We are particularly excited to have an alumna teaching our first engineering course, Engineering Design & Analysis, which gives students hands-on experience and the chance to earn dual college credit. The three women who have joined us in the Business Office and Development Department add deep professional expertise to our Mayfield community. One thing our new faculty and staff all share? A commitment to our Holy Child educational mission—and to our Mayfield families.
Billy Abdallah is a vibrant, giraffe-loving, soccer-player-turned-scientist, who is beginning his teaching career at Mayfield this year after working as a physical chemist for Palmolive-Colgate. Billy graduated from St. Francis High School and attended Loyola Marymount University (LMU), where he earned a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in classics and archaeology. Billy is drawn to the sciences because it gives him the ability to explain the world around him in ways that can be tested, explained, and replicated. Billy is teaching freshman Conceptual Physics, a subject he plans to connect to everyday activities in creative ways.
While studying at LMU, Billy had the opportunity to work as a teacher's assistant in the chemistry and physics laboratories, which, he says, "was the most fulfilling part of my college experience.” He instantly knew that teaching was his calling. Although Billy enjoyed his LMU education, he was disappointed in the visible lack of female science majors there. Coming into an all-girls high school environment, Billy looks forward to sparking STEM interest in his students, and ultimately helping expand women’s representation in the STEM disciplines. He is looking forward to bringing a high level of enthusiasm to his physics classrooms and helping to build scientific thinkers who can go on to make meaningful contributions to society.
Billy has a close relationship with his mother, who told him: “Follow your dreams and never let anyone tear you down.” Billy wants to bring that same kind of energetic support and encouragement into his classroom.
Lena Agulian, Science Teacher
Lena Agulian, another new addition to Mayfield’s expanding science department, will be teaching Biology, Honors Chemistry, and Environmental Science. A native Pasadenan, Lena has taught middle-school and high-school sciences in the Pasadena area for the last two decades. Although she has served both as a science teacher and in various administrative roles, her passion lies squarely in the classroom, whether it be in person or remote learning.
Family is at the center of Lena’s world. She has three sons (and a four-legged daughter!), and her youngest son is currently finishing his senior year of high school. Lena’s parents emigrated to Pasadena in the late 1960’s from Beirut, Lebanon. A native Armenian speaker, she learned her reading and writing skills in that language alongside her two eldest children, as they attended Armenian schools from elementary through high school.
While she attended Cal Poly Pomona as a student, she became captivated by a “Mind, Brain and Behavior” course. She changed her major from psychology to biology, and says it was “the best decision I have ever made.” She went on to earn a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of La Verne and then dove headlong into full time teaching positions. A lifelong learner, she is currently pursuing a M.Ed. in educational leadership.
Though Lena was deeply saddened when AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School, where she had taught for three years, was slated to close its doors, she also felt blessed that this turn of events brought her to Mayfield. She remarks that the “tangible sense of community” is grounding in such uncertain times. She’s enjoyed learning about Cornelia Connelly, especially the opportunities she afforded to young women. Lena says the highlights of her professional life have been when her students went on to pursue degrees and careers in the sciences.
Carolyn Cota ‘06, Business Office Assistant
Carolyn Cota ‘06 returns to her alma mater as the Business Office Assistant. After Mayfield, Carolyn attended UCLA and received her B.A. in Women’s Studies. She has worked in a variety of industries including accounting, aerospace and tech. She is excited to come back to her alma mater and looking forward to supporting the faculty and staff, as well as our students and parents.
While still a student at Mayfield, it was Dr. Anne Hartfield ’77’s class in Women’s History that stoked a lifelong interest in that subject for her. Carolyn is passionate about female education and says that being at Mayfield feeds that sense of purpose. “I love being in a place that is educating women to be themselves and explore talents they may not have known they had,” she says. And Mayfield is a family affair for the Cota family. Carolyn and her sister, Rachel Cota Hochstetler ’04, attended Mayfield at the same time, and Carolyn works at Mayfield alongside her mother, Cathy Cota, our beloved School Nurse!
Before returning to Mayfield full-time this year, Carolyn has volunteered with the Mayfield Alumnae Council since 2011 and serves as this alumnae leadership association’s 2020-21 President. She says her family always encouraged social justice work, and she has especially enjoyed the Alumnae Council’s involvement with South Central LAMP, empowering women to advocate for themselves and their families. It has been a joy for Carolyn to see the changes that have been made on the Mayfield campus since she was a student. “I love that there are so many new classes, especially in science!” Carolyn says. “I'm super jealous that they have Anatomy now and even joked to my mom that I wish I could audit it.” With a mom so intimately involved in health care, perhaps it is not surprising that Carolyn is drawn to the subject. And her guilty pleasure? Watching episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy,” of course!
Christina Lara ’14, Math and Science Teacher
Mayfield alumna Christina Lara ’14 graduated from Purdue University in 2018 with a degree in biomedical engineering. She was very active on the Purdue campus, working both as an admissions tour guide and as a supervisor for Purdue’s new student orientation program. Christina was also a member of the Purdue Filipino Association and performed at their annual Philippine Culture Nights.
In 2018, Christina and her Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering teammates were recognized for their outstanding performance in their senior design project, earning a second-place award for their invention—a wearable device that allows ultrasound technicians to safely rest their arms while mitigating and preventing shoulder injuries.
When Christina discovered that Mayfield was in search of someone to teach their first engineering course, her love of the subject and affection for her alma mater brought her back to 500 Bellefontaine. Christina will be teaching Engineering Design & Analysis, a brand new, full-year science elective, as well as Algebra I in the Math Department. The Engineering Design & Analysis class is being taught in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin, and will offer students firsthand experience in the engineering design process as well as the chance to earn dual college credits.
Christina has always dreamed of becoming a STEM educator and feels incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to introduce an engineering course to her alma mater. Her passion for female representation in STEM fields is what drives her, and she hopes to inspire girls to gain confidence in her challenging courses. She is grateful to be back at Mayfield as a teacher and looks forward to playing an integral role in this beloved community.
Lorena Parra, Donor Database Operations Associate
Lorena Parra joins Mayfield as our Donor Database Operations Associate, a new position in the Development Department. Lorena is an experienced database manager, with over 18 years working in nonprofits, including LA’s BEST, American Jewish University, Polytechnic School, and Art Center.
Lorena traces her career path back to 2002, when she began processing membership applications for an Andy Warhol exhibit. She realized then that she enjoyed managing and working with data closely. “Little did I know this was to start my career of working for nonprofits in data management!” says Lorena.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Lorena’s parents immigrated from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Lorena has a talent for knitting and crocheting and has been part of several knitting circles. She is a proud cat-mom, and enjoys getting her felines, Haley and Comet, involved in her arts and crafts whenever possible. She is also devoted to her two nieces, and spends a lot of time with them at museums, on hiking trails, doing crafts, and gaming.
Lorena and her husband, John Gonzalez, are avid gamers. Her top five games? “Qwerkle, Dutch Blitz, Rummikub, Clank! and Five Tribes.” Lorena and John have been involved in gaming events like “Extra Life” to raise money for organizations including Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Lorena is especially pleased to join the Mayfield community, where she can combine her expertise in data management and her appreciation for nonprofit missions to ultimately benefit the education and empowerment of young women.
Brittany “Britt” Sorrentino, Individual and Institutional Engagement Manager
Brittany “Britt” Sorrentino comes to Mayfield with a passion for education and philanthropy, and is forging a new position in the Development Department as the Individual and Institutional Engagement Manager. With 18 years of nonprofit and private sector experience, she has worked for and consulted with various local nonprofit organizations, such as The Eisner Foundation, The Noel Foundation, Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, and ArtCenter College of Design. She has worked on capital campaigns, annual giving drives, galas, benefits, and launched new fundraising programs.
An alumna of Notre Dame Academy in West Los Angeles (Class of 2003), Brittany is grateful for her own all-girls Catholic high school experience. She earned her Bachelor of Science from California State University, Northridge in family and consumer sciences, and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. She is also passionate about faith formation, and has taught CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) courses to adults and children at her parish, Good Shepherd of Beverly Hills.
Brittany is a proud native Angeleno and loves spending her free time outdoors or being creative with her family. She and her husband, Joseph, welcomed the newest member of their family, Siena Mara, in October 2019. Motivated by mission-driven philanthropic work, she strongly believes in Mayfield’s motto of “Actions Not Words.” Brittany has served on several nonprofit boards and currently serves on the Advancement Board of her alma mater (Notre Dame Academy), and is the Chair of Good Shepherd of Beverly Hills’ Capital Campaign Committee. Brittany is ever curious about the diverse paths of each and every individual inside a community, and looks forward to coming to know all of the members of our beloved Mayfield family as she works alongside Mayfield’s Director of Development, Lela Diaz
Mengyu (Muriel) Zhang, Mandarin Teacher
Mengyu (Muriel) Zhang has been teaching Mandarin at Mayfield since last December, and says her students are “very talented and proactive learners.” She has been teaching Chinese for over a decade, instructing both children and adults, in France and the United States. This semester, she will be teaching Mandarin 1, Mandarin 2, Mandarin 3, Mandarin 4 and AP Mandarin.
Muriel was first drawn to her field of study during her junior year at university in China. Her major was in teaching Chinese as a Second Language, and her very first job was a Chinese teacher for international exchange students. She found a lot of pride in helping her students master their language skills. After she received her bachelor’s degree in China, she went to France and earned degrees from the Paul Valery University (Montpellier) and the Confucius Institute (Paris) and acquired her master’s degree from INALCO (National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilization—Paris). Muriel spent eight years living and teaching in France before moving to California. She previously taught at the Pasadena Language Center.
Muriel says her pedagogical goal is to help her students develop an interest in the Chinese language and become self-motivated in their learning. She adds, ”I like to help students define and achieve their own education.” She strongly believes that student participation and engagement in the class are essential to language learning. She brings real-world conversations and task-based activities into her classroom to further aid the student’s language journey. In her free time, Muriel enjoys writing Chinese calligraphy.