Employee Bios

AMBER BOCANEGRA

Amber is AWA Program Director and Primary Alternate Responsible Officer. A native of the Central Coast area, Amber has always been a seeker of adventures and knowledge. Raised by parents from Spain and Mexico, she developed an early appreciation for the arts and academics. Speaking Spanish and Catalan at home with her family, fostered her love for foreign languages and in turn, continued her interest in learning Italian, Polish, and Czech. Amber has also lived and attended universities in Poland, Spain, and Italy. Her travels include: Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand, Portugal, and France. Amber holds a Bachelor’s Degree in World Languages and Cultures from California State University at Monterey Bay, a Master’s Degree in Interpretation and Translation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Francisco State University. Her academic background and professional experiences provide invaluable insight, program management, and team support to the American Work Adventures team.
“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

 


 

PAULINA CASTILLO

Paulina is AWA East Coast Program Manager. Born and raised in Poland, she now lives in New York where she came for the first time back in time as a J1 exchange student. After her participation in the program, Paulina worked with Work & Travel Program and kept coming back to the States. She completed governmental internships at the United Nations and at the Polish Consulate General in New York City. Paulina has always loved the idea of international exchange programs and has always been fascinated with different cultures. Her biggest passion is traveling, exploring new places and meeting new people. She is extremely happy to be a part of the AWA team and to help more students make their American Dream come true.
"If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It." - Walt Disney

 


Alexis employee bio picALEXIS MELVILLE

Alexis is the AWA Program Advisor.  Alexis assists the AWA team in any and all projects and provides additional support where needed.  She was born in Eureka, CA and raised in San Diego.  Due to her own mixed heritage Alexis has always had a cultural sensitivity and awareness that makes her a great asset to our team.  Since joining AWA her interest in cultural exchange has only grown and we are glad to have her!
“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
-Nora Roberts

 


 

SHANNON SCOTT

Shannon is the AWA Program Advisor. With her background in hospitality and recreation management, she has always enjoyed studying and celebrating diversity. Shannon assists in handling program acceptance, program compliance, and program outreach, while exercising discretion and critical thinking skills with program applicants, program information, and business operations. Shannon has always had a passion for culture; meeting new people and experiencing other cultures has always been a dream of hers and she is glad to have found a job where she can fulfill that passion while helping others to do so as well.
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
-Miriam Adeney

 



KEIKO MONRAZ

Keiko is an AWA Program Assistant. Her first taste of America, the land of opportunities from Japan, goes back to the time when she was an exchange student herself. Today she enjoys spending time in the gym, and with her son and husband. Due to her background, Japanese anime is also a big part of her life! She had previously worked in high school, as well as within the Au Pair program. Recently Keiko joined the AWA Team and we are very happy to have her! Keiko says: “I am so happy to be a part of this energetic young team of American Work Adventure today. It feels like being back home again!”
“Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself. Your body and mind will become clear and you will realize the unity of all things.” Dogen quotes (Japanese Buddhist monk and philosopher 1200-1253)


CINDY GURTNER

Cindy is the Director of Finance and Administration. After growing up in Southern California, Cindy moved to Northern California where she married and started her family. Always believing that travel is such an important part of education, Cindy has traveled with her husband and two children to many US States and even more foreign countries. Passing on the passion for travel and learning other cultures to her children is an accomplishment Cindy is very proud of. Bringing with her over twenty years’ experience in Finance and Administration, Cindy is excited to have found the Work and Travel Program as a place to apply her knowledge and help facilitate the exchange of culture for so many young people.
“We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open” - Jawaharial Nehru


SARA BERNHARD

Sara is the Office Manager of American Work Adventures and a new grandma! She has an extensive background working for various schools as well as international language centers. Although she doesn’t speak any other languages fluently, she does her best to decipher what she can! Her hobbies include golf, travel, good wine, and cooking. She keeps the office staff in line and on their toes!
“We must become the change we wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi