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Alumni Stories


Kendra Aronson (MLL 2009)


"I admire Celia Sacks—my friend and small business owner of Omnivore Books—on her recent window display, "People from these countries are now banned from entering the U.S., learn about them." It's an honor to have the The San Luis Obispo Farmers' Market Cookbook on her book shelves. 


“We think food is inescapably political, inescapably part of a wider world.”—Amanda Hesser & Merrill Strubbs (co-founders of Food52) in their article Our Answer to 'Politics Don't Belong on Food52. I applaud their whole team for being refreshingly honest and courageous. Food is political. Period. It's a privilege to be a contributor on their inspiring site and be part of this larger discussion.


Immigrants (and their cuisine!) are what make America great. I admire my Nana, who immigrated from Michoacán, Mexico. She and my Tata opened their restaurant Tony's Jacal in Solana Beach in 1946—which is still owned and operated by our family today. 71 years later, and still going strong. The restaurant has always been a hub for giving back to the community, whether that be sponsoring Little League baseball games or hosting fundraising dinners or cooking for events at local schools. My Nana, Catalina Gonzalez was one of a few community leaders that provided the financial backing to start the Mexican American Educational Guidance Association (MAEGA). For the past 50 years they have given over $1 million in scholarships that have helped local Mexican American youth attend college. I'm proud of their legacy and want to continue in their footsteps of community-oriented kindness and selfless generosity. 


What a heartbreaking few days it’s been reading about the wall and the bans. It’s been uplifting to see my social media feed filled with friends and folks I follow voicing their thoughts, their opinions, and most importantly, their actions." 


Reka Vasicsek (MLL 2019) 

Reka Vasicsek was born in Budapest, Hungary and raised in the SF Bay Area. She majored in Modern Languages and Literature while completing pre-medical school coursework at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After graduating, she went to Madrid to teach English at a vocational training school and then went on to complete a Master's of Science in Human Nutrition at the University of Glasgow. Combining her language and nutrition background, she is aiming to establish a career centered around ensuring global food security with the ongoing climate crisis. She is currently interning for Friends of the Earth, focusing on the state of school lunch in California.

Jasmine Elliott (MLL 2017) 

Seeking asylum from credible fear | UU world Magazine

Jasmine graduated from Cal Poly in 2016 with a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literatures and a minor in Ethnic Studies. She was then in the first group of students to complete the Single Subject Teaching Credential in Spanish at Cal Poly and went on to earn her BCLAD the following year. She then taught Spanish and AVID at San Luis Obispo High School. Her time as an AVID teacher led her to pursue her M.A. in School Counseling so she could work more one on one with students and support them through high school and in making post-secondary plans. Jasmine now works as a high school counselor for Vacaville High School. 

Summer Carlson (MLL 2016) 
Is currently living and working in Spain as an English language conversation assistant at a high school. She is in the North American Language and Culture Assistants program run by the Spanish government for the 2016-2017 school year. She absolutely loves the work she gets to do every day, and is eager to gain more experience in the area of English language teaching. 

Nicole (Beaudoin) Mullikin (MLL 2015)

Nicole Mullikin (Maiden name Beaudoin) grew up on the Central Coast and is grateful for the bilingual education she received at Pacheco Dual Immersion Elementary School. That education helped to cultivate a love of languages and cultures that led her to earning a degree in Modern Languages and Literatures from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She graduated magna cum laude in 2015, focusing on Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, with a minor in Asian Studies. She went on to graduate top of her class from San Luis Obispo College of Law in December 2021 with a Doctorate of Jurisprudence and a Master's in Legal Studies. During law school, she found her niche in immigration law through interning for the Law Offices of Kevin C. Gregg in Paso Robles. She now has her own immigration law office in San Luis Obispo, In addition to that, she is an adjunct professor at San Luis Obispo College of Law and a part-time associate at the Law Offices of Kevin C. Gregg. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart, and fellow Cal Poly Alumni, Dean Mullikin (B.A. in English, 2013).

Frankie Irvine (MLL 2015)

Frankie Irvine graduated from Cal Poly in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in Psychology, a minor in Spanish, and the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Certificate. During her time at Cal Poly, she engaged in two international exchanges through the student-run organization AIESEC. She spent one Summer in Peru teaching primary school children about different world cultures. Then she spent another summer in Brazil teaching university students English and Spanish. These two exchanges helped strengthen her Spanish skills and adopt a new set of Portuguese skills. As she has always had a strong passion for languages, Frankie also elected to take one year of Mandarin classes at Cal Poly before her graduation. 

Frankie's first job out of college was that of Bilingual Support Coordinator for Lucia Mar School District's Families in Transition Program. During this time, she managed the cases of 1,335 homeless students, aiding the students and their families in English and Spanish. In a move to transition her career, Frankie then went on to teach English for a summer exchange program in Atascadero with the company Education First (EF). This helped her secure a teaching job overseas as an Auxiliar de Conversación through the Spanish government. Frankie taught English in an adult language institute in the small city of Plasencia in the western region of Extremadura, Spain. During her 9-month contract in Spain, she also taught English at a private language school for youth. Upon returning home from Spain, Frankie decided to pursue another dream of hers: becoming an International Zumba Presenter. This took her to Miami, Florida, where she practiced alongside the most influential Zumba instructors in the world, as well as the creator of Zumba himself. While pursuing this dream, Frankie took on full-time employment with Miami-Dade County as a Public Service Assistant working in the Operations Control Room of Miami International Airport. This position required employees to be trilingual, which allowed Frankie to put her Spanish and Portuguese abilities to use on a daily basis. Amidst the pandemic, Frankie returned to her native California to take on the position of Bilingual Training Coordinator for Seneca Family of Agencies. This children's mental health non-profit serves youth across California and Washington state, with a special focus on foster and adopted youth. The agency offers continuing education courses to its providers, providers in the community, and those parenting the youth they serve. Frankie is tasked with coordinating these courses, offered in both English and Spanish. She is very passionate about her work and plans to utilize this experience to start her own non-profit in the future. She will return to school next year to pursue a Master's in Non-Profit Management and Leadership. 

Kalena Hermes (MLL 2015) 

Kalena Hermes came to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2015 as a Modern Languages and Literature major, specializing in Spanish and French. She spent her third year studying abroad in Paris, France at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle University, attending all her classes in French. She worked as a Resident Advisor for two years, and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2019. The global mindset she gained through her classes, as well as the mentorship she received from the WLC faculty, inspired her to move back to France to obtain a Master’s degree in International Business at IESEG School of Management in Paris. As a part of the program, she completed an internship in International Corporate Communications in Munich, Germany. She now works in Munich full-time as a Corporate Communications / PR Manager for this same international company, which supports expats in 420 cities around the world in integrating and creating communities in their new countries. Every day she gets to communicate with people around the world and help bridge the cross-cultural gaps she encounters in the vibrant international environment she works in. She is currently learning German and is always looking to expand on the open, global outlook that she gained through her undergraduate experience at Cal Poly. 

Daniel Brosnahan  (MLL 2014)

Danny Brosnahan was born and raised in San Francisco. He graduated from Cal Poly SLO in 2014 with a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literatures (now World Languages and Cultures). Since graduating, Danny has worked in real estate, politics, academia and most recently as a high school Spanish teacher. He is thrilled to be on the WLC advisory board and looks forward to working with others to ensure the department's continued success. Danny currently resides in Santa Fe, NM and in his spare time enjoys painting, cooking, reading, and playing the guitar.

Noë Klein (MLL 2014) 
Noe Klein was raised in rural Mendocino County, California. She graduated from Cal Poly with a BA in Modern Languages and Literature with a focus in Spanish and Mandarin in 2014 which included two internships to Colombia and Bolivia. Noe stayed to complete her teaching credential in English at Cal Poly in 2015 and proceeded to add credentials in Spanish and Dance. She currently works at a public high school in the South Bay as the English Learner Teacher on Special Assignment focusing on holistically supporting language acquisition for new immigrants to the US and for Long Term English Learners. Her favorite books to teach are I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez and Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, skiing, mushroom foraging, and watching live music. She lives in the San Jose Bay Area with her partner and their many house plants.  

Paris Badat (MLL 2013)
Worked in the Summer and Fall of 2013 with a non-profit called EduAction that sponsors internships in six countries throughout Latin America. She was in Uruguay and Bolivia from July until October working with local kids to educate them (all teaching is in Spanish) on issues such as cultural diversity, sustainability, social responsibility, leadership, creativity, and personal development. Paris is pictured with students and coworkers below.

Jeff Westling (MLL 2013)

Jeffrey Westling was born and raised in south Orange County, California. He attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and in 2013 graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Spanish, participating in Cal Poly’s study abroad program in Valladolid, Spain. Upon entering Cal Poly, Jeffrey started with an Animal Science major to achieve his original intent to attend Vet School. However, he decided to switch his focus after rekindling his love for social justice and linguistics. After graduating, Jeffrey moved to the port-side city famous for its seafood Dalian, China, to work and ultimately learn Mandarin. While accomplishing those two things, he also found a love for not only communicating with people in a foreign language but for connecting with them. In such a hyper-polarized world with opinions about everything and everyone, language enabled Jeffrey to move past those stereotypes and create meaningful and lasting connections – and vice versa. That pursuit would eventually lead Jeffrey to enter Washington DC's tech world, working in sales and product development. By utilizing his love of linguistics and learn by doing approach Cal Poly taught him, he could shift entirely to a technical role founded on business productivity through cross-team collaboration and cross-cultural awareness. This would continue for a few years before transitioning into a position that required data analysis for drought prevention programs by USAID. The documentation was in French, but despite not speaking French, Jeffrey was able to wade through the intricacies of the tedious yet essential work of validating how aid money was distributed to the different corners of the world. After this, Jeffrey moved to Tokyo and, after a year in an intensive Japanese program, began working in technical product development in a wholly Japanese company. Language capability was only half the battle, as understanding the idiosyncrasies of the culture allowed him to move his highly technical product’s development forward. Now, Jeffrey works at one of the largest conglomerates in Tokyo, Rakuten Group, in the data science department, working on artificial intelligence product development. He often uses the languages he has learned for meaningful, empathetic, and productive team coordination with his teammates in Japan and around the world. He intends to return to the US with his husband to continue working in product development while hoping to get involved in elected office. When he is not in the office, he is in classes for his MBA program, enjoying hikes and hot springs in Mt. Takao, and a weekend in Okinawa with his husband here and there. All in all, Jeffrey’s experience at Cal Poly and in linguistics has shown him not only that the pursuit of linguistic and cultural fluency is not only for a few narrow professional paths but that this education is critical to all industries, an ever-globalizing world, enterprises bottom-line and a candidate’s capacity for high-earning potential. 

Shannon Blike (MLL 2012)
Bilingual Applied Behavior Analysis therapist with Kids Overcoming, Inc. in Oakland, CA. 

Sienna Robertson (MLL 2012, minor in Global Politics) 
Accepted a teaching assistant position in France for the 14-15 academic year through the French government TAPIF program.

Asia Croson (MLL 2011) 
Owner Acro Photography, San Luis Obispo. Produces monthly SLO What? online magazine.

Kelsey Abourezk (MLL 2011) 
Personal Banker, Financial Services, Wells Fargo Bank, San Luis Obispo. 

Kurt Schultheis (MLL 2011)
In 2nd year as North American Language & Culture Assistant in Madrid; planning graduate study in Spain.

Rachel Hines (MLL 2011, certificate Teaching English as a Second Language)
Shortly after finishing her degree, she went to Guatemala for three months to teach an intensive English program for Cal Poly’s Guateca Summer School in the small village of San Pablo. In August of 2011 she went to Japan to teach English through the JET Programme. She spent a year in the northern prefecture of Yamagata teaching in several high schools. Rachel now resides in Los Osos and works as an English Learner’s Aide at San Luis High School and Laguna Middle School. She is also studying yoga at the Yoga Centre in San Luis Obispo where she teaches weekly classes.

Alicia Howard (MLL 2010) 
International Merchant Accounts Specialist at MindBody Software, San Luis Obispo.

Krista Collins (MLL 2010, minor in Linguistics, certificate Teaching English as a Second Language) 
Bilingual instructional aide at Pacheco Elementary.

Molly McFarland (MLL 2010) 
Since graduating, Molly has kept busy. Shortly after graduation, she left for Lyon, France, to teach English for nine months through the TAPIF (Teaching Assistantship Program in France) program. Following that, she returned home for one year to work at the SLO Headquarters of MINDBODY, Inc., - a business management software company with whom she completed her senior project of a Spanish translation of part of their software. During that year, Molly worked on her Peace Corps application, and in June 2012, left the area to begin her Peace Corps service as a university English teacher in China. Now she's been serving in a small rural town outside of Zigong, Sichuan for almost fifteen months. Molly writes: "China is fascinating and perplexing, and is giving me a perspective so absolutely different from my other time abroad. My Chinese is coming along well, although not nearly as quickly as Spanish or French ever did! Despite its small challenges, I love it here, and, lately, I'm constantly in shock that I only have about nine months left in my service! My next step from here will be graduate school. I hope to obtain a master's degree in an International Development-related field, with the end goal of a career in international humanitarian work, be it through public service or work with an NGO." 

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Brooke Alderman (MLL 2009, minor in Psychology)
Primary Therapist at A New Journey Eating Disorder Center, Los Angeles.

Christian Rojas (MLL 2009)
Premium Account Coordinator at MindBody Software, San Luis Obispo.

Christina Paredes (MLL 2009)
Technical Recruiter at Google.

Courtney Mellblom (MLL 2009, minors in Sustainable Agriculture and Biology)
Worked with California agriculture consortium; currently Educator at Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School in San Luis Obispo.

Fabián Londoño (MLL 2009, certificate Teaching English as a Second Language)
Spanish/English Interpreter at American Language Services, Imperial; Planning Spanish Interpreter at Dyett & Bhatia; Bilingual/Spanish Program Coordinator at Baldwin Academy.

Jeffrey "Jake" Hare  (MLL/BioSci 2009)
Jake worked at a veterinary clinic in Paso Robles until his acceptance to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, he will graduate June 2015.  Jake uses his spanish language frequently with clients and with his extended family. He writes, "I like what my MLL education did for me. Sometimes I dream in Spanish."

Kendra Aronson (MLL 2009)

Kendra Aronson graduated with a B.A. in Modern Languages & Literature (2009) with a focus on Spanish as her primary language, French as her secondary language, and Italian as her elective language. She also received a minor in Linguistics and a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Certificate. Kendra studied abroad in Viterbo, Italy (Summer 2006) and Valladolid, Spain (Fall 2007). Between undergraduate and graduate school, she spent a half year abroad in Paris, France working as an au pair before receiving her Masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at San Francisco State University (2010-2012). She was lucky enough to relocate to San Luis Obispo in 2013 while teaching English through an online language learning platform to international students. Enter: plot twist! In 2015, Kendra self-published The San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market Cookbook which catapulted her current career path as a Food Stylist. In 2021 she launched Pregnant and Hungry, the only searchable collection of pregnancy-friendly recipes on the internet. She and her husband—Shea Somma, also a Cal Poly alum—welcomed their daughter Alma in July 2022! 

Alicia Valladares (MLL 2008)
Teaching English as a Second Language at California Pacific Language School.

Samantha Schermerhorn (MLL 2008) 
Atascadero Shelter Manager, North County Women's Shelter.

Leslie Van Meel (MLL 2008) 
Founder of WORLD2U (online translation services) and owner of the California Pacific Language School, San Luis Obispo.

Alexandre Dohrmann (MLL 2007)
Senior Account Manager, West Coast at Sugar Inc (Online Media).

David Jeffcoach (MLL/Bio 2007) 
Doctor of Medicine, currently resident at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine.

Lia Bettinelli (MLL 2007, minor in Linguistics)
Teaches middle school (Spanish and courses related to organic/sustainable agriculture).

Marquel Ramirez (MLL 2007, minor in Psychology)
Worked in waste management (reusing, zero-waste, recycling, packaging) and the environment through AmeriCorps with Conservation Corps North Bay (CA); served as assistant canvass director for Progressive Future in Saginaw, Michigan and Las Vegas, Nevada; served as the national coordinator of SeneGAD (Peace Corps Senegal's Gender and Development Committee). 

Marquel will graduate from law school Spring 2017, she is graduating from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. It is D.C.'s only public school, and the mission of the law school is focused on social justice.

Some of her accomplishments during law school have been serving the Treasurer of the Student Bar Association and the President of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. She is also a Founding Law Student Member of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of D.C. During her first year, she received the Peggy Browning Fund Fellowship with Unite Here Local 2 in San Francisco. This past semester she was on the D.C. Cup Moot Court Competition Team, and they placed in the semi-final round.

Marquel writes, "I have endured three years of stress, finals, and legal internships, and I am thankful for each of you who have supported me throughout the long journey. Of course, I still have to study for and pass the California Bar Examination in July 2017, so that I may practice law and represent clients in California. After the bar, I do not know where my career path is going to lead, but I am sure it will be a good place."

Paul Goldberg (MLL 2006, certificate Teaching English as a Second Language) 
Vineyard manager at Bettinelli Vineyards and a director of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers.

Kevin Van Houten (MLL 2005, minor in Business)
ESL Instructor at Pasadena City College, ESL Instructor at Los Angeles Mission College, ESL Instructor at Glendale Community College.

Brittany Anderson-Cain (MLL 2004)
Ph.D. in Spanish from Emory University, teaching Spanish at Cal Poly. 

Kathrin Theumer (MLL 2003)
Ph.D. in Spanish from UCSB, visiting assistant professor at Franklin and Marshall college in Pennsylvania.

Arturo Araiza (MLL 2002)
Senior Production Training Supervisor at Bay Area Boston Scientific.

Are you a World Languages and Cultures Alum? We'd love to hear from you! Please let us know what you are up to!

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