Life Directions Center Team

Life Directions Center Team

Get to Know our Life Directions Center Team


Sandi Altena portrait

Dr. Sandi Altena

Director of Life Directions Center

Sandi Altena 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. Altena is new to CCU and Colorado and very excited to be on the LDC team. Altena and her husband have seven children — four of them internationally adopted. She also loves to hike, bike, kayak, and eat good food. She has a daughter who is a student at CCU and is loving the experience! Altena 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

Carol Trejos

Associate Director of Life Directions Center

Carol Trejos 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 degree in psychology from Westmont College and a master’s in education degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Trejos’s family is from Costa Rica, and she has lived there for a number of years. As the Associate Director, Trejos both advises students and oversees the hiring, training, and supervision of LDC advisors. Trejos 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

Derek Zeller

Assistant Director of Life Directions Center

Derek Zeller 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, Zeller is the LDC assistant director. He enjoys using his education and experiences to help students navigate their college experience at CCU.


Cassie Branstrom

Cassie Branstrom

Administrative Assistant

Cassie Branstrom 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! Branstrom's desire is to lead others in developing a personal, intimate walk with God through experiential learning opportunities that integrate the outdoors/wilderness, cooking and art, and soul care. Currently, she and her husband, Derek, serve as their church's college group leader. Branstrom is the LDC admin and acts as the liaison for New Student Registration, Student Staff Development, and executes the Experiential Learning Program.


Cody Hughes

Cody Hughes

Life Directions Academic Advisor

Cody Hughes 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, Hughes 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, Hughes 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

Life Directions Nursing Advisor

Dawn Schmidli 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. Schmidli enjoys incorporating her education and many experiences into her position with the LDC team advising nursing students. She has enjoyed involvement with the local refugee community, as well as Eastern European missions. Schmidli advises nursing students.


Kayla Duley

Kayla Duley

Tutor Coordinator

Kayla Duley graduated from CCU with a bachelor’s in business administration and an emphasis in interpersonal communication. After graduating, Duley 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. Duley is the tutor coordinator for the College of Undergraduate Studies. She has a passion for people and developing others' God-given gifts.


Kristine Hunerwadel

Kristine Hunerwadel

Undeclared Student Services Coordinator

Kristine Hunerwadel 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.


Kristin Wright

Kristin Wright

Life Directions Academic Advisor

Kristin Wright has a heart for helping students and has served in various roles and capacities at CCU, including in the Student Life Office, Admissions, and now the Life Directions Center. Wright brings a passion for supporting students in their life journey and many years of experience working with young adults. She earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Wheaton College and a master's degree in College Student Affairs from Azusa Pacific University, and she has spent many summers on staff at Christian camps. Wright has discipled young people as a Young Life leader, as well as a church youth group leader. She met her husband working at a Christian summer camp, and they now both enjoy the ministry of raising their two daughters. In her spare time, Wright can be found enjoying coffee and meals with family and friends, walking her dog Max, and singing (mostly in the car).


Mike Finnefrock

Mike Finnefrock

Life Directions Academic Advisor

Mike Finnefrock 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.


Hank Shuler

Hank Shuler

Life Directions Academic Advisor

Hank Shuler is the LDC academic advisor. He has a bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems from Olivet Nazarene University and is currently getting his master's degree in counseling along with a post-grad Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Regis University. His three years spent in Residential Life as a residential advisor ignited his passion for higher education, mentoring, and student development. Alongside equipping students in his academic advisory role, Shuler enjoys shooting photography with his wife, Hayley, backpacking, all things soccer, competitive foam fighting, and playing guitar.


Rachel Urban

Rachel Urban

International Student Services Coordinator

Rachel Urban 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. Urban 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, Urban enjoys reading, biking, baking, and playing in the University's handbell choir.


Shayna Laing

Shayna Laing

Coordinator of Student Success Services

Shayna Laing 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, transitional, and post-secondary levels and has served as the pastor of spiritual formation at a local church. Laing 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

International Student Services Coordinator and Study Abroad Coordinator

Tessa Hooper recently graduated from CCU with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an emphasis in Theology. Hooper is the study abroad coordinator, in addition to her advising role. During a mission trip to Israel, Hooper 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. Hooper 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. Hooper serves the student body as the international student services coordinator and study abroad coordinator.