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About CiC

Meet the Staff


juliaJulia Pirnack, Director

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Broadway (singing) star

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
Only self-discipline (I get up at 4 a.m.)

Who is your hero? Why?
Teddy Roosevelt - He was able to overcome ill-health and other severe challenges as a child to become a great leader & change motivator - and did it in an honest way.

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
Hard work and focus are as important or maybe more important than money, talent or intelligence in achieving what you want in life.

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
Born to be Wild

What's your favorite cereal?
Captain Crunch Peanut Butter

Favorite hobby/pastime?
Historic home renovation

Julia has worked with College In Colorado since October, 2005. Before working at CIC, her career spanned small business, large for-profit organizations and as executive vice president for a national non-profit in agriculture. She served as City of Longmont, Colorado mayor from 2001 to 2007. Julia holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration and a master of public administration, both from the University of Colorado. Julia is a Colorado native; born and raised in Boulder County. Julia has two children and four grandchildren - all girls.

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twylaTwyla Esquibel, Office Manager and Program Coordinator

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Primate biologist

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
Coffee or our children

Who is your hero? Why?
My mom is my hero. She has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for many years and I have never heard her complain once.

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
Always take time for yourself.

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
Birthday, by The Sugarcubes

What's your favorite cereal?
Malt-O-Meal

Favorite hobby/pastime?
Going to Casa Bonita

Twyla began as executive assistant to the executive director of College In Colorado in March, 2006. Prior to her current position, Twyla was a budget analyst for the executive director's office of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Twyla began her career with the state in 1998 and has held various positions including program assistant for Youth In Natural Resources and assistant to the deputy director for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Twyla was born and raised in Denver. She is a Manual High School graduate and attended Community College of Denver.

Twyla is a huge Real Housewives reality show fan with a gentle giant husband, Stacy and two children, Semira and Solomon.

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mariaMaria Elena Rivera, Director of Outreach and Access

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
Sheer willpower - I am not a morning person! To quote a little plaque I purchased, "All the coffee in Columbia won't make me a morning person."

Who is your hero? Why?
My maternal grandmother Helena Farrell Bazzini! My grandmother was born in 1908, to immigrant parents. She was the eldest of six, and first generation. She faced much adversity in her life, but by far was the sudden death of my grandfather. At the time of his death at the age of 52, they were just months away from celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. She was left on her own to care for their two daughters, run the family dry cleaning business, and the financial responsibilities of a home mortgage. In spite of this, my grandmother with an 8th-grade education, with English as her second language, still dreamt of pursuing her high school diploma. At the age of 56, she fulfilled her dream.

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
Treat others as you want to be treated.

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
Lights by Journey

What's your favorite cereal?
Cream of wheat (hot) and Cheerios with fresh bananas (cold)

Favorite hobby/pastime?
Collecting panda bears and playing softball

Maria Elena began with College In Colorado as Denver Public Schools (DPS) coordinator in June, 2007. Prior to CIC, Maria Elena worked as a youth outreach advocate with the Colorado Department of Education's Migrant Education Program, serving Adams 50 and Boulder Valley school districts. Maria Elena was born in northern California and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles. She is a graduate of California State University, Northridge, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and is pursuing higher education and leadership from Adams State University.

Maria Elena's nickname is MER or Tia MER to many, many "adopted" nieces and nephews. In her immediate family, she is the eldest of three girls and single. She stays young at heart by living vicariously through her nieces and nephews and seven godchildren.

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FreddyAlfredo (Freddy) Burciaga, Director of Outreach

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"The Fall Guy"

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
Knowing that I can work with people and serve as a mentor

Who is your hero? Why?
My parents because they can still work circles around me and considering what they went through in life to get where they are is truly inspirational!

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
Protect yourself!

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
Faith by George Michael

What's your favorite cereal?
Honeycomb

Favorite hobby/pastime?
I love camping, road trips and hanging out with my twin brother who is my best friend.

Freddy Burciaga joined CIC in January, 2013. Freddy started his career in financial aid at CSU-Pueblo and has been in higher education since. His experience includes outreach, financial aid counseling, mentoring and supervising. Freddy is from southeastern Colorado and earned his bachelor's degree from CSU-Pueblo. He enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Freddy has a great mom who can cook and bake anyone under the table. His dad is the strongest man alive who isn't afraid of anything. They are best when working together, cooking together and spending quality time together.

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MeganMegan McDermott, Director of Communications

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A poet

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
The challenge and opportunity of a new day

Who is your hero? Why?
My parents inspire me every day with their incredible work ethic, grace and kindness.

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
Be confident and proud of who you are

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
Hey There Delilah by the Plain White T's. I sang it to my son all the time when he was a baby.

What's your favorite cereal?
Cheerios or Billbos (what I called them as a child)

Favorite hobby/pastime?
I love walking and hiking with my family and our dogs.

Megan joined the CIC team in February, 2016. Prior, she was the assistant director of communications at the Colorado Department of Education for almost eight years. She's worked in public relations and communications for more than 15 years. She also served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Zimbabwe after graduating from Drake University with a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and communications. Megan is originally from rural Iowa and lives in Denver with her husband and three children.

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JimmyJames (Jimmy) Reed, Outreach and Access Coordinator, Western Slope Region

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid I always wanted to be a professional baseball player for the New York Yankees.

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
Coffee… friends, family and the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Who is your hero? Why?
My father is my hero. He is a great role model not only in the professional world, but also with the family as a dad and husband.

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
Eating healthy, for example, as kids we could not have a cereal with more than 10 grams of sugar per serving (I appreciate this now, not so much back then).

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
I would have to pick between Remix to Ignition by R Kelly, or Good Vibrations by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch

What's your favorite cereal?
I don't really eat cereal, if I had to choose I would say Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Favorite hobby/pastime?
Camping, hiking snowboarding, rock climbing… anything outdoors and taking advantage of where we live.

Jimmy began working with College In Colorado in September, 2015. Jimmy is a 5th generation Coloradan and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in international affairs. Prior to coming to College in Colorado, Jimmy worked as an intern for Senator Michael Bennet's Denver office. Jimmy is a Colorado enthusiast. He loves to camp, hike, ski, snowboard and enjoy the beautiful state. He also likes to travel and cook his famous fish tacos with mango salsa.

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MarilynMarilyn Villalobos Rivera, Outreach and Access Coordinator, Southern Region

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a famous singer.

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
Coffee and beautiful sunrises

Who is your hero? Why?
My mother is my hero because she has always been there for me, even in the worst situations.

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
Always accept full responsibility of your actions and always work hard for what you want.

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
Titanium by David Guetta

What's your favorite cereal?
Lucky Charms

Favorite hobby/pastime?
Swimming and hiking

Marilyn graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a bachelor's degree in psychology and international affairs. Prior to College In Colorado, Marilyn worked for Clayton Partnership School as a special education para-professional. She was raised in Mexico and all of her family still lives there so she visits them as often as she can. She has one brother that is 12 years younger than her.

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LindsayLindsay Sandoval, Communications Specialist

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A paleontologist.

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
Knowing there's excellent coffee at the CIC office.

Who is your hero? Why?
My parents. They've sacrificed a lot over the years to provide opportunities for my sister and me.

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
Eat your vegetables! More importantly, my mom taught me to stick up for what I believe in and look out for those less fortunate.

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
So many to choose from! I would have to choose my go-to karaoke song, "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia.

What's your favorite cereal?
I don't eat cereal often, but when I do, I prefer Honey Nut Cheerios.

Favorite hobby/pastime?
I'm a music addict. I love going to live shows across Colorado, especially Red Rocks. For the past few years I've been teaching myself guitar.

Lindsay joined the CIC team in 2016 after working as a communications assistant at the CU System Administration Office. A Boulder native, Lindsay attended Fairview High School and is a recent graduate of American University, located in Washington, D.C. Her passion for writing and strategic communication has led her to internships in both private and non-profit sectors, including NPR. She holds a B.A. in public communication and American studies.

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MikeMike Pugh, Education Coach

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an IT guy growing up. I did it for a while but decided that working with people was better.

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
The prospect of meeting new people and hearing their stories.

Who is your hero? Why?
My heroes are all of the people that push themselves to be better people each and every day. The people that stand up for the rights of those of us who cannot. The people that take time out of their day to be thankful for what they have and help those that are less fortunate. It is impossible for me to pick just one hero, nor wouId I want to. For every Nelson Mandela, MLK, or Abraham Lincoln there are at least 1,000 other people that are just as heroic, kind, and giving. We just haven't heard about them yet.

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
Make sure that you can take care of yourself first, THEN take care of others.

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
Friday by Rebecca Black. Best song. Tremendous song.

What's your favorite cereal?
Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the king of cereal. Any other choice is incorrect.

Favorite hobby/pastime?
Gaming. Ask me about my PC!

Mike joined the College In Colorado team in May 2017 as an education coach working with foster care youth in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Human Services. He received an associate's degree in anthropology from Pikes Peak Community College and a bachelor of arts in global politics from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Having lived abroad in Urawa, Japan, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania, Mike brings a wealth of cultural experience from around the world to supplement his experience in working with diverse populations in the U.S. He loves to stay up on entertainment news as well as international affairs and aspires to one day be a U.S. ambassador.

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KaitlinKaitlin Harkins, Corrections Outreach Coordinator

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A detective. I started dusting my parents' house for fingerprints when I was nine. I think I read too many Nancy Drew books.

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
The hope that if every day if I put my best foot forward, I can make a difference in someone's life.

Who is your hero? Why?
My parents are amazing and taught me the importance of making others feel accepted, valued and loved. Also, my little sister Kim inspires me because she never lets any obstacle she encounters dim her bright spirit and sense of humor.

What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today?
My mom taught my sister and me to not be judgmental toward others because you never know what someone has been through.

What song would you sing in James Cordon's karaoke carpool?
Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond

What's your favorite cereal?
Special K Chocolately Delight

Favorite hobby/pastime?
I like to assemble random ingredients and pretend that I'm on an episode of the TV show "Chopped."

Kaitlin began with College In Colorado in June of 2017 as a corrections outreach coordinator in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Corrections. Prior, she was a re-entry case manager at a women's correctional facility in Florida, working to assimilate offenders into society upon release from incarceration. Kaitlin graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor's of science in criminology. She loves to cook, go to concerts and spend time with her family.

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