Pacific Region

Mayene de La Cruz
  • Hometown: Bay Area / Antioch, California
  • Current Residence: Bay Area / San Francisco, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2009
  • Areas of Expertise: Design (Graphic, Product, UI/UX, Visual, Interaction, etc.)
  • Contact Info:, (925) 588-8205, LinkedIn
  • Advice: I met others who became close friends and enjoyed being able to experience life at ND a little bit before the school year started; it helped ease a little bit of the culture shock coming from a different part of the country and helped me get familiar with my surroundings both on and around campus. I was definitely out of my comfort zone at first, but everyone was welcoming from my fellow Balfour peers to the mentors that were Balfour alumni. It helped to hear Balfour mentors/alumni talking about their personal experiences and also continuing a “big sibling” relationship even after the summer; it encouraged me to pay it forward as well by becoming a mentor and “big sister” to incoming Balfour students in the following years.
Adriana Lizette Garcia
  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Current Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Position: Associate Program Director, Pepperdine University
  • Contact Info:, (818) 422-4633, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Be yourself; be proud of your background, your hometown, your culture, and all the beautiful gems that make up your own narrative. They are exactly what make you YOU! And more importantly, those are the very things that will help you connect and flourish in the ND community. Because of my love for Tajin and ballet folklorico, I was able to lead the Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro dance troupe and share yummy food with my colleagues. Those were some of the best memories I had at ND!
Alejandro Garcia
  • Hometown: Oxnard, California
  • Current Residence: San Diego, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2005
  • Current Position: Manager of Operations at Advancing Students Forward
  • Contact Info:, (619) 906-9090, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour Program was instrumental in my success at Notre Dame. Many lifelong relationships and memories were made during that first summer. It was an opportunity to get to know fellow students from all parts of the world, and share stories, traditions, and values. It also helped me realize that I had a story to share even at such a young age, and it was important. All the hills and valleys that you go through in life will serve the purpose of making you who you are. Own it. Embrace it. Share it.
Adriana Holguin
  • Hometown: El Paso, Texas
  • Current Residence: San Diego, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2000
  • Contact Info:, (831) 295-1361, LinkedIn
  • Advice: Embrace the friendships made in the Balfour program. These relationships will last for decades and when you’re all together many years later, you’ll remember all the fun, crazy, and unique memories you made during your Balfour summer. What an impacting and self-shaping experience for students under the Dome! And…Be thankful for electronic calendars, because some of us older gen Balfours had to use a Balfour-issued Stephen Covey planner to plan our ND lives and we used paper “coups” to buy our Balfour meals. 
Kellen Lewis
  • Hometown: Seattle, Washington
  • Current Residence: Spokane, Washington
  • Year of Graduation: 2009
  • Current Position: Holistic Wellness Practitioner and Artist
  • Contact Info:
  • Advice: Know that you belong and you are capable of incredible things. Also, fellow Balfours may become some of your closest friends, even years after graduating. Cherish the moments you are sharing together. 
Jessica Lujan
  • Hometown: El Paso, Texas
  • Current Residence: San Diego, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2011
  • Current Position: Attorney
  • Contact Info:, (858) 539-9796, LinkedIn
  • Advice: At the beginning, the Balfour Program helped me make friends prior to starting my freshman year.  The Program also provided me an opportunity to take summer school classes for free and to be employed.  Finally, the Program provided mentors (peers, faculty and staff) and it gave me the opportunity to be a mentor to other students.
Candace Montgomery
  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Current Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2010
  • Areas of Expertise: Training & Development, Career Services, Project Management, Manufacturing
  • Contact Info:, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The people in Balfour gave me my support system during my time at ND. They still remain my closest friends after my time at ND drew to a close.
Valerie Garcia-Ramirez Rojas
  • Hometown: Magna, Utah
  • Current Residence: Vail, Arizona
  • Year of Graduation: 2008
  • Current Position: Elementary Educator
  • Contact Info:
  • Advice: Being part of Balfour gave me a network of support to help me feel confident and comfortable at Notre Dame.  I also met some of my closest friends who remain in my life today.
Marcus Romero
  • Hometown: Ventura, California
  • Current Residence: Lake Forest, California
  • Year of Graduation: 1996
  • Current Position: Director of Consulting
  • Contact Info:
  • Advice: Understand that the program gives you a leg up, so take advantage of that.
Marcos Salamanca
  • Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
  • Current Residence: Seattle, Washington
  • Majors: Computer Science, Theology
  • Year of Graduation: 2020
  • Current Job Title: Software Engineer at Microsoft
  • Contact Info:
  • Advice: Be open and eager to learn from others. When you meet someone who is better than you at something, don’t be insecure, rather seize this opportunity to grow and learn from that person. Foolish people get intimidated by others, wise people get educated by them. 
Natalia Torres Adriance
  • Hometown: Napa, California
  • Current Residence: San Francisco, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2021
  • Current Position: Assurance Associate (Public Accounting)
  • Contact Info:, (707) 286-9601, LinkedIn
  • Advice: The Balfour program truly has given me so many opportunities and have enabled me to be more prepared for college both socially and academically. Because of this program I have been more willing to put myself out there and be more willing to say “yes” to opportunities. Take full advantage of every opportunity you can, especially with this program! You will meet so many caring and supporting individuals that want you to succeed.
Jean-Pierre Vertil
  • Hometown: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • Current Residence: Palo Alto, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2017
  • Current Position: MBA Candidate – Stanford Business School
  • Contact Info:, (409) 454-5188, LinkedIn
  • Advice: ND is full of opportunities. One of the best things you can do is learning to pay close attention to the opportunities that matter most to you without getting distracted. 
Rachel Wallace
  • Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Current Residence: San Francisco, California
  • Year of Graduation: 2016 and 2017 (dual-degree)
  • Current Job Title: Clinical Teaching Fellow at Berkeley Law Policy Advocacy Clinic
  • Contact Info:
  • LinkedIn:
  • Advice: As a member of the Balfour-Hesburgh class of 2012, I am incredibly grateful for the community of scholars I gained through the program, as well as the various opportunities Balfour afforded to me. With the support of the program, I was able to complete several summer experiential programs during my time at Notre Dame and have gained access to the extensive alumni network since graduation. My advice for younger Balfours is to take full advantage of the offerings of the program as well as the University as a whole. You never know until you ask!