Graduate Opportunity Fellowship Program (GOFP)

  • For entering students pursuing terminal or professional master’s degrees or the JD
  • Individuals from cultural, racial, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in graduate education are especially encouraged to participate in the program. The intent of this fellowship is to provide access to higher education for students who might otherwise find it difficult or impossible to successfully pursue graduate study.
  • Applicants must be nominated by their home department.
  • One year of funding from the Graduate Division
    • $20,000 stipend + fees/tuition + non-resident supplemental tuition (if applicable)
    • If awardee is in a professional degree program, the professional degree supplemental tuition is not provided by this fellowship.
  • Fellows may not work in the first term of the fellowship.
  • PhD, DrPH, DEnv, DMA, MD or DDS degrees are not eligible.
  • Eligibility
    • U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or undocumented students who qualify for nonresident supplemental tuition exemptions under AB 540
  • Apply
    • The deadline is the same as the deadline for your admissions application. Contact your prospective home department for any exceptions.
    • Review the GOFP Application Instructions and complete the appropriate sections within the online admissions application. If you’ve already submitted your admissions application, complete both the Fellowship Application for Entering Graduate Students and a Diversity Statement (instructions are given at the link just mentioned). Send both to your prospective home department.

Say hello to some Graduate Opportunity Fellowship Program Fellows

Eusef Abdelmalek-LeeEusef Abdelmalek-Lee
Civil & Environmental Engineering

Undergraduate School/Department: University of Florida/Civil & Coastal Engineering

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My academic interests within Civil Engineering are focused on structural engineering and mechanics. I want to develop and build upon existing complex numerical methods for the design and analysis of structures, optimizing the way we engineer the world around us. I would also like to be able to use my structural engineering knowledge to aid in the development of structural design software.

Brief Biography

In my family, I am many firsts. I am the first born of five, I am the first to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and I will be the first to get my master’s. I was originally born in New Jersey, but I consider myself a Floridian, because I have lived there my entire life. As an undergrad, I studied at the University of Florida in Gainesville. I began not knowing exactly what I wanted to study, but I had a passion for problem solving, so I knew engineering would be a good fit for me.

I started off as a Mechanical Engineering major, but after taking my first class that was focused on structures, Statics, I immediately knew what I wanted to study. I changed my major to Civil Engineering and focused my coursework in the area of structural engineering. I TA-d for the Mechanics of Engineering Structures course, participated in bridge engineering research for two years, and I am currently on my second structural engineering internship, where I am getting to work on the design of the California High Speed Rail.

With my experience,  I have developed an appreciation for the ingenuity and effort that goes into designing and erecting the structures we pass by, drive over, and work in every day. We take these things for granted when we are not behind the scenes. I have much left to learn in my field, and I am excited to continue my studies at UCLA and to be able to make a contribution to building the world around us in more efficient and innovative ways.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Definitely my Mom’s homemade stuffed grape leaves and hummus with pita

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have continued working in my research position for the Bridge Software Institute at the University of Florida, developing the bridge software FB-MultiPier. I would have taught myself to code, so I could work on the programming side of the development as well.

Of course, I would have also taken time off to travel but that will just be postponed until after my master’s.


Susan AparicioSusan Aparicio
Art

Undergraduate School/Department: University of Virginia/Studio Art & Cognitive Science

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

I am interested in investigating the experience of possessing multicultural identities in the US. Feeling as I belong to neither side completely, I am learning how to navigate the space in the middle and how to relate this personal challenge to the larger state of multinational relations in the US. Additionally, I seek to address accessibility, status, and class difference.

Brief Biography

I am an LA native, growing up in East LA and Pico Rivera. For my undergraduate career, I moved to the east coast to attend the University of Virginia (UVA). I am a first-generation student, so in many ways I experienced culture shock moving across the country. During undergrad, I double majored in Studio Art, with a concentration in New Media, and Cognitive Science, with a concentration in Cognitive Psychology.

After graduating in 2018, I received a fellowship residency from UVA that would allow me to pursue and experiment with my art for one year. I am a multimedia artist, working with themes of assimilation between cultures and breaking down class and social hierarchies. During my time in Virginia, I, unfortunately, witnessed the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and since have been impacted by working among this state of division and tension in the US.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

I would have some of my mom’s amazing pozole, my dad’s arroz con leche, and horchata from King Taco.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would work in an animation studio to support myself in pursuing the art world.


Kayla BoydenKayla Boyden
African American Studies

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Irvine/English and African American Studies

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

I am interested in Black forms of popular culture in the United States and contemporary poetics. I am specifically interested in exploring rap music as a space for both academic exploration and Black theory.

Brief Biography

I am a first-generation college student who graduated from University of California, Irvine, in June 2018. During my time at the university, I was part of the Humanities Honors Program, where I wrote a 56-page thesis entitled  “ ‘I Know That We the New Slaves’: Recurring Tropes Between 21st-Century Rap Music and Antebellum Period Slave Hymns in the United States.” In the thesis, I compared two popular slave hymns with two contemporary rap songs utilizing Afro-pessimism and Marxism as a lens to put pressure on the idea of a post-racial United States.

While I pursued my degrees, I also held numerous leadership positions. I became the co-chair of the Black Student Union (BSU) while also taking on the responsibility of being the BSU liaison for an orientation program entitled iRise. In addition, I was the coordinator for the Black Leaders on Campus coalition, among other retention-based organizations at UCI.  For two years of my undergraduate career, I re-vamped an organization called Students Teaching and Outreaching to Minority Populations, where I discovered my passion for outreaching to underprivileged communities. These leadership positions as well as my studies inspired me to dedicate myself to not only outreach and retention but also to discover rap music as an often overlooked space for academic study.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

I would want my meal to be pad thai with extra peanuts.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have pursued a career in journalism.



Jacqueline CarranzaJacqueline Carranza

Community Health Sciences

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Davis/Spanish & Portuguese and Political Science

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My academic interests include improving health-care accessibility for underrepresented communities. I would like to conduct research that shows how policies shape health efficacy in low-income communities in Latin America.

Brief Biography

Growing up in California’s Central Valley in a predominantly rural area, I realized the importance of health-care accessibility for underserved communities. This led to me graduating from the University of California, Davis, with a double major in Spanish and International Relations. During my undergraduate studies, I mentored high school students of color and tutored abroad.

I also had the opportunity of conducting research as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. My research centered on Public Health Collaborations for Chronic Disease Prevention in California. This research experience, as well as studying abroad in Spain and completing a global health internship in Bolivia, solidified my decision to pursue a degree in Public Health.

My goal is to conduct research that will help eliminate health inequities not only in underserved communities in the United States but also globally.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

It would have to be plátanos fritos (fried plantains) with beans and sour cream on the side!

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would be working in a health organization abroad.


Marcy CervantesMaricela Cervantes
Community Health Sciences

Undergraduate School/Department: California State University, Los Angeles/Sociology

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

  • The health and mental health implications of racism, discrimination, and chronic stress; community-based solutions to health and educational disparities within communities that have been unserved, underserved, and/or inappropriately served.
  • The prevention and intervention of communicable diseases through education, counseling, and improving provider practices.

Brief Biography

As the eldest of four, raised by a single mother, I had to make many sacrifices to help support my family. Thus, it took me a while to complete my undergraduate degree. Three schools (San Francisco State University, Santa Ana College, and California State University, Los Angeles) and six years later, I graduated with a BA in Sociology.

While at CSULA, I helped organize for social and racial justice through my role as a board member of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA) and through my role as a team lead for the National Association of Social Workers–CA Lobby Days.

My degree was in sociology, but I still had a strong interest in health, which motivated me to become a nursing volunteer at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. During my last year of undergrad, I had the opportunity to intern at the CA Department of Public Health in the Office of Health Equity. This experience allowed me to combine my interests in health and social justice and ultimately influenced my decision to pursue a career in public health.

As the Community Engagement Coordinator and a Disease Intervention Specialist in the Centers for Disease Control’s Public Health Associate Program in CA’s Central Valley, I have seen how social determinants of health can have negative impacts on the prevention, screening, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. After working in the field for two years, I am ready to contribute my personal and professional experiences to the Fielding School of Public Health.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

My abuela’s rice

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would probably be finishing my pre-requisites for nursing school.


Joslyn GarciaJoslyn Garcia
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Los Angeles/Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

Broadly, my interests lie in product design, specifically catering to the needs and experience of the consumer. I love thinking about ways to solve problems that ultimately enhance someone’s experience of a product.

Within the field of Mechanical Engineering, I am passionate about mechatronics. Whether it’s dynamics, mechanisms, programming in MATLAB, or electrical circuits, I’m all for it. Through my academic goals, I hope to inspire and excite women and Latina/os like myself to pursue higher degrees in STEM fields.

Brief Biography

I come from an amazing, hard-working, immigrant family. My father came to the US from Mexico to find work and met my mother while they were both working in strawberry fields together. I am a first-generation college student, so pursuing a master’s degree is an exciting chapter for me in representing my family. Entering UCLA as double minority in engineering, being both female and Latina, initially intimidated me. Thankfully, the CEED program assisted me in various areas, encouraging me to apply for internships, do well in my courses, and get involved in various campus communities.

Throughout my undergraduate career, I’ve had opportunities to intern at NASA Ames Research Center, Toyota, Northrop Grumman, and HP. During the summer of 2019. I am excited to be interning for Walt Disney as an Imagineer. In my graduate studies, I hope to deepen my knowledge of the various fields that I love within Mechanical Engineering to be the best engineer that I can be!

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Tacos! And all the toppings and sides involved.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

If it were not for the GOFP, I would have gone straight into industry as a technical engineer after graduating with my bachelor’s.



Kearra GopeeKearra Gopee

Art

Undergraduate School/Department: New York University/Photography & Imaging

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Photo: Jeana Lindo

Academic Interests

My research-based art practice focuses on the nature of violence and erasure and the particularities of that which is inflicted on the Caribbean by the global north. Using personal experiences as a point of departure, I address themes of migration, intergenerational trauma, queerness, and difference while seeking to complicate the viewer’s understanding of economic and social marginalization in the postcolonial Caribbean.

Through a variety of media, my observations are translated into ephemeral photographs, installations, and objects, interweaving the personal with the historical, the mythological with the material.

Brief Biography

I am a multidisciplinary visual artist born in Miami, FL, and raised in Carapichaima, Trinidad and Tobago. My undergraduate career began at St. John’s University in Queens, NY, where I majored in advertising. In my sophomore year, I transferred to New York University to pursue a BFA in Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts.  I graduated in 2017 with a minor in Africana Studies from the Social and Cultural Analysis department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Since then, I’ve served as the Programs and Development manager at New York-based artist residency Triangle Arts Association. After leaving Triangle to focus on my art practice in 2018, I have traveled extensively to pursue residencies in the Caribbean, Europe, and the US.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Goat roti

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

Writing, most likely



Joseph HendersonJoseph Henderson

Theater, Film, & Television

Undergraduate School/Department: Jackson State University/Speech Communication and Theatre

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

As I enter the University of California, Los Angeles, I want to further explore my unique acting and artist capabilities, study the fabrications that comes with theatre, film, and television, and overall sit at the feet of the world’s most respected theater practitioners.

Brief Biography

Having the opportunity to attend a Historical Black College and University in Jackson, MS, I had the honor of being in the city of soul, where my education was grounded in the beauty and struggle of the African-American experience. Serving as President of the National Association for Dramatic Speech Art, I placed leadership at the forefront of my education, bridging not only the gap between the students and administration but also continuing the rich legacy.

Being part of several of our schools plays, I was the Irene Ryan Nominee for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. I won several awards in undergraduate school such as Highest GPA in the Department of Theatre, National Dean’s List Scholar, and Who’s Who in American Universities. I also starred in a music video with such artists as Brandy and Common.

As I begin UCLA’s master’s program, I search to learn the skill of being an artist in its most truthful form through studying its history and answering a simple question, “What are our new classics?” I also have always been intrigued with film and television, which is why I chose to attend such a groundbreaking and unique department.

Bringing light on diverse perspectives is what I want to contribute to this program—a philosophy that everyone has a story and that everyone’s story deserves to be represented truthfully and culturally.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Pizza and wings

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would go straight into the industry. But I understand that there is more training I could receive, and I love to be around a community that loves and respects art. That is why I am pursing my master’s degree.



Jose Yobani LopezJose Yobani Lopez

Education

Undergraduate School/Department: Yale University/Chemistry

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

Through my academic learning and my future teaching, I strive to understand the best pedagogical practices for educating low-income students from immigrant backgrounds. Guided by my own experience of having to reconcile my low-income Xicano background with my growing familiarity and engagement with elite white culture and spaces, I question the definitions of education and its purpose that are expressed to and adopted by such students (low income, of color, from immigrant backgrounds), and how they influence a student’s ability to take ownership over their own learning. I consider theories of social capital and cultural capital to begin understanding the sociological context of this issue.

Brief Biography

I am proud to have been born and raised in the Westlake barrio of Downtown Los Angeles, CA, to two Mexican immigrant parents who abandoned their dreams of education at a young age to sustain their families. My father was a seamster in the Fashion District, and my mother worked as a janitor and babysitter.

I grew up guided by two beliefs: that I would amount to something for the people I cared about, and that the people I cared about most suffered real consequences because of definitions of belonging. These beliefs helped me excel in new worlds: a musician throughout high school and a chemist at Yale. They also culminated in a commitment to study and practice education for underserved communities.

I developed a close relationship with the first-generation low-income (FGLI) community at Yale, which provided me a community to reflect on my background and deal with the social challenges that such students face. I later gave back to this community as a mentor, advocate, and most recently, founder of The Community Initiative, Yale’s first administrative effort to support and empower specifically FGLI students, as part of my Woodbridge Fellowship immediately after graduating.

I am excited to return to Los Angeles to share messages of empowerment with younger low-income Latinx students. But I also plan to continue developing an intellectual understanding of how to revolutionize educational systems so that they are more inclusive of the peoples I consider family.

In my free time, I love biking through different parts of the city, celebrating the arts (I’ve done jazz trumpet in high school and Mexican folk dance in college), and watching films with good company.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Tacos de asada con frijoles y horchata —a simple meal doesn’t make it any less classic.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I’ve entertained the idea of having a career as an educator in México! I’d be closer to family and would be curious to attend una escuela normal (education school). If money wasn’t an issue, I’d love to travel Latinoamérica and do some sort of film project.


Tamisha MannTamisha Mann
Nursing

Undergraduate School/Department: California State University, Los Angeles/Social Work

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My primary academic interest is Public Health Nursing. I would like to address many of the health disparities that disproportionally affect individuals living in the inner cities, such as childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, substance abuse disorder. and severe mental illness.

Brief Biography

I was born and raised right here in Los Angeles. My paternal grandmother, who was my primary caregiver, was a nurse. As I was growing up, she would often have me assist her when she helped our neighbors who could not afford to go to the doctor. I guess that is where my affinity for helping people came from.

I worked as a Licensed Vocational Nursing for several years before deciding to go into social work. I received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in that field. I worked with various populations such as formerly incarcerated women and their children as well as with developmentally disabled adults.

My other occupations included serving as a geriatric social worker for a nonprofit organization and as a medical social worker in a dialysis center.  I really liked being a social worker; I believe that the experiences made me a much better nurse. Those experiences showed me that nursing is where my heart.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Fish and chips

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I was really considering medical school.



Carlos MartinezCarlos Martinez

Law

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Santa Barbara/History and Philosophy

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My academic interests are wide and many and include areas such as the study of nonwestern philosophy and the history of neoliberalism and our responses to it. In terms of law specifically, I am interested in the intersection between Business and Immigration Law and the way in which it can be applied to benefit and help underrepresented communities.

Brief Biography

I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I was raised until I immigrated to the US at the age of nine. After high school, I was lucky enough to get accepted into the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), becoming the first in my family to not only graduate high school but attend college.

During my time at UCSB, I was involved in the college radio station, KCSB, and hosted a show called “Emotions of the Human Mind,” in which I explored the connection between the music that we choose to listen to and the emotions that make us who we are. KCSB provided me with the opportunity to connect with the local Santa Barbara community in order to promote the use of noncommercial and independent media and gave me valuable experience regarding the legal aspects of broadcasting media and the music industry.

During this time, I picked up a second major, philosophy, and began to take an increasingly wide variety of courses to expand and broaden my academic interests. As a result, I decided to pursue law school so that I could nurture my personal interests in a way that they could help make a fundamental change in the lives of others.

While I am still unsure as to what kind of law I will ultimately end up pursuing, I am looking forward to one day being able to help communities such as my own by providing pro bono legal services as well as by making the legal field more accessible to these communities.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

It would definitively have to be my mom’s homemade chiles rellenos.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have most likely become a high school history teacher but possibly would have also pursued a career in the tech or media field.



Teresa Mata-CervantesTeresa Mata-Cervantes

Community Health Sciences

Undergraduate School/Department: University of Washington/Public Health

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My academic interests include conducting qualitative and community-based participatory research in the areas of health promotion, health communications, and mHealth/mobile health. I believe there is a need for improving how health information is disseminated among underrepresented populations to reach more individuals and improve quality of life.

Brief Biography

I am a first-generation college student and the first in my entire family to pursue a graduate degree. During my undergraduate career, I worked for two nonprofit organizations, one focused on drug prevention among youth and the other centered around public health and addressing the social determinants of health.

Academically, I was selected as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and was involved in several research projects. I have conducted ethnographic research in Athens, Greece, and qualitative research study focused on Promotoras De Salud/Community Health Workers in my hometown of Wenatchee, WA. Other research projects I was involved in include improving access to health information among the Latinx population and preventing sexual harassment among farm workers.  I then participated in a Summer Public Health Scholars Program at Columbia University.

Ultimately, I plan to pursue a PhD in Health Services and conduct community-based participatory research (CBPR) to explore how Latinx families navigate the healthcare system. I grew up in Spanish-speaking home as the daughter of Latinx immigrant farm workers and recall not understanding the medical terminology I was translating but needing to communicate efficiently. This led me to realize the detrimental impacts of miscommunicated health information and the complexity of our healthcare system.

I want to bridge language and cultural barriers to improve Latinx health and am thankful for the opportunity to develop the necessary skills while in the UCLA MPH program.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Definitely my Mom’s tamales. I believe she makes the best tamales, and I don’t believe anyone who says otherwise!

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have pursued a health educator position at a Sea Mar Community Health Center or Fred Hutch (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) in Seattle, WA.


Erick MatusErick Matus
African American Studies

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Los Angeles/Chicanx Studies and African American Studies

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My academic interests include reggaeton and its rising popularity in the American mainstream. More specifically, I want to explore how the once Afro-Latinx dominant music has gone through a blanquemiento (cultural whitening) to be more consumable for the American mainstream. In doing so, I want to make connections to the relation of blackness within Latin America.

Brief Biography

As a first-generation student, I had to maneuver my way through academia alone and struggled big time. I never thought I would ever attend college and would work remedial jobs for the rest of my life.

A small injury at work pushed me to return to school, and, after four years at community college, I made my transition to UCLA. I kept asking my sister to pinch me because it all felt like a dream.

Once I began my journey at UCLA, I knew research was made for me. I double majored in Chicanx Studies and African American Studies, and I learned amazing things about my communities. Having had the opportunity to learn more about my communities, I want to find a way to give back.

I’ve gone from never thinking I would ever attend college to being accepted into a master’s program at one of the most amazing schools in the world. It all blows my mind! To this day, it all still feels like a dream, and I hope to never wake from that dream.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Burritos, because you can make them all kinds of ways! Breakfast burrito, veggie burrito, asada burrito, cali burrito, shrimp burrito, etc. The list goes on and on!

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have become a writer/journalist for people-of-color platforms that focus on pop culture and trends. Hopefully, I would have been on a big reggaeton tour getting the inside scoop!


Doyle McKinney
Doyle McKinney

African Studies

Undergraduate School/Department: California State University, Long Beach/International Studies

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My research interests include neoliberal structures instituted in Iraq in 2003, how they created conditions whereby Sunnis found themselves in alliance with insurgents or favorable toward insurgents and other groups including ISIS. These conditions complicated processes of reunification  between religious sects, deepening divisions and enhancing the spread of sectarianism and extremist ideology in the Middle East and North Africa.

Brief Biography

My undergraduate studies centered on the Middle East and North Africa. I researched forces working assiduously to destabilize the region and to ensure continued warfare and division, scarcity and misinformation. Globalization and multinationals spread consumerism and saturate regions with Western products and services, development areas that coopt the local populations in life-long practices of consumerism and unhealthy eating.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Fish

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

Sports management



Jazmin Muniz-ValerioJazmin Muniz-Valerio

Nursing

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Los Angeles/Sociology

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My interest in ER/trauma nursing is rooted in my background as a first-generation, low-income mujer of color. Patients from similar backgrounds who seek emergency services often have conditions that were exacerbated due to lack of access to resources, sporadic care and inflexibilities of their living situations.

Thus, my interests center around delivering efficient and holistic health care to patients from underprivileged, ethnically diverse backgrounds.

Brief Biography

I was born and nurtured through childhood in Lennox, CA. As a product of this low-income community, I have always kept my career goals grounded in giving back to disadvantaged populations and my parents. After battling with imposter syndrome during my undergraduate career, I decided to take a leap of faith into the healthcare field. At the time, it was a frightening decision. But having parents who were each diagnosed with cancer throughout my lifetime is what ultimately pushed me in this direction. Since then, I have never looked back.

Following the completion of my undergraduate studies, I worked full time as a Student Success Advisor in my community’s high school to support and mentor at-risk students—predominately first-generation minorities. Concurrently, I interned as a COPE Health Scholar at St. Francis Medical Center and took an executive position as the Director of Training and Education for COPE’s Leadership Team.

Throughout this time, I obtained my Emergency Medical Technician certification and discovered my passion for nursing and emergency care. Being admitted to one of the top nursing schools in the nation has further validated my place in higher education and with this I wish to serve as a role model for others like me.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

My mom’s cheese enchiladas or spicy wontons. Yum!

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

Traveling the world or pursuing something in the arts. I have always been drawn to storytelling and the making of movies.



Arelys NavarroArelys Navarro

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Irvine/Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My current academic interests include circuits, control systems, and power electronics. These interests stem from what I’ve learned in my undergraduate career as well as having a passion for implementation of renewable energy and innovation needed to support it. At UCLA, I hope to conduct research on technology for future grid applications and develop my knowledge in power electronics.

Brief Biography

I am a first-generation college student and immigrant. Born in Guatemala but raised in California, my culture and upbringing have taught me the significance of hard work and dedication. After graduating from high school in 2015, I knew I would pursue an Electrical Engineering degree at UC Irvine, but I knew little about my major as I began my undergraduate career.

By the end of my first year, I was able to say I was in the right major. In 2017, I started an internship position with a power utility, where I learned about energy and the variety of contributions engineers make toward innovation. Later as I took upper-division courses, I learned from great professors who shaped my current academic interests as a graduate student.

Throughout my time at UCI, I also found a new passion for empowering the communities around me. I have become a mentor and tutor in addition to pursuing my specialization and conducting individual research. I hope to continue work with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and other organizations to encourage young students to pursue higher education and consider degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

Today, the thought of being an engineer contributing toward community empowerment as well as technological progress is something that drives me more toward graduate school.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

I can see it now, a meal I grew up on: fried plantains with a side of black beans. Paired with a little Salvadorian sour cream and cheese, of course.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

Traveling! Then an engineering position in the power industry.


Mandie NuanesMandie Nuanes
Latin American Studies

Undergraduate School/Department: Whittier College/History

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

I have an interest in History, Colonial Latin American, and Gender Studies. I take a specific interest in the liminal spaces Mexican women occupy when it comes to their reproductive rights. I have focused and will continue to focus my research on the mechanization of the Mexican female body.

Brief Biography

I am from Whittier, CA, and attending Whittier College for my undergraduate degree was a childhood dream. At Whittier College, I majored in History and minored in Gender studies. I was raised by a single mother, which fostered my initial interest in the mechanization of the female body.

My interest in gender studies grew while I was at Whittier, and this led me to conduct research on the reproductive rights of Mexican American women, with a focus on the differences between clinics and hospitals. After completing the program in Latin American Studies, I intend to continue my research on the dismantling and reconstruction of the Latina body in a PhD program and UCLA.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Salad. Although I am not a vegetarian, I rarely eat meat.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have tried to work in the archives department at Paramount Pictures.


Jackelyn Quintanilla-AlvarezJackelyn Quintanilla-Alvarez
Education

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Los Angeles/Neuroscience

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

I am interested in teaching secondary math while confronting the historical context within which people of color, womxn/femmes, gender-nonconforming, queer, and working-class people have been impacted by imperialist approaches toward education.

I would like to research ways in which vulnerable students overlap their education with their healing. In looking at ways that students have overcome their own challenges and relationships to education we can look at whether current systems and policies are working and make necessary changes.

Brief Biography

I am the first in my family to graduate from a traditional high school and obtain a bachelor’s degree. I graduated high school with honors and was accepted to various universities. I decided to attend community college but left soon after as it became increasingly difficult to focus on school.

I returned to my undergraduate study later than anticipated. My desire to obtain my own agency became central to my educational process. Upon returning to school, I began working as a teacher’s assistant at the same continuation high school within LAUSD that my mom attended when I was young.

My intention was only to acclimate back into academia, but I learned so much more than I expected and was drastically transformed in the process. This fostered my passion to continue to learn from and support young people along their educational journey.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Soup; it’s kind of ridiculous how much I love soup.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would continue working with young people in various communities at any job that helps increase accessibility to education, health-care, and mental health resources. I am always looking for ways to serve as an educational and healthcare doula, so to speak.


Marlin RodriguezMarlin Rodriguez
Computer Science

Undergraduate School/Department: University of Southern California/Electrical Engineering

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

After having professional experience in both hardware and software engineering, I am convinced that I want a get a further insight into computer science/software engineering. Specifically, I would like to further explore the areas of software engineering and artificial intelligence.

Brief Biography

I am a first-generation student whose parents came to the US from El Salvador. I moved from Dallas, TX, to California for my undergraduate education, thanks to a very generous financial aid package. I studied Electrical Engineering with a Computer Engineering emphasis, but I was always undecided about whether I wanted to lean more toward hardware or software engineering.

Thanks to a combination of upper-division courses and professional experience, I have a desire to gain a deeper understanding of software engineering, leading to my endeavors for graduate education.

I have been working in the aerospace industry for the last two years. While I am performing meaningful work, I am well aware that, especially in Computer Science, there are more opportunities out there than one can count. Today, we are in a world where information connects people almost instantly. Through this exchange of information, cultures and ideas are exchanged which can lead to new innovative solutions to some of the world’s problems.

I would like to one day be the glue involved in creating innovative technologies that facilitate the global exchange of information.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

I would decide on tacos. One can pretty much make anything out of tacos, so it is one of the most versatile foods.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would be teaching myself more programming languages and additional software engineering practices to prepare myself for professional software engineering opportunities.


Angelica RuizAngelica Ruiz
Environmental Health Sciences

Undergraduate School/Department: California State University, Fullerton/Health Science and Women & Gender Studies

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

Using an intersectional framework, my interests are focused on social and environmental justice, as they relate to public health. I aim to work alongside community members from environmental justice communities in order to address and tackle systemic injustices. I plan to apply research to action models in order to analyze environmental health disparities at a local level in order to ensure that community needs and concerns are addressed.

Brief Biography

As a feminist Chicana, my background was established through experiences that reflect being raised by undocumented parents. I faced challenges and learned to craft pathways by combining my Mexican heritage and lived experience in the US. As the eldest of three, I was given adult responsibilities at a very young age, such as translating important documents and conversations for my parents.

In addition to these challenges, I also became the first in my family to accomplish “ordinary” tasks. These firsts included being the first to be fluent in English, graduate high school, drive a car, going to and graduating from college, and now attending graduate school.

During my undergrad years at Cal State Fullerton, I was a McNair Scholar, where I conducted community-centered research that examined gaps in food access in Santa Ana, CA, and the need to address the health disparities among the Latinx community.

After graduation, I moved to Sacramento, CA, for the Executive Fellowship, where I worked at CalEPA to implement statewide environmental and health justice policy. Most recently, I worked for the CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a Research Scientist specializing in community science and implementing community-based participatory research projects.

In my free time, I enjoy attending concerts, reading, crocheting, and hanging out with my dog, Yolilitzli. Some of my favorite artists include Cafe Tacuba, Bomba Estereo, Queen, and Ana Tijoux. My all-time favorite author is Octavia E. Butler.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

It would have to be any type of Thai food. If I absolutely had to choose a dish, it would be pad thai tofu!

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have worked in a social justice organization in my hometown, Anaheim. Additionally, I’d probably work with youth to provide a safe and radical space for them to grow academically, artistically, and personally.


Karina SanchezKarina Sanchez
Library & Information Studies

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Irvine/Humanities and Education

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

I am interested in preserving the history of our communities. It is important to remember our past so future generations can see the struggles and success we have had. History also establishes our identity and the way we perceive the world, whether it be socially or politically. Therefore, it is vital to preserve this history and give people access to learn from it.

Brief Biography

I grew up with Mexican immigrant parents; being Mexican-American has given me a unique identity.

Like many children of immigrants, I struggled to understand both my identities. But as I started working in UC Irvine Archives and El Pueblo Historical Monument, both places that preserve history, I began to realize the importance of remembering our past and the impact it has in our personal life.

This realization allowed me to take pride in my identity. Therefore, it has made me want to help first-generation students like me understand the importance of remembering history. I want to learn how to teach first-generation college students how to use our history in their own research.

Therefore, by going to UCLA for Library and Information Studies, I will learn tools that I can eventually pass on to students. These tools will allow us to understand how our past affects our future.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

My grandmother’s handmade tortillas de harina with some beans and rice or crispy chicken burger with crispy fries

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have begun my journey of teaching abroad, which has been a dream of mine since high school.


Jasmin SinghJasmin Singh
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Undergraduate School/Department: New York University/Electrical & Computer Engineering

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

Signal processing; more specifically, adaptive approaches to system design. I believe that cognitive implementations of current electrical systems can greatly increase efficiency and move us closer to the future of technology.

Brief Biography

I was born in Queens, NY, and lived there for all of my life. I attended a science-focused high school, which drove me to pursue a challenging career in engineering. Four years later, I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from New York University. Since graduating, I have been working as a full-time electrical engineer supporting the nation’s defense and aerospace industries.

I always knew I wanted to pursue an advanced degree after graduating university because of all the complexities that there are in my area of interest. As a naturally curious person, I want to learn as much as I can so I can contribute to society with my new-found knowledge. I am very excited to be starting this journey at UCLA so I can develop myself academically and enjoy beautiful Los Angeles!

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Vegetable pizza. I will never get sick of pizza.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have sought other learning opportunities to help me advance in my career and become a future leader in tech.


Jack TomeJack Tome
American Indian Studies

Undergraduate School/Department: The University of New Mexico/Political Science and American Studies

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

While in graduate school, I intend to critically research the government framework of Native American tribes pre- and post-contact and Native American Economic Development. One division of Economic Development that interests me is tribal gaming. because gaming is crucial to the success of tribal economies due to many Native American tribes investing vast amounts of resources into the enterprise.

Brief Biography

In my formal Diné (Navajo) greeting, I am from Naatani Nez (Shiprock, New Mexico). My clan is Táchii’nii (Red Running Into the Water People Clan), born for Hooghan łáni (Many Hogans clan). My maternal grandfather’s clan is Tó’aheedlíinii (Water Flows Together Clan), and my paternal grandfather’s clan is Táchii’nii (Red Running Into the Water People Clan).

During my undergraduate studies, I studied gerrymandering, border-town discrimination, polling, the role of political ideology and political affiliation related to the political climate and attitudes of both tribal governments and the larger nation-state.

Dr. Jennifer Nez Denetdale introduced me to American Studies, and this opened a new theoretical perspective to my research. This is highly relevant because of the underdevelopment, poverty, and homelessness that exists on Native American land. The socioeconomic state of Native Nations has inspired me to pursue a graduate program focused on Government and Economic Development.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

I would eat New Mexican food. I got to have my green chili enchiladas because in New Mexico, we put green chili on almost everything!

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have been a public high school teacher in my hometown.


Kara WadeKara “KJ” Wade
World Arts & Cultures/Dance

Undergraduate School/Department: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro/Health & Human Performance (now College of Visual and Performing Arts)

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

My academic interests  at UCLA include growing as a choreographer and teaching artist, becoming more diverse in languages, and connecting with the cultural programs and student groups on campus. I also look forward to becoming a stronger business woman as an artist and entrepreneur in my field/industry.

Brief Biography

I am a professional dance and teaching artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Born in North Carolina and bred by Washington, DC, I worked from coast to coast and internationally as an instructor, choreographer, and performer. I received my BA in Dance with a minor in African American Studies from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (my time there included a study abroad term at The University of Cape Town, South Africa).

Since 2010, I have worked with a variety of artists and companies such as: Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, Lauryn Hill, Will Smith, Wiz Kid, Pharrell Williams, Step Afrika! Off-Broadway, and more! I am currently a faculty member of Ladies of Hip Hop Festival NYC & LA, Afreeka Best Dance Camp (international), as well as The Movement Lifestyle and Danceline LA Studios.

Off the stage, I’m in the classroom as a resident teaching artist for PS Arts and now a graduate student at UCLA! I have a passion for collegiate students of dance which also led me to create Delta Chi Xi Honorary Dance Fraternity, Inc. for Dance majors & minors with academic achievements.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Soul food (with fruit & salad on the side), because it reminds me of home, and it never gets old!

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would continue focusing on my career as a dance artist while traveling the world.


Antonio ZapataAntonio Zapata
Environmental Health Sciences

Undergraduate School/Department: University of California, Irvine/Public Health

Year Entered Graduate School: 2019-2020

Academic Interests

How the consumption of bushmeat is creating zoonotic diseases in environments where consuming tropical animals is common, gene and environment interactions, the effects on the human body of areas that have extremely polluted waters in the rivers and coasts, and the effects of air pollution and climate change in metropolitan cities, such as the City of Los Angeles and Mexico City.

Brief Biography

My mother is from Los Reyes, Michoacán, and my late father was from Tlaquepaque, Jalisco.  I am the first in my family to graduate from college and the first to go to graduate school. I am from Santa Ana, CA, attended Santa Ana College for my associate’s degree, and then transferred to the University of California, Irvine, to obtain a Public Health degree.

While at UCI, I was part of a bioinformatics internship program in the field of Epigenetics in the Department of Developmental Biology. During my training, I was exposed to the field of epigenetics and how an individual’s life circumstances can regulate genes to be silenced or expressed over time. After my internship, I wanted to learn more about how an individual’s environment could possibly determine their health. This ultimately led me to the field of Environmental Health.

For the past year, I have been a research assistant in an environmental health lab that collaborates with a nonprofit organization. The latter’s larger goal of stewardship and advocacy uses microbial community analysis to develop strategies that would differentiate pollution sources. In the near future, I plan to pursue a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences.

If stranded on a deserted island with only one type of meal to eat every day, what would you want it to be?

Honestly, I could eat my mom’s homemade birria and tacos every day without hesitation.

If you did not pursue a graduate degree, what would you be doing?

I would have attempted to open up my own restaurant.