Faculty Bios


Dr. Daniel Almeida

Dr. Daniel J. Almeida (he, him, his) is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where he teaches courses on Student Development Theory, Multicultural Counseling, & Leadership. He has also taught Career Counseling, & Assessment in Higher Education. He received his BA in Psychology from Dartmouth College, MA in Higher Education Administration from Boston College, and PhD in Urban Education Policy – Higher Education concentration at the University of Southern California.

During his professional career, Dr. Almeida worked in Student Affairs at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo as a Coordinator of Student Development, and worked in Career Services at Cal State Long Beach and Loyola Marymount University. He is also a Gallup-certified strengths coach and a certified diversity trainer. Dr. Almeida is also the lead Principal Investigator for the California State University (CSU) Alliance for the Diversity & Strengths of STEM Faculty funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Alliance for Graduate Education & the Professoriate (AGEP) program. The project employs a culturally-informed strengths-based approach to faculty success for cohorts of STEM faculty from historically underrepresented groups. Dr. Almeida is also co-principal investigator of another NSF-funded program—Engineering Neighbors: Gaining Access, Growing Engineers (ENGAGE) employing a similar approach in a scholarship and mentoring program for cohorts of engineering and computer science transfer students.

Dr. Almeida’s research includes issues relating to first-generation college students, and community college students. He uses Social Network Analysis to study networks of relationships of faculty, staff, and students on college campuses. He also uses qualitative methods to examine the intersection of various aspects of social identity and individuals results on Gallup’s Clifton Strengths assessment.

Dr. Almeida has published articles the Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of EducationJournal of Hispanic Higher EducationApplied Dispute Resolution Journal, and  Journal for Research in Mathematics Education Dr. Almeida also has two chapters included in the edited book The Problem of College Readiness, a chapter in Qualitative Inquiry in Higher Education Organization and Policy Research in the Core Concepts in Higher Education series and a chapter in Faculty Peer Coaching in Higher Education: Opportunities, Explorations, and Research from the Field.


Dr. Ramrakhiani

Dr. Sonia H. Ramrakhiani

Dr. Sonia H. Ramrakhiani is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Master’s program in Counseling & Guidance in Student Affairs/Higher Education in the School of Education at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Ramrakhiani teaches Introduction to Educational Inquiry in the Master's Program in Counseling and Guidance in Student Affairs. She received her B.A. in Psychology from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai; M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Syracuse University, NY; Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Old Dominion University, VA.

She started her journey, as a teaching assistant at a school for children with special needs, called ADAPT - Able Disable All People Together (formerly known as The Spastic Society of India). Due to a lack of a counseling focus in India, she decided to apply to graduate programs in the United States for higher education. As a counselor, she has served in various roles and settings, including, outpatient, in-home and residential. She also worked with high school students in the Syracuse City School District, and helped in college readiness and preparation.

Dr. Ramrakhiani's research agenda focuses on social justice, advocacy and multicultural issues for minorities on college campuses. She has given voice to international students' needs on campuses in America. She recently conducted an exploratory factor analysis of the experiences and perceptions of campus safety among international students in America. Her research has also focused on examining ways in which counselor educators in our field can incorporate social justice/advocacy in their pedagogical practices. In addition, she has experience with grant writing and has assisted in securing a grant for expanding masters level experiential learning in Integrated Behavioral Health Settings.



Dr. Andrew M. Byrne

Dr. Andrew M. Byrne (he, him, his) is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where he teaches counseling theories, counseling techniques, and foundations in education and contemporary issues, in the Master’s program in Higher Education Counseling and Student Affairs. He is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), a Certified Career Counselor Educator (CCCE) and Gallup-certified Strengths Coach.

Dr. Byrne earned master’s degrees in Substance Abuse & Clinical Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling, and later a PhD in Rehabilitation Counseling and Administration from East Carolina University. He has worked in vocational rehabilitation in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, working mainly with college-bound, college-attending, and newly graduated students. Dr. Byrne has also been a therapist to youth, adolescents and adults in inpatient and outpatient settings. Prior to coming to Cal Poly, Dr. Byrne taught at Ohio University and University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Dr. Byrne’s research focuses on technology, game design, social support, and adventure-based learning; and their impact on counseling and career development among students and faculty of underrepresented and minoritized backgrounds. He is a Co-PI on a $2.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professorate along with PI Dr. Daniel J. Almeida and Co-PI Dr. Sonia Ramrakhiani. Dr. Byrne consults as a vocational expert for the Social Security Administration and has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Rehabilitation and Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity

Recent Publications:

Kinder, J., Koduri, N., & Byrne, A. M. (2022). Graduate student orientation: A national survey of practices. Journal of College Orientation, Transition, and Retention 29(2).  

Kim, M., Byrne, A. M., & Jeon, J. (2022). The effect of vocational counseling interventions for adults with substance use disorders: A narrative review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19(8), 4674; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084674  

Ramrakhiani, S. H., Byrne, A. M., & Sink, C. A. (2021). Examining the experiences of campus safety among international students. Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity 7(2) https://journals.shareok.org/jcscore/article/view/146 

Falkenthal, E. & Byrne, A. M. (2020) Distributed leadership in collegiate esports. Simulation & Gaming. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878120958750

Chavez, M. & Byrne, A. M. (2020) Promoting the promotore role in higher education. Journal of Latinos and Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/15348431.2020.1809417

Byrne, A. M. (2020) Using Esports to Teach Bystander Leadership and Collaboration for Students in STEM. About Campus. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1086482220906286

Falkenthal, E. & Byrne, A. M. (2020) It’s not the player, it’s the game: A pilot study of bullying experiences in campus gaming communities. The Journal of Campus Activities Practice and Scholarship. https://www.naca.org/JCAPS/Documents/JCAPS_Spring_2020_Falkenthal.pdf

Almeida, D. J., Byrne, A. M., Smith, R. M., & Ruiz, S. (2019). How relevant is grit? The importance of social capital in first-generation college students’ academic success. Journal of College Student Retention Research Theory and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1177/1521025119854688

Byrne, A. M. & Kim, M. (2019). The exergame as a tool for mental health treatment. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1080/15401383.2019.1627263

Kim, M., Byrne, A. M., & Jeon, J. (2019). Predictors of treatment participation rate of substance use disorders among Whites and African Americans. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332640.2019.1612300

Byrne, A. M. (2019). Applying game design principles to career counseling and assessment. Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Professionals Journal. https://www.vecap.org/_files/ugd/4d9ade_d497093d9c304162806741b8d15a097d.pdf 

Op-Ed, invited:

Byrne, A. M. (2020) Academic disaster elasticity is necessary now more than ever. Mustang News. https://mustangnews.net/academic-disaster-elasticity-is-necessary-now-more-than-ever/



Dr. Steven Kane

Dr. Steven Kane is a Professor Emeritus of the Counseling & Guidance program in the School of Education at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Kane holds a BA degree in Behavioral Sciences from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and MA and PhD degrees in Counseling and Educational Psychology from UCLA. He began his educational career as a community college student and is the first college graduate in his family. He is a licensed clinical psychologist (California) and a Nationally Certified Counselor. At Cal Poly, he teaches courses in counseling theory, counseling techniques, group counseling, student development in higher education and research and professional development. Dr. Kane has held a variety of staff, faculty and research positions at UCLA, Colorado State University, California State University, Long Beach and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses for the Psychology and Human Development Department (1995-2003) and served as Assistant Director/Learning Disabilities Psychologist at the Disability Resource Center from 1996-2006. He continues to serve as a consulting psychologist and coach to various community organizations and non-profit groups. Dr. Kane has also been a counselor at three of the most diverse community colleges in California: Allan Hancock College, Cerritos College, and Long Beach City College.

Dr. Kane’s research focuses on adult learning disabilities, ADHD, college student mental health and helping women and underrepresented individuals excel in STEM careers. He has published research articles in many venues including the Journal of Learning Disabilities, the Journal of College Orientation and Transition, the Journal of Post-Secondary Education and Disability, the Journal of Employment Counseling, and the Journal of Counseling and Development. He is the author of the Kane Learning Difficulties Assessment, published by Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc. (https://www.parinc.com/Products/Pkey/212).

In collaboration with his colleague Dr. Jodi Jaques, Dr. Kane produced an ACPA and NASPA grant-funded video documentary entitled: Making the grade: A focus on helping college women excel in science, technology, engineering and math majors. A former research fellow at UCLA, Dr. Kane has been featured on NBC-affiliate KSBY News and was a script consultant to the PBS television series The Career Advantage. Dr. Kane was promoted to Full Professor in 2013.



Dr. Nohemy Ornelas

Dr. Nohemy Ornelas is a lecturer at the School of Education at Cal Poly and teaches Introduction to Educational Inquiry and Educational Foundations and Current Issues. In addition, she is the Vice Chancellor of Educational and Student Support Services at the San Bernardino Community College District. She leads the District’s Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Planning Unit, and Technology and Educational Support Services. Ornelas also oversees the Economic Development and Corporate Training programs that support industry partnerships and workforce training programs to increase local and regional collaborations to prepare individuals for employment.

Before joining San Bernadino Community College District, she spent over seven and half years as the Associate Superintendent/Vice President for Student Services at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. A first-generation college student, Dr. Ornelas began her educational career as an Allan Hancock student, later returning as a staff member in the financial aid department. 

Upon completing her master’s degree from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, she accepted a position as a financial aid supervisor at Berkeley City College in the Peralta Community College District and ultimately returned to the central coast as the Dean of Student Services at Cuesta College. At Cuesta College, Dr. Ornelas served on the college’s response team to restore accreditation and was the lead administrator for the implementation of the Cuesta Promise. 

As the Associate Superintendent/Vice President for Student Services at Allan Hancock College, Dr. Ornelas’s responsibilities included implementation of the college’s Student Equity Plan, SSSP, Outreach Plan, the Noncredit Student Success, and Support Plan, and the Student Equity and Achievement Program. Over the years, Dr. Ornelas was the college lead on important equity programs including the development of the college’s center for Dreamers, expansion of the Student Veteran and DSPS programs, and roll out of the Hancock Promise. 

The Hancock Promise provides “first-year free” tuition for all students in the college’s service area and comprehensive educational guidance that begins for students in elementary school. The community impact is astounding – enrollment at Allan Hancock College by local high school grads increased by more than 16 percentage points, and the number of graduates is at record levels. Her work in developing innovative and responsive initiatives like the auto-awarding program that “automatically award” thousands of degrees and certificates have been recognized nationally – increasing completion and removing institutional barriers for all students. 

Throughout her 25 years of public service, Dr. Ornelas’s background as a bicultural, equity-minded leader provides her with the opportunity to serve as a role model and strong advocate for students and the community, serving as a member of service clubs and steering committees. During the pandemic response, Dr. Ornelas oversaw a food distribution program that impacted more than 100,000 families in the community and served as the operations chief for Santa Barbara County’s vaccination clinic in Santa Maria, ultimately providing one out of every three doses administered in northern Santa Barbara County. 

Dr. Ornelas’ commitment to students has been recognized along California’s Central Coast, including the Future Leaders of America Latino Legacy Award, Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo’s Honored Alumni recognition, the Pacific Coast Business Times 40 under 40, and Santa Barbara County’s Commission for Women Service Award. 

Dr. Ornelas earned her doctorate at California State University, Fresno. Her research interests center around student access, equity, and college affordability.  

Dr. Ramrakhiani

Dr. Kevin Grant

Dr. Kevin T. Grant serves at Cal Poly University as Director of Assessment and Research for Student Affairs and lecturer with the HECSA Program. Dr. Grant heads the division-wide assessment and research practices in Student Affairs, including success measurement of strategic initiatives, program review oversight, university survey development, and tracking of student learning outcomes/student engagement as they relate to student success. He received his B.A. in Cinema Media Arts from Biola University, M.Ed. in College Student Affairs from Azusa Pacific University, and Ed.D. from Biola University in Higher Education Administration.   
With over 20 years of experience in higher education, Dr. Grant specializes in student affairs assessment, strategic planning, program development, and academic student support.  In addition, Dr. Grant serves as Executive Director for WITH US: The Center for Bystander Intervention at Cal Poly (withus.org) and oversees the National College Student Bystander Intervention Study (NCSBIS).  This national study explores bystander behaviors and barriers amongst college students within the areas of Sexual Violence, Incidents of Hate & Bias, Hazing, and Alcohol and Drug Misuse/Abuse.   
Dr. Grant is a regular presenter within WSCUC Educational Programs and serves as Assessment Leadership Academy faculty and program mentor.  Within NASPA, he is the national co-chair for the Assessment, Evaluation and Research Knowledge Community and has been the recipient of the NASPA Research Grant.  He has taught/presented internationally, and works with various universities consulting on student affairs assessment. 
He lives on a small ranch in Atascadero with his wife and three teenage kids, and enjoys hiking, camping, playing guitars, horticulture, coaching local youth sports, and caring for all the animals at “the Granch”.


Jason Mockford

Jason Mockford (he/him/his) is the Director of Leadership & Service at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. He holds a B.S. in Graphic Communication and an M.A. in Counseling & Guidance, Higher Education, both from California Polytechnic State University. He currently mentors graduate students in their fieldwork and internship experiences. He previously taught leadership and consultation and has also guest lecturer and joined industry panels on a variety of topics including supervision, leadership, budgeting, and hiring.

Jason currently directs the signature student engagement units at Cal Poly including the Center for Leadership, Center for Service in Action, Clubs & Organizations and Fraternity & Sorority Life. Previously, he has also been responsible for advising Cal Poly’s orientation board, Open House committee, and developing the nationally recognized orientation leader training program.

Jason is a directorate member of ACPA's Mid-Level Community of Practice and has been involved in leadership roles with NODA, the Association for Orientation, Transition and Retention in Higher Education as a Transfer Services Network Chair from 2011-2014 and as a member of the Annual Conference Advisory Committee in 2014. He is also a certified community mediator with Creative Mediation in San Luis Obispo and served on their Program Advisory Board. Lastly, Jason is a founding member of the Board of Directors for the newly chartered Collective Good Center for Dispute Resolution and Training.

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School of Education
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407