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Meet the Dream Team


Xris macias


Picture of Dream Center Graduate Assistant University of Utah, Dayan Castaneda Munoz

Xris Macias’ natural leadership skills and strong work ethic make him a perfect fit as the Director of the Dream Center.  His commitment to understanding complex issues means he will use all resources available to help every student. Xris’ biggest strength is his compassion. Xris is willing to go above and beyond to help anyone in need, and he never expects anything in return. Well, sometimes, a beer or some food.  

 Xris’ greatest accomplishments are his two sons, Etzio and Eros, and his much cooler wife. Xris is fluent in Español and Português. Xris is a true music lover who enjoys listening to many different genres of music. He loves playing his ukulele, even when no one asked him to play. Xris’ superpower is telling dad jokes so cringeworthy that it can suck the energy out of an entire room. On the weekends, you can usually find Xris training capoeira, riding bikes, or cruising in his lowrider. 


Thaiss del rio

advising ASSISTANT

Picture of Dream Center Graduate Assistant University of Utah, Brenda Santoyo

Born in the coastal region of Lima, Peru, Thaiss and her family immigrated to the United States when she was three years old. Like many immigrants in the United States, Thaiss and her family had to start from ground zero and build a life for themselves. Thaiss' biggest strength is her empathy, she has a golden personality and can make anyone feel seen and heard in a crowded room. She is currently a student double majoring in Sociology and Political Science with a minor in Ethnic Studies and envisions herself pursuing a career in public policy in an effort to make the world a more equitable and just place for all. Thaiss is excited to be a part of the Dream Center and support students as they navigate the system of higher education. She is a fierce and passionate advocate for social justice and hopes to one day work in a presidential administration.

 During her free time, you can find Thaiss pampering her golden retriever puppy (seriously, she even makes her chicken noodle soup), obsessing over Zac Efron, playing uno with her family, eating sushi, and simply put, changing the world for the better. If you meet Thaiss she will likely ask if you’ve ever tried Peruvian food.

                                                                                        BY: DIANA POGOSYAN


Luisa sujey rodriguez


Picture of Dream Center Graduate Assistant University of Utah, Brenda Santoyo

Mexico made her, and Rose Park raised her. From the Westside with love, Luisa, Sujey, or Su is a rose with many names and many talents. When she is not studying to get her Master’s of Social Work you can find her creating memories with her little sisters, going on crazy adventures with her girlfriends, or cute dates with her hubby. An avid traveler and festival go-er --- she’s gone to Coachella three times (she saw Beyonce one year so WINNING). Wifey to a local musician, you can always find Su attending the most epic concerts (pre-COVID) and jamming out to the smoothest beats. Sujey prides herself on being a first-generation DACA recipient scholar and hopes to make an impact in her community through her work.


Gustavo Fontoura da silva

Graduate student leader
Picture of Writing & Rhetoric Studies Fellow, Cristina Guerrero Perez

This is Gustavo da Silva, born in São Paulo, Brazil, and raised in Utah. He represents West Valley all day, though he currently lives in Salt Lake City proper. 
Gustavo, aka “Guga,” has a strong desire to continue his education, not only for himself but for his family and the greater good. He is aware of his positionality in academia and wants to better understand how to make education accessible to his community. To that end, he is studying International Affairs and Global Enterprise, where he hopes to earn his master's degree. He extends his global research beyond the classroom, by truly having a global lens in his personal life as well, including a diverse group of friends and having extensive knowledge of international foods, especially from Latin America. Favorite dishes include feijoada from Brazil, tallarnies verdes from Peru, and mole from Mexico. Guga loves the cultural intersections that he can study, but if he could major in pop culture, he probably would. Guga is the actual definition of a “90s kid” loving everything from the original Ninja Turtles to the Nintendo 64. Aside from being a huge nerd, he is a true hip-hop head, a sports fan, and loves riding his bike…. that one time. Oh, and don’t let him find a bad picture of you, or it will become a meme (speaking from experience). Guga is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.


                                                                          BY: XRIS MACIAS

kamarie acurus Nicdao

Administrative officer

Picture of Writing & Rhetoric Studies Fellow, Cristina Guerrero Perez


Kamarie or 'Kay' is both a fitness and foodie extraordinaire. When she's not competing in various fitness expos throughout Utah, you can find her organizing and performing traditional Filipino folk dances with several Filipino community organizations. She also loves to explore the local food scene to support and highlight ethnic-owned businesses on her social media (Insta famous). Aside from modeling and spending time with her family, Kay is also an avid traveler and will visit cities solely for their food scene--especially in the search for America's best Filipino food. An alumna of the U, she graduated in 2015 with her BS in Health Society & Policy.



Last Updated: 5/3/21