FYE Staff

Emily Bartel, M.Ed.
FYE Coordinator/Counselor
Office: BCS
Phone: (805) 289-6061
Email: ebartel@vcccd.edu

Biography: Like many of you, I began my education in the California Community College system where I then transferred to San Diego State University (SDSU) and completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, continued on, and earned my Master’s Degree in Education (Multicultural Counseling) from SDSU. My counseling experiences in higher education began at San Diego City College in 2010 when I joined the First Year Experience program as a counselor and professor after serving as an intern and also adjunct professor. Since then, I have counseled and taught at San Diego City College, Southwestern College, Bakersfield College, and now Ventura College! I strongly believe that my role as a counselor is to provide each student with the same opportunity for a safe place where they can receive support, guidance, learn, and grow. I enjoy reading, historical sites, motivating others, and working with students to help them reach their goals!

Erica Ruiz, M. Ed.
FYE Counselor
Office: BCS
Phone: (805) 289-6019
Email: eruiz@vcccd.edu

Biography: My earliest memory of having to create a supportive environment that fostered cooperation and compassion among others is when as a child in a household of five children all sharing the same room I had to learn to compromise and transmit a nurturing environment among family members. This role has now become a passion of mine in the academic setting.  As an educational leader and counselor I am a conduit of support to students.  I focus on creating learning communities where students can make decisions about their life in a self-empowering way.  A critical component of the work I do at Ventura College is to help demystifying the transition and demands of a college environment for first-time students. I received my Bachelors of Arts degree from UC Santa Cruz, with a major in Sociology and Latin American Latino Studies. Go Slugs!  My Masters of Education in Counseling is from the University of Southern California (USC).  Go Trojans! I look forward to Guiding Pirates to Success (GPS). Let me be your GPS!

Photo of MargaretMargaret Dominguez
Matriculation Specialist / Bilingual
Office: BCS
Phone: (805) 289-6524
Email: mdominguez@vcccd.edu

I am a first generation college graduate.  A role model to my four children and grandchildren who are college bound.  Hired in 1999 as a Matriculation Specialist I/Bilingual at Ventura College, Santa Paula (VCSP). My responsibilities have been to deliver vital information regarding the matriculation process to local community high schools and middle schools. In 2006 I was transferred to Ventura College main campus. My role included administering English and math assessments to students. I am now pleased to share my professional experience with the Freshman Year Experience (FYE) program.  I am strongly committed to supporting student success. My experience and passion towards each student has allowed me to support, guide, and inform all students about the many resources that are offered at Ventura College. I successfully completed a certificate of achievement in Office Business Skills in VCSP. Thereafter, I transferred to Ventura College and completed my associate’s degree in Business Information Systems. My persistence, endurance, perseverance and tenacity empowered me to a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Cal Lutheran University. By completing my education and through my professional experiences I have gained the expertise and knowledge needed to work at Ventura College.

Photo of ItzelItzel Pantoja
Student Worker

I was born in Ventura but lived and raised in Fillmore, CA. I attended Fillmore High School (Class of 2015!). I am currently in my second year at VC! The youngest of five children as well as a first-generation college student, I come from a humble and diverse background that has shaped the way I handle myself and makes me want to help and understand those around me. I’ve always been involved in the arts, whether it was getting my hands dirty with glue and paint, listening to all types of music, or playing an instrument (flute!) in band for seven years. That appreciation and love for the arts is what made it click that I wanted to have a career that lets me be creative, in fact, it’s a requirement for me to even consider it. That career is a graphic designer, but hopefully as I gain more experience and move on up in positions I can eventually become a creative director and lead my own team one day. To be even more ambitious, it would be really cool to have my own brand or shop and sell my designs. My plan is to get my Associate Degree for Transfer in Studio Arts and transfer sometime next year to California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI), California Lutheran University (CLU), or California State University Northridge (CSUN).  I’d like to say that FYE has been a big part of my journey. FYE guided me and made sure my first year of college was the best and least stressful - what with all the resources and support they offer - but now I get to work with the program and be a part of other students’ success.


Brianda Plascencia
Student Worker

Hello! My name is Brianda Plascencia. I graduated from Foothill Technology High School in 2016 and I am now attending my first year of community college at VC. Currently I am a FYE member and because I loved the program so much and found it to be a very useful tool I am now a student worker for the program. Some fun facts about myself is that I am a STEM major striving to go into Computer Science or Engineering. I am planning to transfer after VC. I would like to attend the University of Washington or a UC. My dream job is working for a company like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others. If I could give any advise to first year students attending VC is to join our program because we REALLY make sure to give you the guidance you need so you can be successful and meet your goals. I can honestly say that I would have been lost if it weren’t for this program. My first year so far was a stress free experience because of FYE guiding me and helping me with selecting my classes. I feel very prepared now and well informed about all the resources that are at my disposal and I strongly recommended this program for every first year college student.


Cristina Orozco
Student Worker - Transferred to UCSB, Psychology Major, 2017.

Hi! My name is Cristina Orozco. I am a current FYE student worker and peer leader. My overall experience with FYE has been amazing! I absolutely love helping students who need a little guidance during their first year, just like I did! I graduated from Foothill Technology High School in 2015. This is now my second year here at Ventura College. I started at Ventura College as a Biology major but through research, talking to all the counselors on campus, and self-reflection, I realized my true passion is Psychology. I enjoy learning about the human mind and why people think the way they do. My future plan is to transfer to UC Santa Barbara. Aside from school, my passion is singing. I began singing in a school choir at the age of seven. Singing is now something I do on weekends at different community weddings, funerals, and special religious ceremonies. My advice to the first year students would be to always reach out to your professors even if it may be terrifying and always follow your passion. GO PIRATES!!