Meet the Staff Advisors

Joanne Snapp, MSEd

  • Director of Health Professions Advising
Joanne founded Health Professions Advising in 2014 with the intent to use holistic advising practices to help more students reach their goals. Joanne grew up in Missouri and lived in New York for eight years where she worked at two different medical schools and a nursing college. Joanne earned her first masters in English and her second in Leadership and Policy in Higher Education. Joanne is passionate about helping students succeed.

Manisha Lakhotia, MS, NCC

  • Assistant Director of Health Professions Advising
Manisha is an alumna of UCD and has been with Health Professions Advising since October 2017. Prior to coming to HPA, she worked as an Academic Advisor for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean’s Office and served as pre-health advisor and career counselor at another UC and a private school for a number of years. As a first-generation college student, Manisha is avid about supporting students and alumni reach their personal, academic and professional goals. Outside of work, Manisha enjoys baking, reading and planning her next adventure.

Maria Saldana-Seibert

  • Senior Staff Advisor, All Health Professions
Maria is an alumna of UCD and has been an advisor for many years.  She began at Health Professions Advising in Spring 2019.  Prior to coming to HPA she was an academic advsor in many different departments on campus including in the college of Biological Sciences, Comparative Literature, Religious Studies, French and Italian.  Outside of work, Maria enjoys taking walks, finishing her education goals, and learning from our senior citizens who have so much to offer and teach us.  

Elizabeth Ann Barajas

  • Writing Specialist
Elizabeth is a Pre-Graduate Writing Specialist at the UC Davis Writing Support Center. She will be at HPA doing drop-in advising for personal statements, experience writing, and disadvantaged statements for Tuesdays and Thursdays during Spring Quarter 2019.
Office Hours
Spring Quarter: Holding Drop-Ins only at HPA T/TH 1-5 pm

Elio Gutierrez-Montoya

  • Staff Advisor, All Health Professions
Elio Gutierrez-Montoya is a staff advisor for Health Professions Advising. He previously worked at UC Davis School of Medicine, with specific attention on their pipeline program initiatives and most prominently with their Postbaccalaurate Program. His experiences as an advisor particularly have focused on assisting students in reaching their academic goals and in developing students as future professionals. He graduated from UC Davis in 2009 with degrees in Psychology and Spanish. While at Davis he was heavily involved with Imani Clinic, the Filipino Association for Health Careers and the Early Academic Outreach Program. His passion for student advocacy and advising has propelled him to where he is today.

Bryelle McRay

  • Staff Advisor, All Health Professions
Bryelle McRay is a staff advisor for all health professions. She graduated from UC Davis in 2016 with a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior and she has a minor in African & African-American Studies. She also completed a post-baccalaureate program at CSU East Bay where she served as a pre-health advisor. While she was a student at UC Davis, she co-founded the Black Community of Science organization (BCS) seeking to retain African-American students in the sciences. Bryelle worked with many patients and health care professionals as a dedicated member of Imani Clinic and served on the board as the Electronic Medical Records Specialist. She worked as a clinical research intern at the UC Davis Foods for Health Institute studying human breast milk oligosaccharide composition and beneficial gut bacteria in which she gained a great deal of exposure to the UC Davis Medical Center Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics and Neonatology. Bryelle is passionate about retention and seeing students thrive.

Ron Hart

  • Staff Advisor, All Health Professions
As a staff advisor, Ron Hart advises for all health professions. Ron is a Los Rios Community College District Alumni and a 2016 UC Davis graduate with a B.S. in Global Disease Biology. Before advising with Health Professions, Ron was a major advisor, advising for Global Disease Biology, Animal Biology, and Entomology here at UCD! As a student, he was deeply involved with The Willow Clinic and was one of the founders of the Transfer Pre-Health Mentoring Program. Ron has also worked as a Hospice volunteer, a Home Health Aide, MCAT instructor, and a research assistant studying immunodeficiency viruses. 

Cassandra Lai

  • Staff Advisor, All Health Professions
Cassandra Lai is one of our esteemed staff advisors, advising on all health professions and personal statements. She graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and a minor in Professional Writing. Starting in the summer of 2019, she will be attending medical school to one day work with patients and health professionals as a physician. Along with advising for all health professions and personal statements, she had founded HPA’s Pre-Health Ambassador Network (PHAN), coordinated HPA’s Med Prep Program, was the UCD Pre-Health Conference Programming Coordinator, and coordinates the High School Pre-Health Symposium. Cassandra has also worked with other volunteers, nurses, and patients as an intern at the UCDMC Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Orthopaedics Clinic. Currently, she is also a hospice and Children's Bereavement Art Group (CBAG) volunteer for Sutter Care at Home in Roseville, working with terminally ill patients and children who have lost a loved one. Cassandra also has a passion for cooking, baking, reading, and writing, having written articles for Morning Sign Out’s UC Davis chapter and Mindfray, Inc. as a featured Contributing Writer.