Meet our Instructors!

StairWay5 Instructors are focused in their areas of expertise and love to teach kids using innovative, hands-on, problems solving methods. 

Melinda Ragona – Digital Media

A graphic designer for print and web, Melinda’s area of expertise include marketing, branding, and specializing in logo design and photography manipulation. As an University of Iowa Art Alumni, she has been freelancing with multiple local businesses throughout the Iowa City area for over a decade, using her art knowledge and design principles.

Melinda has two young daughters and her family loves Iowa City’s vibrant community.  In her free time she loves tending to her vegetable garden, yoga, and raising Monarch butterflies with her young daughters every summer.

Yariana Diaz – Math

Yariana Diaz is PhD student in Mathematics at the University of Iowa, as well as a member of the Camerata Singers choir. She grew up in Massachusetts, where she obtained her undergraduate degree in mathematics and music at Amherst College.

When not singing or learning/teaching math, Yariana enjoys dancing and cooking. Some of her favorite cuisines to cook (and eat!) include caribbean, korean, and italian.

Jordan Jensen – Math and Robotics

Jordan Jensen is currently a graduate student at the University of Iowa studying Biomedical Engineering. Jordan was raised in Arizona, but has called Iowa home for the last 7 years. She received her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University where she also played on the women’s basketball team.

Outside of the classroom and research, she likes being outside biking or taking her dog, Tank, for walks.  Jordan loves sharing her passion for science and technology with others, especially the next generation of thinkers and innovators. “I’m excited to help students gain confidence and reach their goals!”

Rebecca Sorsen – Math

Rebecca is currently a Math graduate student at the University of Iowa. She received her B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2018 and received her M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Iowa in 2020. Rebecca’s current research area is Topology, with a focus on Knot Theory and Braids. She plans to get my PhD and teach math at a smaller college. Rebecca loves helping students learn to enjoy math as much as she does.

In her free time, she likes to go on hikes and walk her dog. Rebecca also enjoys cooking and baking. 

Ruby Donald – Programming and Robotics

Ruby earned a Bachelors degrees in Microbiology and Chemistry from Northern Arizona University and a Masters in Immunology from Vanderbilt University. She fell in love with coding while teaching Microbiology in college and changed careers to become a Software Engineer, working at internet start up firms all the way up to fortune 10 corporations. Ruby is the founder, president and curriculum director of StairWay5.

In her spare time, Ruby loves to garden, play badminton, travel and spend time with family and friends.