Elevar and Grad Equity Scholars 2020-21
Afsana Faruqui is a second-year Master of Public Health (MPH) student. Her educational aspirations consist of acquiring a Ph.D. in Community Health Sciences to expand her knowledge on the key tools of assessment, planning, and evaluation to address public health problems in her community. Her career vision is to become a program manager either for government agencies or non-governmental organizations. As a program manager, she would be able to design, implement, and evaluate community-based public health interventions. Ms. Faruqui wants to work for underserved populations in the United States who struggle every day to sustain a family and do not have as much access to healthcare as other privileged groups. She also wants to advocate and design culturally and linguistically appropriate health programs and health communication materials for minority groups who are non-English speaking or have limited English proficiency.
Alexis Ramirez Ruiz
Alex Ramirez Ruiz is a current graduate student in the Master of Science in Higher Education here at Cal State Fullerton. His research is primarily focused on the impact that educational policies have on the academic self-efficacy and social-cognitive skills of underrepresented minorities (URM) inside the CSU system. Some other areas of interest primarily focus on digital approaches to higher education and student development. After graduating, Mr. Ramirez Ruiz will pursue a career in the field of student affairs as a Program Coordinator or Career Advisor.
Amanda Tarin is in her last year in the Masters of Arts in the Psychology program at California State University, Fullerton. She is interested in social psychology, specifically cultural, diversity, equity, and microaggressions. She is currently using a mixed-methods approach and intersectionality lens to examine ingroup microaggressions within the Latinx population. She also wants to work with minority populations and other ethnic groups. After graduation, she plans to continue her education and earn a Ph.D. in Social Psychology with an emphasis on culture and diversity.
Angela Nguyen is a third-year graduate student in the Counseling program. The Counseling program prepares students for the Marriage and Family Therapist license and the License Professional Clinical Counselor credentials. This program places a heavy emphasis on human diversity, self-growth, and a positive learning environment, in which students will feel the faculty's support throughout every step of the way. Ms. Nguyen’s research interest is Asian American couples (specifically Vietnamese-American couples), what kind of relational issues arise in their interactions, and how couples therapy addresses these issues. After graduation, she hopes to continue to see clients at her practicum site, the Boys & Girls Club at Garden Grove. Although she was initially nervous as a therapist in training seeing adolescents, through collaborating with them on treatment plans and setting goals, she realized she had found her niche. She also noticed that she had become the very person she wished she had been when she was their age.
Carolina Briseno is a graduate student enrolled in the Masters of Science in Biology program. Her concentration is in molecular biology. The focus of Ms. Briseno’s research is to understand how cytosolic molecular chaperone, Hsp70 is transported to the plasma membrane of cancer cells. The localization of hsp70 to the plasma membrane in cancer cells aids in their survival and therefor in potential metastasis. The importance of Ms. Briseno’s research is to delineate this pathway in cancer cells so that one day we can obstruct it and allow for better treatments in cancer patients. Her main goal after obtaining her masters is to work for a biotechnology company where she can apply her skills as a researcher and continue to grow as a scientist.
Cesar Barrios is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Education with a Concentration in Higher Education (MSHE). MSHE is designed to educate students in higher education's historical and theoretical aspects to help students understand how to best support student learning and development in educational systems. The primary learning domains of MSHE include Leadership, Social Justice and Equity, Education, Assessment and Evaluation, and Personal and Professional Development. Through the MSHE program, Mr. Barrios’s research has focused on understanding and learning how to support the experiences of women in engineering, transfer students, former foster youth, and students of color in higher education. He is currently seeking to gain experience that will allow him to apply for a director position of an undergraduate/graduate student affairs office or student support services program. With this role, he strives to create equity programs that support students of various backgrounds throughout their higher education journey.
Christina Spencer Veloz
Christina Spencer Veloz is a first-generation multiracial student currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Education with a concentration in Higher Education at CSUF. Her degree focus is in the field of student affairs. Ms. Spencer Veloz’s career goals are to work as an academic advisor and eventually a coordinator in higher education that serves underserved students. She wants to create comprehensive programs that empower women of color, first-generation, and criminal justice impacted students. She is interested in conducting research on the graduation rates and employment opportunities for current and formerly incarcerated students. Historically, formerly incarcerated students have been overlooked in higher education, which fuels my desire to holistically support this student population. Furthermore, Ms. Spencer Veloz wants to work in some capacity serving high school youth by creating programs that bridge the achievement gap in the surrounding community.
Christopher Perez is an English graduate student in his second and final year of the program. His Master’s project is on Junot Diaz, a Dominican-American writer that he loves because of his ability to convey complex ideas in such an accessible manner, especially for people of color. It’s a skill Mr. Perez thinks is useful not just in English papers, but in any professional setting. Once he graduates, he plans to work in a Marketing position, a more data-driven role that requires analyzing and will be a bit of a transition from English. Ideally, Mr. Perez would like to work Marketing in the gaming industry. If not that, he will pursue work in the advertising industry or financial sector.
Christopher Trevino is a student in the Master of Arts in Communication Sciences & Disorders program. Within the field of speech-language pathology, his primary areas of interest are pragmatics, dysphagia, and fluency disorders. Recently, Mr. Trevino has been involved in research evaluating the effects of bilingualism on speech production. After graduating, he’d like to work as an SLP in a high school setting, where he can sharpen the communicative capabilities of diverse students.
Dylan Serpas is a second-year Clinical Psychology Master’s student at CSUF. Mr. Serpas’ research interests center on the mechanisms by which health disparities are maintained among socially marginalized communities and the modifiable risk factors that may reduce the burden of their disproportionate incidence. He seeks to continue engaging in research and clinical experiences in the area of health psychology and health disparities within a research-oriented Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program following the conclusion of his current degree.
Erika Esquivel is currently in the Master of Science in Counseling graduate program and has developed a passion for helping individuals improve their mental health. Ms. Esquivel believes physical and mental health are equally as important in maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle. She is an advocate for cultural equity and believes it is required to ensure all types of people are properly represented. After graduation, she aspires to work with families in underrepresented areas. She utilized her challenges of being a woman of color and created learning opportunities that have allowed herself to become more resilient and knowledgeable in the counseling profession. Knowing that she is part of what creates a diverse community encourages her to continue her journey as a graduate student and potentially open a private practice.
Frances Cocksedge is currently pursuing her M.S. in counseling at California State University, Fullerton. Upon graduating, she will work towards licensure as a Marriage Family Therapist in California. Ms. Cocksedge graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University in 2016, where she received a B.A. in fine art. After several years of developing a professional career in the arts, the elitism and inequalities of the industry began to effect her psyche and led her to crave a career in a supportive, helping field. In kind, she hopes to use her degree and licensure to bring counseling services to marginalized communities in the Los Angeles/Orange County area and to formulate a counseling approach that integrates expressive arts and psychodynamic analysis. She is most passionate about working with at-risk adolescents as she believes this age group possess unique challenges, particularly during the time of Covid-19.
Hedrick Flores Del Cid
Hedrick Flores is currently enrolled in the Master of Education program with a concentration in Higher Education (MSHE) at California State University Fullerton. Mr. Flores’s research area of interest is college student development and how low-income communities affect or inspire a student to pursue higher education. His plans after graduation is to become an academic advisor in a 4-year university or at a community college where he can give back to students who were once in his shoes and help them navigate higher education and achieve their aspirational goals.
Hugo Tomas is a second-year graduate student at California State University, Fullerton for the Master of Music in Trumpet Performance degree. Mr. Tomas started playing trumpet at the age of nine at Hobart Elementary in Koreatown. Leaving Hobart, he then joined a non-profit organization named Harmony Project where he continued to learn trumpet and molded his craft. Being impacted by this organization and growing up with Oaxacan roots, he was inspired in creating his own non-profit organization for the Oaxacalifornian community in Los Angeles, giving scholarships and professional work experience to low-income individuals.
Jennifer Sanchez is a graduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program. Her objective is to become a speech-language pathologist. Her areas of interest within her field include augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), early intervention, and bilingual intervention. Ms. Sanchez particularly enjoys working with Spanish-speaking clients, helping them improve their language and communication skills. In the future, she hopes to participate in research to develop language assessments appropriate for individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. After graduation, her goal is to work as a pediatric speech-language pathologist in both a school setting and a private clinic. Additionally, she plans to obtain a certification to specialize in augmentative and alternative communication.
Alma Karen-Gamboa Walsh
Alma Karen-Gamboa Walsh has been enrolled in the Biology Masters program at Cal State University, Fullerton since Fall 2018. In this program, she has had the wonderful opportunity to work in Dr. Parvin Shahrestani’s Evolution and Genomics Research (EAGR) lab. She currently leads the Longevity Selection project which uses experimental evolution and modern genomics to study aging in fruit fly populations. Ms. Walsh takes pride in mentoring undergraduate students on her research team with transferable skills to succeed in their future careers. As the Outreach Director of EAGR lab, she is also eager to provide science learning opportunities to younger audiences through community outreach events. Her plans after graduation include searching for job opportunities within the community college education system where she can work as both a biology instructor and an advocate for introducing STEM to younger and underprivileged communities.
Lacey Rogers is currently in her second year of the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at California State University, Fullerton. This program is rigorously training her in policy, advocacy, social justice, human behavior, diversity, and clinical practice as well as in her chosen concentration: community mental health. Ms. Rogers has a history of working with individuals with severe and persistent mental illness, chronic homelessness, substance use issues, and alcoholism. Her current research involves analyzing the connection between parental relationships and sexual behavior amongst adolescents. She chose to focus her research here after observing a high prevalence of foster care and adopted youth in substance abuse and mental health facilities. Her goal is to identify protective factors and risk factors in the parent-adolescent relationship that can shape attitudes and beliefs about sexual behavior. Her post-graduation career goal is to secure employment at a psychiatric hospital providing case management for individuals diagnosed with various psychiatric illnesses. Ms. Rogers hopes to foster hope in these individuals using a recovery and human-centered approach rather than a disease-centered model.
Lori Angeles is in the Counseling program with the Ánimo Latinx emphasis. She is interested in research related to mental health in the Latinx community and the stigma attached to counseling services. She is also interested in learning about the marital outcomes and impact of losing a child. Ms. Angeles’s plans after graduation include finding a job at an agency where she can continue to earn her counseling hours for licensure and get involved in organizations that are related to her field to continue building her network. She plans to earn her counseling hours meanwhile preparing for her licensure exams. Once she has obtained her license as a marriage and family counselor, she will begin to apply for doctoral programs related to her field.
Mercedes Mendoza is enrolled in the Communicative Sciences and Disorders M.A. program. Her areas of interest include dysphagia across the lifespan, acquired neurogenic disorders, transgender and gender affirming voice training, autism spectrum disorders, and working with culturally and linguistically diverse individuals. During her graduate studies, she was an Allied Health Academy Graduate Student Ambassador where she completed a research project/literature review regarding the relationship between autism spectrum disorders and anxiety in the adolescent and adult populations. Ms. Mendoza’s plans after graduation include working as a medical speech-language pathologist with the adult and pediatric populations. She aspires to provide services to transgender and gender diverse individuals. She also hopes to be involved in research during her career and pursue a Ph.D. related to her clinical interests.
Michaela Thompson is a second-year graduate student working towards her Master of Science in Gerontology (MSG) degree in the Aging Studies Academic Program–and recently graduated with her Bachelor of Science (BS) in Human Services in 2019. Her specified area of interest in Gerontology, and primary research topic, has been elder mistreatment. Elder mistreatment has continued to be a growing act of violence in our communities, and proper action and advocacy are needed to protect our older adult populations. Looking ahead to her future professional and educational plans, Ms. Thompson intends to find full-time employment after graduation to gain additional experience in the field. After a few years, she would like to go back and further her education in a Doctoral Program–to later become a Gerontology professor at a community college or university.
Nayeli Rodriguez is currently in the Communicative Disorders Master’s Program at CSUF. She is thrilled to be in this program because it has provided her with skills to become a speech pathologist. She is very interested in the pediatric population. Ms. Rodriguez’s goal after graduation is to become a speech pathologist. She is currently doing her internship at an elementary school and is working through the challenges to provide students who are using zoom to access teletherapy. It has not been an easy internship, but it has been very rewarding. In addition, she loves her field because she also enjoys learning about voice and she can see herself in the future in a private voice clinic.
Nicolas Fuentes is currently a Masters of Music student at California State University Fullerton’s School of Music and his focus is in classical guitar performance. The thrill of performing and the challenges of learning classical repertoire has always been close to his heart. Upon graduation, Mr. Fuentes’s plan will be to pursue a doctorate degree in music, a career as a solo concert artist and a professor of music at the university level. Being a part of an educational environment has brought him joy as a student and passing his knowledge of music performance, history, theory and more to the next generation of musicians as a college professor will be a dream come true.
Rebecka Hahnel is a second-year MA student in the Research Psychology program. Next, she plans to pursue a PhD in Evolutionary Psychology and, eventually, a tenure-track position at a university which greatly values research. Ms. Hahnel’s thesis research surrounds moral condemnation of sexual assault victims. Typically, moral condemnation is understood through political orientation and religiosity; however, it has been demonstrated that variability in hot-button issues (e.g., illicit drug usage, legalization of abortion, prostitution) are better predicted through an individual’s mating strategy. She is seeking to understand how variability in rape myth acceptance may be driven by an individual’s attitudes about third-parties having casual sex. By understanding the selfish motivations behind morality, we may be able to mitigate a victim of sexual assault’s pain and bolster their recovery.
Sean Netzel is currently enrolled in the M.S.Ed. in Higher Education program which prepares students to work in leadership roles in higher education. Mr. Netzel’s educational interests revolve around supporting and challenging students holistically. As a first-generation student, he wants to help students avoid the unnecessary burdens that he endured during his educational journey. Higher education and personal growth do not come without adversity, so he is passionate about challenging students intellectually and encouraging them to explore opportunities outside of the classroom. His experiences in teaching abroad have also led him to work towards supporting international students as well as working with instructors on curriculum, pedagogy, and course design. After graduating, Mr. Netzel hopes to support these student demographics and faculty in Academic Affairs, International Education, or Instructional Design. His goal is to create greater relationships between students and faculty by supporting pedagogy, curriculum, and programs that engage students and promote holistic learning.
Shalonda Ibrahim-Abubakar is a second-year MSW flex student whose concentration is in community mental health. As a future social worker, she is ready to roll up her sleeves and help any vulnerable population, but the one closest to her heart is LGBTQ+. Shalonda is currently working as a student intern at Mission Hospital FRC providing mental health counseling to families and individuals. Her plans after graduation are to work to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and pursue a Doctorate of Social Work degree. She has a dynamic and ambitious spirit and would like to be able to zoom in and out making contributions to the field of social work at the macro, mezzo, and micro levels.
Stephanie Acosta is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders to become a speech-language pathologist (SLP). In the near future, she intends to work with culturally and linguistically diverse children experiencing speech and language difficulties. She is interested in addressing the social, emotional, academic, and vocational needs of children and the effect it has on their ability to attain educational goals. Some of Ms. Acosta’s research interests include multiculturalism, language delays, articulation, phonological disorders, and autism. Her plan after graduation is to utilize her knowledge and clinical skills to work with underserved communities as a speech-language pathologist in a school-setting. Working with diverse children has created a depth of sincere patience and empathy, proving that she obtains the characteristics needed for this field. It is her passion to continue her education and gain the knowledge and skills necessary as a future SLP.