Aurora University

Meet the Staff

Shawna Armstrong

Shawna Armstrong

Senior Athletic Recruiting Liaison

Phone: 630-844-5468
Email: sarmstro@aurora.edu
Hear from Shawna.

Education Background: Bachelor’s degree in sports management from North Central College in 2009; Master’s in Sports Leadership/Administration in 2012.

What advice would you give to a first-year or prospective student? There are so many different opportunities to get involved on campus, take advantage of that. You never know what new activity you find that you love, what new friends you will meet, and how much of an impact it can make on yourself and others!

What movie is in your DVD player: The Avengers!

Favorite quote: “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”

What activities are you involved in outside of AU? Enjoying being a newlywed with my college sweetheart, Ryan, golfing, lifting, hanging with our rescue mutt, Marley, and reading.

 

Jill Diaz

Jill Diaz

Admission Counselor/Recruitment Specialist

Phone: 630-844-3849
Email: jdiaz@aurora.edu
Hear from Jill.

Education Background: Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Business from North Central College in 2008; Master’s in Leadership for Service in 2015

What advice would you give to a first-year or prospective student? Follow what excites you, stay open, and see how it grows. 

Favorite book: I have too many, but it is a tie between The Alchemist and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Classics. 

Favorite quote: Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you." - Parker Palmer

What activities are you involved in outside of AU? Writing, hiking, and being outdoors with my two girls, wandering flea markets with my husband, and getting lost in a good book on my back porch. 

 

Anna Dutton

Anna Halvax

Senior Admission Counselor

Phone: 630-844-7879
Email: ahalvax@aurora.edu
Hear from Anna.

Education Background: I graduated from AU with my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in May 2018.

Favorite TV show: The Office or Stranger Things

What advice would you give to a first-year or prospective student? For first-year students, get involved on campus! There are so many student organizations for you to join. Prospective students, do not be afraid to ask questions! Everyone is here to help you succeed. 

Words you would use to describe AU: Student-focused, challenging, opportunities

What was your favorite thing about AU when you were an undergraduate student? I loved my time as a member of the AU American Marketing Association chapter. It was a great opportunity to network, build relationships with my peers, and volunteer in the community! 

 

Candy Barrientos Jiminez

Candy Barrientos Jiménez 

Senior Admission Counselor

Phone: 630-844-5145
Email: cbarrientos@aurora.edu
Hear from Candy.

Education Background: I graduated from AU with my bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish in May 2019.

Favorite Quote: “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?'' -Frida Kahlo

What advice would you give to a first-year or prospective student? Try to step out of your comfort zone! Join student organizations that will help you network, create life-lasting friendships and fun memories. 

Something interesting or unique about me: While studying for my bachelor's degree, I was able to study abroad in Milan, Italy, for one month to learn some Italian. It was an amazing experience! 

 

Jessika McCleskey

Jessika McCleskey

Athletic Recruiting Liaison

Phone: 630-844-5293
Email: jmccleskey@aurora.edu
Hear from Jessika.

Education Background: I graduated from AU with my Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Biology in May 2019. I also graduated from AU with my Master's of Business Administration in May 2020.

Favorite Quote: "Be the person you needed when you were younger."

What advice would you give to a first-year or prospective student? Do not be afraid to ask for help. You are not expected to be an expert in anything yet. That is why AU has built the community we have here for you, we all want to be a part of/help you in your success.

Favorite TV Show: I LOVE Kingdom.

Words you would use to describe AU: Family, Flexible, and Caring.

What activities are you involved in outside of AU? Outside of AU, I love to work out, especially running. I am also into reading, hiking, and spending time with my friends and family.

 

Joel Ortega

Joel Ortega

Director of Freshman Enrollment

Phone: 630-844-3853
Email: jortega@aurora.edu
Hear from Joel.

Education Background: Bachelor's in Business Administration and Marketing in 2013, Master of Business Administration in 2014, and Master of Science in Digital Marketing in 2016, all from Aurora University. 

What advice would you give to a first-year or prospective student? Make sure to give it your all starting your freshman year. There are so many opportunities to make great connections both socially and professionally. Take advantage of your resources.

Words you would use to describe AU: Encouraging, Demanding, Relationships

What are some of your hobbies? I love the Outdoors! Things like camping, rock climbing, hiking, and taking road trips.

What was your favorite thing about AU when you were an undergraduate student? All the different student organizations that AU offered. I was able to build a great network and make some amazing friends.

 

Haley Pessina

Haley Pessina

Associate Director of Freshman Enrollment

Phone: 630-844-5298
Email: hpessina@aurora.edu
Hear from Haley.

Education Background: I graduated in May 2015 from Aurora University with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree and minors in sociology, psychology, pre-law and Spanish. I recently earned a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State.

Favorite Quote: Pretty much everything in “To Kill a Mockingbird!” If I had to choose one it would be, "Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts."

Favorite Book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What advice would you give to a prospective student? Do not allow yourself to be comfortable. If you are always comfortable you will not grow. Push yourself to try new things and things you never thought you could do. You won't regret it!

What are some of your hobbies? I love reading, cooking, and hiking.

What was your favorite thing about AU when you were an undergraduate student? Getting together with friends on campus to hang out or study. Some of my best friends are from classes I took here and the organizations I was involved in. You spend so much time together that they become family. Having these kinds of relationships make even the most stressful and challenging times fun!

 

Will Schuneman

Will Schuneman

Freshman Admission Counselor

Phone: 630-844-5143
Email: wschuneman@aurora.edu
Hear from Will.

Education Background: Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies of Business and Philosophy, Dominican University '17; Master of Business Administration, Aurora University '22.

Favorite Quote: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tzu

What advice would you give to a prospective student? Ask a lot of questions, make new friends, and learn something new every day.

What are some of your hobbies? Cooking, fishing, and watching and playing sports.

Words you would use to describe AU: Beautiful, Inspiring, Home

 

Marisol Velazquez

Marisol Velazquez

Freshman Admission Counselor

Phone: 630-844-5465
Email: mvelazquez@aurora.edu
Hear from Marisol.

Education Background: I graduated from AU with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in May 2019.

What advice would you give to a first-year or prospective student? Build relationships and networks wherever you can because it's not always about what you know, but who you know.

Favorite Quote: "You are what you believe yourself to be." - Paulo Coelho

Something interesting or unique about me: I was a Mexican folklore dancer in Aurora, IL, for over 10 years!