skip to main content

University Advising Center Staff


Derek Furukawa

Derek T Furukawa, Ph.D.

Assistant Vice Provost, Undergraduate Academic Advising & Student Achievement

Dr. Furukawa joined the University Advising Center staff in December 2012 as the Director of the Advising Center as well as Coordinator of Undergraduate Advising for the university.  In 2016, he was promoted to Assistant Vice Provost, 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, Kappa Phi Lambda, and the Pre-Health Professions club.  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 University 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, Coordinator of Transfer Advising

Dawn has been working at the University of Nevada, Reno since 2007.  She has worked primarily at the University 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.

Leal Photo

Grace Cardenas Leal, M.S.

Academic Advisor, Coordinator of Pre-Professional Advising

Grace has been with the University 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 the University, 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. 

Kara Spracklin

Kara Spracklin, M.S.

Academic Advisor

Kara joined the University Advising Center in April 2016.  She received a Master's of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2015. She began her advising career in 2014 as a graduate assistant Advisor in the College of Education where she advised students pursuing a degree in HDFS, assisted the instructor for HDFS 470: Preprofessional Internship course, and served as a teaching assistant for other HDFS courses. After graduation, Kara continued advising with the College of Education where she assisted students who were pursuing a degree in HDFS, Elementary Education, or Secondary Education. She is also active in the community and currently serves on Operation Homefront's Advisory Board, which works closely to provide emergency financial and other assistance to service members, veterans, and their families. As an Academic Advisor, Kara likes to use a student-centered approach to foster students' academic and professional success. She enjoys guiding, mentoring, and helping her students reach their educational goals. When Kara is not on campus, she likes to complete DIY projects and spend time with her family and friends.

David Yang

David Yang, M.S.

Academic Advisor

David joined the University Advising Center team in October of 2016. He is originally from Wisconsin, where he received his Masters of Science degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Being a bilingual educator and a first generation student, David continues to increase his knowledge of working with a diverse student population and as a lifelong learner, he is always willing to take on new challenges and develop new skills. His advising philosophy is to be student-focused, in order to provide a holistic and positive college experience for all students, as they pursue their academic goals. A few of his interests include being a fan of the Green Bay Packers, trying to stay active, and watch The Walking Dead among other things.

Cherie Youngblood, M.B.A.

Academic Advisor

Cherie joined University Advising Center in January 2016.  Her experience involves counseling students in all academic and vocational areas to support student academic success, retention, timeliness to degree, and intellectual and personal development in addition to educational, career and personal counseling support.  Prior to pursuing a career in higher education Cherie worked in the for-profit and non-profit sector managing contracts, implementing and marketing community related program services.  She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Cal State University Dominguez Hills and Master's in Business Administration from Westwood College.  Cherie enjoys working in a capacity where she can help guide and mentor students in achieving their  educational goals which can lead them to career success.  Cherie is fan of action and sci-fi films, bowling, working out and attending social and networking events.

Office Staff


Administrative Assistant

 Reena Spansail

Reena Spansail

Graduate Assistant Academic Advisor

Reena is a graduate student pursuing her Masters in Secondary Education through the College of Education here at the University. She graduated summa cum laude in cursu honorum with her B.A. in English Literature and Studio Art from the University of Nevada, Reno in the Spring of 2015. While completing her undergraduate degree, Reena was a member of the honors program, Phi Kappa Phi, and Circle K International. She enjoys working with students of all ages, including her elementary art students, Washoe County high school students, and the undeclared students that come to the University Advising Center. When not working with students, Reena pursues her passion for painting and writing by engaging with various community and personal projects. Her most recent project was a mural partnership with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful.

Student Support

Taylor Stichauf

Taylor Stichauf

Peer Advisor

Taylor is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. After graduation, she wants to attend law school to specialize in adoption law. She is very passionate about volunteering, and the organizations she is involved with. She hopes one day she will be able to make a difference in people's lives.

Divya Tenneti

Divya Tenneti

Peer Advisor

Divya is a sophomore at the University of Nevada Reno. She is majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Gerontology. She hopes to work abroad with the Peace Corps after graduation, and eventually finding her way back to the US for medical school. Her interests involve hiking, cooking and volunteering.

Kayla Ryan

Peer Advisor

coming soon...

Ivy Ziedrich

Ivy Ziedrich

Peer Advisor

Ivy is a senior in the College of Liberal Arts majoring in Political Science and minoring in Philosophy and Economic Policy. Her interests include sociology, public policy, and foreign affairs. She also enjoys volunteering, learning the ukulele, and apartment gardening in her free time.

Anthony Balko

Student Assistant

Anthony graduated with Honors from Faith Lutheran High School in 2015 and is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Economics. He is also involved in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on campus. In his free time, he loves playing lacrosse, traveling around Reno, and finding new places to hike with his friends.

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 major in Elementary Education.  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.

Take the next step...