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: Pre-professional 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.


Academic Advisor

coming soon...

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.

Lindsey Forbes

Neuroscience Academic Advisor

coming soon...

Office Staff

Suzanna Grove

Administrative Assistant

coming soon...

Student Support


Raghavi Anand

Peer Advisor

Raghavi is a senior pursuing dual degrees in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology as well as Spanish. She loves to keep herself busy both on- and off-campus, and really values learning. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school with the eventual goal of providing care to those in impoverished countries. In her free time, she loves to enjoy all that Reno has to offer!


Erica Dietlein

Peer Advisor

Erica Dietlein is a senior studying philosophy and biochemistry.  After graduation she intends on getting a masters in philosophy with a focus on the philosophy of science and biology.  Outside of school she likes to read Neil Gaiman and Maggie Stiefvater, and attempts to write novels of her own.  She also likes to kayak and hike, but won't say she is particularly good at either of those things.


Patrick Gomez

Peer Advisor

Patrick Gomez is a senior majoring in biology on the pre-dental tract. He aspires to be a great dentist and to specialize as an oral surgeon. He graduated in Las Vegas, NV with advanced honors from West Career and Technical Academy in 2015. A few clubs he is a part of include Nevada Student Ambassadors and Nevada's Pre-Dental Society. Patrick loves meeting new people, making them smile, and shouting out good ole' puns.


Cheyenne Harder

Peer Advisor

Cheyenne is currently working on her Bachelor's of Science majoring in Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Business Administration. She has a passion for animals, climate change, and nutrition. When she is not on campus working or studying she enjoys, playing Pokemon Go, spending time with her cats, cooking, and trying new things!


Travis Houston

Peer Advisor

Travis Houston is a senior studying Psychology with a minor in Addiction Treatment Services. His passion lies with Student Affairs and hopes to make a difference on multiple campuses throughout his future career. He also works at the Joe Crowley Student Union and The Davidson Academy. This summer he studied abroad with USAC in Viterbo, Italy. Outside of school and work, he serves on the executive boards for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and Blue Key Honor Society. His favorite pastimes include playing with all dogs he can find, random trips to Tahoe and California, and eating food.


Kayla Ryan

Peer Advisor

Kayla Ryan is a junior studying psychology with a specialization in research and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. After graduating, she plans on obtaining a PhD in Clinical Psychology and working as a child psychologist. She loves children, animals, reading, and being outdoors. Most of her hobbies include at least one of those things.


Melanie Shackleford

Peer Advisor

Melanie Shackleford is a junior pursuing a degree in Biology from Las Vegas, Nevada. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school and become a physician. Outside of school, she enjoys volunteering for local communities, outdoor activities especially hiking and skiing, and music. She is also a member of the Music Therapy Club and MEDLIFE Club.

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.