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Meet the Staff


Check your UC Merced email during November for messages from your BAC academic advisor.

You will receive a message with your first semester course recommendations on December 7, 2022.



See the messages on your UC Merced email starting August 19, 2022 from your 2022-23 BAC academic advisor.

You can also find the name of your BAC academic advisor at the top of your My Degree Path audit.




Michelle Roppeau, Ph.D.

Director of First Year and Undeclared Advising

(209) 382-4407


Maribel Rivera-Bonilla

Administrative & Operations Coordinator

(209) 291-9739 (BAC front desk)







Kenya Alas, M.S., Senior Academic Advisor and

Coordinator of Peer Advising, (209) 500-6301

  • Advises 2022-23 first years with last name A, E, Z
  • Advises non-transfer second and third year undeclared with last name A-Z

Kenya's story:

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and my family is from El Salvador. In January 2018, I relocated to Merced to become part of the wonderful Bobcat Advising Center team. I completed my B.A. in child and adolescent development at Cal State Northridge and my M.S. in college counseling and student development at Azusa Pacific University. I am the first in my family to complete a graduate degree. Additionally, I am an animal lover: I have eight parakeets and two dogs named Rocky and Niro.  I am excited to work with all my assigned Bobcats!

BAC Senior Academic Advisor Intro: Kenya Alas (video)



Maria Ceja, Academic Advisor, (209) 228-0120

  • Advises 2022-23 first years with last name C, K

Maria's story:

I was born in Michoacán, Mexico, and grew up in Orange Cove, a small citrus farming community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Fresno.  A proud first-generation college graduate, I completed a B.A. with an international development studies major and double minor in education and Chicana/o studies at UCLA; I am currently completing my master's degree in counseling with an emphasis in student affairs and college counseling at Fresno State.  I have worked as a community college advisor and assistant director with the American Indian Recruitment, a student-initiated and student-run project with the UCLA Community Programs Office.  I served with AmeriCorps City Year Los Angeles and as the lead career and family navigator in Reading and Beyond, Fresno Bridge Academy.  I was also an employment readiness specialist in Regenerate California Innovation where I provided educational and career counseling to clients planning for career training and career positions.  I enjoy running, yoga, and cooking various cuisines and hope to hike through a variety of national parks in the next few years.  My advice to first year Bobcats:  embrace and learn from both your small and big accomplishments at UC Merced!  As former UCLA Coach John Wooden said, "Don't let making a living prevent you from making a life."

BAC Academic Advisor Intro:  Maria Ceja (video)




Erendira "Dida" Estrada, M.S.P.H., Academic Advisor         (preferred name:  DIda), (209) 228-0119

  • Advises 2022-23 first years with last name I, J, L, W, Y

Dida's story:


A Merced local, I am a proud first-generation college graduate as well as a Bobcat alum.  I earned a B.A. in psychological sciences (former name for the current psychology major) and M.S. in public health at UC Merced.  My graduate research assistantship focused on multiple projects designed to improve health communication interventions in Merced County.  I also worked as a research lab manager in the Communication, Culture, & Health (CCH) Research Lab at UC Merced where I trained undergraduate research assistants in qualitative data collection.  Before joining the Bobcat Advising Center, I spent three years as a pre-health advisor at University of the Pacific where I developed and implemented a pre-health advising Canvas site.  In my free time, I love to play video games (primarily horror genre) and travel; I recently had the chance to explore Yellowstone National Park.  My advice to first year Bobcats:  meet with your BAC academic advisor, attend office hours with your professor and teaching assistant (TA) in each class, and be courageous and go to the first meeting of that campus club or organization that sparks your interest!  The first year at UC Merced goes by fast, so use the many free resources available, actively engage in your classes and campus activities, and establish a solid foundation for your personal, academic, and career success.


BAC Academic Advisor Intro:  Dida Estrada (video)





Gurpreet Erin Kandola, M.S., Academic Advisor         (preferred name:  Erin), (209) 228-0118

  • Advises 2022-23 first years with last name B, D, N, O

Erin's story:


I was born in Sacramento and grew up in Placer County, California.  I earned my A.A. in psychology at Sierra College before transferring to UC Santa Cruz to complete a B.A. with a double major in sociology and anthropology (cultural focus).  I also completed my M.S. in marriage and family therapy at the University of Southern California.  I have earned a certification in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, served as a residential counselor for teens with psychological and behavioral challenges, and worked as an assistant learning specialist at USC where I delivered educational coaching and study skills training to NCAA Division I student-athletes with learning disabilities and other learning challenges.  I was fortunate to provide individual clinical counseling services to students, teens, and families at a nonprofit charter high school in Los Angeles as well as community college students at Los Angeles City College.  Some fun facts:  I am Punjabi-American, but the majority of both sides of my ethnically Punjabi family live in England where my mom was born and raised.  I am also a self-proclaimed "foodie" and love to travel and explore new places.  My advice to first year Bobcats:  don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it!  Whether it's during walk-in hours or an appointment with your BAC academic advisor--or office hours with your professor or TA--we are here to help you through your journey and we all want you to succeed!


BAC Academic Advisor Intro:  Erin Kandola (video)



L. Maichi Lor, M.S., Academic Advisor          (preferred name:  Maichi), (209) 500-6303

  • Advises 2022-23 first years with last name M, Q, T

Maichi's story:

I am a native of Merced who started my higher education journey at Merced College.  I then transferred to Fresno State where I earned a B.A. in psychology and an M.S. in counseling with an emphasis in student affairs and college counseling.  During my graduate program, I completed 1200 hours of internships as part of my degree!  I have competed in the Miss Hmong Central Valley, Miss Hmong California, and Miss Hmong International pageants where my platform focused on the significance of higher education for Hmong youth, the value of counseling and mentoring, and the importance of pursuing your dreams.

BAC Academic Advisor Intro:  Maichi Lor (video)



Xiong Vang, M.S., Academic Advisor, (209) 228-0158

  • Advises 2022-23 first years with last name H, S

Xiong's story:

A Fresno native, I earned a B.A. in social work with a psychology minor and M.S. in counseling with an emphasis in student affairs and college counseling at Fresno State.  I also completed a therapy practicum with training in crisis assessment.  Before joining UC Merced, I held positions as a counseling intern, academic coach, Admissions ambassador, and Upward Bound tutor at Fresno State.  In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, drawing, and taking photos in nature; my life goal is to travel and photograph the seven Wonders of the World.  As a proud first-generation college graduate, my advice to first year Bobcats:  meet with your BAC academic advisor to discuss your goals as well as identify the opportunities and campus resources that will set you on a path to success!

BAC Academic Advisor Intro:  Xiong Vang (video)



Chi Yang, M.S., Academic Advisor, (209) 228-3440

  • Advises 2022-23 first years with last name G, R, X

Chi's story:

I am originally from Saint-Germain-sur-Morin, France, but my family moved to California where I attended high school in Atwater.  I am a proud first generation college graduate.  I attended Merced College then completed both my B.A. in French and M.S. in counseling with an emphasis in student affairs and college counseling at Fresno State where I was a peer mentor in the Educational Opportunity Program and an undergraduate student recruitment ambassador.  Before joining the Bobcat Advising Center (BAC), I served as adjunct faculty at Merced College where I taught students with cognitive, psychological, and physical disabilities.  I like to travel, visit other countries, and sample new cuisines; being trilingual in French, Hmong, and English makes me passionate to learn more about my students' cultural backgrounds.  My advice to first years is to take full advantage of all the free resources offered at UC Merced including your BAC academic advisor, tutoring, and the Center for Career and Professional Advancement.  Don't hesitate or talk about what you want to do.  Just do it!

BAC Academic Advisor Intro:  Chi Yang (video)



Linda Yang, M.S., Senior Academic Advisor and

Coordinator of Undeclared Transfer Student Support, (209) 500-6307

  • Advises 2022-23 first years with last name F, P, U, V
  • Advises undeclared lower division transfers with last name A-Z

Linda's story:

I was born and raised in Merced and am a proud first generation college graduate.  After earning a B.A. in psychology at CSU Stanislaus, I went on to attain my M.S. in counseling with an emphasis in student affairs and college counseling at Fresno State.  Working as an academic advisor in the Bobcat Advising Center has allowed me to support and guide first years and undeclared transfers in their educational journey.  My advice is to challenge yourself to your maximum potential and don't be afraid to ask questions, make mistakes, and learn from others.  "Believe in yourself and all that you are.  Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle."  --Christian D. Larson

BAC Senior Academic Advisor Intro:  Linda Yang (video)



Gisell Cuevas

Hometown:  Richmond, CA

Gisell's story:

I am a senior from Richmond (the "City of Pride and Purpose") and expect to graduate in May 2023 with a B.A. in sociology and a minor in public health.  I came to UC Merced as a Fiat Lux Scholar and throughout the past three years have been part of student government (Associated Students of UC Merced--or ASUCM) as the Racial Justice Now Campaign Chair and ACTIVATE Scribe Project.  During my free time, I really enjoy going dancing and cooking different recipes.  As a first-generation scholar, my best advice would be to do things simply "for the experience"!  If an opportunity opens up for you--whether it's joining a club, applying for an internship, or traveling--do not overthink it but instead just do it!  We are only in college for a short amount of time and it's an experience we'll never forget so why not enjoy it?



Alex Luu

Hometown:  San Francisco, CA

Alex's story:

I am a third year political science and history double major from San Francisco.  On campus, I have been named to the Dean's List and Chancellor's Honor List for two consecutive years and am active in Bobcat Model United Nations, an organization dedicated to furthering students' understanding of international affairs and skills in public speaking.  I am also an elected senator in the Associated Students of UC Merced (ASUCM), our student government, where one of my special interests is working to expand opportunities for student success.  My advice for students:  ask for help and be the best self-advocate you can be.



Gabrielle Montroy

Hometown:  Temecula, CA

Gabrielle's story:

I am a second year psychology major with a minor in management and business economics.  I was named to both the Dean's List and Chancellor's Honor List in my first year at UC Merced, plan to go to graduate school to earn my master's degree in social work (MSW), and hope to open my own clinical practice someday.  I am a member of Delta Gamma as well as the Psychology Club and am working to create a new student organization called Peace and Pilates.  A fun fact:  I am a triplet so I have two brothers the exact same age--and same birthday!  (In case you're wondering, they don't attend UC Merced.)  My one piece of advice:  get involved on campus--whether that be in your residence hall, clubs, organizations, volunteer work, community service, research, student employment, or just actively engaging in classes and office hours with your professor and TA.