Connect with a Diversity & Community Fellow

The Diversity and Community Fellows, individually and collectively, work to advance and implement the diversity and inclusion goals of the Office for Graduate Diversity and the Graduate Division.

The Diversity and Community Fellows work across and within academic units to create healthy communities for graduate students. Critical components of this work include supporting an inclusive graduate community and enhancing the cultural, academic, and professional experience of historically underrepresented students at Berkeley.

Meet the 2022-23 Diversity and Community Fellows

Yasmin Graham

Ph.D. student in Bioengineering

Yasmin Graham is a 4th year PhD student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Bioengineering program. She received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Her current research interest focuses on neuroprosthetic applications that can improve the motor function and quality of life for those with long-term neurological disabilities. Her identities and experiences, as a black Jamaican female engineer, are the foundation of her consciousness of and investment in the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity in graduate programs, especially within the STEM fields. As a result, she expresses her passion for engineering, research and mentorship through her doctoral studies and her engagement in support and advocacy programs in her local community. She is also an avid photographer who enjoys going to events and capturing the joy and life of the people she encounters. She also has experience in social media content creation and management.

Schedule an appointment with Yasmin

Steven Herrera Tenorio

Steven Herrera Tenorio

Ph.D. student in Sociology and Demography

Steven Herrera Tenorio (He/Him) is a second-year joint Ph.D. student in the Sociology and Demography departments. Originally from Guatemala, Steven and his family immigrated to the U.S., moving across several cities such as Miami and NYC, eventually settling and growing up in rural North Carolina. His academic research interests are generally focused on the ideas of “integration” in a “new society,” particularly the measurement, modeling, and theoretical engagements in the social sciences. In 2019, he interned at Twitter as a software engineer in San Francisco, and from this experience, he questioned several ideas of what it meant to “feel” socially, politically, economically, and psychologically integrated. As a result, Steven added a sociology minor to his statistics major at Duke University (’21) and pursued an uncommon “Out-Of-Major” thesis to explore empirically how immigrant integration works at the neighborhood level using latent class regression models. During his time at UC-Berkeley, Steven hopes to continue with his research and test models on different populations of interest to explore theoretical boundaries, and further, openly share his findings to influence public policy. Steven is excited to work with the Office for Graduate Diversity, especially the Undocumented Graduate Student Program, as a Diversity and Community Fellow, and he invites students to reach out to him.

Make an appointment with Steven

Rubi Gonzales

Rubi Gonzales

Ph.D. student in Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Rubi is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) Program at Berkeley Law. Rubi received her BA in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at El Paso. At the University of Texas at El Paso, Rubi worked in a Social Cognition Lab studying minority injustices on the U.S. – Mexico border. She then became lab manager for the psychology department’s Legal Decision Lab where she was awarded the American Psychology-Law Society Access Path (AP) Award from the Minority Affairs Committee which funded her honors thesis. Rubi is currently in Professor Victoria Plaut’s Culture, Diversity, and Intergroup Relations Laboratory where she investigates Critical Race Theory and Critical Race Psychology as she aims to use her research to highlight the influences of race, history, systemic racism, structural racism, and institutional racism on the legal system, legal actors, and the individuals they target. Rubi’s research and interests have been shaped by her lived experience growing up on the U.S. – Mexico border. She aspires to provide mentoring and support for undergraduate students of color, attempting to demystify the research process and the pathway to higher education in order for students to bring their experiences to spaces from which they have historically been excluded. Outside of school, Rubi enjoys watching films, journaling, exercising and spending time with friends and family.

Make an appointment with Rubi

headshot of Morino Baca

Morino M. Baca

Master Student in Public Health

Morino is entering the final year of his MPH at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. He earned a BS in both Society & Environment and Conservation & Resource Studies from UC Berkeley as well. Morino is proud to bring his perspective to an institution like Cal. As a member of the Bear Bones Lab, Morino has engaged in Community Based Participatory Research in Northern New Mexico under Dr. Jun Sunseri. He believes that Education, Access, and Exposure are key elements to success in higher education and beyond.

Make an appointment with Morino

Geoffrey Bacon

Geoffrey Bacon

JD student at Berkeley Law

My name is Geoff, I’m Denaakke’ Athabaskan, and enrolled in the Native Village of Tanana. I just finished my 2L year at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Go Bears!). I completed my first year from my home in Anchorage with my wife Rachael and our 82 lb golden retriever. This summer I’ve been in Alaskan working for a law firm the represents Tribes and Tribal Organizations. I’m excited to return as a Diversity & Community Fellow this year, and am excited to continue the great collaborations and events we host.

Make an appointment with Geoffrey

Renee Clarke

Renee Clarke

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Renee Clarke is a second-year DrPH student with many years of experience in the healthcare industry. Renee completed her Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health and holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and public health. Prior to the University of California, Berkeley she served in a capacity of different clinical settings including Emergency Management, Neonatal Intensive Care, Global Health, and Maternal and Child Health as a Registered Nurse at many top-ranked children’s hospitals across the nation. Her passion has always been service leadership and eliminating health disparity gaps among women, infants, and children. Renee’s interest to improve health outcomes extends nationally and internationally. She has served in places such as Niger (Africa), Milot, Haiti, and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Quality improvement, evaluation, implementation, and decreasing health disparities have always been the cornerstone of her experiences.

Make an appointment with Renee

Regina Ebo

Regina Ebo

Ph.D. student in Psychology

Regina Ebo is a third-year PhD student in the Psychology Department. Her research primarily focuses on the ways culture, emotions, and empathy are interconnected. Both inside and outside of the lab, she is passionate about cross-cultural community building.

Make an appointment with Regina

Photo of Haider Ali Bhatti

Haider Ali Bhatti

Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education (SESAME)

Originally from Pakistan, Ali and his family immigrated to the United States and eventually settled in Englewood, New Jersey. His identity is greatly influenced by his cultural and religious upbringing as a Pakistani-Muslim growing up in the US post-9/11. He was always the “Muslim kid” in his classes and growing up in the tri-state NYC area only accentuated that label. However, once he got to college, he began to see how his faith, culture, and science (particularly biology) were mutually reinforcing and connected. Now, as a grad student, he’s continuing to see those personal connections, which has led him to become interested in the science identity development of other students in STEM.

Currently, he’s a PhD candidate in the SESAME program at UC Berkeley where his research focuses on how we can make STEM education more inclusive, interpersonal, and interdisciplinary using bioinspired design. He is advised by Professor Robert Full of the Integrative Biology department and working on the HHMI Eyes Toward Tomorrow Bioinspired Design Program. Ali loves sports, so you can catch him on the basketball court missing wide open 3’s or turning off the TV in frustration as his favorite teams (Nets, Mets, AC Milan) maintain their mediocrity.

A Day in the Life with Ali

Make an appointment with Ali

Arlyn Moreno Luna

Arlyn Moreno Luna

Ph.D. student in Berkeley School of Education

Arlyn Moreno Luna is a doctoral candidate in the Critical Studies of Race, Class, and Gender program at UC Berkeley’s School of Education. Her scholarly interests include access and equity in higher education for first-generation and traditionally underrepresented students; students’ higher education pathways; and students’ experiences when transferring from community college to four-year institutions.

Make an appointment with Arlyn

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William Carter

Ph.D. student in Geography

William is a Fulbright Scholar, and 2nd year Political Geography PhD Student from Southeast London, the United Kingdom. Right from his first day in school, William has always tried to trace the source of political authority. Suffering under the refrain of his kindergarten teachers, ‘I am the adult, you are the child, therefore I am right, and you are wrong’ as a young carer who didn’t understand how something as arbitrary as age reflected authority – William has always remained sceptical of tradition-based hierarchy and so-called ‘sacred cows’ within society. From his position as a young carer, and as someone who was Dyslexic and Dyspraxic, he began to theorise his educational experiences throughout education as someone who was not only ‘raced’, ‘gendered’ and ‘abled’, but placed in the lowest academic sets throughout his time in K-12. Despite a ‘difficult’ start, William received the best grades in his High School graduating class and was awarded a double scholarship to read Politics at the University of Bristol. Whilst there, he teamed up with a senior faculty member to co-found “Phillennials” to teach political philosophy to the world’s teenagers. In his three years at Bristol, William was invited to attend Commonwealth, Council of Europe and EU policy forums as a youth delegate, expert and paid keynote speaker as well as being selected to give the final address at the closing plenary of the first ever Commonwealth Parliamentarians Forum on the future of the Commonwealth.

At Berkeley, William is using his Fulbright Award to begin his studies in Political Geography – where he is studying the origins of racialisation in the Middle Passage of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. He is studying the early association between Blackness and Terror, and Whiteness and Anxiety, and how these associations have come to co-constitute and legitimise each other in the formation of Blackness as Criminal. In his research, William therefore argues that Blackness as criminality pre-dates the 13th Amendment and the attempt to recoup the lost labour of the enslaved through criminalising the formerly enslaved, and outside of America, in the late 16th to early 19th century , in the North Atlantic Middle Passage.

Already he has helped lead his departments anti-racist efforts through being a member of geographies anti-racist group and spearheading its efforts to bring in Universal Design Learning, and the principles of an Inclusive curricular, instruction, and assessment within its course offerings. Whilst on the group, William organised two panels on UDL, Decolonisation and Higher Education with high-profile panellists – and is in the middle of writing up the findings of his year-long effort to be presented to the departments leadership team.

It is through Williams research, and his educational background, and his experience growing up in another country that William comes to the Diversity and Community Fellowship.

His goals and areas of action as a Diversity and Community Fellow are three-fold: 1- To move away from Accommodation, and towards Inclusion within our Pedagogy: To raise the profile of Universal Design for Learning, and support departments and graduate students in moving towards a model of instruction, assessment and curricular assessment that is inclusive. To encourage Berkeley to fulfil its promise as a public university by moving away from a disability model that sees students ‘accommodated’ to an educational norm that is unchanged, to an inclusive model that changes the norm to include educational and learning difference. 2- To re-think Mental Health and Learning Disability Provision at Berkeley, and to create a more equitable distribution of resources: This would involve mobilising our graduate student body to the inequity in the Universities provision of health services, and to begin to understand ‘Autism’ and learning Disabilities as fundamental identities and not adverse ‘conditions’ that can be medicalised or therapized ‘out’ of someone. This would involve sign-posting services and better tailoring services to our neurodivergent students. 3- To re-think the way we support Foster Youth’s within graduate division, our responsibilities and guarantees to them, and the way we demographically identify and support our international student population: To begin to think about a data collecting system whereby we can check the relative privileges of our international student body, against our goals of furthering access to a public education, and to think of how Diversity and Inclusion efforts could encompass international student recruitment. Naturally sceptical, and with an irreverent sense of humour, William begins as a Diversity and Community Fellow ready to support his community. As a general rule, rather than thinking the ideal role of Diversity and Equity efforts as acts of resistance, he prefers to see it realised as actions of subversion. And as a result, he looks forward to working with anyone and everyone to further realise the promise of a public university.

Make an appointment with William

Nathanael Gardner

Nathanael Gardner

Ph.D. student in Nuclear Engineering

Nathanael is a second year graduate student in the UC Berkeley nuclear engineering department. He completed his undergraduate studies at The Howard University in 2021 with a degree in chemical engineering. His research currently focuses on the chemical and thermophysical properties of nuclear reactor fuel for applications in alternative energy. Nathanael is also involved with the organization Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students (BGESS) working on building community between black graduate students at UC Berkeley.

Make an appointment with Nathanael

Maura McDonagh

Maura McDonagh

Ph.D. student, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

Maura McDonagh (they/she) is a third-year graduate student in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute PhD Program working in the lab of Dr. Sergio Baranzini at UCSF studying the role of the gut-brain axis in multiple sclerosis. When not in lab or teaching, Maura enjoys playing with their cat, Opal Nopal, hiking the Berkeley fire trails, reading about the history of labor movements, and making brain health accessible to, and a priority for, young folks of color.

Make an appointment with Maura

Christopher Soria

Christopher Soria

Ph.D. student in Demography

Christopher Soria is a Demography Ph.D. student and Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also received his BA in sociology as a CAL-ADAR fellow. Soria’s research has been presented at the Population Association of America, Pacific Sociological Association, and the UC Berkeley Sociological Research Symposium, at which he has been rewarded for his “outstanding scholarship.” His research focuses on inequality and mortality, family structure and interaction, and social network outcomes.

Make an appointment with Christopher

Brianna Clark

Brianna Clark

Ph.D. student in the School of Education

Brianna is a second year PhD student in the Studies in Engineering, Science, and Math Education (SESAME) cluster, and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Prairie View A&M University. Through her doctoral research in engineering education and the learning sciences, she intends to investigate the relationship between curriculum, teacher pedagogy, and the identity development of Black students in undergraduate engineering programs.

Make an appointment with Brianna

Danielle Perryman

Danielle Perryman

Ph.D. student in Environmental Science

Experienced Graduate Teaching Assistant with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Bird banding, Mistnetting and Bird Handling, Science Education and Outreach, Public Speaking, Physiology, and Molecular Biology. Strong research professional with a M.S. focused in Zoology/Integrative Biology from Oklahoma State University.

Make an appointment with Danielle

Headshot of Erika Roach

Erika Roach

Ph.D. student in Psychology (Clinical Science)

Erika Roach is a third-year doctoral student in the Clinical Science program. She received both her B.A. in Psychology and Human Biology and her M.A. in Psychology from Stanford University. Erika’s research interests lie at the intersection of racial and cultural identity, early life stress, emotion regulation, and developmental psychopathology. Previously, she was Associate Director at the Office for Inclusion, Belonging, and Intergroup Communication at Stanford University where she led workshops on topics such as bias, allyship, imposter phenomenon, and intergroup dialogue for students, staff, and faculty and taught courses in Psychology. She is excited to continue inclusion, equity, and belonging work with the terrific team at the UC Berkeley Graduate Division as a Diversity and Community fellow.

Make an appointment with Erika

Everardo Reyes

Everardo (Ever) Reyes

Ph.D. student in Music

Everardo Reyes (Rarámuri and Chicanx) is a fourth-year doctoral student in Music (Ethnomusicology) whose research focuses on the intersections between music, social movements, and Indigenous self-determination. His dissertation research focuses specifically on the contemporary sonic and political influences of the 1969 Occupation of Alcatraz Island by Indians of All Tribes on Indigenous social movements. Ever holds his BA (2017, University of Northern Colorado) and MA (2019, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) in Sociology, as well as an MA (2021) in Music (Ethnomusicology) from UC Berkeley. In addition to his scholarly work, Ever is dedicated to increasing graduate diversity at UC Berkeley and has been invited to present in numerous classes and panels on preparing for graduate school as a first-generation, underrepresented student.

Make an appointment with Ever

Elena Ojeda

Elena Ojeda

Ph.D. student in Economics

Elena Ojeda (she/her/ella) is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Economics department. She received her B.B.A. in Economics and B.A in Spanish from Oklahoma City University and her M.S. in Applied Mathematics – Statistics from the University of Central Oklahoma. Elena’s research interests lie at the intersection of macroeconomics and economic history. She is currently one of the Empowering Womxn of Color Conference Co-Coordinators within the Graduate Assembly’s Womxn of Color Initiative. Previously, she was co-president of Economists for Equity at Berkeley, a graduate student organization centered around increasing representation in economics of historically oppressed identities. She is excited to continue working towards inclusion, equity, and belonging of all Berkeley graduate students. In her free time, she can be found beach bumming, exploring local plant nurseries, tending to her many, many houseplants and trying to grow tomatoes, and doing yoga.

Make an appointment with Elena

Andre Montes

Andre Montes

Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering

Andre initially entered his Ph.D. program to train as a prospective Research Engineer for a medical device company. However, after mentoring a variety of students across campus and the broader community in the Bay Area, he shifted his focus towards developing the next generation of researchers. His goal is to enable every student at Berkeley to participate in research through meaningful mentoring.

He is fascinated by how we can interact with elements of life using engineering principles. In the Molecular Cell Biomechanics Lab, he uses computational engineering techniques to investigate and reveal mechanobiological effects across molecular and cellular scales.

Make an appointment with Andre

Isaac Felix

Isaac Felix

Ph.D. student in the School of Education

Isaac is a third-year doctoral student at the Berkeley School of Education. Growing up in Tijuana, Baja California, México, Isaac grew up crossing the México-U.S. border daily to attend public schools in San Diego, California. This experience deeply impacted his educational experiences and, consequently, fueled his desire to disrupt and reimagine the potentiality of education along the México-U.S. border region. His current research is precisely concerned with the educational experiences and possibilities of transfronterizx youth: (most often) U.S. citizens living in Mexican border cities who cross the México-U.S. border daily to attend U.S. schools. Particularly, Isaac is interested in how transfronterizx high school students negotiate and make sense of highly dynamic and contested spatial ecologies across the Tijuana-San Diego border region. Most recently, Isaac’s research was recognized by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, where he was selected as a recipient of their Ford Foundation’s Predoctoral Fellowship.

Prior to his doctoral studies at Berkeley, Isaac attended UCLA and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology & Society and Chicana & Chicano Studies. While at UCLA, Isaac was involved with the McNair Research Scholars Program and served on multiple institutional and student-led efforts to improve the access and retention of non-dominant students across the K-12 and higher education sectors in the Greater Los Angeles Region. Upon graduating from UCLA, Isaac relocated to Northern California, where he interned for the State Department of Education. He also worked closely with middle school youth in after-school literacy programs with the Robert’s Family Development Center and their Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools. Isaac would later transition to work for UC Davis’ Vice Chancellor’s Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, where he coordinated their faculty diversity and recruitment centers in STEM, Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities.

Currently, at Cal, Isaac continues to be involved in educational equity and justice efforts through his involvement in several research projects and institutional initiatives that serve and mentor underrepresented students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Make an appointment with Isaac

Jaemin Lee

Jaemin Lee

Ph.D. student in Integrative Biology

Jaemin is a fifth year PhD Candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology. Jaemin is broadly interested in understanding the evolution, ecology, and biotic interactions of plants, insects, and other organisms through Earth’s history. His dissertation research studies fossils from the Cretaceous period (145-66 million years ago), when Earth was much warmer and important biotic events, such as the rise and diversification of flowering plants and concomitant decline of other seed plant groups, took place. He believes that studying the life forms and environmental changes from the past will help us better understand the environmental crises we are currently experiencing, including climate change and biodiversity loss.

Jaemin is also passionate about improving equity and access in STEM education and fostering a safe and inclusive environment for researchers from underrepresented backgrounds. Jaemin is currently a Berkeley Connect mentor in Biology, and serves on the Asian American and Pacific Islander Standing Committee at UC Berkeley. He has a soft spot for green plants and fluffy animals.

Make an appointment with Jaemin

Jaye Mejía-Duwan

Jaye Mejía-Duwan

Ph.D. student in Environmental Science, Policy & Management; Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies

Jaye Mejía-Duwan is a PhD Student in Environmental Science, Policy, & Management with a Designated Emphasis in Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies. Their research focuses on queer-of-color ecology and environmental disability justice, and their dissertation work investigates QTPOC agricultural collectives as exercises of antiracist and anticapitalist queer ecological kinship. They are a research mentor for the Latinxs and the Environment Initiative and a peer mentor for the Disabled Students Program at Berkeley. Jaye is committed to equity-oriented teaching and mentorship and finds tremendous joy in working with undergraduates as a Graduate Student Instructor.

 

Make an appointment with Jaye

Jesús Nazario

Jesús Nazario

Ph.D. student in Ethnic Studies

Jesús I’x Nazario (jehj/jei) is a third-year PhD student in Ethnic Studies, focused on the intersection of food and Indigenous sovereignty, as well as the incorporation of memory and archival methods. Jehj is involved on campus through leadership positions in the Food Institute Graduate Council (FIGC), Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and the American Indian Graduate Student Association (AIGSA) as a graduate student liaison.

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Kevin Wickham

Kevin Wickham

Ph.D. student in Molecular and Cell Biology 

Kevin Wickham (he/him) is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in Molecular and Cell Biology. He is studying cellular stress responses and their effect on cell fate decisions and aging using C elegans as a model. Kevin grew up in Barbados and moved to Washington D.C to earn a B.S in Biology from Howard University. His path to UC Berkeley and pursuit of a PhD was encouraged by mentors of color he had at various institutions and motivates him to support other students the way he was supported. Kevin is motivated to continue establishing relationships between Berkeley, Historically Black Colleges/Universities, and UC Berkeley’s neighboring institutions. Kevin is excited to work with UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division to make Berkeley a more inclusive and equitable community.

Make an appointment with Kevin

Kevin Rigby Jr.

Kevin Rigby Jr.

Ph.D. student in African American Studies

Kevin Rigby Jr. is a doctoral candidate in the Department of African American Studies whose dissertation centers on questions in political theory and the Black Lives Matter movement. He holds a BA in African American Studies from Wayne State University. Prior to coming to Cal, Kevin completed a post-baccalaureate research program at Yale University. He is an avid supporter equity on campus, and has worked with the Graduate Assembly across a range of issues from basic needs to minority student retention. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys hiking and traveling.

Make an appointment with Kevin

Madeleine Lambert

Madeleine Lambert

Joint Medical Student, School of Public Health 

Madeleine Lambert is a student of the Joint Medical Program at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and the Berkeley School of Public Health. She previously worked as a Program Associate at Aceso Global, a nonprofit organization providing strategic research and advisory services for health systems in low- and middle-income countries. She had previously studied noncommunicable disease management in low- and middle-income countries, and has published on health system experiences of breast cancer patients in South Africa in Women’s Health. Her current work focuses on building sustainable community-based participatory research mechanisms for adolescent and young adult engagement in research design and research agenda setting. She is passionate about providing quality and affordable healthcare especially for queer and trans youth of color.

Make an appointment with Madeleine

Martha Ortega Mendoza

Martha Ortega Mendoza

Ph.D. student in the School of Education

Martha Ortega Mendoza is a Ph.D. candidate at Berkeley School of Education. Her dissertation seeks to expand our understanding of the academic, social, and financial experiences of undocumented graduate students. Martha’s research is deeply grounded in her own experiences working in higher education and her own experiences navigating graduate school as a formerly undocumented student. In her spare time, Martha loves spending time with her loving husband.

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Matthew Tao

Matthew Tao

Ph.D. student in Physics

Matthew Tao (he/him) is a 3rd year PhD student in the Physics department. His research is focused on using tabletop techniques to manipulate quantum systems for probing fundamental symmetries of the universe. Before coming to Berkeley, he earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.S. in Physics (’20) from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. As the first person in his family to graduate college and pursue a PhD, Matthew’s is passionate about lifting others up through science outreach, mentoring, and DEI efforts. He is excited to work with the Office for Graduate Diversity to continue improving the culture and experience at UC Berkeley. In his free time, Matthew likes to play cheesy movie songs on piano and to spend time outside exploring!

Make an appointment with Matthew

Miguel Samano

Miguel Samano

Ph.D. student in English 

Miguel Samano (they/them) is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of English. They graduated from Stanford in 2019 with a double major in Comparative Literature and Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies. Their current research interests focus on figurations of talk in 20th and 21st century multiethnic American literature as a response to linguistic racism in the public sphere. Hailing from a low-income single-parent immigrant household, at Berkeley, they strive to support students from underrepresented backgrounds in meeting their goals and attaining a sense of belonging. Miguel does so through their co-coordinator position for the Getting into Graduate (GiGS) program and their service on the Latinx-Thriving Steering Committee and Chicanx-Latinx Standing Committee. In their free time, they enjoy cuddling their cat, Delicatessen Delilah Bean II, pole sports, running, and boogieing.

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Mitzia Martinez Castellanos

Mitzia Martinez Castellanos

Ph.D. student in Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Mitzia is a third-year doctoral student at the Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) Program at Berkeley Law School. As an undergraduate, she earned a BA in African American Studies and a BA in Legal Studies from UC Berkeley. Her research examines how becoming a green card holder impacts the self-concept, sense of community, and relationships of formerly undocumented immigrants. Her inspiration to pursue this research comes from her own lived experience as she was undocumented for 16 years. Before coming to JSP, she worked as a Research Assistant at an Oakland community-based research institute where she conducted bi-national research projects that assessed the impact of criminalizing laws on the civic and legal engagement of undocumented immigrants. Mitzia immigrated from México at the age of nine with her parents and two younger siblings. She is the first person in her family to graduate from college and pursue graduate education. She couldn’t have gotten through the U.S. education system as an undocumented student without the support she received from many femtors in her life. She aspires to provide the same academic support for first-generation students of color, especially those who are system-impacted and/or undocumented. Outside of academics, Mitzia enjoys watching sitcoms, cooking delicious meals, playing with her puppy, and spending quality time with her loved ones.

Make an appointment with Mitzia

Monica De La Cruz

Monica De La Cruz

Ph.D. student in Social Welfare 

Monica De La Cruz is a 4th year doctoral student in the School of Social Welfare. She received her Master of Public Health from the University of San Francisco and her Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology from San Francisco State University. Monica has experience developing, implementing, and evaluating community-based programs and conducting qualitative research studies. Her research interests broadly include identifying and implementing interventions and policies that ameliorate family poverty. Disproportionate poverty in communities of color is the result of systemic racism and inequity that cannot be reversed through local interventions alone. Monica aims to translate her research into policies that help dismantle these systems and shift the national discourse on family poverty to one that is both racially just and centers subsistence as a human right for all.

Monica believes in supporting and centering students with different lived experiences, especially students of color and student parents. As a Diversity and Community fellow, she hopes to impact university culture and advocate for ways to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment so all students feel a sense of belonging. Monica feels indebted to the mentors who encouraged her pursuit of higher education and believes that “paying it forward” through supporting other “non-traditional” students is one way she can express her gratitude.

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Kris Libunao

Kris Libunao

Masters student in Social Welfare 

Kris libunao (she | her | siya) is a first-year, master’s student-parent at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare, with a concentration in Strengthening Organizations and Communities. Kris greatly credits her positionality in holding space as a first-generation scholar of color to community-based access programs and the groundwork that generations of social justice warriors—sung and unsung—have paved. The daughter of Filipino immigrants and the first one in the family to enter the space of academia, Kris brings to the table the guidance of her mom’s “street smarts” with the professional foundation she has built through community-based work and her academic pursuits at UC Irvine where she received her BA with a double major in Criminology, Law & Society and Psychology & Social Behavior. From within her worldview as a “Medi-cal kid”, Kris carries a dual perspective that she’s relied on throughout her journey navigating public welfare systems of care: as a child, a consumer, a systems translator for her communities, and now as an MSW Candidate. Kris intends to use this worldview to disrupt historical and present legacies of oppression, build community capacity and power, and facilitate healing across family tree lines, communities, and institutions. Professionally, Kris has moved through these spaces as: – a founder of a community-based peer support organization at UC Irvine and sponsored UCI’s first student-led Mental Health Conference as a community stakeholder and closing keynote speaker. – a behavioral health case manager for Medi-cal members in Alameda County advocating for quality health care and access to community resources. – a complex care manager for Medi-cal members in SF County having held a seat as a Communications Co-chair within a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at a local managed health plan. Her guiding interests are: (a) How can narrative practices and reframing be applied as a potential intervention for systems change and community preservation? (b) How can moving organizations from a focus on wellness to an anti-oppressive framework of wholeness contribute to community power building and actualization? Her Drop-in Hours are on Tuesdays from 9:30 am – 11:30 am and looks forward to learning from you on what it means to feel welcomed, to belong, and most of all, what you need to be able to show up as you are and who you are.

Make an appointment with Kris