Federal Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) designation affirms that a university has a student enrollment population that is more than 25 percent Hispanic.

Adams State Hispanic Serving Institution

Board of Trustees’ HSI Advisory Committee

Adams State graduateMission Statement: The mission of the Adams State Board of Trustees’ HSI Advisory Committee is to educate, guide, and advise the Adams State Board of Trustees on the development and implementation of effective policy and best practices for institutional and Hispanic/Latinx student success which supports, promotes, and celebrates our status as Colorado’s premier Hispanic Serving Institution.

In order to achieve our mission, we align our efforts to these focus areas

Area 1 – Examine Best Practices for Increasing Retention, Completion, and Job Placement/Career Pathways of Hispanic/Latinx Students
Area 2 – Ensure Adams State Recruits, Hires, and Retains a More Diverse Faculty, Professional and Classified Staff, Administration, and Governing Bodies
Area 3 – Assist in Planning, Promoting, and Advancing Community Collaborations/Partnerships
Area 4 – Encourage and Support Development of a Paid Peer Mentorship Program
Area 5 – Examine and Implement Best Practices Required for College Readiness
Area 6 – Support Adams State in Attaining the Seal of Excelencia
Area 7 – Encourage and Support Attendance in Leadership Training
Area 8 – Advocate for a Stronger HSI Web Presence
Area 9 – Engage Latinx Students in Policy and Decision-Making
Area 10 – Highlight Hispanic Alumni at Events and Programming

Pam Bricker

Adams State Trustee/Chair HSI Committee

Pam BrickerA third-generation Colorado native, Pam Bricker has lived in the San Luis Valley since 1975. Prior to being elected a Rio Grande County Commissioner, she had a gratifying career as an educator and school administrator. Pam holds a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages (Spanish and Russian) with a secondary education endorsement from the University of Northern Colorado. She earned a Master’s Degree in Language, Literacy, and Culture, followed by Educational Leadership, both from Adams State University. She completed her career as the Byran Syring DELTA Center Principal and Adult Education Director in the Monte Vista School District.

Pam’s present and past community, state, and professional involvement is diverse. It includes the following: Rio Grande Board of County Commissioners, Action 22 Executive Board, Upper Rio Grande Economic Development, Colorado Department of Criminal Justice and Safety Sex Offender Management Board, Rio Grande Planning and Zoning Commission, charter Board of Directors member of the Colorado Coalition of Alternative Education Campuses, Colorado Adult Education Professional Association, and Monte Vista City Council.

Pam and her husband, John, own a thriving family business in Del Norte which has helped spur economic growth in the town. They have two adult children and four grandchildren. Her favorite pastime is being outdoors and enjoying time with her family, two dogs, and horses.

Andrea Benton-Maestas, M.A.

Activity Director, Title V-PPOHA Grant, Adams State University

Andréa Benton-Maestas is currently the Activity Director of Title V’s Promoting Post-baccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic-Americans (PPOHA) Expanding Access grant at Adams State University. Before working in Title V she had invested 20 years with Adams State; 8 years with Institutional Reporting and 12 years with Computing Services as a programmer for the payroll and student modules, as well as a trainer. In her current position, Andrea manages the initiatives outlined in the grant, which encompasses faculty development, curriculum revision and development, and establishing partnerships within Adams State’s service area to increase access for rural Colorado students to graduate educational opportunities. Andréa holds a M.A. in higher education administration and leadership (2012) from Adams State University; and a B.S. in mathematics (1993) from Colorado State University-Pueblo (Pueblo, CO). She is a San Luis Valley native. Most recently, Andréa was honored with the Colorado Governor’s Fellowship.

Andréa is married to Tony and they have two children, Bryan (Jodi) and Mianna (Stefan), and four grandchildren, Cammi, Raygan, Oakley, and Beau. They reside in Alamosa.

Headshot of Jessica M. CastilloJessica M. Castillo, Ph.D.

Dr. Castillo served as a Communication Arts I and II Instructor and Upward Bound Instructor at Adams State University from 2012-2020 prior to joining Adams State’s HEAL (Higher Education Administration & Leadership) online program in 2021. She received her PhD in Educational Leadership, Research, and Policy from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs after completing her master’s program at Adams State in 2010, so she is delighted to be able to serve in an instructional capacity at her alma mater. Her love of educational research and policy was first nurtured at Duke University, where she graduated with a BA in English and a certificate in secondary education in 2006. Her teaching career began at Monte Vista Senior High School, where she was the English Language Arts Department Chair from 2007 to 2021, when she and her husband relocated to southern Florida. Her research focuses on graduation rates at Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and employs qualitative comparative analysis, as well as interviews, observations, data analysis, and document analysis. Dr. Castillo’s work has been published in Methodological Innovations, and she recently kicked off the Changing the Narrative podcast series hosted by Adams State’s Office of Title V Initiatives. She continues to support Adams State’s Hispanic-Serving Institution committees and teams, with an emphasis on identifying methodology to evaluate initiatives and strategic plan elements intended to support the persistence and program completion of Hispanic undergraduate and graduate students.

Mari CentenoMari Centeno, Ph.D.

Political Science Professor

Mari Centeno, political science professor at Adams State, earned a B.A. in political science at Purdue University and a Ph.D. in political science (International Relations) at Arizona State University. She specializes in the study of women’s mobilization in Latin America and heads the University’s Women’s and Gender Studies program. She has led both the Adams State LatinX Caucus and Women of Higher Education organization and serves as advisor for the internationally-award winning Model United Nations Team. She is a proud Latina mother, teacher, activist, and occasional scholar.

Melissa FreemanMelissa Freeman, Ph.D.

She holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration (2007); an M.A. in political science/public administration (2000); and a BSS in political science, sociology, and interpersonal communications (1997) from Ohio University (Athens, OH).

Dr. Freeman is the founding director of the Higher Education Administration & Leadership (HEAL) program as well as the Title V PPOHA Activity Director. She was the director of the Center for Graduate Studies, an assistant professor of business, and director of the School of Business Survey Research Center at Adams State University. Dr. Freeman teaches courses in higher education, public administration and nonprofit management, survey/marketing research and public opinion, and public policy and analysis.

As an Affiliate with the Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Freeman specializes in quantitative applications for policy and research. She draws upon her experience as a researcher with the Center for Higher Education at Ohio University and her experience working with national datasets at the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Her research interests include access issues to higher education, particularly for rural and first-generation students as well as students of color.

Dr. Freeman is a private consultant and has worked for numerous universities such as Auburn University, Ohio University, and IVY Tech Community College. Freeman has numerous publications including her recent monograph on Latino/a college completion rates (December 2015) and a book about baccalaureate success for transfer students (2013). For her original dissertation study, Dr. Freeman was awarded a fellowship from the National Center for Education Statistics/Association for Institutional Research (NCES/AIR), one of only two awarded that year.

Dr. Freeman has served on several boards of directors and participates in various volunteer activities in her community. Before coming to Adams State University, Freeman spent 22 years working for the State of Ohio, 18 of which were at Ohio University. There she served in several capacities including, research administration, legislative liaison, special projects, grant and budget management, research associate, and adjunct instructor.

Jeff Gallegos

Jeff Gallegos

Administrative Assistant/One Stop Center

Jeff Gallegos is a military veteran who works as an administrative assistant at the One Stop Student Services Center at Adams State University. A San Luis Valley native born and raised in Del Norte, Colo. Jeff is an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Army, having served from 1992 – 2000:

  • 2nd Infantry Division Camp Stanton, ROK
  • U.S. Army Aeromedical Center Fort Rucker, AL
  • U.S. Army Medical Command Pentagon, Washington DC

Since returning, Jeff has continued serving the San Luis Valley; working with the local community health center from 2005 to present, and beginning his career with Adams State University in 2015. Known as The Voice of Adams State, Jeff is a dedicated professional who works as an advisor in the Adams State Office of Financial Aid, a representative on the Classified Employee Council, the Adams100 Committee and the HSI Advisory Committee. As a campus leader and diversity advocate, Jeff aims to inspire Adams State students and staff by setting a positive example of equity and justice, and proudly supporting, promoting, and celebrating our diverse and unique San Luis Valley culture.

Courtney HockingCourtney Hocking

Courtney Hocking currently is a student at Adams State University, she is the Student Trustee on the Adams State Board of Trustees.  Courtney’s major is in Political Science and History.  Her minor is in Sociology.  During her time at Adams, Courtney has become very involved with many clubs and organizations. She serves as the President of the Associated Students and Faculty (AS&F) organization on the campus and is currently the Vice President of Model United Nations, Interim President of Student Women’s Empowerment and Advocacy Team, Co-Captain of MUN Ethics Bowl Team and, the Chair of the Go Vote Grizzlies Committee.

Courtney values her leadership opportunities and being a voice for all of her peers on campus, as well as working to be part of the decision making to help make Adams State welcoming and inclusive for everyone.

After graduation, Courtney is looking to extend her studies here at Adams State and pursue her master’s degree in Public Administration.

Ashley MaestasAshley Maestas

Ashley Maestas knows that successful students become engaged alumni for their alma mater. She is a two-time graduate of Adams State, receiving her BA in 2013 and MPA in 2020. She is the new Director of Alumni Relations and Engagement at Adams State University, serving as the lead of the overall vision, management and execution of long-term relationships with alumni. Ashley believes that cultivating an atmosphere of generational pride starts with engaging the community and providing a range of opportunities, including career readiness, for students and alumni alike.

A native of San Luis, CO., Ashley has firsthand knowledge of rural Colorado. Prior to joining Adams State, she served as a Career Counselor, Case Manager and Labor & Employment Specialist for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment/Colorado Workforce Centers. She was a certified Business Consultant, named the 2020 Leader of the Year, 2020 CDLE Team of the Year, and received several recognitions for her customer service skills. Ashley was also responsible for leading and creating state-wide job readiness programs, providing opportunities for rural and urban client success.

Ashley also has numerous years of experience working with and advocating for youth success. Serving as a volunteer tutor, Gates Millennium Scholars alumni ambassador, Latin American Educational Foundation alumni ambassador and volunteer, and serving in various community boards.

Ashley understands hard work, growing up on a ranch and looking up to a father who was a police officer and a mother who committed her time to social work. She also grew up with strong family values and continues to teach those to her daughter.

When she is not working, Ashley is traveling with family, enjoying time fishing or relaxing with a good book.

Jonathan N. MarquezJonathan N. Marquez

A San Luis Valley native and Adams State School of Business alumnus, Marquez, Class of 2013, received his Master of Taxation from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2014. After four years in public accounting, Marquez recently entered the industry as a senior tax analyst for VMware, a large Silicon Valley-based cloud computing and platform virtualization software company.

While attending Adams State, Marquez was a volunteer firefighter for the City of Alamosa and Alamosa County. He served as president of the Future Business Leaders of America Phi Beta Lambda Adams State Chapter and represented the School of Business as a senator with the Associated Students and Faculty (student government). Marquez also was active in the free taxation service provided by Adams State accounting students and faculty supported through the Piton Foundation.

Marquez received the Future Business Leaders of America PBL National Award of Excellence in 2013; and the FBLA PBL Colorado State Honor Award in 2012 and 2013. He was also recognized with the IRS Outstanding Public Service Award in 2012.

Matthew MartinezMatthew Martinez

Matthew Martinez is a 7th Generation Colorado native. He was born and raised in Monte Vista, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2005 and was assigned to the infantry unit 2nd Battalion 1st Marines where he completed three deployments, the last of which was a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009. He returned home and earned his Bachelor’s degree at Adams State University in 2013, and began working at Adams State University running the Veterans Center which he helped rebuild. He earned his Master of Science Degree from Southern New Hampshire University and has been the Director for the Correspondence Education Program since 2017.

Matthew is a former Monte Vista City Council member and he currently sits on the Board of Directors for Valley Wide Health Systems and the La Puente Home Board. Matthew is also currently the President of the Adams State University LatinX Caucus, and a member of the American Legion at Homelake. He is also one of the founding members of the Adams State University Veterans Club/Center.

Matthew’s awards are as follows:

  • 2017 Adams State University Exceptional New Alumnus
  • 2016 Hispanic Salute – Honoree
  • 2014 Adams State University – Outstanding Club Advisor
  • 2013 Adams State University – Student Government Leadership Award

Sandy OrtegaSandy Ortega

Sandy Ortega, Adams State Class of 1974, is passionate about her alma mater and its commitment to inclusivity. “Adams State welcomes all students.”A native of San Luis, Colo., Sandy received a four-year academic scholarship to Adams State and graduated debt-free. She earned her degree in sociology/social work and Mexican/American studies with a minor in special education. A first-generation college student, Sandy recognized the importance of Adams State serving the region and appreciated the small class size and one-on-one attention by professors and staff.

“I grew up in a very small town and was fortunate to attend a regional institution.” Now she gives back by being an active member of the Adams State community. “The Hispanic Serving Institution committee works to improve the educational experience for all Adams State students. I advocate for anybody who wants to earn a degree in higher education.”

Along with serving on the HSI committee, Sandy has volunteered for many local organizations including the Alamosa Republican Party, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Colorado Commission on Aging, the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group, SLHealth and the Alamosa City Planning Committee. She also serves as the current president of the Adams State Alumni Association and as an Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate.

Sandy retired in 2010 from Passive Adobe Solar Construction Company, which she and her husband Antonio owned and operated. Prior to working with her husband, Sandy spent 20 years in social work in the San Luis Valley, Trinidad, and Colorado Springs. She also taught remedial reading at Centennial High School, located in San Luis. All of her previous experience impacted her commitment to higher education. “I am passionate about Adams State. I wouldn’t be successful without this institution.”

David TandbergDavid Tandberg, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President of Policy Research and Strategic Initiatives at State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, Dr. Tandberg earned his Bachelor of Arts from Adams State. Tandberg joined SHEEO in July 2016. He leads SHEEO’s policy evaluation and research initiatives and SHEEO’s efforts to connect empirical research to state practice and policy. He also helps lead SHEEO’s strategic direction and partnerships. He is the lead editor of a book dedicated to the investigation of the state higher education executive officer that was published July 2018 by Teachers College Press.

Previously, Dr. Tandberg served as an associate professor of higher education and an associate director of the Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State University. As an academic researcher, his research was published in numerous peer-reviewed outlets. Before joining Florida State University, Tandberg served as a special assistant to the secretary of education in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, focused on postsecondary policy development and implementation.

Tandberg earned a master’s in political science and a Ph.D. in higher education from Penn State University.

Anna TorelloAnna Torello, M.A.

Activity Director

Anna Torello, activity director for the Department of Education Title V Grant Initiatives, has aligned her career with her passion for social justice and equity. The Title V Grant focuses on improving recruitment of Hispanic students and expanding opportunities for them on campus. Anna is highly motivated to work in a campus environment that values difference, sustains inclusion, and enhances institutional access and equity.

Anna, a San Luis Valley native, comes from the old farming legacies of agriculture including profound historical, religious, and cultural convergence reflected through art, food, and celebration. A first-generation college graduate, Anna received her Adams State Bachelor of Science in business administration with an emphasis in accounting. She earned a master’s in Higher Education Administrative Leadership, focusing on Hispanic Serving Institutions which make a positive difference in the educational achievement of Latinx students.

Anna is currently developing and implementing high-impact practices across curricular programs, building capacity to implement internships, and expanding workshops and peer-mentoring to address student-identified needs and foster Hispanic and low-income students.