Meet Our Team
Olga Achourkina, MBA, Finance
Olga joined the College Connect team in April of 2016. In the two years before joining the College Connect team, she served as an outreach coordinator for the Texas Tech Chess Program. She coordinated all outreach efforts for Texas Tech Chess, including K-12 programs, on-campus events and workshops, summer camps, and community engagement. In her current role, Olga is responsible for the support and planning of all events and programs. She oversees related budgets and financial reporting, as well monitors ongoing projects. Olga earned her Bachelor Degree in Financial Economics from UMBC and received her MBA in Finance in 2010. She speaks and writes both English and Russian.
Ariana Hernandez, M. Ed.
Ariana Hernandez is the Assistant Director for the College Connect. She is from Veribest, Texas, has her Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas Tech University, and her M.Ed. in Student Development and Leadership in Higher Education from Angelo State University. Her duties include writing, editing, and managing proposals and grants that service underserved K-12 students. On-campus organizations Ariana has been a part of include Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Tau Delta, an English Honor Society; Sigma Delta Pi, a National Spanish Honor Society, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. She also teaches a course within the TTU AVID program. In her time away from the office, she enjoys playing City League Volleyball, hiking, and traveling.
Efren Gomez is a Coordinator within the College Connect. He is a native of Lubbock, Texas and graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelors in Public Relations. Efren manages On and Off Campus Visits and is responsible for establishing and maintaining partnerships within the Lubbock and Lubbock-Area communities. In his earlier years, Efren was on his way to become one of the first in his family to attend college and graduate. He was active in organizations like Upward Bound, Shake Hands with your Future, and Project Future during high school. He hopes to inspire new students to do the same by joining organizations and after school programs. In his spare time, he enjoys reading about science, eSports, and playing strategy games.
Olivia Espinosa joined the College Connect in August 2016 and is from Hale Center, Texas. She is currently in her Sophomore year, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Kinesiology with a minor in Spanish. Olivia is a proud Latina who wishes to show others what is possible through hard-work and strong relationships built with others. Sometimes life gets difficult, and it is our duty to shine our light upon those who are lost. She hopes to inspire others to put in the extra effort in their studies as well as life. Olivia is actively involved in Trio Support Services such as S.S.S. as well as a former Upward Bound student. She is a First Gen student and hopes to show others that college can be for everyone with hard work and determination. Olivia plans on continuing her schooling to receive a Masters in Occupational Therapy where she can mix her passion of sports as well as helping others.
Marisa Casillas is a student assistant for the College Connect at Texas Tech University. She is from San Angelo, Texas. Marisa is currently a senior at Texas Tech majoring in Fine and Studio Art and minoring in Spanish. Marisa's duties in the office include assisting with tasks related to departmental programs such as Super Saturdays and Summer Camps, as well as performing daily tasks such as clerical work and maintaining organization in the office. Marisa is involved in Painting Club and in the Texas Tech Catholic Student Association. In her free time, Marisa enjoys reading, being outdoors, and enjoying life surrounded by friends and family.
Demetri Board joined the College Connect in September 2016. While he was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin, he has lived his four years of High School in Garland Texas. Demetri is enrolled as a Sophomore and curently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Economics with a minor in Computer Science. On campus, he is actively involved in the First Year AVID program, First Generation College Student, and Mentor Tech. Demetri is currently at Texas Tech University because of the camp he attended during the summer of his junior year of high school: RaiderLife. It is a program that is run by the College Connect, in which the experience has been a positive influence on Demetri's outlook on college and success. He is extremely excited to be a part of the same office in which he can be put into a position to change the lives of students, k-12th grades, in a way his life was changed when he was a student in high school.
Pedro Silvestre is a student assistant for the College Connect. He was born in Jalisco, Mexico and currently resides in Houston, TX. Pedro is a senior at Texas Tech University pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Kinesiology and a minor in Spanish. After graduation he plans to become an overseas missionary. On campus, he is the current president of Men of God Christian Fraternity Inc., is involved with Redeemer College Ministry, and volunteers at a Chinese Church teaching ESL to international students from Asia. In his free time he enjoys working out, reading, and spending quality time with friends and family.
Courtnee Howze joined the College Connect in August 2018 and is from Houston, Texas. She is currently a freshman pursuing a degree in Business Management at the Rawls College of Business. On campus, she is an active member of First Year AVID and First Generation College Student. Her work as a student assistant includes promotional items as well as hosting on campus tours. She hopes to bring light to other students lives and inspire them to seek higher education. She enjoys baking, reading and yoga in her free time.
Estrella Padilla is a student assistant for the College Connect and is a proud Hispanic from El Paso, Texas. She is a second year student and is currently in the process of applying to the Texas Tech University Health Science Center to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After Nursing School, she plans to become a travel nurse. Estrella's responsibilities include hosting, promoting, clerical work, and daily tasks in the office. She is an active member of Dancers with Soul and Second Year Success (SYS). She spends her free time enjoying the outdoors, traveling and volunteering at our local University Medical Center. As a First Generation student, Estrella is hopeful to become a role model for generations to come.