Skip to content

Meet the Team

Meet the Financial Wellness Center Staff!

The Financial Wellness Center at UC Merced was founded in 2020, with the goal of assisting students to develop and achieve financial wellness by creating a safe and inclusive environment for students to discuss and learn more about their own personal financial management.  

Meet the Financial Wellness Coordinator



Charah Coleman

Founding Financial Wellness Coordinator

Charah Coleman, MBA, is the founding coordinator of UC Merced’s Financial Wellness Center. She is an award-winning behavioral finance expert and certified Educator of Applied Compassion.  Born in Southern California, she has a passion to make the Greater Central Valley a better place to live. Charah has been recognized for her work in economic justice and financial empowerment within the Central Valley, having founded financial wellness centers on two public universities in California. Charah is also passionate about protecting the environment and its wildlife. She believes that we are on this earth to display compassion and better the communities around us. Her pastimes include volunteering, hiking, and exploring our beautiful state. 



Schedule Coaching Session

Meet the Bobcat Financial Coaches

HeadshotGerardo Avila

Bobcat Financial Coach

Meet Gerardo Avila, our Bobcat Financial Coach! Gerardo is currently pursuing a degree in Business & Management Economics while studying abroad in Oslo, Norway! Originally from Los Angeles, his ambition to work for the FWC is to share his financial knowledge with the UC Merced community and to hone his mentorship skills to create an environment for others to feel comfortable learning and growing.⁣ In his free time, Gerardo thrives on adventures, be it backpacking, rock climbing, or mountain biking. When he's not out exploring, you can find him weightlifting, playing soccer, engrossed in a good book while lounging in his hammock, or on the hunt for a delicious meal. 



Schedule Coaching Session


HeadshotJuliana Torres

Bobcat Financial Coach

Meet Juliana Torres, our Bobcat Financial Coach! Juliana is a second year pursuing her bachelor's degree in management of Business Economics and psychology! Juliana is a first-generation student born and raised in Marin County where she helped develop and assist in managing her family’s business. She is passionate about learning and gaining experiences as she one day hopes to start her own business. In addition, Juliana is a part of UC Merced’s women's water polo team and she is excited to start the season and continue establishing the program.  Some of Juliana’s hobbies include playing water polo, crocheting, hiking, reading, and watching shows and movies. Juliana strives to build strong connections but most importantly is always looking for ways to better the lives of others. As a Bobcat Financial Coach here at UC Merced, Juliana hopes to share her knowledge on managing personal finances while providing an inclusive and comfortable environment.


Schedule Coaching Session



Meet the Bobcat Content Creator


Yasmin Jama

BFC Content Creator

Meet Yasmin Jama, our Bobcat Financial Coach Content Creator! Yasmin is a fourth-year Cognitive Science student from Orange County, California. Her passion for design and videography is evident in the content produced for the Financial Wellness center. Outside of school, Yasmin pursues UX/UI design internships at FAANG tech companies, focusing on designing for underrepresented communities in tech.







HeadshotNoah Wise

BFC Content Creator Assistant

Meet Yasmin Jama, our Bobcat Financial Coach Content Creator! Yasmin is a third-year Cognitive Science student from Orange County, California. Her passion for design and videography stemmed in high school, where she developed a video marketing business for young authors. She hopes to one day bring diversity into the tech industry and digital media by mentoring and educating young girls in STEM. During her spare time, Yasmin enjoys reading and writing, and one day she hopes to publish a book!





Our Alumni!

Kenya Castillo, Class of '23

Bobcat Financial Coach

Meet Kenya Castillo, our Bobcat Financial Coach! Kenya is a first-generation alumna who recieved a bachelor’s degree in Management of Business and Economics. Born and raised in Lynwood, California. She is interested in various topics such as entrepreneurship, personal finance, innovation, marketing, and ways in helping others and the community. Some of her favorite hobbies include listening to music, painting her nails, cooking, and hanging out with friends. By joining the Financial Wellness Center team, she became to be a tool for the UC Merced community of students and create a positive impact.













Melissa Rodriguez, Class of '22

Bobcat Financial Coach

Meet Melissa Rodriguez, our Bobcat Financial Coach! Melissa is an alumna who majored in Management & Business, Economics at the University of California, Merced. Melissa is a first-generation student from Ventura County who strives to make an impact on her campus and community. She is passionate about community service and considers herself a servant leader. During high school, she volunteered with a social justice organization. Melissa has been an officer for Alpha Phi Omega, a service-based fraternity, which has given her the opportunity to develop herself as a leader and the ability to serve the community of Merced. By joining the Financial Wellness Center team, Melissa has been given the opportunity to serve her fellow peers and provide guidance for personal financial management. After graduation, Melissa now works at the Santa Barbara County Education Office as a Human Resources Analyst!








Social Media

We're social! Follow our social media channels for tips, contests, and updates on the Financial Wellness Center.

The Financial Wellness Center is an educational service only. We do not provide professional investment, legal, or tax advice. The information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your investment, legal, and/or tax advisors or to be the basis of specific trading or investment activities. If you need investment, legal, and/or tax advice, please consult a professional directly.  Any links to third-party financial resources are provided as a convenience for informational purposes only.  Neither UC Merced or its Financial Wellness Center endorses or approves any of the products, services or opinions of the entities or individuals associated with these links. UC Merced and its Financial Wellness Center bear no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of any external site associated with the links provided or any subsequent links.