Life Directions Center Team

Life Directions Center Team

Get to Know our Life Directions Center Team


Sandi Altena portrait

Dr. Sandi Altena

Sandi is the Director of the Life Directions Center. She has been in Christian Higher Education for 17 years serving in all areas across campus including instruction, service learning, leadership, mentoring/coaching, and community development. Sandi is new to CCU and Colorado and very excited to be on the LDC team. Sandi and her husband have 7 children—4 of them internationally adopted. She loves to hike, bike, kayak, and eat good food. She has a daughter who is a student at CCU and is loving the experience! Sandi is passionate about helping students discover their calling and purpose and assisting them on their paths to success as students and children of God.


Carol Trejos portrait

Carol Trejos

Carol has worked in higher education for over 25 years at numerous universities. She has served in Residence Life, Campus Ministries, Athletics and Advising. She has a bachelor’s in psychology from Westmont College and a master’s in education from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Carol’s family is from Costa Rica, and she has lived there for a number of years. As the Associate Director, Carol both advises students and oversees the hiring, training, and supervision of LDC advisors. Carol loves journeying alongside students and sees it as a privilege. In her spare time, she loves to travel, read, and get outdoors as much as possible to hike and bike Colorado!


Derek Zeller portrait

Derek Zeller

Derek graduated from CCU in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in youth ministry and completed a master's degree in curriculum and instruction at CCU in 2010. In addition to his advising responsibilities, Derek is the LDC Assistant Director.


Cassie Branstrom portrait

Cassie Branstrom

Cassie brings a variety of experience to the Life Directions Center. She earned her B.F.A. in Graphic Design from University of Florida and has certificates in Soul Care and Culinary Arts. Her work has included developing Youth Recreation Programs, organizing Community Events, directing an Inner-City Discipleship Ministry and running a business teaching cooking classes to school-age children. Her passion is discipleship! Her desire is to lead others in developing a personal, intimate walk with God through Experiential Learning opportunities that integrates the outdoors/wilderness, cooking and art, and soul care. Currently, she and her husband, Derek, serve as their church's College Group Leader. Cassie is the LDC Admin and acts as the liaison for New Student Registration, Student Staff Development, and executes the Experiential Learning Program.


Cody Hughes portrait

Cody Hughes

Cody has a bachelor's degree in Biology Health Professions from Northwestern College and earned a M.A. in Higher Education from Geneva College. Before joining the LDC Advising team, Cody was a Resident Director for six years where he appreciated the opportunity to live alongside students during some of the most pivotal and formative years of their lives. Outside of working with college students, Cody loves to read, drink good coffee, play Spike Ball, follow the world of soccer, and spend time with his wife, Brooke.


Dawn Schmidli portrait

Dawn Schmidli

Dawn holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Oklahoma Christian University and a Master's degree in Professional Counseling from Oklahoma City University. She is a wife, mom, and counselor and has worked in residential treatment, on ropes courses, inpatient psychiatric and substance use hospitals and for the last many years as a Licensed Professional Counselor in a private agency setting. She also served as a classroom tutor and a Director in the Denver Classical Conversations Community through many years of homeschooling. She thrives on nurturing student's love of learning and the fact that God is at the center of all education. She has enjoyed involvement with the local refugee community, as well as Eastern European missions. Dawn advises nursing students.


Elyssa Hernandez portrait

Elyssa Hernandez

Elyssa has worked within the CCU community for over 5 years working in Dual Credit, Campus Ministries, Campus Activities, and has now joined the LDC as an advisor. She graduated from CCU in 2014 with a bachelor’s in business administration and is currently working on her master’s in organizational leadership. Elyssa’s passion is to walk alongside students as they navigate their time at CCU. She also oversees the ministry hours graduation requirement.


Kayla Duley portrait

Kayla Duley

Kayla graduated from CCU with a bachelor’s in business administration and an emphasis in interpersonal communication. After graduating, Kayla completed her masters of science in counseling/school counseling. She has enjoyed working with students ranging from middle to high school, as well as the adult students at CCU in her role as Student Service Advisor for the College of Adult and Graduate Studies. Kayla is the Tutor Coordinator for the College of Undergraduate Studies. She has a passion for people and developing others God given gifts.


Kearsten Hobbs portrait

Kearsten Hobbs

Kearsten recently graduated from Denver Seminary with a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She spent three semesters serving CCU as a Counselor Intern in the Counseling Center. Through her work in the counseling center, she discovered a passion for helping college students explore their purpose and calling. In addition to her role as an advisor, Kearsten is the Student Success Coordinator for the LDC.


Kristine Hunerwadel portrait

Kristine Hunerwadel

Kristine joined the LDC team in Fall of 2018 after working in student affairs at the University of Colorado Law School. She serves as the Undeclared Student Services Coordinator and loves getting to use tools like the Strong Interest Inventory to help students think about their interests and life goals for fields of study at CCU. Her educational background is in pediatric medicine, but a career change resulted in discovering her love for students and the academic environment. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Malone College, and a Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant Master’s degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.


Mike Finnefrock portrait

Mike Finnefrock

Mike has spent his entire career working with students. He displays passion for seeing students maximize their God-given potential. He holds a bachelor and master's degree in special education both from the University of Northern Colorado. He also has studied at the graduate level at Denver University, obtaining his principal's license in the state of Colorado. He loves most of all, spending time with his wife, three sons and two daughter-in-laws, doing anything outdoors.


Rachel Urban portrait

Rachel Urban

Rachel graduated from CCU with a Bachelor's degree in Theology, and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Curriculum and instruction. She spent two years advising non-traditional students in CCU's College of Adult and Graduate Studies before joining the LDC team. Rachel also serves as CCU's International Student Services Coordinator. She's passionate about the journey college students encounter as they're developing professionally, personally, and spiritually. In her free time, Rachel enjoys reading, biking, baking, and playing in the University Handbells.


Shayna Laing portrait

Shayna Laing

Shayna graduated from CCU with a Bachelor's in Special Education and is currently pursuing her M.A. in Special Education with an Emphasis in Disabilities Services in Post-Secondary Settings. She has worked with diverse students at the K-12, transition, and post-secondary levels and has served as the Pastor of Spiritual Formation at a local church. Shayna has a passion to create inclusive learning environments that empower students of all abilities to reach their goals and better understand God's ideal for their lives. As the Coordinator of Student Success Services, she is honored to serve the students of CCU through accessibility and academic support.


Tessa Hooper portrait

Tessa Hooper

Tessa recently graduated from CCU with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an emphasis in Theology. Tessa is the Study Abroad Coordinator, in addition to her advising role. During a mission trip to Israel, Tessa experienced many different cultures which sparked a deep love for living/working/studying overseas. She also found her passion for working with students throughout her time at CCU as a student. Tessa competed in Cross Country/Track and Field at the collegiate level in which she enjoyed working on a team immensely. Through that experience and her time as a Discipleship group leader for young women, she developed a love for working with students one-on-one. She is incredibly excited to work with students in a new setting to help them discover God's calling on their life. Tessa serves the student body as the International Student Services Coordinator and Study Abroad Coordinator.