AACTE Welcomes New Scholars

AACTE is proud to welcome new Holmes Scholars from the University of Portland. The program, led by Assistant Professor Benjamin Gallegos, launched last winter with three outstanding scholars that AACTE is pleased to welcome to the Holmes Community: Kiko Garcia, Yvonne Ayesiga, and Ana Lia Oliva.

Kiko Garcia

Kiko GarciaGarcia is pursuing a Ph.D. in educational leadership and neuroeducation at the University of Portland. His family showed him the value of education at a very young age. Coming from an immigrant family who has strived to be a meaningful part of its community while growing up in California, he vows to do the same in Oregon. As a nonprofit administrator and educator in the greater Portland area, Garcia’s goal is to help communities to be empowered by creating meaning within their own journeys.  Educational leadership and neuroeducation have helped him to forge an understanding about how we learn. His philosophy is that the world outside is the classroom and there are always opportunities to improve upon this classroom through social justice, equity, and recognition that our neurodiversity, as well as different abilities, are the true path to authentic learning and community-making.    

Yvonne Ayesiga

Yvonne AyesigaAyesiga received her B.A. in political science and international relations from Wartburg College, her M.A. in higher education, student affairs from the University of Northern Iowa. She has worked in residence life for close to six years as a hall director at Wartburg College and at the University of Portland prior to teaching 7th grade STEM at Valley Catholic Middle School. Ayesiga’s work aims to promote access for marginalized groups and student advocacy especially for first-generation college students. Her research interests include first-generation college student success, experiences related to impostor phenomenon and how experiences, resilience, and persistence help first-generation college students reach degree completion. 


Ana Lia Oliva 

Ana Lia OlivaOliva is a first-generation immigrant, bilingual-bicultural Latina and doctoral candidate pursuing her Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in leading and learning with a concentration in neuroeducation. Her research focuses on adult transformative learning. Oliva’s ultimate goal is to engage in ongoing research to contribute to the body of knowledge in the field of adult transformative learning with a focus on examining the socio-cognitive processes of adult learning mediated by language and cultural experiences. She sees her purpose in education as supporting the development of a body of knowledge that promotes inclusive culturally and linguistically responsive communities centered on empowerment and belonging. Oliva has dedicated her career to the advancement of educational and racial equity in community-based and K-12 public education systems with a special focus on inclusive and equitable special education services. She has worked for over 20 years as a speech-language pathologist in special education and across educational contexts to advance educational and racial equity in non-profit, community-based, and PK-12 public education systems. For the past 11 years, she has engaged in a focused educational leadership role as the coordinator for the school-based Speech-Language Pathology Services and Assistive Technology programs at Northwest Regional Education Service District. Her servant leadership approach has resulted in expansive collaboration that supports equitable access to services for 20 component school districts within a four-county region.


Weade James

Vice President, Organizational Advancement