Meet the Staff


Steven Neal



Steven Neal is the director of the Academic Community of Excellence program at Loyola Marymount University. He executes and oversees educational initiatives and services that support the graduate and professional school aspirations of underrepresented students. As a member of the Office of Intercultural Affairs, he also supports the development and implementation of implicit bias and inclusive excellence initiatives for university and external constituents. He earned an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University, an M.Div. from The Master’s Seminary, and a B.A. in English from San Diego State University



Francesca Briones

I am a senior Health and Human Sciences major and a member of the 2018 ACE cohort. After my time at LMU I plan to pursue a Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis on community health. As a peer scholar, I consider my primary role to be a resource for ACE students as they develop their post-graduate and career goals. I consider the most valuable aspect of the ACE experience the professional and personal network that it allows students to develop for themselves.


Jasia-Jemay Henderson

I am a junior transfer student majoring in Psychology and minoring in African-American Studies. One of the main things I enjoy about being a Peer Scholar is to have the opportunity to connect with students as well as encourage them to continue pursuing their academic and career goals to the fullest capacity. I also love facilitating dialogue centered around the barriers that underrepresented students face when applying to graduate and professional school. When I'm not in class or in a club meeting, you can find me creating content for my personal blog, practicing yoga, or cooking something I discovered while watching cooking shows. 


Kennedi Lurry

I am the graduate assistant to the ACE program. In 2019 I graduated a year early from Michigan State University earning my Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing with a minor in Creative Writing. Currently, I am pursuing my M.F.A in Writing for the Screen through the School of Film and Television. In my free time, I enjoy writing, watching movies and/or television, and now, since recently moving to Los Angeles, I love to spend time at the beach, getting outside as much as possible.



Maryela Mendoza

Being a program assistant I enjoy giving back and helping other students in their academic careers just as I was assisted in adapting to college as a first generation student. My career goal is to become a structural engineer and receive my professional engineer license within a year or two after I graduate with my B.S. in Civil Engineering. In my free time I enjoy painting, supporting local coffee shops, and going to concerts.


Giuliana Toscano

I am a sophomore majoring in Biology and am a member of the 2020 ACE Cohort. By being a program assistant, I hope to help and assist in providing resources to other ACE Scholars. My career goal is to attend dental school and become a pediatric dentist. In my free time, I enjoy drawing, watching movies, baking, and spending time with my family.






Erykah Walton

I am a junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Spanish. As a program assistant, I enjoy helping my fellow ACE scholars by locating scholarship and internship opportunities. I plan on attending medical school and becoming a physician-researcher with a focus on infectious disease. In my free time, you can catch me stargazing, caring for my plants, and eating at the best food spots in LA.