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Meet Your GA's

Photo of CASA Graduate Assistants
Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson

Graduate Assistant for Community Outreach and Programming

Nick Johnson is new to the Philadelphia area, but is very enthusiastic and honored to work with CASA in the High School Partnership Team.

Born and raised in Seattle Washington, Nick spent most of his high school involved in theatre, music, and outdoor adventures in the great Pacific Northwest. In 2013, Nick graduated from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon with a Bachelor of Science in History, and went on to receive an MA in Education from the University of Denver in 2016. Nick was inspired to become a history teacher by his own enthusiastic teachers in high school, and wanted to pass on his love of history and politics to his students. Nick spent four years teaching middle school social studies, ELA, and 8th grade homeroom at Saint Brendan Parish School in Bothell, Washington before moving to Philadelphia in 2020 to teach 8th grade at Thomas K. Finletter School in the Philadelphia Public School District. He is currently working toward getting his MA in History at Villanova University. 

Nick has a passion for collaborating with students, and engaging in inspiring history, politics and social justice education. In his free time, Nick enjoys reading, making music, seeing live shows, and hiking and exploring the East coast with his wife. Please feel free to contact Nick with any questions!

Pieta Okonya

Pieta Okonya

Graduate Assistant for Retention

Hi, my name is Pieta Okonya, and I am excited to be working in CASA as a Graduate Assistant for Retention! I am a Nigerian born, first generation Villanova graduate that majored in Psychology and completed minors in Japanese, Peace & Justice Education, and Counseling. My time as an undergraduate student was also defined by my involvement in CASA, the Office for Residence Life, Black Cultural Society, Villanova’s Feminism Society Feminova, and United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). My favorite ways to spend my leisure time and take care of myself include listening to music, reading, writing, watching movies/shows (especially anime), and practicing/getting into new artistic hobbies! 

Being at Villanova has given me the opportunity to embark on a continuing process of self-reflection and growth wherein I have explored my career goals and values. In discovering and honing my passions for psychology, social justice, and mental health, I am elated to be pursuing my masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Villanova. I am very much looking forward to employing my background, experiences, and the new things I will be learning to serve the needs of students in the CASA office!

Daniela Pareja

Daniela Pareja

Graduate Assistant for Retention

Hello! My name is Daniela Pareja, and I am thrilled to be joining the CASA team as a Retention and Program Coach. Here at Villanova, I will also be pursuing my Master of Science in School Counseling!

I am a first-generation US citizen with dual citizenship in Argentina. I grew up in South Jersey, very close to Philadelphia so I feel connected to the city. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) where I fell in love with working with people. At TCNJ, I was an Honors Peer Mentor, a College Ambassador (AKA tour guide), a member of the i-Tunes Acapella group, and I was in a Cognitive Psychology research lab for two years. As a Peer Mentor, I got to work closely with freshmen and help with their transition to college which sparked my passion for helping others. I look forward to applying the mentorship and counseling skills I have gained to my position as a GA and in my master’s program.

When I am not at work or school, I love to play the ukulele, guitar, piano and sing. I also love going to the beach and doing yoga. I am so excited to start this new chapter at Villanova and to meet the wonderful students at CASA. Please feel free to visit me or stop by to say hello. I look forward to meeting you!

Tariere Tebepah

Tariere Tebepah

Graduate Assistant for Retention

Hello! My name is Tariere Tebepah (Tari for short!), and I am a Graduate Assistant for Retention in CASA! I graduated from Villanova University as a Psychology major with minors in Global Health and Cognitive Science in the spring of 2021, and I am currently pursuing my Master’s of Science Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I am looking forward to meeting new faces and interacting with some old faces from a different perspective!

As a Villanova alum, I can absolutely relate to the experiences you can/will have here, and I am prepared to support you and your college journey! I was a first-generation American (my mom is from Barbados, and my dad is from Nigeria), underrepresented and Pell-eligible student at Villanova myself. Coming to Villanova, I was not entirely sure what my purpose was, but the resources here, especially in CASA, motivated me to continue, and helped me more than I thought possible! During undergrad, I was involved with the Villanova Band, Ablaze Dance Team, Residence Life, and I was a Research Assistant in the Adversity and Resilience in Child Development Lab, which afforded me the opportunity to connect with families experiencing homelessness and/or extreme poverty in Philadelphia. That experience especially played a major role in unlocking my passion for helping and serving others, and delivering mental health treatment to underserved populations. Although my Villanova experience was far from perfect, I am incredibly proud to be a Wildcat, and I will forever be grateful for the many opportunities I received from being here!

Outside of school, I love music and dancing, trying new hairstyles, nail designs, and makeup trends, and watching way too many reality TV shows to count.

I can’t wait to return to campus and support you all as you embark on your journey here as a CASA Retention Coach, and please don’t hesitate to reach out and connect if you have any questions whatsoever! 

Casey Diaz

Casey Diaz

Graduate Assistant, CASA and Campus Ministry

Hello, my name is Casey Diaz (she/they) and I am pursuing a Master of Science in Environmental Science. My assistantship is split between CASA and Campus Ministry: in CASA, I help with data collection and special projects, while in Campus Ministry I help plan Service and Justice Experiences (SJEs).

Although I was born and raised in South Jersey, I graduated in 2017 from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts in Critical Theory and Social Justice. During my undergraduate studies, I volunteered and interned at several nonprofits that focused on prison reform and abolition, education equity, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and animal welfare. On campus, my favorite club was Dance Production, which culminated in an entirely student-run dance showcase every March.

After graduating from Occidental, I was an AmeriCorps Member for City Year Philadelphia, which involved tutoring and mentoring middle school students. After City Year, I worked for four years at a charter school in NE Philly, completing state reports and data entry.

My love for the outdoors is what prompted my decision to return to school, which will hopefully result in a career shift to nature conservation and preservation. I also hope to improve accessibility to local, state, and national parks so that physical ability and economic factors are less significant barriers."