Salina Billins Image of Salina Billins

Educational Opportunity Program Director

"I have always considered myself a natural connector, and it is a strength I share every day with both students and colleagues. I am passionate about empowering students with information, and I believe it is always going to be a game-changer when you are able to instill confidence in students to help them take charge of their own lives."

Background

Salina is a first-generation college student from in Utica, N.Y.  While growing up, she watched her parents work in demanding jobs — in today's world they would be identified as an “essential” — and says this was a huge deciding factor for going to college. "My experience was probably similar to many first-generation college students of color who lack any type of mentoring or coaching," she says. "I found myself struggling to navigate being a college student and having the confidence to self-advocate, but those things never deterred me from continuing to persist." Salina credits the support of the Buffalo State College Educational Opportunity Program, her parents, and close friends for holding her accountable for reaching her goals. Salina's dream came true when she earned not one but two college degrees — a Bachelor of Science in Communications Disorders from Buffalo State and a Master's of Science in Education from Utica College.

The advice she would give to her 18-year-old self? “Be brave enough to face challenges, and don’t ever settle.”

Salina enjoys spending time with her family, reading, summer concerts, traveling the country, and oceans. She also has a passion for discovering new places to eat, and she loves to cook.

Jairo E. "Manny" Sabillon Image of Manny Sabillon

Educational Opportunity Program Counselor

"It is my goal to connect with diverse students coming from all different backgrounds to ensure they feel confident in themselves and in their abilities to make their dreams a reality, by providing them with resources to help them achieve success in whatever path they choose."

Background

Born and raised in the Bronx, Jairo E. "Manny" Sabillon is a first-generation college graduate. His family moved to Utica, N.Y., during his high school years and it has been his home ever since. Manny has worked as a program specialist and advisor with the Science & Technology Entry Program and Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (STEP and CSTEP), New York State Grant programs at MVCC, servicing students from middle school, high school, and college. He is strongly committed to working with all students to ensure they are getting the best support in academics, career services, and financial concerns, providing information and resources to empower them to succeed. His goal is to continue to serve and mentor students and see each new generation of students succeed in their respective career paths.

Besides his passion for serving students, Manny enjoys traveling and learning about the cultures and languages of others around the world. So far, he has traveled to Honduras, Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. In the future, his goal is to travel to Japan, Vietnam, and Peru, and many more.