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College Possible Oregon Welcomes Two New Program Coordinators

We are excited to welcome Willa Johann and Yulissa Flores-Lopez as the newest members of our leadership team. Take a minute to get to know more about Willa and Yulissa and feel free to reach out if you have any questions. They’d love to get to know you!

Willa Johann

 

Willa Johann
Program Coordinator supporting Centennial and McDaniel High Schools
She/Her/Hers
wjohann@collegepossible.org
Alma mater: Dartmouth (BA); University of New Hampshire (MFA creative nonfiction writing)

 

What brought you to College Possible?

I’ve worked as an instructor and student advocate throughout my career and was really eager to join a team and make an impact on a bigger level. I’ve admired College Possible for years and jumped at the opportunity to support local students in their journey to and through college.

Why are you committed to closing the degree divide? 

As a student from a small town who attended college on a needs-based scholarship, I intimately understand the mission of College Possible. I have always been powerfully aware of the impact that mentors and access to support and funding can have for students like me, and I’ve devoted my career to paying it forward. For students who may not grow up in a college-going culture, sometimes all it takes is the conviction of one person who says, “You can do this. You deserve this. You belong here,” to transform their future.

What are you looking forward to adding to the Oregon team and what are you looking forward to learning from the team?

I am excited to bring my years of experience working with high school students as an instructor, tutor and college admissions coach. I am excited to learn, honestly, as much as I possibly can. This team brings such a wealth of diverse experience, and I am so inspired and impressed by the communal knowledge, passion and drive. I get to learn more about local high schools, our students there and our hard-working AmeriCorps coaches. Woven throughout all of that learning, is a commitment to expanding my understanding and practice of equity and inclusion.

 What’s your favorite memory from college?

Dartmouth has a well-developed, dynamic, meaningful and zany outdoor orientation program for incoming freshman. I participated as a freshman, led hiking trips for two years, and then led one of the support teams called “Lodj Croo,” which welcomed students back after their multiday outdoor adventures, cooked them hearty dinners, and performed a wildly high-energy musical dinner performance. It was deeply moving to welcome students to college with the message that they belonged there. They were home. Plus, it was just wildly fun to wear crazy clothes, sing at the top of our lungs, and be silly before the hard work of school started.

What’s a little-known fact about you?

Everyone I work with has already heard me mention this a thousand times, but I am an outrigger canoe paddling coach. I grew up near the ocean, so I really love being on the water and how the seasons change along the riverbank. The sport is grueling, meditative and so cathartic.

The thing people are most surprised to learn about me is…? People who’ve only seen me in virtual meetings might be surprised to learn I’m almost 6 feet tall.

Yulissa Flores-Lopez

 

Yulissa Flores-Lopez
Program Coordinator supporting Reynolds and Gresham High Schools
She/Her/Hers
yflores@collegepossible.org
Alma mater: Portland State University

 

What brought you to College Possible?

My family has been positively impacted by College Possible. When College Possible started programing in 2013, my mom signed me up and later my three younger siblings. She thought that the program would support us on our path to college, and she wasn’t wrong. With the support from various coaches, we have navigated the college world and understand how to complete the necessary steps to succeed. My mom now has two college graduates and two who are still on their journey.

Why are you committed to education equity/closing the degree divide?

I would like to see other students with my similar background also graduate from college. I was a first-generation and low-income student. Although the odds were against me, I was able to graduate debt free. This feels like a miracle, but it shouldn’t be. Other students are more than capable of going to college and graduating, but they don’t always feel like they can. This needs to change. College opportunities should be expanded and graduation should be normalized.

What’s your favorite memory from college?

My favorite memory from college was going on a hike for one of my classes. I don’t remember the name of the course, but I appreciated the professor’s creativity to take the classroom from four walls, to the great outdoors.

What’s a little-known fact about you?

One of my interests is true crime. In college I studied criminology and I enjoy listening to true crime podcasts. I listen to them when I’m driving, out for a walk and when I’m at the gym. I also enjoy trying new foods. When I was in high school my best friend and I would research different restaurants in Portland and visit them. We would do this about twice a month.

 

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