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Advising Center Staff


Derek Furukawa

Derek T Furukawa, Ph.D.

Director of Undergraduate Academic Advising & Student Achievement

Dr. Furukawa joined the Advising Center staff in December 2012 as the Director of the Advising Center as well as Coordinator of Undergraduate Advising for the university.  In 2015, he was promoted to Director of Undergraduate Academic Advising and Student Achievement with additional responsibilities for campus-wide advising and student success.  He has been in advising for over a decade, having worked in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the College of Education at the University of Maryland.  Dr. Furukawa earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in August of 2011.  His dissertation research explored the factors influencing college choice among high achieving students.  Dr. Furukawa holds a master's degree in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Maryland and bachelors degrees in English and Spanish from the University of Northern Colorado.  He is active in the  National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and has presented regionally and nationally on topics ranging from social media integration to masculinity in advising to transfer student transition from 2-year to 4-year institutions.  At Nevada, Dr. Furukawa also serves as President of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and Faculty Advisor for Circle K International and Kappa Phi Lambda.  He takes great pride in his work with developing student success programs and student leaders.  When he's not on the campus, you may find Dr. Furukawa on the golf course or mountain bike trails in the area or volunteering in the community.

Aqueelah LaGrone

Aqueelah Thompson, M.A.

Director, University Advising Center

Aqueelah Thompson has been a part of the Advising Center staff since July of 2007 and was promoted to Director in July 2015. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership, Higher Education Administration at the University of Nevada, Reno where she was a member of the women's basketball team. She began her advising career in 2004 as a graduate assistant Athletic Advisor, and officially became a professional advisor in athletics in August of 2005. Being an alumni of the University of Nevada, Reno, she takes pride in her alma mater and knowing about the different degrees offered. She enjoys working the undecided student population and helping them achieve their educational and career goals.  Aqueelah enjoys spending time with family, baking, working out, and planning events.

Dawn Aeschlimann

Dawn M. Aeschlimann, M.A.

Academic Advisor

Dawn has been working at the University of Nevada, Reno since 2007.  She has worked primarily at the Advising Center with a short period with Financial Aid. Dawn graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Marketing in 2003. After working for a few years in management and production Dawn decided that it was time to complete her goal of attaining a master's degree. In 2008, Dawn completed a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership with an internship in teaching an Academic and Career Exploration course. She currently works closely with Residential Life and Housing and the Living Learning Community and serves as a member on the campus Food Committee. Dawn has been involved in workshops across campus which included topics on Major Exploration, Utilizing Your Advisor, and the Path to Academic Preparation and Exploration. She enjoys working with students in pursuit of academic success and really takes pride in understanding the different degrees offered at the University. Outside of work Dawn enjoy spending time with her family and traveling when she can.


Academic Advisor

Keith Bingham

Keith Bingham, M.Ed.

Academic Advisor

Keith is the most recent addition to the Advising Center, joining the staff in February 2015. Prior to UNR, he worked as a Program Coordinator at Colgate University's Center for Leadership and Student Involvement, where he advised student organizations, their student leadership, and assisted in developing and presenting leadership development programing. Keith began his academic advising career at Colorado State University, where he advised student-athletes as an academic mentor and tutor while enrolled in graduate school and after graduation as an Academic Coordinator. He also worked in secondary education in Colorado in various positions, including time as a social studies teacher. Keith earned a master's degree in Educational Leadership from Colorado State University in 2007 and bachelors degrees in Public Relations and Communication, with a Journalism Concentration, from Auburn University. Prior to Colorado State, he worked in the field of college athletic media relations for several years. Keith particularly enjoys the exploratory and mentoring aspects of advising, especially helping students discover the connections between their unique skill sets and areas of study and potential career fields. Outside of work Keith enjoys spending time with his family, and hiking and fly fishing in the mountains. 

Leal Photo

Grace Cardenas Leal, M.S.

Academic Advisor, Coordinator, Pre-Professional Advising

Grace is the newest member of the Advising Center as of September 2014.   With a Masters of Science degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Saint Mary's College of California, Grace has over 15 years of experience in academic advising with active participation and conference presentation in the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) speaking on topics related to diversity, professional career preparation and building sustainable programs for students.  Prior to coming to UNR, Grace held directorship positions at Saint Mary's College, California State University, Monterey Bay and Humboldt State University.  As an academic advisor, Grace places a high value on creating supportive environments to help students in the process of self-authorship and finding purpose in their life to achieve their academic, socio-cultural and professional goals.  Grace holds a deep appreciation for creativity, music, nature photography and meditation.  Having lived in Hawaii, Japan, Canada, Alaska, California and now in Nevada, Grace enjoys meeting new people and hearing about their stories. 

Office Staff

Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

Administrative Assistant

Vicki is the newest member of the Advising Center as of May 2013.  She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.  Vicki moved to the Tahoe area in 1988 and resided in Truckee, CA for 21 years.  She has worked with students in many capacities which include: Science Docent at Glenshire Elementary, Site Council, Men's Tennis Coach - Truckee High School, as well as working with music students.  She comes from a large non-profit background which most recently includes the Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation as well as the Reno Philharmonic Association, where she served as the Office Manager and Executive Assistant at both locations.  Vicki has a son who is attending the University of Nevada, Reno and pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Engineering with a minor in Mathematics.

Reena Spansail

Graduate Assistant Academic Advisor

coming soon...

Student Support

Lucero Aguirre

Peer Advisor

coming soon...

Aldrin Santamaria

Peer Advisor

Aldrin graduated from Del Sol High School in Las Vegas in 2012. A member of the Honors Program, he is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Biology and hopes to one day attend the University of Nevada School of Medicine. He is heavily involved with Circle K International as well as Alpha Kappa Psi and the American Medical Student Association.

Alyssa Yocom

Peer Advisor

Alyssa is a second year student in the Honors Program pursuing a double major in Finance and Economics. ​She would like to receive her MBA and become a Financial Advisor in the future. She is currently involved in Circle K International, Business Student Council, Business Peer Mentors, and Honors Ambassadors. She is passionate about helping others academically and professionally and enjoys spending her free time running, hiking or volunteering.

Giovanny Pacheco

Student Assistant

Giovanny graduated with Honors from Procter R. Hug High School in 2013 and is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and Engineering.  He is involved with Circle K International and Dean's Future Scholars. In his free time he enjoys running, hiking, swimming, cooking and exploring different cities, foods and cultures.

McXine Salva

Student Assistant

McXine, pronounced "Mac-xine", graduated with an Honors and Advanced Diploma from North Valleys High School in 2013.  She is currently pursuing a dual major in International Business and Economics.  She spends most of her free time volunteering with Circle K International and at a local elementary school near campus.  She likes exploring unknown places, so if there's ever a chance for her to travel, she most likely says yes to it.

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