Meet The Staff

Fernando VelezFernando Velez

Veteran Services Technician/VA Certifying Official
(209) 575-6017
Fernando was born in New York City and raised in Garden Grove CA. He started his career in the United States Marine Corps in 1985.  His positions included Basic Infantryman, Personnel Clerk and a recruiter out of National City, CA. He    traveled and worked all over in locations to include Camp Lejeune NC, Camp Pendleton CA, Korea, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Okinawa Japan.  

After 5 years with the U.S. Marines Corps he enlisted with the United States Coast Guard. He advanced up the ranks to Chief Petty Officer Servicing as Personnel Office Branch Chief, Command Chief and retired with 22 years of service to the US Coast Guard in 2013.

Fernando completed an A. A. Degree in General Studies from    Columbia College of MO and a A.S. Degree in ParaLegal Studies from Cuyamaca College El Cajon CA.

Fernando is married to Maria O. Velez from Tecate, Mexico for the past 26 years.  He has two children both who are serving in the United States Navy.

As a former recipient of Chapter 33 and Chapter 31 benefits Fernando is dedicated and committed in helping his fellow Veterans succeed.  He wants to use his personal experiences to help Veteran students create their own personal road map for success.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

Veteran Services Counselor/Coordinator
(209) 575-6207
Michael has been serving students for over 8 years and has professional experience providing mental health services, social work, and academic counseling to students and families when needed most. He has received a Master of Arts degree in Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy and is currently studying Higher Education Leadership for Student Success.

Michael is highly motivated by two passions; Higher Education and Counseling. His main objectives are to assist students in succeeding at MJC and beyond, to assist students in overcoming obstacles and achieving their educational and career goals. As a former Upward Bound and EOPS student at Modesto Junior College he understands how important it is to support students in navigating their higher educational journey and he has dedicated his career to support and empower others to be successful life-long learners. Michael is committed to the success of both DSPS and Veteran students. 


Matthew Lopez-Phillips

Dean of Counseling
(209) 575-6036

Dr. Matthew Lopez-Phillips has over twenty-five years of experience in student affairs administration at seven universities. He has worked in a wide scope of student affairs roles starting as a Hall Director at the University of the Pacific to Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Sonoma State University. He has also worked at Northeastern University, University of Vermont, George Mason, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Stanislaus State University.

He has extensive experience providing leadership in many areas of student affairs such as strategic visioning and strategic planning, as well as administrative oversight over multiple programs and areas including Advising & Career services units, Residential Life and Housing, Student Health & Counseling centers, Recreation Center including club sports, Student Activities offices, Greek Life, Veterans Affairs, International Student Services and Study Abroad programs, Judicial Affairs, Enrollment Management functions, Disability Support Services, Athletics, Student Union, and Associated Students.

He holds a bachelors degree from University of the Pacific in Psychology, a masters degree from Northeastern University in College Student Development and Counseling Psychology, and a doctorate from Fielding Graduate University in Higher Education Leadership and Change. 

The foundation of his work in student affairs arises from a strong commitment to social justice, a belief in integrative learning, and a lifelong commitment to reinvigorate the public good of a college education.