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EAI About Us

Meet the EAI Team

Courtney Utsler
Early Academic Intervention Coordinator

Courtney Utsler

cutsler@csusm.edu 
760-750-8483

How long have you been with CSUSM?
I've been with CSUSM for 2.5 years. I previously served as the AC for Literature and Writing Studies and am excited to step into this role!

What drives you to be part of EAI?
The EAI initiative is meeting a large need on campus by showing students where to find resources and how to support themselves. Feeling confident on campus leads to confidence in the classroom, and I'm proud to be helping students get there.  

What is your approach to student services?
I believe that supporting students starts with asking questions, active listening, and compassion. I want students to know that I am geniunely interested in their success. 

What do you do for fun?
I spend a majority of my free time reading, and not just because I'm a student in the Literature and Writing Studies department! Finding a new outdoor place to read is my favorite way to spend a weekend. 

Are you a dog or cat person?
I love all animals but between the two, I'm a cat person. We have similar interests, like napping.

What is something that always makes you laugh/smile?
I love winding down the day with a comedy show, and will turn to Seinfeld reruns when I need a pick-me-up. 


 

Katrina Hale
Cougar Care Network Coordinator

Katrina Hale

khale@csusm.edu 
760-750-4935

 

How long have you been with CSUSM? 
I have been with CSUSM for just about 2 years now, all within the Dean of Students office, but wearing a few different hats!

What drives you to be part of EAI? 
I love being part of the EAI team because I believe so much in this cause and the support it can offer! By far, the most rewarding thing about this work is watching the lightbulbs appear over students’ heads and helping them to connect the dots between where they are and where they want to be.

What is your approach to student services? 
My approach to student services is to try to earn trust by showing students that I do sincerely care about their success! And then providing a bit of TLC when necessary, some tough love when necessary, and trying to instill some hope! 

What do you do for fun? 
I love going to the beach with my dog, hanging out with my two kids (ages 5 and 8), singing in the car, jigsaw puzzles, country line dancing, stand-up comedy, wine tasting, traveling! 

Are you a dog or cat person? 
Definitely a dog person! My 7-month-old golden retriever, Fergus, is the love of my life, and the best co-worker ever.

What is something that always makes you laugh/smile? 
My husband makes me laugh! His sense of humor is weird but always cheers me up. 


 

Monica Huerta
PASS Counselor

Monica Huerta

mlhuerta@csusm.edu 
760-750-6066

How long have you been with CSUSM? 
I have been working at CSUSM since 2017 (5 years).

What drives you to be part of EAI? 
Working with EAI focuses on serving students in conjunction with faculty in hopes of retaining and guiding students towards academic success. I appreciate being part of a team that is passionate about the overall well-being of our students. As a first-generation student having a support system was crucial as I was able to have someone I could check in with, go-to for any questions/concerns, guidance, and support. Being able to provide that to students can make a difference in their university experience and can provide foundational skillsets for the remainder of their academic journey.

What is your approach to student services? 
My approach to student services is best described as solution-focused while providing holistic and specialized support to meet the student wherever they are in order to best guide them to get back on track. 

What do you do for fun? 
I enjoy hiking, powerlifting, biking, and painting. 

Are you a dog or cat person? 
I like both cats and dogs. I currently have a kitten.

What is something that always makes you laugh/smile? 
Something that always makes me smile is the view when you hike a mountain and you can see everything from afar despite how hard the climb was. 


 

Mae Talicuran
Student Academic Success Coordinator

Mae Talicuran

mtalicura@csusm.edu 
760-750-6056

How long have you been with CSUSM? 
I have been with CSUSM for 11 years now and in this current role since December 2016. 

What drives you to be part of EAI? 
The work is meaningful and important to me because I want to be able to provide students with the support and guidance that I didn’t have when I was in college. If I can help one student out of thousands, I consider that a win. 

What is your approach to student services? 
It’s a team effort. We all have the same goal – supporting students, but need one another to support our students holistically.  We work together to help our students learn the skills to be successful inside the classroom and beyond.  

What do you do for fun? 
I enjoy hiking, travelling and sitting at coffee shops. 

Are you a dog or cat person? 
Both! I used to be strictly a dog person, until I was given a kitten and instantly fell in love with both.

What is something that always makes you laugh/smile? 
Cute animal videos on social media. I can get lost in the scroll of doom, watching one cute animal video after another.


 

Jennie Ruiz
Associate Dean of Students

Jennie Ruiz

jruiz@csusm.edu 
760-750-4935

How long have you been with CSUSM? 
I have been at CSUSM since 2006. I just recently earned my 15 year service award. 

What drives you to be part of EAI? 
I enjoy working with individuals who truly care about student success, which this team does. This team approaches student success using collaboration and innovation. I am proud of the work this team has accomplished over the past couple of years and am confident in the positive impact made on students’ lives. 

What is your approach to student services?
I support students by getting to know them, hearing their story, and truly listening.

What do you do for fun? 
I enjoy being outside whether it’s hiking, going to the beach, or visiting local attractions (botanical gardens, wildlife centers, etc). I was born and raised in San Diego and am a lifelong Padres fan – I love going to games at Petco Park. 

Are you a dog or cat person? 
While I love dogs, I have always leaned more toward cats. I appreciate their temperament and independence.

What is something that always makes you laugh/smile? 
My son and silly animal videos.


 

Adam Petersen
Director of Strategic Initiatives for Academic Success

Adam Petersen

apetersen@csusm.edu 
760-750-7327

How long have you been with CSUSM? 
I’ve been at CSUSM for seven and a half years, all in OUGS.

What drives you to be part of EAI? 
I’ve been fortunate in my time here at CSUSM to work with a lot of really passionate student advocates, both faculty and staff, but I’ve also seen how hard it can get on them when they feel like they’re doing their work for students in isolation. It can be really draining to do this work and feel like you’re the only one doing it, and that’s what draws me to the idea of the Cougar Care Network: that we’re all part of a larger, interconnected network of people who want to help students succeed. EAI is a conscious and intentional effort to make sure faculty understand that they too are a part of this network. 

What is your approach to student services? 
My whole thing is to try and envision and design structures and processes with an understanding that the student experience is not isolated and compartmentalized in the way our University is. Every student should feel welcomed and included and supported in every interaction with the University, whether that’s with other students, with support staff, or with faculty. 

What do you do for fun? 
Most of my energy gets spent on my kids (5 and 8, so yes, a lot of energy) but I like to play and watch sports (big NBA basketball fan and long-suffering Padres fan) and somehow over the last couple years I have come to actually find running “fun.” 

Are you a dog or cat person? 
I think I might be the lone cat person among the EAI team!

What is something that always makes you laugh/smile? 
I love a good, high-quality kid joke. My favorite: what did the custodian say when he jumped out of the closet? (you’ll have to ask me for the punchline)