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.
Mary Harris, M.A.
Mary Harris joined the College Connect team as a Program Manager in February of 2020. She is from Lubbock, Texas and obtained her bachelor's degree and M.A. in Strategic Communication and Innovation both from Texas Tech University. In her role she is in responsible for developing and coordinating academic programs and camps for students K-12 and facilitating partnerships. In her free time she likes to watch movies, travel and spend time with her dogs and family.
Dominique Gonzales is the Unit Manager for the UIL Office as well as College Connect. She joined the UIL team in January of 2014 and took on College Connect in 2019. Prior to working for Texas Tech, Dominique attended South Plains College and was a Financial Manager for 4 years at a local Lubbock business. Dominique is responsible for all related budgets and financial reporting within the Texas Tech UIL and College Connect offices. When away from work, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and traveling.
Ashley Cowgill joined the College Connect team as a Coordinator in October of 2019. She is from Greenville, Texas. She obtained two bachelor degrees, one in Marketing and one in Management, while attending the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. In her role she is in charge of coordinating on and off campus visits for schools and non-affiliated Texas Tech University organizations and participating in Lubbock community events. In her free time she likes to workout at Nuclear CrossFit, spend time with friends and family, and watch movies.
Olivia Alcala joined College Connect in September 2016. She is a Hispanic woman from Hale Center, Texas who graduated Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. She is a First Generation student, and she hopes to show others that college can be for everyone with hard work and determination. Her duties in the office include: aiding in the planning of campus visits, and creating and coordinating to prepare for Summer Camps through registrations and agenda editing. Olivia plans on continuing her schooling to receive a Doctorate of Physical Therapy where she can mix her passion of sports as well as helping others.
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 Senior and currently pursuing his Bachelors in Communication Studies. On campus, he is a Dean Student Ambassador for the College of Media and Communication and a PAC Leader for 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; 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.
Derek Alexander joined the College Connect team at Texas Tech University in April of 2019. He is from Houston, Texas and is a current senior at Texas Tech. Currently he is pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and a minor in Psychology. After graduation he plans to get a job in the field of athletic care and injury prevention. Derek's responsibilities include helping with campus tours, summer camps, and maintaining daily office duties. In his free time Derek likes to keep up with his favorite sports teams, travel, and spend time outdoors.
Estrella Padilla is a student assistant for the College Connect and is a proud Hispanic from El Paso, Texas. She is a senior 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.
Courtnee Howze joined the College Connect in August 2018 and is from Houston, Texas. She is currently a sophomore 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.
Zoe Fuqua joined College Connect as a student liaison in August 2019. She is from Sweetwater, Texas, and currently lives in Lubbock Texas. She is enrolled as a senior, majoring in art education with an emphasis in oil painting. Before working in the College Connect offices, she worked as a summer camp counselor for camps like Science, It's a Girl Thing and Shake Hands with Your Future. Zoe hopes to inspire others to be creative and push themselves to think and build in new and exciting ways. In her free time, she enjoys expressing herself through painting, drawing, embroidery, and weaving, as well as reading and spending quality time with her dog, Letty.