Raíces Faculty

Raíces Faculty

Abby Pasley, M.A.

English, ENG 110 - College Composition and Reading

I was born here in Goleta and attended our local schools, including SBCC. From my family, I learned the importance of storytelling and caring for the communities we belong to. I have always been deeply interested in the connection between writing, civic engagement and social change. My goal is for each of you to feel empowered and confident as you share your voice with our community and the world. I can't wait to hear what you have to say! In my free time I enjoy gardening and camping at local spots with my adorable chihuahua, Lucy.


Andrea Cullinen

Mathematics, teaching Math 117A and 117 - Elementary Statistics

I went to a large public high school in Anaheim, California, where my freshman year math teacher told my parents his class was too difficult for me. Instead of placing me into a different class, my parents taught me that practice, curiosity, and looking for math everywhere would help me prove him wrong.

Although my path to teaching has not been linear, I am here because I firmly believe that mathematical literacy is a human right. I believe a mathematics classroom should be a place where students feel comfortable asking why and trying again, while recognizing the ways they already use math in their lives.

I recharge by biking and walking with my family and newly adopted dog, Dino.

Bronwen Moore, M.A.

Mathematics, teaching MATH 117 - Elementary Statistics

I was born and raised in Europe and moved to California at 18. Switching cultures was rough for me. I also struggled academically early in college because of very slow reading. My refuge was mathematics, where I excelled, partly because of the kindness and support of special teachers. I know in my bones that there is a fine line between success and failure, and academic struggle often has nothing to do with true potential. I strive to create a class where students can succeed, regardless of their academic preparedness, as long as they have the time to work with me or my specially trained tutors to fill in the holes made by a disrupted pre-college education. And I LOVE teaching statistics, breaking down concepts and procedures so that students can experience the joy and power of owning, commanding and controlling knowledge. When I am not working, I am cuddling my two rescue pit bulls, binge-watching television with my husband, bragging about my adult children, making jewelry, and traveling.

Eiko Kitao, M.A.

Earth and Planetary Sciences, Lab Technician

I was born in Tokyo, Japan and immigrated to the US when I was three. I was an undocumented person until I was 15 and applied for legalization through the Amnesty program. My mom raised 5 of us by herself, working her fingers to the bone to provide for us. I didn’t go to college until after I had my two children, when I realized a college degree was the only solution to provide for my family. I enrolled at SBCC where I discovered Earth Science, and found my purpose in life. I graduated from UCSB in 2011 with a B.S. in Geological Sciences, the same year my son graduated from 6th grade and my daughter graduated from high school. I went on to get my Master’s in Geography at Cal State Northridge in 2018, and have been teaching ever since. I was a non-traditional student, re-entry, single mother of two when I started my academic path. I advocate for all students by showing that I am a living testament to the result of perseverance.

Gwyer Schuyler, Ph.D.

Academic Counselor, Health Information Technology/Cancer Information Management

I identify as a mother, a spouse, a sister, a friend, and a counselor. My parents grew up in a small, working-class town in Nebraska and my ancestors were immigrants from England, Germany, and France back in the 1700s-1800s. My awareness of my privilege in this society and the oppression that others have experienced has grown through a lot of personal learning and soul searching. My goal as an Academic Counselor is to transform harmful policies and practices that marginalize students, including Black and Brown students, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, and students facing poverty. I want to collaborate with others to create a supportive community for all students and employees. 💗

Héctor E. Gamero Jauregui, Ph.D.

Engineering, teaching ENGR 101 - Introduction to Engineering

I was born in México and came to the United States at a young age. Adjusting to the English language, the U.S. academic system and U.S. society was difficult as an immigrant, especially as an undocumented person. Despite the lack of resources for him and other undocumented students at that time, he was accepted to UC Davis majoring in Engineering, and went on to graduate withe two Bachelor Degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering in 2006, continued to Graduate School to obtain his Masters in Mechatronics in 2010, and his PhD in Mechatronics in 2020 from the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.
During my graduate work, I had the opportunity to be a staff member at the UC Davis AB 504 & Undocumented Student Center as the Education and Training Coordinator for four and a half years. I am currently a DACA recipient and use this new privilege as a Tenure-Track Professor in Engineering at Santa Barbara City College hoping to inspire other undocumented students, and students of color, to pursue Engineering in higher education.
I enjoy soccer, water polo, tai chi, cycling and hiking!

Joshua Escobar, M.F.A.

English, teaching ENG 270 - Introduction to Creative Writing

Joshua Escobar grew up in southern California's Inland Empire in the 90's. Making art with his queer friends led him to a life in poetry. Having studied journalism in the Bay Area and visual art in upstate New York, he wrote a poetry collection about deejaying and is working on a novel. He loves hiking, experimental art, and everything Nintendo.

Joshua Ramirez, Ph.D.

Psychology, teaching PSY 100 - Introduction to Psychology in Spring 2024

My name is Joshua Ramirez. As the son of hard working Filipino immigrants who made Los Angeles our home, my parents encouraged me to pursue a college degree even though they did not always understand my curiosities about human neurology and learning. Because of their support, today, I’m a professor of Psychology. I have one of the greatest jobs in the world! It is my privilege to help students on their journey to becoming scholars in their own right. Happily busy as I am, I still find time to enjoy Japanese gardening, video gaming, all things sci-fi, travel, and watching theater with my husband.


Justina Buller, Ph.D.

History, teaching HIST 112/ENVS 112 - American Environmental History

I was born and raised in California. Despite spending quite a few years on the East Coast and abroad for college and grad school, I ended up back in California because of a deep love for this place--the ocean, the mountains, the sequoias, the redwoods, the valley oaks, the delta swamps, all the animal critters and spring poppies and wild lilacs. All these things shaped me and are still a part of me. In addition to my (quite large) human family, they are also my ancestors.

I became a teacher because of my own struggles with severe depression when I was in high school and college. Although this made it difficult for me to show up for class and complete assignments, I eventually found in many of the subjects I was studying (especially History) a bigger world with answers to questions that no adult around me had ever been able to provide. Most importantly, I realized that I was not broken, but rather the culture in which I was raised--rooted in sexism, racism, and capitalism--was the problem. This experience has made me into an advocate for mental health awareness and a healing-centered approach to college education. My other passions include devising unique ways to limit my environmental impact (growing my own food and biking to work), but all the while noting that I do this imperfectly. As much as I hate plastic, I do love riding plastic water sleds in the ocean (also known as surfing). Perhaps when I retire from teaching I can invent a plastic-free surfboard and mountain bike--if I’m not in the classroom, garden, or ocean, you can find me on the mountain trails!

Kristen Sneddon, M.S.

Earth and Planetary Sciences, teaching ERTH 111 - Dynamic Earth, ERTH 115/ENVS 115 - Environmental Geology (Lecture and Lab), ERTH 131 - Geological Field Studies

I grew up in a small family of my mom and my sister in Los Angeles, before coming to Santa Barbara in high school. When it came time to go to the college I was accepted to, I realized I had not saved enough money to put myself through. I started working more hours and coming to Santa Barbara City College full-time, and I loved it! I took my first field courses in Geology and got really interested in groundwater and water rights. While I was at SBCC, I also tutored for the Philosophy Department, and this is where I learned that I love to teach and to just generally be around people who are excited about learning and questioning and observing and sharing. I went to five different colleges before eventually graduating from UCLA and Colorado School of Mines. I started teaching at SBCC in my 40’s, after years of tutoring, teaching part-time, running a college counseling business, volunteering for the AVID program, and raising my three kids. My kids all went to Starr King Parent-Child Workshop, an extended learning opportunity through SBCC, where parents learn about community and inclusion and celebrating diversity. In that time between my first class at SBCC over thirty years ago and now, my mom returned to college at SBCC to eventually graduate from UCSB (at 61), and each of my kids, my husband, and many of my inlaws have all taken SBCC classes or transferred. I love Santa Barbara City College. It is a place for learning at any stage in life, for as long as you need, for whatever your interests might be. It is my goal to offer you something interesting that relates to your real world experience while supporting you reaching wherever you’d like to be in your education.

Leida C. Tolentino, Ph.D.

Psychology, teaching PSY 110 - Introduction to Physiological Psychology

Leida Tolentino hails from the Cabo Verde Islands, and originates from tight-knit families on both sides. Leida's continually-evolving teaching philosophy centers on building connection with students and awakening them to the beauty, fun, and power of (self-)knowledge. She is helping to create everyday psychology superheroes. Leida is also a spouse, mother, and dancer who views art, in general, as a vehicle for authentic expression, social connection and spiritual elevation.

Marit Ter Mate-Martinsen, MA

English as a Second Language, teaching ENG 110 - College Composition and Reading

I come from a family of immigrants, teachers, and storytellers. My parents would share stories around the dinner table: my father’s family hid Jews during WWII, and my mom wasn’t allowed to join the Hitler youth because her parents weren’t Nazi sympathizers, so her dad was taken to a labor camp. I find solace in nature, especially the mountains, and enjoy sports, a good book, and a yummy meal with friends or family. I’m originally from the Netherlands (English is the fourth language I learned) and fostered two awesome kids. We adopted our youngest daughter whose roots are in Jalisco, Mexico. I love learning with and from my students and believe in creating safe spaces for optimal learning.

Melissa Menendez, Ph.D.

English, teaching ENG 111 - Critical Thinking and Composition

I’m a proud granddaughter of hardworking migrant field laborers who immigrated from México and Guatemala to eventually settle in the central valley town of Mendota, California where my parents met. My grandparents, like most of my ancestors, learned survival and resilience, but they did not have the opportunity to receive any “formal” education. To honor their histories, I made the commitment to earn a doctorate degree in U.S. literature in order to ensure more stories and experiences from minoritized, marginalized voices are included and affirmed. My degree and work represents their legacy✊🏽 My guilty pleasures are collecting, listening and djing vinyl and cuddling with my adorable brown chiweenie, Gústi.

Stephanie Dotson, M.F.A.

Art, teaching ART 140 - Studio Art Foundations (2-D)

I grew up in Kansas and moved all over the US, following work and school before landing here in Santa Barbara. In college I studied printmaking and was drawn to how artists were using the medium to move art into the community to tell stories, share beauty and create social change. This approach, connecting creativity to social movements and community feeds into the work I do with Raices. Specific to Art 140, the online format allows all students to look at the unique spaces they occupy for potential, rather than viewing being outside of the classroom as a limitation.

Stephanie Mendes, Ph.D.

Earth and Planetary Sciences, teaching ERTH 114- The Geology of California, ERTH 131-Geological Field Studies-Eastern Sierra Nevada, ERTH 151- Intro Physical Oceanography

Stephanie Mendes was born and raised in California and loves being outside in nature. When Stephanie was growing up, she never would have imagined that she would earn a doctorate degree and become a professor in Earth Science. In fact, Stephanie didn’t even know Geology was a degree option when she started her Bachelor's degree. College was a time for her to explore different majors, and areas of science, and get connected with organizations such as SACNAS. As a result of all these experiences, Dr. Mendes received her Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from CSU Chico and her Ph.D. in Earth Science from UC Santa Barbara. 

Growing up as a Latina in Southern California, Stephanie wasn’t exposed to the wealth of knowledge and career options in Earth Science. Geology describes the physical world we live in and can be applied to any landscape. Traveling back to Mexico to visit family has inspired her to focus on providing geologic educational resources to Hispanic communities to help inspire the next generation of Earth stewards. In addition to a passion for science, Stephanie also enjoys gardening, cooking (turning traditional Mexican food into Veggie friendly meals), and all outdoor activities. 

Currently, Dr. Mendes teaches a range of classes at SBCC: from traditional classroom lectures and labs to co-teaching multi-day field courses across the country. This includes five days in Death Valley, five days in the Eastern Sierras, and 15 days around the Colorado Plateau. Hope to see you on a field trip!


Vandana Gavaskar, Ph.D.

English, teaching ENG 110 - College Composition and Reading

I was born in India and lived all over this diverse country as a part of a military family. I love the languages, cultures and customs of our vibrant world and love to travel and to explore. I came to America as a foreign student to follow my dreams of education. I believe education is a women’s rights issue and a human rights issue. I am passionate about creating a positive learning environment and community in the classroom where everyone thrives. I strive to support the hopes and dreams that students bring to their education and look forward to learning and growing in our community.



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