A mentor can be many things: from parents to friends to teachers to truly sought out mentors or coaches, so many in our lives offer the kinds of support and guidance we need to make important decisions about our futures. From the ancient Greek tradition, Mentor was one of the men in whose care Odysseus left his son Telemachus when Odysseus left to fight in the Trojan War. Later, the goddess Athena took the guise of Mentor to advise Telemachus to overcome the suitors who were trying to take his father’s place and to seek out his father’s whereabouts himself. Although the tradition and meaning of mentoring has changed over the course of history since the time of The Odyssey, the features of a caring individual providing advice and guidance for personal growth remain central to our understanding of mentorship today.

At Catch the Next, mentoring is foundational to our mission to serve and support underserved students. While student mentoring is a key component of our Ascender Program for community college students, peer mentoring supports student success by providing support for the teaching and learning mission of our faculty, staff, and administrators. Peer mentors in the Teaching and Learning for Student Success program come from a national body of stellar scholars, authors, and community leaders who share their experiences and expertise with Catch the Next practitioners. To support the work of teaching and learning and to impact classroom practice for positive student experiences, CTN peer mentors participate in our professional development series, present in our monthly webinar series, and even deliver talks and guest lectures at CTN member colleges. In addition, several peer mentors have offered publication and professional advancement advice to CTN practitioners that has allowed them to grow in their careers.

The Teaching and Learning for Student Success Peer Mentoring Program has, since its beginnings, sought to sustain a community of learners who grow and advance together in support of our shared mission of increasing equitable outcomes in higher education even as we continue on our own paths of learning. Walking those paths with a mentor collective has only widened the path to allow more like-minded individuals to learn and grow together.

CTN would like to welcome three new peer mentors to our familia.

Dr. Enrique Murillo, Jr. is a tenured professor at California State University, San Bernardino in Educational Research Methods and Foundations.

A native bilingual speaker in Spanish and English, he completed his Ph.D. in the Social Foundations of Education program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his master’s degree from Cal State Los Angeles, with coursework towards the bilingual multiple-subject teaching credential; he earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UCLA. His specialty areas include foundations of education, research methods, critical ethnography, sociology, educational anthropology and cultural studies.

Dr. Murillo is the founder of the National Latino Education Network and currently serves as Executive Director and Founder of the LEAD organization (Latino Education & Advocacy Days). Located in the College of Education at California State University at San Bernardino, its primary objective is to promote awareness of the crisis in Latino education and to enhance the intellectual, cultural and personal development of our community’s educators, administrators, leaders, and students. The LEAD network counts with more than 1500 chapters across 37 countries. Under the LEAD banner, he has initiated or facilitated numerous programs and projects like the IE Regional Collaborative, Cash for College FAFSA Workshops, the Student Parent Academic Resource Campaign, Feria Educativa College and Career Fair, the LEAD Virtual Classroom and Webinar Series, Portraits of Hope Novela Educativa Video Series, LEAD Social Media Ambassadors, the Binational Parent Leadership Institute, and the LEAD Summit which counts with nearly 9 million conference participants.


Julia Preston is an award-winning American journalist and contributing writer for the Marshall Project, concentrating on immigration.

Born in Lake Forest, IL, Preston received a B.A. degree in Latin American Studies from Yale University in 1976.

Fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese, Preston reported for the Boston Globe, from 1983-1985, and worked for National Public Radio, covering armed conflicts in Central America. From 1986-1989, she was The Washington Post Bureau Chief in Miami, covering wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala as well as the conflict between the United States and Panamanian general, Manuel Antonio Noriega. She covered the United Nations for The Post from 1993-1995, including the crisis in Bosnia, Somalia, North Korea, Iraq, and Rwanda. From 1990-1992, she was also a Post Latin American correspondent in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, reporting on the impeachment of President Fernando Collor de Mello. After nearly a decade with The Washington Post, Preston would join The New York Times in 1995 as a correspondent in Mexico.

For the next ten years, Preston would take on a variety of roles including: as a national correspondent covering immigration, a federal courts reporter, deputy investigations editor, United Nations bureau chief, covering the Security Council deliberations in Iraq, and an editor on the Foreign Desk in New York. Preston would then join and write for The Marshall Project, a non-profit news organization, specializing on the U.S. criminal justice system. Her work has included two collaborations with the radio program, This American Life.

She is a member of the New York Times award-winning staff that received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on international affairs for its series that profiled the effects of drugs and corruption in Mexico. Previously, in 1997, she received the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for distinguished coverage of Latin America and won the 1994 Robert F. Kennedy Award for Humanitarian Journalism. Along with Samuel Dillon, Julia Preston is the co-author of Opening Mexico: The Making of a Democracy, a narrative on the history of Mexico’s three-decade transformation from an authoritarian state into a democracy.

Fatema Basrai was born in India and raised in rural Oklahoma and Texas. After living in Rome and graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, she moved to San Antonio to teach elementary school through Teach for America.
Fatema currently serves as the Assistant Director of InnovateHealth Yale at Yale University. In her role, she works with students, faculty, staff and community members to support social ventures in health and education across the globe. She is active in the ed equity community and has presented nationally and locally on panels including those for DreamWeek, The American Association for University Women, and Leadership for Educational Equity. She also served as the Vice Chair for the San Antonio ISD's 2016 Bond Committee which oversees a $450 million dollar bond and was a founding member of SA RISE, an educational equity community organizing group.
Fatema was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 in Education list for 2018 and is dedicated to ensuring educational equity for students globally.

CTN would also like to congratulate two of our CTN Peer Mentors, Judge Manuel Del Valle who will retire from his position in June, and Kevin Christian who recently earned his doctorate.

Judge Del Valle graduated from Yale Law School and the London School of Economics. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Princeton.

While at Princeton, he and other Puerto Ricans from New York pressured university officials to offer a course on the Puerto Rican history and to admit more minority students. They saw their goal as creating a class of lawyers, doctors, writers, and activists who would use their expertise to lift up their old neighborhoods.

Del Valle is the Chief Administrative Law Judge of the San Juan Hearing Office of the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, Social Security Administration in Puerto Rico. He also teaches courses on federal procedure and jurisdiction at the Interamerican Law School and serves as an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association which handles civil, commercial, and labor disputes. As an adjunct professor of law at Yale, Princeton, New York Law School, and Fordham College and Law School, he taught courses on labor law, employment law, civil rights law, international law, and health care law.

Judge Del Valle has worked at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc.; as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor; had his own law firm, Del Valle & Zayas; served as the Chief Administrative Law Judge for the New York State Division of Human Rights; and as Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for AmeriChoice, Inc., a division of United Health Group.

Kevin A. Christian recently received his doctorate in Community College Education and Leadership from George Mason University. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media Arts with a minor in Journalism from Hampton University. He received his certification in addiction counseling from The College of Southern Maryland before receiving his Master of Business Administration with a minor in Human Resources Management from Southeastern University in Washington, D.C.

Christian currently serves as the Senior Program Associate for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). In his role, he is the staff liaison to AACC’s Commission on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, and reviews national trends that affect diverse student population. In addition, Christian manages AACC’s Minority Male Student Success Database, which highlights community college programs and initiatives that focus on mentoring, recruitment, persistence and completion. Previously, Christian was the Assistant Director for Career Services at the College of Southern Maryland (formerly Charles County Community College) and served as the co-chair for the campus Diverse Student Programs Committee.

In addition, he serves on the Blue Ribbon Panel for the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE), the National Association for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), and serves as an advisor to the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL). From 2012-2014, he served on the National Advisory Committee for Improving Outcomes for Men of Color in Community Colleges.



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