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Underserved in a Land of Plenty

A conversation about transitioning from high school to college among underserved student populations.

ScholarShare 529 promotes the inclusion of populations historically omitted from the dominant discourse on diversity. Toward that aim, ScholarShare 529 facilitated this panel discussion with higher education panelists about marginalized students to accomplish the following:

  • define and describe the characteristics of under-served student populations,
  • delineate systematic obstacles to matriculation and persistence to graduation, and
  • discuss actionable steps for underserved students to thrive while persisting to graduation.

Meet the moderator and the panelists.



Linda English

Senior Director
TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI)
Oakland, California

Linda serves as senior director and relationship manager for California’s ScholarShare 529 and CalABLE plans. Prior to joining TFI, Linda spent over 20 years administering 529 plans in the public sector having served as Senior Deputy State Treasurer of Nevada and as the Executive Director of Alaska’s 529 program for the University of Alaska. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Breidi Truscott Roberts, M.A.

University of California
Davis, California

Breidi Truscott Roberts, M.A., runs a retention program at University of California, Davis for undergraduates who are first in their family to go to college and/or underrepresented in STEM fields. She is committed to helping high-performing and low-resource students succeed, graduate, and reach their full potential. Now a parent, Breidi understands the importance of saving to pay for her children’s education.

Jess Delegencia, MA, MDiv, PhD

Global DEI Leader and Consultant
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Oakland, California

Jess Delegencia is a proud 1st generation immigrant and college student in the U.S. with a life-long passion for poverty alleviation and educational equity around the world. Having conquered multiple barriers to attend and graduate from U.C. Berkeley and with very little knowledge about higher education growing up, he went on to receive multiple graduate degrees and is now a PhD candidate in Organizational Leadership at Eastern University.

Lisa Caldera, EdD

Senior Associate Dean in Residential Education
Stanford University
Stanford, California

Dr. Caldera’s work is committed to serving the needs of every student, to creating systems that enable academic excellence, and by providing resources that encourage students’ personal well-being. In a recent interview she stated, “I receive my greatest joy from helping a student understand that they can create and shape their own college experience and that it doesn’t have to be perfect, but that it can be their own.” Although no longer a student herself, she can still relate to the challenges that students grapple with today.

Adrian Perdue, M.S.

Director of Student
Life DigiPen Institute of Technology
Seattle, Washington

Adrian Perdue is an experienced Higher Education Administrator serving over the last decade in roles that have positioned him to support student success across a diverse range of institutional types (public, private, small, large, etc.). As a proud first-generation college student, Adrian is drawn to this work by a strong desire to address the barriers to and through higher education faced by today’s diverse students.

Kimberly Thornbury, Ph.D.

Senior Program Director for Enrichment The Murdock Trust (Philanthropy)
Vancouver, Washington

Kimberly Thornbury, Ph.D. serves as Senior Program Director for Enrichment Initiatives at The Murdock Trust outside Portland, OR. The Murdock Trust is one of the largest charitable foundations in the US, enriching the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest through grantmaking, enrichment programs, and convenings that strengthen the region’s educational, social, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.


ScholarShare 529, California’s college savings plan, publishes the College Countdown website and articles to provide resources and to ease the minds of parents preparing to send their kids to college. Visit ScholarShare 529.