About Us

Student Outreach and Recruitment (SOAR) provides outreach, recruitment and informational services to high school and community college students interested in attending a four-year university. SOAR is home to Guest Relations and Campus Tours, the TRIO programs Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search, Community and academic partnerships and the Testing Center.

SOAR Director Juana Maria Valdivia

Juana Maria Valdivia, Director
Student Outreach and Recruitment

Juana Maria Valdivia provides leadership and guidance for the Student Outreach and Recruitment team. Working in the field of higher education for more than 25 years, she has supervised the University Ambassadors program – which includes more than 65 CSUN students who serve as the university's official tour guides – and managed various university outreach events to promote college awareness. She obtained a bachelor's degree in theatre arts and a master's degree in educational leadership and policy studies from CSUN.

Catherine Villa-Real, Associate Director

Catherine Villa-Real, Associate Director
Student Outreach and Recruitment

Catherine Villa-Real is the Associate Director of Student Outreach and Recruitment. Catherine has over fifteen years of working in higher education at a community college, private institution, and California State University. She worked in the financial aid department, admissions, outreach and recruitment. Catherine obtained a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's in Marriage Family and Child Therapy at University of Phoenix.

Testing Center Coordinator Charity Chia

Charity Chia, Coordinator
Testing Center

Charity Chia directs development and operations for the university's testing services, which facilitate degree completion and promote access and enrollment. She has worked at CSUN for more than 10 years — first in Admissions and Records and now as coordinator for the Testing Center. Charity earned her bachelor's degree in accounting from Truman State University in Missouri.

Gigi McGuire, Assistant Director, Partnerships & Initiatives

Gigi McGuire, Assistant Director
Partnerships and Initiatives

Gigi McGuire provides leadership for the Partnerships and Initiatives unit within Student Outreach and Recruitment. She has worked with SOAR for more than 20 years as a recruiter, tour coordinator, outreach counselor and assistant director. She works on numerous statewide initiatives in collaboration with local school districts, community-based organizations and federal grant programs. As an expert in the California State University system, Gigi provides training to new high school counselors. Gigi earned her bachelor's degree in sociology and master's degree in public administration from CSUN.


Vacant, Director
TRIO Programs


Karen Carranza, Associate Director
TRIO Programs

Karen Carranza is the Associate Director of TRIO, federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Over the last 10 years, she has worked to provide opportunities and access to higher education for K-12 students. Karen earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Latin American Studies and is currently completing her master's degree in Public Administration at CSUN's Tseng College. As an educational professional, her mission is to continue assisting and supporting youth achieve their higher education goals, as well as, succeed post-graduation.