Professional Staff

  • Javier W. Bustamante
    Javier W. Bustamante Director, Center for Cultural Engagement

    Javier Bustamante is responsible for implementing, coordinating and supporting a comprehensive program of social, cultural, intellectual, spiritual, governance and community service programs that complement the academic mission of the university.

    As the director, Javier serves as a management leader and educator for Intercultural programs and services; serves as a resource for staff and students; supports and promotes the mission and vision of Catholic University; and contributes positively to the Catholic University community of research, teaching, learning and service to the Church, the nation and the world.

    Javier is originally from Peru and has been involved in work with multicultural work for over a decade.

    Natali Maher Assistant Director, Center for Cultural Engagement

    Natalí Maher works primarily to serve all first-generation students involved within Catholic University's Take Flight program. Through Take Flight, Natalí assures that students feel confident in academic preparedness, understand campus resources, feel supported by faculty, staff, and campus partners, while building a community of trust among first generation college students.

    In her role as Assistant Director, Natalí seeks to educate students on classroom and professional readiness while emphasizing their emotional development; serves as a resource for students, staff, and faculty; and promotes compassion and service through the mission of the Church.

    Natalí is a Virginia native and Catholic University alumni.

Undergraduate Student Staff

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    Communications Coordinators
    Jacqueline Palaganas - Class of '23

    Jacqui is a Senior Media and Communication Studies Major, with a minor in Marketing Management, from Treasure Island, FL. In addition to working in the Center for Cultural Engagement, she is involved with the Orientation team as a second-year Orientation Advisor. A fun fact about Jacqui is that she is a transfer student who transferred here her Sophomore year! When she is not working, you can find Jacqui studying in Leahy or sitting on the Basilica lawn. Jacqui also loves to cook and explore different restaurants in the D.C. area, and documents it on her food Instagram account. She loves Catholic University because of the friendly atmosphere and the kind staff. She says “Everyone at Catholic makes sure that all the students feel more at home here, and that’s something that I really do appreciate about this university.”

    Mariah Solis - Class of '25

    Mariah is from San Antonio, Texas, and is a sophomore double majoring in Politics and Media & Communications. She is most involved on campus as the Research Director for the Student Government Association and digital content editor for The Tower. She is also a big fan of musical theatre, and spends her free time watching productions at the Kennedy Center with her friends. She loves the CUA community and is honored to serve the students on campus through her role at the CCE. 

    As part of the Communications Team, both Mariah and Jacqui play an important role in helping increase the presence of the CCE across campus and beyond. They work collaboratively with other staff members in the development and execution of visual marketing campaigns for all CCE events, programs, and initiatives. They develop and execute a successful communications strategy that maintains constant communication with students, and assist in increasing participation in events, programs and activities. Finally, they manage CCE’s social media accounts, working towards increasing student engagement.

    Community Outreach Coordinators Samantha Heydari - Class of '24

    Samantha is an International Business major with a minor in Hispanic Studies.  She is originally from California where she was born and raised.  Two things she misses most about California are her ballet students as well as the easy access to mountains and beaches. At Catholic, she likes the small class sizes because it allows for students to know the students and vice versa which is useful when you need help in class, and if you need a job, they help build your network and connect you with others. This school year, Samantha is looking forward to making the CCE more known among students as a welcoming place to do your homework, chat, or to sleep on our couch!

    Samson Sudan - Class of '25

    Samson is a Philosophy/Pre-Law major. His parents are immigrants from India. He enjoys the fact that Catholic University is a beautiful campus, that is neither too big or too small. During his first year at Catholic, Samson found a home in the CCE, a place where “someone can find their identity and feel like they belong. He is excited to meet new students in the CCE and to actively tell others about the CCE and invite them to get involved. Samson recently completed a summer intership in the CCE and played an important role in getting us ready to welcome the Class of 2026. 

    James Pham - Class of '23


    James is a double major in Psychology and Theology & Religious Studies. He is from New York and is the son of Vietnamese immigrants. His favorite part of our campus is the liveliness of our community. For him, the CCE is a place that brings diversity to the forefront. The CCE sparks conversations between the unique conversations that enrich our campus community. He is most excited about serving as a Take Flight peer mentor and helping advance the work of the CCE in our outreach efforts.   

    As part of the Community Outreach team, Samantha, Samson and James work closely with the assistant director in launching new events, programs or initiatives that increase the visibility of the CCE on our campus and in the greater metropolitan area. The community outreach coordinators execute an outreach initiative that engages students and their families in learning more about the college admissions process, by partnering with local stakeholders (non-profits, schools, and other organizations. They assist in increasing the presence of the CCE in college-wide initiatives, events, and programs, becoming more intentional in engaging commuter students. 

    Cultural Events Coordinator Fatima Vasquez-Molina - Class of '23

    Fatima is a double major in Theology and Hispanic Studies. Her parents are from Mexico and El Salvador. She is excited to create events that make students from other cultures come together and learn about each other. Her favorite part of Catholic is the community that always supports students with anything and everything they want to do. For her, the CCE has always been a home away from home, where she has been able to grow as a student, professional, and as a person. In her words, the CCE “truly embodies the community and family feel of the CUA all in one spot.”

    As the Cultural Events Coordinator, Fatima plays a key role in increasing the visibility of the various cultural communities on campus and beyond. Through these events, the CCE highlights, educates, and celebrates the richness of our diversity. She works collaboratively with other staff members in the development and execution of cultural events, activities, and celebrations. She identifies and executes opportunities to collaborate with student organizations, academic departments, campus ministry, and university departments in the development of programs, activities and events that highlight the cultural diversity of our campus.

    Intercultural Education Coordinator Grace Riordan - Class of '23

    Grace is double major in French and Francophone Studies and in Sociology at Catholic University. She is excited to work with the Center for Cultural Engagement this year. Her favorite aspect of Catholic University is how friendly the campus is, and how easy it is to get involved. Grace calls Myrtle Beach, SC home, and her idea of a perfect day is one spent by the ocean! In her spare time, she loves to read and listen to music.

    As the Intercultural Education Coordinator, Grace plays an important role in helping increase the CCE’s profile as the leader in intercultural and diversity education on campus. She works collaboratively with other staff members in the development and execution of CCE’s ongoing Intercultural Dialogues and the Civility Dialogues series, aimed at promoting cross campus intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, promoting respect for human dignity, the common good, and care for our common home. And, she assist with the execution of projects in collaboration with student organizations, academic departments, campus ministry, and university departments looking to foster intercultural communication and programing.

    First-Gen Support Coordinators Odalys Fuentes - Class of '23

    Odalys is a Psychology major, with certificates in Latin American/Latino Studies and Intelligence Studies. She was born in Long Island, New York. Because her family is from El Salvador, she was raised both in El Salvador and the U.S. Her favorite thing about our campus are the green spaces where she can take walks, but her favorite part of Catholic are the connections she has made which have allowed her to grow personally and professionally. For her, the CCE is home. When she is unsure of what steps to take, she knows she will find the answers in the CCE. And she is always excited about our events because of the incredible speakers we host and because the food in the CCE is the best on campus.

    Samuel Nwuha - Class of '23

    Samuel is a computer science major. He is a first-generation college student who is part of the CCE’s Take Flight program. His parents are from Nigeria, Igbo specifically. His favorite part about Catholic University is the fact that it is a tight-knit community. He has come to see the CCE as a safe welcoming space for students of different backgrounds and those interested in learning about different cultures and experiences. He is most excited about helping expand the CCE’s outreach and finding ways to improve upon the work that has already been done.

    In their role as First-Gen Support Coordinators, Odalys and Samuel play a critical role in supporting the Associate Director in overseeing the Take Flight program. Take Flight aims at providing support for 1st-Gen college students in the areas of peer-support, guidance, community-building, and academic success. The 1st-gen student support coordinators assist in the implementation of a peer-to-peer mentorship, providing support to peer mentors through training and development of resources as needed. They assist with the planning and execution of a workshop series that provides pertinent resources and information to 1st-Gen students. And they assist in planning activities that encourage community building among 1st-Gen students.