Ascender Faculty

Catch the Next, Inc. (CTN), established in 2009, is a national, award-winning professional development organization, empowering students to catch college and career dreams while empowering faculty, staff, and institutions to fulfill their professional and educational missions and visions. Catch the Next’s mission is to increase the educational attainment of underserved communities and to end racial inequality in educational outcomes in Texas and beyond, to close achievement gaps in Texas.

Catch the Next, Inc. has primary responsibility for overall program planning, coordination, and administration, including fiscal and policy responsibilities for the CTN Ascender program and the Teaching and Learning for Student Success Peer Mentoring program. In addition, CTN is responsible for all program trainings, data management, analyses, and reporting, in partnership with member colleges. CTN's strategy consists in implementing data-driven professional development as well as program planning and coordination leading to a rigorous, accelerated, interdisciplinary, and culturally relevant model of instruction, student services, and engagement.

Catch the Next implements best practices in professional development through its three-part series of intensive and research-based seminars, led by skilled practitioners in the Ascender Program, as well as its Teaching and Learning for Student Success Monthly Webinar scholar series, featuring presentations of research, teaching practices, and creative expressions of our national body of, author, and community leadership mentors. This sustained professional development, all with foundations in empathetic mentoring and coaching, has proven success in the enrichment it provides to the classrooms and student interactions among our member faculty, staff, and administration.

  • Professional Development is at the core of all Catch the Next efforts. All staff involved with the program, as instructors, counselors, advisors, coordinators, and/or mentors, participate in a three-part series of seminars, beginning with the foundational summer seminar, which takes place over a five-day period at the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas. The foundational seminar provides participants with intensive training in the curricular components of the program, workshops promoting best practices for student recruitment, mentor recruitment, and successfully coordinating a program, as well as team-building exercises. Each session incorporates pedagogical strategies that model best practices for active learning and student success, which can be used in the classroom. Participants will come away from the seminar with teaching and organizational practices, theoretical foundations, and materials that will be used to build the coming academic year’s curriculum and program development.

    The professional development series continues with two-day seminars each long semester in San Antonio, Texas. The focus of the fall seminar is on team-building, troubleshooting issues encountered in the first weeks of the semester, and anticipating curriculum and program development for the spring semester. The spring semester seminar then focuses on the program’s components. Workshops address strategies and practices for teaching in the Language Arts, Learning Frameworks, Mathematics, and additional credit-bearing courses as well as for coordinating student recruitment, advising, counseling, and mentoring programs.


    Training Principles

    • Research-based and experiential
    • Led by experienced practitioners and content-area experts
    • Sustained and intensive
    • Pedagogical content knowledge
    • Culturally competent asset-based approaches and practices
    • Engaging the community and integrating culture
    • Team-building
    • Connections with universities and research
    • Share a common mission
    • Share an understanding of themselves as agents of change
    • Share common practices and a common discourse
    • Share a deep understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of their approaches
    • Access to statewide network of experts

    The CTN Ascender model validates and incorporates language and culture into all aspects of the learning environment. The CTN model involves community as an essential component of the learning environment; it creates sustained collaborations with students’ families, and it builds expectations about future education and provides direct, first-hand experiences of university and career life and culture.

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    Yon Hui Bell

    Yon Hui Bell has been teaching at SAC since 2010. She is a faculty instructor of English and the coordinator of the INRW Center. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from UTSA and has worked in a variety of institutions with students of all ages in Japan, El Salvador, and the United States. She is passionate about the power of literacy as a tool for personal and social growth.


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    Laurie Coleman

    Laurie Lopez Coleman is Director of the Honors Academy and Professor of English at San Antonio College. She is an ACUE certified online educator, Quality Matters Certified Peer Reviewer, AAC&U VALUE Institute Certified Scorer, Catch the Next Leadership Fellow, and Open Education Resources advocate. She is dedicated to innovative and dynamic teaching as a means of supporting literacy and a love of reading and writing in her students. She strives to enrich her courses through learning communities and collaborative learning. Laurie sees herself as a “teacher’s teacher” and seeks out opportunities to collaborate with colleagues across disciplines. One of her pedagogical methods includes making college more affordable for her students through the adoption of free or low-cost instructional materials. She is a 2019 NISOD Excellence Award recipient and recognized by her College in 2017 during National Distance Learning Week for exceptional leadership in the distance learning field. For nine years, she served as the co-coordinator of the San Antonio College Multicultural Conference. Laurie is a graduate of Our Lady of the Lake University where she received her M.A. in English Education. She is a former high school and middle school instructor for the Southside and the Edgewood ISDs.

  • Math Faculty



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    David Chavera

    David Chavera is a Math professor and has been teaching at SAC since August 1989. He has a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Mathematics from UTSA. Professor Chavera loves teaching, enjoys classroom participation and answering questions. In class, he constantly reminds students to keep grinding; education is a long game. He enjoys spending time with the Familia, web surfing and loves to walk, play basketball, and exercise with the family dog.


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    Dr. Meagan Shadfan

    Dr. Meagan Shadfan earned her B.S. in Mathematics from Louisiana Tech University in 2007. In 2009, she earned a M.S. in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Southern Methodist University. Dr. Whaley earned a Ph.D. in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Rice University in 2015. She is passionate about creating engaging, interactive learning experiences that make math content accessible to all students.


    Maria Brucks

    Maria Brucks has been a math instructor for the Alamo Colleges since the Spring of 2012, focusing on teaching developmental math and bridge programs assisting students in the transition to college level mathematics. Maria enjoys taking a challenging subject and making it fun for students, helping them develop their math and study skills, and facilitating the achievement of their academic and professional goals. When Maria is not teaching, she boards dogs out of her home, takes long walks with her fur-baby, Talon, and spends quality time with her children.


    Maynell H. Wackwitz

    Maynell Wackwitz has been a Mathematics Professor at San Antonio College since the Fall of 2020. She has a B.S. and an M.S. in Mathematics from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, and she has been teaching math at the college level for about 20 years. Professor Wackwitz (Ms. Nell) loves teaching all kinds of math classes, from Elementary Algebra to Calculus. She has been part of the Ascender program since the Fall of 2021. In her spare time, Ms. Nell enjoys playing with math, watching math videos on YouTube, and dreaming about math. She also enjoys spending time with her many kitty housemates!




    Ricardo Piña

    Ricardo Piña Jr. is a Professor at San Antonio College. He started teaching in the Math Department at San Antonio College in 1994. He has a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He enjoys playing basketball.




    Anahita Lorestani

    I have been teaching at SAC since 2000. I am an Associate Professor of Mathematics. I earned my B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics from Montclair University and my M.S. in Mathematics from UTSA.

    I love teaching mathematics. It makes me feel good when I explain difficult concepts in a variety of different ways. And I am sympathetic to the frustration my students experience when learning math and want to help them succeed and increase their self-confidence.


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    Jeanette Bunch

    As part of the Student Development team, Jeanette Bunch has been teaching at San Antonio since 2003. She is a seasoned champion and advocate for the student and understands the challenges students face as they work towards meeting their academic goals and dreams. She makes students feel valued and unique and part of la familia.  


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    Dehlia Wallis

    Dehlia Wallis is an Associate Professor of Psychology and has been teaching in higher education for 20 years.  She has a B.A. in Psychology and a M.S. in School Psychology.  She teaches General Psychology, Lifespan Growth and Development and Human Sexuality, she is the Faculty Advisor for Psi Beta and The Psychology Club.  In the classroom, Professor Wallis encourages collaborative student learning, research and information literacy.  


  • 1RD photo.pngRachel Del Rio

    Rachel Del Rio has been teaching full-time at SAC since 2019. She has a Master's Degree in Veterinary Microbiology from Texas A&M University, College Station. She teaches Anatomy and Physiology and Microbiology. She has taught in different circumstances from being a TA at Texas A&M University to teaching English in Mexico City to teaching preschool with Even Start to giving science camps in the Dominican Republic. For the past nine years, she been been teaching and tutoring biological sciences at the community college and four-year college level. She enjoys an interactive classroom with lots of hands-on learning.




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    Terri Slonaker

    Terri Slonaker is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and has been teaching since 1997. Her background in higher education includes academic advising and college admissions. She has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a M.A. in Sociology from Texas State. Terri teaches Introduction to Sociology (SOCI 1301) and Criminology (SOCI 2336). Professor Slonaker wants students to be able to take Sociology with them and apply what they learned in the classroom to their work and life experiences. Terri’s hobbies include spending time with family, photography and mowing the lawn.



    Beatrix Perez

    Beatrix Perez is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and serves as Sociology Program Coordinator. She has been teaching in higher education for 12 years. She has a B.A. and M.S. in Sociology and an M.S.W. from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). She teaches Introduction to Sociology, Social Problems, and Minority Studies. Professor Perez engages students in interactive and collaborative learning experiences such as participatory action and arts-based research projects to bring awareness to social issues in our community and nation. In the classroom, she emphasizes cultural competence, sense of belonging, and empathy.

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    Dr. Joan J. Jaimes - Dr. Joan Jaimes is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is a former migrant farmworker from Brownsville, Texas and the first in her family to obtain a college degree. She moved to Iowa at the age of 19, to work in a pork processing plant and later began attending Marshalltown Community College (MCC) in Marshalltown. After several years as a banker conducting community outreach and helping families achieve their dream of homeownership, she started her career in higher education directing the Marshalltown Education Partnership (MEP) at the college in 2008. MEP was an outreach program that offered scholarships for qualifying first-generation college students from Marshalltown High School.

    Dr. Jaimes conducted outreach to first-generation college students and families and helped create partnerships to bridge diverse communities in Iowa. She served as Commissioner of Latino Affairs for the State of Iowa and served on numerous state, local, and national boards and commissions. Dr. Jaimes is a founding member of Iowa’s Al Éxito, an American Association of University Women (AAUW) initiative that guides middle school students on their path to college.

    In 2015, her experience in cultural bridging and Latin@ educational outreach took her to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the Department of Education as an Awareness and Outreach Specialist for Federal Student Aid.

    Jaimes is a 2022 fellow of La Academia de Liderazgo of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and University, a 2020 fellow of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, a 2013 fellow of the National Community College Hispanic Leadership program, and a 2013 fellow of Iowa State University’s Leadership Institute for a New Century.

    She earned an associate degree from Marshalltown Community College. Later, Dr. Jaimes earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and a master’s in public administration. Jaimes graduated in December of 2019, with a Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from Iowa State University. Her research focus is using technology to create a college-going culture in Latin@ homes.

    Dr. Jaimes currently serves as the Director of Teaching and Learning at San Antonio College and is an adjunct professor in the Student Development Department.