Meet the Veterans Upward Bound Team

Alonna Brown, MS

Ms. Brown serves as the interim Director for Veterans Upward Bound Program.  Having provided over 15 years of leadership in post-secondary education developing strategies, initiatives and programming designed to increase college access and success; illustrates her dedication to serving a diverse community of learners and helping them realize their goals.

Ms. Brown holds a master’s degree in Organizational Development and Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University and a bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College.



Laura Miles

Laura Miles, Assistant Director, Counseling and Assessment, joined the University of Pennsylvania in 2018. Laura is passionate about collaborating with veterans to learn more about their academic, career, and personal goals. Currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice, Laura draws from her education and prior experience as academic advisor to meet students where they are at. Laura supports students through challenges on their path to college and empowers students to be successful in attaining their goals.

In her spare time, Laura enjoys spending time outdoors hiking with her dog, and defending her houseplants from her cat, she also teaches yoga at Penn’s fitness center.



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Ken Bjorkelo

Ken is a US Navy veteran, and brings 30 years of experience in the software industry to the VUB program.  At VUB he teaches computer skills and also is responsible for outreach activities to make veterans aware of the VUB program and to facilitate onboarding into the program.  Following his enlistment in the Navy, Ken earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington and an MBA from Cornell.

Audrika Thakuria

I’m a Chemical Engineer turned Educator from India, working (passionately and joyfully!!) in the fields of International Development. A graduate student at University of Pennsylvania, I am interested in the intersection of education, learning, and technology for equity and inclusion. I absolutely enjoy working with the Veterans Upward Bound Program, building a community of Veteran learners as they hone their Math skills and apply for college. When I’m not working towards educational equity, you’ll find me exploring new local food joints in the city or binging on ‘The Office’ episodes!



Ashwini Maslekar

M.S.Ed International Educational Development (2022).

I am passionate about education and wish to work collaboratively towards improving the quality of education across systems. I have 5 years of experience in the Indian education system working with public education system teachers and administrative officers.

I enjoy meeting new people and exploring different places as each is a diverse learning opportunity for me.



We’re Here to Help You Succeed

If you have questions about the Veterans Upward Bound program, we are here to help. Visit our contact page or reach out to us at