OUR COUNSELORS

Olga Alvarado

Wellness Counselor

Hello, I am Olga Alvarado and I am a career Social Worker and one of the Wellness Counselors. I bleed "Orange", I received both my undergrad and grad degrees from UT!! Go Horns!! Unfortunately, my three children did not have the same passion I did about UT and went to other universities, but that's OKAY... they found their own place and are so HAPPY! Which makes me HAPPY!!! I absolutely love anything crafting, from quilting to embroidery to making T-shirts on my Cricut. This summer I spent my time wrangling Rattlesnakes, well, my husband caught them, I ran screaming the other way... We needed to get the snakes under control since one had already bitten our puppy boxer, Lulu. No worries, Lulu is okay since she has had her Rattlesnake shots...whew! This year I am proud to be LASA's FIRST EVER CHEER COACH! Yeah! I am so excited to be a part of the program! The team has been working really hard and I can't wait to share and spread some LASA RAPTOR SPIRIT!

Shannon Cardona

Academic Counselor M-R

Hello, I am Shannon Cardona and I am one of the academic counselors. I have over 24 years of real-world experience in the field of education; as a teacher, coach, 504 Coordinator, counselor, Early College High School Adjunct Professor, and G.E.D. instructor.

I completed my undergrad at St. Edward’s University. I have an M. Ed. in Administration from GCU as well as an M.S in Professional Counseling. I am also an LPC. I have a strong passion for mental health and working with children of all ages and their families.

I enjoy watching horror movies, hanging out with my wife Stephanie, and playing with our two dogs, Arya and Zoë. I am a big fan of Sci-fi/Fantasy and all things Marvel/DC.

Vyasar Ganesan

College Counselor M-Z

Vyasar Ganesan has been a college counselor at LASA since 2018, but he graduated from LASA in 2008! In the intervening years, he got his BA in English from Allegheny College and a MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. He also served as an admissions counselor at Texas State University, where he learned to love the world of college counseling. He wrestled in high school (graduated 2008) and he is deeply excited about the sport and introducing it to a new generation of LASA wrestlers.

Jamie Kocian

College Counselor A-L

Always on the hunt for the best breakfast taco, Jamie Kocian found a match in both Austin and LASA when she became LASA's college counselor twelve years ago. Before LASA, Ms. Kocian spent six years working in admissions at Texas Lutheran University ultimately serving as director of admissions. As her role at TLU became more administrative in nature (budgets and board meetings), she realized she missed the challenge and fulfillment that comes from working with students to find their best college fit.

A first-generation college student herself, Ms. Kocian wishes someone had told her that she should apply to more than one college and uses her experiences (a meandering path, may it be) to support students in finding their best college fit from the onset. While LASA students don't generally need encouragement in applying to a varied range of colleges, Ms. Kocian often jokes that she had to do everything wrong so she could help LASA students do it right.

When she's not on Naviance every day, every night, every weekend, she enjoys hanging out with her dog Molly, true crime documentaries and podcasts, K-dramas, classic movies, reading, and roller skating.

Carole McPherson

Lead Counselor G-L

I am a counselor at heart! I took a career placement test in high school (in the dark ages) and it said that I should be a counselor! It just took me a few years and other career paths before I arrived. I attended Reagan High School so I am from the neighborhood. My parents have lived in their house in northeast Austin for 50 years! I attended Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University and received a degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. I taught high school chemistry (AP, honors, regular) for 14 years. I went back to school to get my Masters in Counseling and have been a part of the LASA counseling team for 8 years. I adore my students, my team, and being a Raptor!

Ashley Rios

Academic Counselor A-F

Ashley Rios is one of our academic counselors at LASA! She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and Miami, FL! She’s always had the desire to help others. This was her driving force in pursuing her higher education in social work and counseling. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Social Work, at Florida State University. Then, she earned her Master of Science in Counselor Education at Florida International University. Let’s talk about hobbies! Ms. Rios enjoys: traveling, cultural events, comedy, cooking, reading, journaling, playing UNO, board games, and swimming. Oh, and interesting fact, she makes AMAZING empanadas!

Alicia Salinas

Wellness Counselor

Alicia Salinas is going on her 3rd year at LASA as one of the Wellness Counselors. Prior to LASA, Ms. Salinas spent 3 years as a clinical school social worker for all secondary campuses in Elgin where she provided both individual and group therapy for students and families. Most of her career prior to working in education has been as a social worker in the child welfare arena.

Ms. Salinas believes in the social work core values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. She grew these values while earning her BSW at North Texas University and grew her clinical skills while obtaining her MSSW at the University of Texas at Austin. Ms. Salinas feels one of the biggest things she can offer to students is compassion and a place where students can feel they are heard and supported.

Ms. Salinas has two of the worst behaved dogs you will ever meet but loves them just the same. She is an avid traveler and loves all things related to coffee and true crime documentaries. While Ms. Salinas agrees that sometimes laughter is the best medicine, she is also a firm believer most things can be fixed with food and a nap.

Sandi Woodrow

Academic Counselor S-Z

Sandi Woodrow is beginning her fifth year as an Academic Counselor at LASA. Prior to employment in Austin ISD, Ms. Woodrow served in the Arlington ISD for 18 years, as a teacher, a Special Education Counselor, and a School Counselor. She began her teaching career at age 20, at Fort Polk Elementary in Louisiana, where her husband was stationed as an Army Chaplain.

Ms. Woodrow completed her undergraduate work at Abilene Christian University with a B. S. in Education. She graduated with Masters degrees as each of her two sons graduated from high school. She has an M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas in Arlington and an M.S. in Counseling from the University of North Texas. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Ms. Woodrow lives in north Austin with her husband and enjoys the proximity to her sons’ families in Temple and Hutto. She has four treasured grandchildren and a host of other children who are precious to her that she loves spending time with. Ms. Woodrow enjoys hiking, reading, planning travel, and taking trips.