Skip to Content
Texas State University

Meet Our Team

Program Coordinator | Talent Search - Austin

bio picture of  Liz Castañeda

Liz Castañeda, M.S.W.

Program Coordinator | Talent Search - Austin


Since joining the staff of Texas State University in 2010, Ms. Castañeda has served in multiple capacities within Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and University Administration.  Liz’s current role as Program Coordinator for Educational Talent Search allows her commitment for serving vulnerable populations to be at the forefront of her daily obligations.  An active community leader, Liz has a passion for people and culture, and is dedicated to dismantling structures of oppression that prevent those two from thriving. 
A third-year doctoral student in the Adult, Professional and Community Education program at Texas State University, Liz also holds a BSW and an MSW with a concentration in Administrative Leadership also from Texas State University.  Her research interests include higher ed access and achievement in underserved populations, advancing diversity and social justice issues, Latina Identity formation, and community development and engagement as a public pedagogy. 

Liz loves spending time with family and friends and enjoys traveling when not focused on work or school.

Grant Specialists

Bedichek/Bertha MS

bio picture of Cynthia Mendieta-Gill

Cynthia Mendieta-Gill

Grant Specialist | Bedichek/Bertha MS


I received my Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, Master of Science in Educational Administration, and a Master of Education in Adult Education. So, for over 20 years, I've been a teacher, an assistant principal, and a program coordinator.  My inspiration in education was my 3rd grade teacher. I enjoy spending time with family and friends and cooking in the kitchen.

Gus Garcia MS

bio picture of Shawna McCaden

Shawna McCaden 

Grant Specialist | Gus Garcia MS


I am from Roanoke, VA. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration from Fayetteville State University and a Master's in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University. One of my favorite West African proverbs states: "Truth, Wisdom, and Knowledge is like a Baobab tree, no one person can embrace it." The Baobab tree stands with a wide trunk, making it difficult for one person to embrace it, symbolizing that no one person has all the answers. For this reason, I believe our "collective work" is key to helping students achieve academic and personal success. Working to provide equity, access, and support for our youth is paramount to shaping stronger and healthier communities. My work allows me to contribute to my community, learn from my students, and empower others to activate their dreams! I am a lifelong learner. The author of "Yaw Goes to College on a Dragonfly, and I enjoy writing poetry. I listen to soulful music in my free time, study Genealogy to learn more about my Ancestors, and I love spending time with my family.

College Advisors

Lively Middle School

bio picture of Juaquin Roussel

Juaquin Roussel

Grant Specialist | Lively MS


I have worked in the field of Education since 2006 in various capacities. I currently hold a Bachelors's degree in English and Journalism and a Master's in Adult Education. I have always wanted to help people succeed in learning, especially when it seems they are having trouble along the way. My hobbies are writing, watching horror movies, and discovering new music.

Crockett High School

bio picture of DR. REBECCA LANCASTER

Dr. Rebecca Lancaster

Grant Specialist | Crockett HS


I’m a lifelong educator; I started at 3 with my Mom as she attended college, I attended the college’s child development center. She became a teacher and I thought she had the best job ever! So, for over 30 years, I’ve been a public education teacher, an assistant principal and principal in several states and England. I enjoy the university experience and I’ve taught at that level but working with TS allows me even more opportunities to touch the future. I relish that our students hold the keys to make the world a better place for all of us. In my spare time, I love being a new grandmother, practicing yoga and dabbling into genealogy.

Administrative Staff

Grant Senior Secretary

bio picture of Liliana Pelayo

Liliana Pelayo

Grant Senior Secretary


Hola! My name is Liliana and I moved to the Austin area two years ago. A former paralegal, I participated in mentorship, reading, debate and mediation programs from a young age. Throughout my school years I developed a passion for education; and as an immigrant and first-generation student, with sharing knowledge and empowering those that come from historically marginalized communities. In my free time I enjoy camping and other outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing. I love to travel, whether near or far, as well as craft, read and watch psychological thrillers – but I couldn’t imagine my life without music. I am honored to be a part of the Talent Search team and look forward to the upcoming school year!

Temporary Worker- Admin support

picture of Josué Pacheco

Josué Pacheco

Temporary Worker- Administrative support


I was born and raised in Carrizo Springs, Texas where I graduated high school in the top 10% of the class of 1992.  I chose to attend The University of Texas at San Antonio and graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration Degree in Marketing.  During my schooling at UTSA, I also studied abroad in London, England in 1996 attending The International University of the United States at Richmond (Richmond College).  Upon my graduation, I began my career in the radio industry in 1998 while living in Austin, Texas and worked for CBS Radio, then continued on with Border Media until I retired from the industry in 2010.  My next step was to continue my education with attending the International Academy of Design and Technology and completed my schooling with an Associates of Applied Sciences in Fashion Design & Merchandising in December 2008. In 2009, I became part of the Sanford Brown College as a full-time Faculty member, then Lead Instructor, and ended my time with them as a Department Chair. I have instructed classes under the Fashion Design, Retail Merchandise Management, and Advertising Design programs throughout my time with SBC. As the college came to a closure, I was terminated and began to continue my career in working as a contractor with Baptist Health Systems consulting in design, organization and openings of new clinic build-outs. Since then, I have returned to the Austin area in hope to use all the knowledge and skills that I have acquired throughout the years in helping any student and/or client to getting closer in reaching their goals.