FYE Staff

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 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.