Meet the Staff (Conozcan al Personal)
Director - Mariana Ortega
Assistant Director - Julio Velasco
Hi, my name is Julio Velasco. I am very excited to be one of the new Assistant Directors for La Casa Cultural Latina. I was born and raised in Chicago, IL.
I recently worked at Central Michigan University as the Graduate Assistant for the Multicultural Academic Student Services. I oversaw most of the mentoring initiatives for Black Indigenous Students of Color, assisted with cultural programming for all our heritage months, and launched two retention programs for the Multicultural Advancement Scholars. I earned my Bachelor's in Sociology and my Master's in Higher Education Administration from Central Michigan University.
In my free time, I like to game, watch anime, design clothes, collect sneakers, and spend time with my partner and friends. I am looking forward to serving the students on campus, serving my community, and continuing to build on the legacy of La Casa.
Assistant Director - Stephanie Cardoza-Cruz
My name is Stephanie Carodoza-Cruz and I am excited to be one of the Assistant Directors for La Casa. I was born and raised in Central New Jersey where my close family still lives. Growing up, I spent as much time as possible in the heart of Honduras. My interest in working with students began during my undergraduate career at Rowan University where I became super involved across campus through Student Activities, Greek Life, and Res Life.
Following my time at Rowan, I pursued my Masters in Higher Education at Pennyslvania State University where I served as a Graduate Assistant within Student Activities and had multiple internships that allowed me to advocate for students. In my free time, I love to explore the areas around me, plan future travel opportunities, spend time with my friends and family, and keep my puppy Theo out of trouble. I'm looking forward to working directly with and advocating for students, creating opportunities for students to thrive at UIUC, and being able to be a part of the legacy of La Casa!
Office Support Associate – Mariah Johnson
Hello, my name is Mariah Johnson. I am beyond excited to start this new chapter in my life as Office Support Associate for La Casa Cultural Latina. I recently worked for the Illini Union Human Resources department for 4 years. While working I completed two years at Cosmetology School. I have lived in Champaign-Urbana most of my life.
In my free time I enjoy cooking, tattooing, watching anime, arts and crafts, doing hair and sleeping. I am looking forward to serving students on campus and getting to know each one of you, while learning and being a part of the La Casa legacy!
Undocu/DACA Mentor - Vacant
Undocu/DACA Mentor - Nataly Esparza
Meet the Student Staff
Hello everyone! My name is Cristal Caballero, I grew up on the south side of Chicago. I’m currently a sophomore majoring in Political Science and Global Studies. I enjoy spending time with friends, going to social events on campus, listening to Bad Bunny and traveling. If you see me at La Casa, please feel free to stop and talk to me!
Hello, hello! My name is Genesis Martinez and I am a first-generation Sophomore majoring in Marketing. I am a city girl, born and raised in Chicago, and a proud Venezolana. Some of my favorite hobbies are to read, shop, and spend time with my friends and family. This is my first year working at La Casa and I am very excited to help other students find their home away from home just like I did.