excited to be assisting first year minority students and first generation students transitioning into college. I, myself, struggled transitioning into undergraduate life at The Pennsylvania State University. My goal is to prevent incoming minority and first generation students from experiencing the challenges I experienced in my undergraduate career. I promise to provide plenty of fun, creative, innovate, and engaging events, ideas, and resources to my amazing undergraduates! It’s going to be a wonderful school year!