Paving the way to a more equitable future with our new board members

5 min readNov 2, 2021

By ScholarMatch

This year, ScholarMatch welcomed six​​ new members to our Board of Directors. ​They​ are active professionals in fields ranging from higher education and college access to nationally recognized, community-based organizations.

The diversity of thought and experiences of these new board members will add tremendous value to the ScholarMatch team as we ​enter this new chapter together.​ Keep reading to learn more about them and their vision for ScholarMatch’s future.

Luz Gomez

Luz Gomez feels strongly about combating economic inequality by helping to facilitate access to higher education. She brings to the ScholarMatch’s Board of Directors a wide range of experiences; she has run a small nonprofit, has policy and program evaluation experience, and currently works on the corporate side, where she develops philanthropic grant-making strategies across Latin America and the Caribbean. Although she is originally from Los Angeles, CA, and earned a BA from UC Berkeley, she moved to New York for her master’s at Columbia University and currently lives in Miami, FL.

“As a first-gen college student from LA, I know the college process can be daunting and disorienting. The services that Scholarmatch provides are invaluable. Working with students, and now serving on the board, has allowed me to pay it forward and support students on their college journey.”

Terrance Mayes

Terrance Mayes declares that he has been on a “life-long quest to pay it forward.” Terrance brings to our board a well-established career in higher education, ranging from his roles as an Associate Dean for Equity and Strategic Initiatives at Stanford University and Associate Vice Chancellor for DEI at UC Irvine to roles in program development, student affairs, and service on advisory boards. His expertise in developing organizations and forging partnerships will help propel ScholarMatch’s work forward.

Martha Castillo

As a first-generation college student, Martha is familiar with the challenges first-generation students face when transitioning to college. She served as a special education teacher and college readiness counselor for underserved students in The Bronx, NY, and Los Angeles, CA. She has dedicated her career to helping underserved students receive the guidance and resources necessary to successfully achieve their educational goals. Martha earned her bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of La Verne and her M.S. E.d in education from The City College of New York and is currently working on her EDD in Education Leadership at the University of Arizona. She is an educational consultant and owner at Seeds of Grit Educational Services and serves as a Learning Success Coach at Arizona State University Prep Digital High School. She also volunteers with ScholarMatch as a college coach and is a part-time instructor at UCLA Extension for their College Counseling certificate program.

“I am motivated by my deep desire to facilitate access to higher education among FirstGen minority students. I believe all students deserve access to higher education and have made it my life’s purpose to provide increased access, awareness, and equity in our education system.”

José Martinez

José Martinez began his journey to ScholarMatch with our sister organization, 826 Valencia, where he was awarded the 2005 Irving Hochman Memorial Scholarship as a senior at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto. Early on, José decided to devote his career to youth development. While as an undergraduate at UC Davis, José became involved in Davis Bridge, an academic mentoring program for underserved at-risk, and low-income youth. Since then, he has developed and administered programs aimed at K-12 demographics at several nonprofits and currently serves as a Field Director at the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Alicia Perla

Alicia Perla began her transition into college admission counseling in 2018. She joined Sacramento Country Day School as a college counselor in June 2021. Before joining Country Day, she volunteered as a college counselor for community-based organizations Breakthrough Sacramento and ScholarMatch, where she assisted first-generation, low-income students in all aspects of the college admission process. Alicia loves helping students plan their futures and pursue their goals. She joined ScholarMatch’s Board of Directors to use her professional skills towards advancing ScholarMatch’s mission.

Alicia has a Certificate in College Admission and Career Planning from the University of California, Berkeley, a Juris Doctorate from University of Michigan Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Columbia University. She is the proud parent of two high school-aged daughters and a variety of cats. In her free time, Alicia enjoys spending time riding her bike on the American River Trail.

Esteban Rodriguez

Esteban Rodriguez is a counsel with the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP. He represents clients in complex commercial litigation matters, including class action, product liability, and mass tort cases. In the community, Esteban serves on the ScholarMatch’s Board of Directors and as the Vice-Chair of the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County’s Board of Directors, one of the largest and most prominent public interest law offices in California. He also devotes significant time to immigration-related pro-bono matters. Esteban is also a recipient of the 2019 O’Melveny Warren Christopher Values Award, which recognizes attorneys who embody the firm’s values of excellence, leadership, and citizenship.

He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and the University of California, Irvine. At UCI, Esteban spent three years as the program coordinator for a mentorship program at several high schools in low-income neighborhoods in Orange County. At Stanford, Esteban participated in similar programs serving students in East Palo Alto. At O’Melveny, Esteban has mentored high school students through multiple firm mentoring programs targeting low-income high school students in Los Angeles. “I’m honored to continue supporting initiatives benefiting underserved students as a member of the ScholarMatch’s Board of Directors.”




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