Our Staff

Gus Pena

Augusto “Gus” Peña (he/him/his)

Augusto is a passionate advocate for all students and joined the staff at UNCG in 2015.   He has over eighteen years of experience in the areas of college access, student organization advising, academic support, domestic and international undergraduate recruitment, student mentoring, retention initiatives, undergraduate teaching, student conduct processes, free speech policy, program assessment, multicultural leadership development, cultural programming, staff training, policy development, staff supervision and budget management. He is responsible for leading a team of dedicated professionals with the goal of advancing intercultural, intracultural, and cross cultural student competence and engagement at UNCG.  He advises several student clubs and serves on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Excellence and the Faculty Senate Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Augusto has taught courses on social justice theory, multicultural leadership, and international service learning. His public service includes past membership on the State Superintendent’s Graduation Taskforce of North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction. He served as chair of the Education Committee of Governor Bev Perdue’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. He is a co-author of Appalachian State University’s Quality Enhancement Plan titled “Global Learning: A World of Opportunity for Appalachian Students”.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and Comparative Politics, and a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration both from Appalachian State University.

Marisa G. González (she/her/ella)
Assistant Director

Schedule a meeting with me: calendly.com/uncgmarisa

Marisa joined the OIE in December 2022. Her primary roles are Intergroup Dialogue and Latinx Student Engagement and Success. She will be working with Spartans & Dialogue and other intergroup dialogue initiatives. Marisa is an educator and community activista for first-generation students’ access to higher education and retention. She collaborates year-long with CHANCE and the UNCG Latinx Admissions on diverse initiatives. Marisa also serves as an advisor for UNCG Association of Latinx Professionals of America (ALPFA), Ritmo Latino, and as co-chair of the UNCG ALIANZA Board. In 2018, Marisa was recognized as a Notable Latina of the Triad, and in 2021 as a LatinxED Fellow. Marisa is excited to connect and work with students to reach their full potential. 

Marisa is a first-generation student and started at UNCG over a decade ago. A double alumna of UNC-Greensboro, in 2016, she received a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education (K-12) and, in 2019, a Master’s in Languages, Literatures, and Cultures – Spanish. Marisa has been an adjunct lecturer for the Residential College and is currently a third-year doctoral student in Educational Leadership & Cultural Foundations. Her research interests are around holistic and culturally affirming higher education spaces for Latinx student communities, engagement and belonging. 

Briana Welsh (she/her/hers)
Assistant Director for Diverse Student Engagement 

Briana N. Welsh joined the OIE team in the middle of November 2022 in the newly created position of Assistant Director for Diverse Student Engagement. In this role, she will work collaboratively with the Division of Student Affairs, Division of Student Success, and Academic Affairs to create programs and initiatives that lead to academic success, sense of belonging, and community for Black and Brown students. Briana is no stranger to UNCG as she has worked here since 2019 with the Housing and Residence Life Office and brings 7 years of work in higher education from various institution types, including Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institution (MSI). Briana holds a B.A in Communications with a minor in Comparative Ethnic Studies from Washington State University, and an M.A in Communication Studies from Tarleton State University. Briana enjoys spending time with her miniature Yorkie Coco Chanel, cooking while also trying all the new food spots in the Triad and traveling. Fun Fact about Briana is that she represented Washington State in an International Track Meet hosted in Australia in high school.
Briana is the recipient of the 2022 Alexis (Lexie) Kamerman Dedication to Social Justice and Peace Award through the North Carolina Housing Officers Association. This award rightfully acknowledges the contributions of professionals or programs in Housing or Residence Life that reach out to the community to promote social justice and peace.

Michaela Coleman (she/her/hers)
Administrative Support Associate

Michaela joined Intercultural Engagement in August 2021 as the Administrative Support Associate, after working for UNCG in a previous role as Administrative Support Associate for Faculty Senate. Michaela has worked in higher education for over 6 years, including working at her alma mater Guilford College as the Office Manager for Campus Life and Assistant to the Dean of Students. Michaela loves outdoor exploring, reading, yoga, and swimming. She is thrilled to help with the powerful and essential work of OIE.

Cat Wright (she/her/hers)
Graduate Assistant for Social Justice Dialogue

Cat Wright joined the Office of Intercultural Engagement as the Graduate Assistant for Social Justice Education and Dialogue. A first-generation student, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre with a minor in Education just down the road at Greensboro College. Cat is now pursuing a Master of Education, Student Affairs in Higher Education at UNCG. She has prior experience in peer mentorship, first year experience and orientation, and K-12 education. In her free time Cat enjoys seeing local theatre productions, getting little treats, and spending time with her two cats, Samantha and Zurg.  

Ayana Cholula (she/her/hers)
Graduate Assistant for Culture, Heritage, and the Intercultural Leadership Council

Ayana Cholula joined the Office of Intercultural Engagement as the Intercultural Leadership Council Graduate Assistant. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary English Education at UNCG. Continuing her journey as a Spartan, Ayana is now pursuing a Masters of Education, Student Affairs in Higher Education here at UNCG, as well. She has experience in Housing and Residence Life, as well as the education field. Ayana is looking forward to continuing to impact lives through education through OIE. In her free time, Ayana enjoys true crime documentaries, an iced coffee, and her cat Sourdough.

Hailey N. Paivanas (she/her/hers)

Graduate Assistant for LQBTQ+ Advocacy, Outreach, and Support

Hailey Paivanas serves as the LGBTQ+ Outreach and Advocacy Graduate Assistant. She is a First-Generation student who earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health Education with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Continuing her education at UNCG, Hailey is now pursuing a Masters in Public Health Education with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. She has experience in program planning for incoming students as well as Diversity and Inclusion liaison at Atrium Health. Hailey is looking forward to continuing to advocate and promote student wellness and belonging in the office of OIE and around UNCG’s campus. In her free time, Hailey enjoys spending time with her two cats Penelope and Tiny, watching New Girl, and learning new recipes to cook/bake.  

Shay Kearns (she/her/hers)
Graduate Assistant for Diverse Student Engagement


Shay Kearns joined the Office of Intercultural Engagement as the Diverse Student Engagement Graduate Assistant. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. Shay is now pursuing a Master of Science in International Business – Human Resources. She has prior experience in student career development, community engagement, and advocating for creating supportive environments for underrepresented groups. In her free time, Shay enjoys taking day trips, watching court cases, and cooking.