photo collage of diversity and community fellows

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 2021-22 Diversity and Community Fellows

photo of Nicole-Marie Cotton

Nicole-Marie Cotton

Ph.D. student in African American and African Diaspora Studies

After working in a microbiology lab and 3M, Nicole was set on a career in the life sciences until one day she was in the middle of a debate between her zoology professor and her philosophy professor about ethics. Since then, Nicole has been interested in ways to bring people together from different backgrounds to discuss ethical issues such as environmental justice, multicultural inclusion, and tech for social good. Nicole is a graduate researcher for UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute working on a landscape scan on technology and social determinants of health for underserved communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Her PhD research centers around how DNA ancestry technology and social media converge to teach the public new understandings of race and ethnicity.

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Alexander Alvara

Alexander Alvara

Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering

Alexander is a doctoral student in the Berkeley mechanical engineering department. He holds three bachelor’s degrees in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science from UC Irvine and five associates degrees from Los Angeles Pierce College in social sciences, humanities, math, women’s studies, and STEM education.

He is an avid advocate of equity on campus, working with groups across campus to connect with and bring the voice of those historically excluded groups to the forefront.

Make an appointment with Alexander

Miroslava Guzman Perez

Miroslava Guzman Perez

Ph.D student in Spanish and Portuguese

Miroslava Guzman Perez is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She graduated from UC Irvine in 2018, receiving a triple major in Spanish, French, and Comparative Literature. Her current research interest focuses on the cultural, social, and political impact of translated indigenous texts and the process of national and indigenous identity formation through literature. As a daughter of immigrants, and an immigrant herself, she is invested in building resources for the retention of future undocumented peoples interested in pursuing an advanced degree and an academic career.

Make an appointment with Miroslava

headshot of Morino Baca

Morino M. Baca

Master Student in Public Health

Morino is working towards his MPH within the School of Public Health at Berkeley. He has earned both a BS in Society & Environment as well as a BS in Conservation and Resource Studies from Berkeley. Morino is proud to be a first generation, Native graduate student and is proud to bring his perspective to an institution like Cal. Morino has engaged in Community Based Participatory Research in Northern New Mexico while part of The Baca Project during his time in Bear Bones Lab under the direction of Dr. Jun Sunseri. He is also a graduate student manager for the Cal Football team and a proud father of two boys. Morino enjoys building community and spending time with loved ones. He also works towards outreach and retention of Native and underserved youth populations. Morino strives to help others as much as possible and believes that Respect, Honesty, and Integrity are essential to personal growth and development and that through hard work, persistence, and resilience, you can achieve your goals.

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Andrea Jacobo

Andrea Jacobo

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Andrea Jacobo is a third-year DrPH student at UC Berkeley. She received her Masters of Public Health from The University of Memphis and Bachelors of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Miami. Prior to her attending UC Berkeley, Andrea implemented various evidence-based nutrition and physical activity programs in community settings and in serving youth to older adults. Along with program implementation, Andrea co-facilitated a community of practice focused on addressing the root causes of health disparities in Memphis through policy, systems, and environment. Andrea’s areas of interest are addressing health inequities through community-centered, people-centered approaches including human-centered design thinking as a tool for community organization and capacity building. She has a passion for community health, culture & arts, and food. In her spare time, Andrea loves to work out and teach group fitness classes to help promote wellness and write poetry to catalyze social change!

Make an appointment with Andrea

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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 1L year “at” the UC Berkeley School of Law (Go Bears!). I completed last year from my home in Anchorage with my wife Rachael and our 92 lb golden retriever. We were able to socially distance last fall in Denali National Park for a weekend to enjoy an Alaskan fall. I’m excited to be a Diversity & Community Fellow this year in Berkeley, and am excited to meet my fellow students in person.

Make an appointment with Geoffrey

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Nia Jones

Master’s student in the Energy & Resources Group

A native Washingtonian dedicated to the constructive development of the next generation of leaders through a climate action lens. I aim to equip people with knowledge around sustainable infrastructure, especially in building electrification using renewable energy. My research sits at the intersection of sustainability and the prison industrial complex, with an intentional focus on humanity. Upon my completion of my masters degree, I will also be a certified climate protection professional and certified global urban humanitarian. Above all, I am a servant leader who is passionate about building bridges between the formerly incarcerated/ systems impacted communities to graduate school resources and opportunities.

Make an appointment with Nia

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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

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Aminta Kouyate

MS/MD student in the UCB-UCSF Joint Medical Program

Born in Oakland, California, Aminta Kouyate is dedicated to eradicating the systems of oppression that create the health disparities for marginalized communities. As a medical student in the UCSF-UC Berkeley Joint Medical program, her research is focused on building an anti-racist medical education curriculum.

With over eight years of professional experience at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Alameda County Public Health Department, and Children’s Hospital Oakland, Aminta has a wealth of experience and passion for health justice in medicine and public health. In medical school she is a student in the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved (PRIME-US); a scholar in the American Cultures for Engaged Scholarship program; an Office for Graduate Diversity Fellow for UC Berkeley; and she is one of the founding members of the White Coats for Black Lives Chapter at UC Berkeley and leader of the Pathway Development Program that has reached hundreds of underrepresented minority premedical students.

In addition to these pursuits Aminta is a Graduate Student Instructor for Human Physiology, and the Antiracism and Racial Justice Praxis course at Berkeley, and she is an Institute for Healing and Health Justice collaborator.

Make an appointment with Aminta

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William Carter

Ph.D. student in Political 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 skeptical 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 theorize 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.

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.

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photo of noah cole

Noah Cole

Master’s student in Public Policy

Noah Cole is a second year Master of Public Policy student interested in issues of racial equity, voting rights and anti corruption in government. Cole worked with California Common Cause in the Summer of 2021 to evaluate the potential for a statewide small donor democracy program that would root out the issue of big money in politics. He has conducted research on school segregation, universal voter registration, and civic engagement while at the Goldman School of Public Policy. Cole also serves as a researcher and podcast host for the Goldman School’s Talk Policy to Me Podcast.

Before Goldman, Cole worked in legal compliance at a large tech firm and co-founded the Community-Engaged Research Course at the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Huston-Tillotson University in the Fall of 2019. During his undergraduate years Cole was active in national politics, serving as an intern for both the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Obama White House.

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Portrait Image of Maura McDonagh

Maura McDonagh

PhD student, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

Maura McDonagh (she/they) is a second-year graduate student in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute PhD Program. When not in lab or teaching, Maura enjoys playing with their cat, Opal Nopal, hiking the Fire Trails, reading about the history of labor movements, and making brain health accessible to, and a priority for, young folks of color.

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Sean Darling-Hammond

Sean Darling-Hammond

Ph.D student in Public Policy

Sean Darling-Hammond is a PhD student at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. There, he combines his backgrounds in psychology, sociology, law, policy, and statistics to identify education policies that can help students of all backgrounds thrive; and help people of all backgrounds connect across stale social divides. Before matriculating at Goldman, he earned his BA in Sociology at Harvard (’06), spent five years as the Director of Research at Hattaway Communications (a mission driven firm in Washington DC), earned his JD from UC Berkeley (’14), clerked for the District Court for the District of Maryland, and worked in education law and policy for Hogan Lovells and Education Counsel. He also served as the director of Berkeley High School’s restorative justice program, and provided legal representation to special education students. He and his wife, Valentina, adore their toddler, Kofi. In his free time, he rock climbs, and has competed on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior as “The Giving Ninja,” devoted to donating to nonprofits that expand opportunity.

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Knychelle Passmore

Knychelle Passmore

 J.D. student at Berkeley Law

Knychelle Passmore is a 3L at Berkeley Law. She is also a Henderson Center for Social Justice Scholar, member of the Womxn of Color Collective and First Generation Professionals, and forearm Co-President of the Law Students of African Descent. As co-president of LSAD, Knychelle engaged in advocacy and community outreach that centered the interests of the Black community in Berkeley and beyond.

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Caleb Dawson

Caleb Dawson

Ph.D student in Education

Caleb Dawson is a playful community organizer and dance enthusiast from Federal Way, WA. He graduated with his B.A. in sociology and economics from Gonzaga University, and his M.A. in Education from UC Berkeley. Caleb is interested in how race, gender, and capitalism shape Black folks’ experiences in and with higher education. His dissertation explores how Black folk in white institutions critique and contest antiblack violence. Caleb also has written about the political economy of student debt and of for-profit colleges, and convenes the Critical University Studies working group at UC Berkeley. Engaged with Black Feminist Studies and Sociology, Caleb is a 5th year Ph.D. student in UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education and the Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

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Headshot of Erika Roach

Erika Roach

Ph.D student in Psychology (Clinical Science)

Erika Roach (she/her) is a second-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.

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Chris Jackson Headshot

Christopher Jackson

Ph.D student in Chemistry

Chris is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry, where his research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that govern nanomaterial-biomolecule interactions and enable the design of tools for gene-editing and sensing. Born in the Bay Area, Chris holds a B.S. in chemistry from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX.

Chris believes that science is about people, their ideas, and the way they interact with society. Outside of the lab, he is a passionate science policy advocate, frequently writing and advocating for public policy related to science, energy, climate, immigration, and equity. At UC Berkeley, he currently serves on the Asian American and Pacific Islander Standing Committee.

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allyson Kohen photo

Allyson Kohen

Ph.D. student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Allyson Kohen is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. Her research focuses on the religious history of China. More specifically, she is interested in how the state regulates religious practices throughout history. She is also interested in Early Modern Chinese Literature, in particular, stories of the strange and the occult.

Allyson received undergraduate degrees in Religious Studies and East Asian Languages, Thought, and Culture from UC Berkeley. As a first-generation minority student who grew up in a multi-racial household, she is deeply passionate about cross-cultural communications. During her undergraduate career, Allyson faced significant financial and health challenges; her experiences navigating through the various hardships motivated her to advocate for diversity and inclusion in higher education communities.

Make an appointment with Allyson

headshot of 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.

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Headshot of George Moore

George Moore

Ph.D student in Mechanical Engineering

George Moore is a Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. candidate, concentrating in product design. He has served as the president of the Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students (BGESS), Project Director for the Graduate Minority Student Project of UC Berkeley’s Graduate Assembly, and a seasonal Project Manager for SMASH Rising — a local nonprofit that empowers underrepresented minority students in STEM.

Empowering underserved communities and exploring sustainable design are where his academic and personal passions meet. In his work, he often uses and critiques frameworks related to Design Thinking and Life Cycle Analysis. In his downtime, you’ll find him on the basketball court or at the closest open mic.

Make an appointment with George