RPAA

Every month, the RPAA chooses a mentor from the Saturday Business Academy to spotlight on. The chosen mentors are extremely dedicated to what they do and are exceptionally passionate about their work for the program. Read on to learn more about these great mentors!

Shota Nakayama

Current Employer: Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems
Title: Quality Assurance Engineer
Education: University of Southern California ‘09 (B.S. Industrial and Systems Engineering)

Experience with the Riordan Programs:
Shota Nakayama grew up in Honolulu, HI and earned his B.S. degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering and IT certifications in SAP and Interactive Multimedia at the University of Southern California. His experience with the RPAA started when he met one of the Directors of the Board at a USC Diversity event and was first introduced to the Saturday Business Academy. In 2013, he volunteered as a mentor for the juniors of Environmental Science And Technology (ESAT) High School and still continues as a Program Manager there.

Shota valued the mentors that influenced his development and he wishes to provide the same positive guidance to young students in the local community. He was impressed to see how determined the students were in learning about the college application process among other important matters such as financial management and networking. Their enthusiasm to learn on their own time on the weekend motivates Shota to dedicate his time and help the students fully prepare for their path in higher education. Shota hopes to continue being active in SBA next school year. He is currently pursuing a Six Sigma Certification from ASQ, preparing for the Riordan MBA Fellows Program (Class of 2014), and wishes to pursue a MBA degree from a top-tier university.

Jose Arche

Current Employer: The Boeing Company
Title: Quality Engineer
Education: University of Southern California (B.S./M.S. Industrial and Systems Engineering)

Experience with the Riordan Programs:
Jose first learned about the Saturday Business Academy while attending the RPAA’s annual Diversity MBA Admissions Conference in 2011. At the time he had no idea just how much it would change his life, but after two years of dedicated service he is more committed to this community than ever. Not only has he established meaningful and long lasting friendships with his fellow mentors and RPAA board members, but he has also grown significantly as a result of his involvement with SBA.

Jose truly enjoys mentoring because he sees himself in every one of the mentees, as he also grew up locally in Los Angeles. As such, he wishes that he had participated in a similar mentoring program when he was in high school because it would have definitely helped guide him through the college application process. As a first generation college graduate, Jose understands the value of a college education and is always willing to share his own experiences with the mentees in SBA. He hopes to inspire and motivate them to be their best every day and accomplish far more than he ever could.

Lissette Rodríguez

Current Employer: Capital Financial Group/H. Beck, Inc.
Title: Manager of West Coast Operations
Education: University of California, Irvine

Experience with the Riordan Programs:
Lissette learned about the Riordan Programs while she attended the RPAA’s 2012 MBA Admissions Conference. During the session, she learned about the Saturday Business Academy and instantly knew she had to be a part of such a wonderful organization. As an immigrant to the country, Lissette understands firsthand the organizational and academic challenges faced by low-income students in their pursuit of higher education.

Lissette’s parents met in college, her father earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Albert Einstein University in San Salvador, El Salvador. Education is highly valued in Lissette’s household and this is something she wishes to share with the younger generation. She began her involvement at Ouchi High School during the fall of 2012, mentoring Senior high school students through the college application process. During the winter session of 2013 she mentored Junior high school students in preparation of the college application, and also on something she considers extremely important- financial responsibility and stability. She enjoys spending her Saturday mornings with young minds and hopes to provide the support and information that the students need in order to achieve their goals of attending a university. She hopes to be a role model for the students and show that hard work and dedication earns great results!

Previous SBA Mentor Spotlights

Anabel Luna

Anabel Luna

Current Employer: Houlihan Lokey
Title: Investment Banking Associate
Education: Cal State Northridge ’02 (BS Finance); Columbia University ’04 (MS Industrial Engineering)

Experience with the Riordan Programs:
Anabel’s greatest passion is education. From her own experience she knows that a college education can transform an individual’s life, opening doors that would otherwise be inaccessible, and she is driven to provide South LA students with access to higher education.

Anabel is a mentor at Ouchi High School through the Saturday Business Academy. As an SBA mentor, Anabel provides one-on-one mentoring to high school students, guiding first generation college students through the complex and foreign-like college admissions process. Anabel has first hand knowledge of the needs of her mentees, as she herself was a first generation college student. She is passionate about the success of her students and invests heavily of herself providing her mentees with valuable resources related to writing skills, scholarships, internships, travel abroad, tutoring, counseling services, exploration of careers in STEM, and financial literacy. Anabel is thankful to the Riordan Programs for the opportunity to participate in SBA and give back to her community.

Anabel also volunteers at A Place Called Home where she is actively involved in their scholarship program. Her goal is to create clear pathways into higher education and provide continuing support during a student’s time at college to ensure career success upon graduation.

Ari Reisian

Ari Reisian

Current Employer: Kegent Advisors
Title: Associate Consultant, Project Manager
Education: UCLA ’10 (BA: Political Science, Public Policy Minor)

Experience with the Riordan Programs:
When attending the 2012 RPAA Diversity MBA Admissions Conference, Ari was asked to volunteer with the Saturday Business Academy. He agreed, believing in the program and citing the importance for young students to have individual mentorship during such a capricious phase in their lives. As the first American-born in his family, Ari understands the academic challenges students can face without proper guidance. He has served as a mentor to junior and seniors at Environmental Science and Technology (ESAT) High School over the past year, where he provided a guest lecture regarding in-demand undergraduate degrees and growing careers. He also individually worked with students on college and scholarship essays, and helped teach financial responsibility and literacy.

Ari has been mentoring and coaching students as early as his junior year in high school. Ari initially started as a soccer coach for elementary students for the Armenian Youth Association soccer clinic. He soon transitioned to coaching junior high and high school soccer players before moving onto tutoring students in groups of ten during college.
He exemplifies his passion for education in his professional setting as well. At Keygent, Ari is responsible for providing fiscally challenged educational agencies with quantitative and qualitative consulting services to help raise capital via financing vehicles (i.e. bonds) and identify significant operational and healthcare cost savings.

Aileen Calderon

Aileen Calderon

Current Employer: Belkin International
Title: Global Marketing Specialist
Education: California State University, Los Angeles

Experience with the Riordan Programs:
Aileen started participating with the RPAA’s SBA after learning about the program at DMAC. She decided to volunteer with the Saturday Business Academy because she has personally benefited from mentoring and believes in giving back to her community. She has served as a mentor to seniors at Gertz-Ressler High School over the past year, where she has focused on working with students on college essays, resumes, and helped them develop a sense of financial responsibility.

Aileen has actively been involved with mentoring in both her professional and personal life focusing on bettering the lives of minority students and colleagues. She is passionate about growing the number of minorities who enter college, graduate school, and helping those around her advance in professional settings. Aileen is happy that SBA has provided her with the opportunity to connect with students from her community, and is incredibly inspired by the students’ hard work ethic, dedication and future plans. She is currently applying to graduate school to pursue an MBA.

Portia Jackson

Portia Jackson

Current Employer: UCLA School of Public Health, Dept of Health Services
Title: DrPH (Doctor of Public Health) Candidate
Education: Stanford ’02 (BA, Cultural and Social Anthropology, Spanish Minor), University of Michigan ’04 (MPH, Health Behavior and Health Education)

Experience with the Riordan Programs:
Growing up in South Los Angeles, Portia started participating in programs at UCLA in junior high. She was a Riordan Scholar as an eleventh grader in 1997. She decided to volunteer with the Saturday Business Academy in order to give back to the program that believed in and supported her. She has served as a mentor to juniors and seniors at Ouchi High School over the past year, where she has given a guest lecture on diversity scholarships and local internship programs such as INROADS. She also focused on working with students on college essays, resumes, and helped them develop a sense of financial responsibility.

Portia has been actively involved in speaking with and mentoring students in secondary school and college settings since her senior year of high school. She has developed mentoring programs, served as a motivational speaker, and has several mentees at the undergraduate and graduate level. She is passionate about continuing the pipeline of students from inner-city communities who enter college, graduate school, and professional settings. Portia is happy that SBA has provided her with the opportunity to connect with students from her own community, and is incredibly inspired by the students’ hard work ethic, sincere dedication, and future plans. Upon completion of her doctorate at UCLA, she will begin a new career in health care consulting.

Stephanie Castellanos

Stephanie Castellanos

Current Employer: LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program
Title: Traveling Program Supervisor
Education: UCLA ’10 Sociology

Experience with the Riordan Programs:
Originally from Inglewood, California, Stephanie Castellanos wanted to find a way to give back to her community after graduating from UCLA in 2010 with a B.A. in Sociology and Minor in Urban Planning & Regional Studies. Stephanie chose to become a mentor at Ouchi High School through the Saturday Business Academy, working one on one with high school students on crafting their personal statements for their college applications.

Her passion for mentoring and motivating students to attend higher education stems from her personal experiences as a first-generation college graduate. Through the Saturday Business Academy, she continues to stress the importance of breaking social norms, becoming role models for future generations, and giving back to the community.

She currently works as a Traveling Program Supervisor for LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program, managing a cluster of six elementary schools. She wishes to pursue an MBA from a top-tier university and concentrate her studies in Non-Profit Management.

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