Elevar and Grad Equity Scholars 2021-22

lolly allen headshotLolly Allen

Lolly Allen is enrolled in her second year at CSUF as a Graduate Jazz Performance Major in the area of vibraphone and percussion. Along with her applied study of jazz improvisation on vibraphone, this year she will also be researching Brazilian styles and percussion to be showcased on her first of two graduate recitals. After graduation, Allen plans to pursue the next logical step in her goal of becoming a college-level professor in jazz vibraphone/percussion: the Doctor of Musical Arts degree. 


jessica artinger headshotJessica Artinger

Jessica Artinger is a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering student focusing on Thermal and Fluids Engineering. Her research interests are in the areas of aerodynamics and rocket propulsion systems. When she’s not studying, she enjoys hiking/biking, camping, cooking, playing the French horn, and hanging out with her dog, Sierra. After graduation, she hopes to teach Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering at a local community college. To prepare for her teaching career, she’s currently a tutor at Orange Coast College, where she also develops various workshops to help students excel in their courses.


stephanie ascencio headshotStephanie Ascencio

Stephanie Ascencio is a second-year student currently enrolled in the Masters of Social Work program with a concentration in Child Welfare at CSUF. She is passionate about serving underserved families within the community by supporting their needs no matter the situation. Her area of interest revolves around the well-being of Latinx immigrants and unaccompanied minors in the United States. More specifically, she is interested in addressing the barriers that affect this vulnerable population’s well-being and improve access to care. After graduating, Ascencio plans to work with unaccompanied minors or Latinx immigrants in any setting while working to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

avila monicaMonica Avila

Monica Avila is a second-year Master of Public Health student specializing in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at California State University, Fullerton. Her research interests are focused on chronic conditions, primarily the social determinants of health that contribute to them. She is currently researching the contribution of housing insecurity and homelessness to young children’s risk of obesity, as well as the relationship between vitamin D intake and chronic conditions. After graduating, Avila will pursue a career as a bilingual public health educator to address public health issues in low-income communities before attaining a Ph.D. in Community Health Sciences. 


barrios deannaDeanna Miranda Barrios

Deanna Miranda Barrios is in the Master's in Social work program specializing in child welfare. She hopes to expand her research on children of immigrant parents on Latinos as well as learning valuable coping skills. By doing so, it would help her better understand the obstacles they face and how these obstacles can be minimized given the right resources and support. Barrios’s career goals after graduation would be to work in the social service offices providing adequate and competent resources for the population in need. Eventually, she wants to lobby for marginalized communities to help bring changes by being an advocate. It takes one person to change someone, and Barrios wants to bring that change to people.

callejas karinaKarina Callejas

Karina Callejas is currently enrolled in the Master in Higher Education program through the College of Education at CSUF. Her area of interest involves working within Student Access programs that promote equitable educational outcomes for students from marginalized backgrounds, specifically first-generation, low-income students. After graduation, Callejas wants to show students they can be their authentic selves even in “professional” work environments. As a first-generation student herself, Callejas hopes to serve in a Counselor or Advisor role where she is able to work with students one-on-one and cultivate authentic leadership.


cervantes cantoran cesarCesar Cervantes-Cantoran

Cesar Cervantes is a second-year student in the Master of Education, with a concentration in Higher Education, program at California State University Fullerton. Cervantes is passionate about supporting first-generation students like himself and ensuring that their needs are met holistically. Additionally, he enjoys mentorship programs that focus on providing opportunities for engagement for underserved, minoritized students, and men of color. After graduation, Cervantes plans on working in retention services, EOP, or with men of color to eliminate barriers towards their success. He also anticipates teaching at some point in his career, either in a community college or CSU


cesario justinJustin Cesario

Justin Cesario will be joining the American Studies Graduate Program in the Fall of 2021. He is very excited to take on this new challenge and some of the things he is interested in studying are Popular culture in American society, Climate Change in American Society, and K-12 Education in America. After he graduates, Cesario plans to continue his education where he will either get his credential and become a High School teacher or apply for PhD programs where he will hopefully become a college professor.


chang richardRichard Chang

Richard Chang is currently a second-year graduate student enrolled in the Master of Arts, Psychology program. He is working with Dr. Angela-MinhTu Nguyen. His research centers around Southeast Asian Americans (i.e., Viet, Khmer, Hmong, Iu Mien, and Lao). His thesis explores how gendered stereotypes affect Southeast Asian American college student’s sense of social and academic belonging. After graduating, Chang plans to start doctoral studies in hopes of becoming a future educator and psychologist.


chen juliaJulia Chen

Julia Chen is currently in the second year of her Master’s program in Geological Sciences. Her thesis research focuses on the Tuolumne Intrusive Complex in the Yosemite National Park. Her research utilizes potassium feldspar megacrysts to track the evolution of the magma system, which can provide insights into the connection between volcanoes and the underlying magma plumbing system. Chen’s plan after graduation is either to work as an environmental consultant or a geology instructor at a community college.


cisneros rubyRuby Cisneros

Ruby Cisneros will be commencing her graduate journey this fall. Specifically, she is enrolled in the MS in Education with a concentration in Higher Education (MSHE) program. Cisneros’s interests surround lifting unfair barriers that historically underrepresented groups of students face in higher education and helping increase both access and awareness to student support services available to shape their experiences. After graduation, she intends to pursue academic advising within student-centered programs, like TRIO, to nurture interactions with students who come from local areas of low economic prosperity and opportunity.


cortez ericEric Cortez

Eric Cortez is a first-generation graduate student in the Master of Science in Clinical Psychology program at the California State University, Fullerton. Cortez’s research interests include first-generation college students’ perceptions of psychopathology and their views toward seeking professional psychological help. By contributing to research in this area, Cortez aims to improve upon culturally sensitive psychological treatment options for minority groups and lessen the stigma surrounding mental health. He plans to continue his education in a doctoral program in counseling psychology and become a faculty member in a psychology department at a California State University campus. 


escalante jennyJenny Escalante

Jenny Escalante is a second-year graduate student in the Biology Master’s program. Her research focuses on examining the co-interaction of two bacterial species predominantly found in Cystic Fibrosis patients. Understanding the co-interaction at the molecular and phenotypic level can provide insight on how each human pathogen uses mechanisms of resistance during pathogenesis. Cystic Fibrosis patients are prone to acquire multiple bacterial infections; expanding the knowledge on the host-microbe and microbe-microbe interaction can provide new therapeutic options. After graduation, Escalante wants to work in a clinical setting to apply her research skills and engage in patient health.


espinosa pico anabellAnabell Espinosa Pico
Anabell Espinosa Pico is currently enrolled in the M.S. in Biology program at CSUF. Her research is focused on the cranial morphological differences in California pipefishes. After graduation, she plans to obtain her Ph.D. and conduct further research on marine organisms.




flores del cid, hedrickHedrick Flores Del Cid

Hedrick Flores Del Cid is currently enrolled as a second year in the Master of Education with a concentration in Higher Education (MSHE) program at California State University, Fullerton. His research interest is student development from a first-gen, low-income, or transfer student perspective and analyzing how they view and navigate higher education. His plan after graduation is to become an academic advisor in either a 4-year institution or at a community college where he can give back to students who were once in his shoes and guide them towards success. Flores Del Cid wants to pay it forward for all the guidance and support he gained throughout his education to students who may or may not have already received that help.


guerrero stephenieStephenie Guerrero

Stephenie Guerrero is currently enrolled in the Masters of Social Work full time program with a concentration in Community Mental Health. After she earns her degree she would like to work with at risk children in a therapeutic setting to help them overcome the adversities they have endured. She is also open to working with teen moms as that has become a recent interest of hers. Guerrero’s areas of interest in research include family relationships/support and postpartum disorders and the affects of yoga on mental health.


hernandez celestCelest Hernandez

Celest Hernandez is currently enrolled in the American Studies MA program. More specifically, her area of interest is understanding how structural changes and policies have affected and created different experiences amongst Americans. She is interested in human rights, therefore, studying American culture and history has allowed her to grasp a broader understanding of the origin behind certain social issues that reside in the United States today.  After graduating, Hernandez hopes to become not only a teacher but an advocate for schools in low-income areas. She plans on ensuring that students have access to the same resources and opportunities as students in schools in high income areas. 


hernandez seleneSelene Hernandez

Selene Hernandez is enrolled in the counseling program, and is part of the Latinx emphasis, ANIMO. She is passionate about promoting mental health, specially within the Latinx community. As an immigrant herself, she is mostly interested in working with the immigrant population. Also, as she has become more familiarized with the importance of mental health, Hernandez wants to contribute to destigmatize the importance of seeking help from a professional when needed. Her goal is to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and have her own private practice to offer affordable mental health services.


hernandez-rodriguez, irmaIrma Hernandez-Rodriguez

Irma Hernandez Rodriguez is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Health. She is currently an intern at El Sol NEC to assess the impact of Community Health Workers on chronic school absenteeism. Hernandez-Rodriguez also interns for the UCR School of Medicine where she works along with subject matter experts such as staff, faculty, and physicians to explore and address health inequities, racism, and the public health of the campus community. Her areas of interest include health equity, chronic disease prevention, and addressing health disparities. Irma plans to seek a research position after graduation that focuses on disease prevention.


jimenez femat marianaMariana Jimenez Femat

Mariana Jimenez Femat is a Latinx, cisgender, and driven individual, ready to conquer. Femat received a B.A. in Communications from CSU San Bernardino and is now a graduate student at CSU Fullerton completing an M.S. in Education with a concentration in Higher Education. Femat’s career goal consists of obtaining a leadership position to influence policy that can directly improve the availability of resources, outreach, and student's aid. Femat expects to use her career to engage with diverse populations, learn about their needs, and make higher education accessible and equitable by acknowledging that COVID-19 has opened doors to alternative learning. New technology, virtual learning workshops, and distanced learning events can now be incorporated to promote students’ college experience.


joya pamelaPamela Joya

Pamela Joya is a second-year MSW student. Her concentration is on child welfare as she plans on pursuing a PPS Credential after graduation to become a school social worker. During her first-year field placement she interned at LAUSD School’s Mental Health and worked with elementary aged children. After working with these individuals, Joya learned that she is interested in researching the educational achievement of children in California and how social pressure from parents or teachers may lead to depression or anxiety.


licea fernandoFernando Licea

Fernando Licea is enrolled in the Master of Arts for Psychological Research program. This program is designed to give students valuable experience conducting research. He is currently working with zebrafish larvae after they have been exposed to bisphenol A (BPA) for his master’s thesis. Specifically, he is investigating if BPA has an effect on behavioral phenotypes usually found in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) such as short term habituation and pre-pulse inhibition. After this program concludes, Licea will be pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience where he hopes to continue in a similar line of research examining neurological disorders.


lopez annaAnna Lopez

Anna Lopez is a current Master of Arts student in Music History and Literature at California State University, Fullerton’s School of Music. Her research interests include the American wind ensemble and the space it holds in both the classical and popular music sphere; popular music, specifically the music of Taylor Swift; and film music. When she graduates, Lopez hopes to obtain a doctorate degree in musicology and become a professor in higher education to spread the magic of music history and the importance of knowing the history of all genres of music to students.


ly jasmineJasmine Ly

Jasmine Ly is currently in her second and final year of the Master’s of Social Work (MSW) Program at California State University, Fullerton. Her concentration is Community Mental Health, and she spent her first year of the program providing tele-health biopsychosocial evaluations and psychotherapy. Her current research focuses on understanding the availability of mental health services in Orange County, in order to improve access to services for community members through increased coordination and collaboration among service providers. After graduation, Ly plans to pursue her Pupil Personnel Services Credential and positively impact children’s lives as a school social worker.


Mankatala Samandeep Samandeep Mankatala

Samandeep Mankatala is currently enrolled in the Experimental Psychology Master's program. His research interests include using transgenic zebrafish larvae to determine if exposure to Bisphenol-A and Valproic Acid allow for a valid model for Autism Spectrum Disorder, including exploring if any anatomical or physiological phenotypes are present after toxin exposure. He is also engaged in research related to traumatic brain injury and potential therapies to help individuals suffering from brain injury. After graduation from the master's program, Mankatala plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Neuropsychology.


murrillo erickErick Murrillo

Erick Murillo is enrolled in his final year of graduate school in the Master of Arts in Spanish Literature and Linguistics program. His research contributions and interests are in the cinema, queer, and gender studies of contemporary Iberian Literature and Cultures relevant to Spain. His purpose is to contribute to the gaps of minority narratives by improving the general understanding of how traditional or conventional media develops visibility to many communities. Ultimately, Murrillo visualizes himself being an educator teaching the subject he is most passionate about (Spanish language and literature) and in the future continuing with higher education. His most crucial professional mission is to impact the lives of his students by motivating and guiding them into their lifelong aspirations.


nguyen melonieMelonie Nguyen

Melonie Nguyen is currently pursuing her M.Sc. in Geological Sciences. Her research mainly focuses on narrowing the microbial-induced reactions that are responsible for the development of carbonate concretions. Successful completion of this M.Sc. will allow her to become a competitive candidate for Ph.D. programs in pursuit of a tenure-track position that combines both teaching and research. Nguyen’s main goal within academia is to help drive all areas of STEM to be more inclusive towards all students with various backgrounds. Additionally, she wants to help cultivate new ways of learning geology for K-12 students within her hometown of Santa Ana. 


nguyen tonyTony Nguyen

Tony Nguyen is currently an MFA student studying the field of Metalsmithing and Jewelry. His passion for this craft has led him to learn from many different schools all over the Southern California area. This allowed him to study under different professors and masters which in turned gave him the confidence to create his own voice in the field. Once he graduates, Nguyen’s goal is to give back to the next generation of artists by pursuing a teaching career as a professor.



perez araceliAraceli Perez

Araceli Perez will be starting her first year in the Master of Social Work Program this fall. She is in the two-year program, and her concentration is in Child Welfare. She is specifically interested in working with children and families. Upon completing her MSW, Perez plans to pursue her LCSW in California. With her Master’s and licensure, Perez aspires to build her career with the Orange County Department of Children and Family Services, working with children and families to promote social justice and improve their quality of life.


pinchbeck kristenKristen Pinchbeck

Kristen Pinchbeck is an incoming graduate student to the Masters in Sociology department. Her research focuses on the intersection of gender, sexuality, and religion and the way that shame is used as a control mechanism. After graduation, Pinchbeck plans on pursuing a PhD to further her research, become a professor, and do consulting work with the goal of bridging the gap between gender, sexuality, and religion.




quintana carolynCarolyn Quintana

Carolyn Quintana is a third-year MS graduate student studying clinical psychology. She is actively part of a research lab on campus that emphasizes in queer and trans studies with Dr. Beals and Dr. Tessler. Upon graduating, Quintana aims to work as an Associate Marriage and Family therapist specializing in sexual trauma, relationships, resiliency work, and identity exploration. In addition to therapy, she would like to teach psychology as an associate professor on a college campus. 


ramirez ruiz alexAlex 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, Ramirez Ruiz will pursue a career in the field of student affairs as a Program Coordinator or Career Advisor.


ramirez daniellaDaniella Ramirez

Daniella Ramirez is a second-year student in the Master of Arts in Psychological Research program at California State University, Fullerton. She is interested in clinical and cognitive psychology, specifically mood disorders and stress within the Latine population. Ramirez is currently examining the recognition of cultural concepts of distress and how family obligation stress, acculturation, and Latine values may affect these perceptions. She plans to continue pursuing her research interests within a Clinical Psychology or Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. program.


rivera marisolMarisol Rivera

Marisol Rivera is a first-generation Mexican American graduate student in the American Studies M.A. program who plans on completing the program by Spring 2022. The topic that has consumed much of her research is immigration. Creatively, Rivera wants to use this interest and intersect it with education. She wants to work for a non-profit organization or perhaps even the Department of Education to become a part of the collective effort that needs to be in action to expand, diversify, and incorporate conscious- and inclusive-rich curriculums reflecting distinct histories and prominent scholars, figures, and ideas.

robles austinAustin Robles

Austin Robles is entering the M.A. in American Studies program. His research centers around race and gender in the context of U.S. technocapitalism. Following his M.A. program, Robles intends to become a published writer and pursue a career as an educator.


ruelas erickErick Ruelas

Erick Ruelas is currently enrolled as a Master's in Social Work student at California State University, Fullerton. His areas of interest include mental health and learning about what can be done to improve our understanding and communication about mental health issues. His plans after graduation include working in community mental health as a therapist and being open to opportunities such as furthering my education by applying to doctoral programs.


santander maricruzMaricruz Santander

Maricruz Santander is enrolled in the M.S. in Education with a concentration in Higher Education, which is designed to prepare individuals assume professional roles that support student learning and development. Graduates of the program can work in TRIO, academic advising, and other similar offices. Through research, Santander is interested in learning about different ways institutions can better serve minority students, particularly Latinx students. Her interest stems from personal experiences and the growing number of Latinx students pursuing a post-secondary education. After graduation, she will work at a support program/center serving underrepresented students.


thornton taylorTaylor Thornton

Taylor Thornton is a graduate student within the Master's in Biology program at Cal State Fullerton. Her research is focused on the effects that BIOL 101 courses have on non-Biology major students. After graduation, she plans on pursuing Veterinary school to pursue her goal of becoming a Large Animal Veterinarian.




Tran, Thuy-Vy (Cecilia)Thuy-Vy (Cecilia) Tran

Thuy-Vy (Cecilia) Tran is enrolled in the Master of Science in Education Administration and the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential program. At California State University, Fullerton, she looks forward to learning how to overcome the struggles of marginalized Dual Language Immersion (DLI) schools’ social climates: to learn more sustainable methods to increase equitable access for students. With the leadership skills, and the solution on unity and sustainability from the graduate program, Tran hopes to assist in shaping our DLI program to further efficiently and effectively support the students’ personal and academic growth. At large, Tran hopes to be a positive voice for the DLI community within our district, neighborhood community, and teaching community.


vasconez rebeccaRebecca Vasconez

Rebecca Vasconez is proudly enrolled in the Masters of Science of counseling as a first-generation Latina. She has had the privilege to have access to a higher education, therefore, her goals are to destigmatize mental health in POC communities. She is also interested in making therapy more accessible because mental wellness should not be seen as a luxury but a necessity. As a professional, Vasconez desires to work through a feminist and multicultural lens through practicing antiracism and inclusivity. After graduating, she will work on her licensure to become a marriage and family therapist and hopes to open a private practice and even teach at universities.


victor rosaRosa Victor

Rosa Victor will be starting the MSHE Program at CSUF this Fall. She is a DACA recipient and the first in her entire family to attend college. She is excited to learn more about higher education and hopes to one day create more programs for DACA recipients and first-generation students in college. After graduation, Victor plans to work at a California State University and ensure students feel welcomed and are informed and exposed to all the opportunities they have to succeed by aiding them in finding any resources they might need.


Villavicencio Angelica Angelica Villavicencio

Angelica Villavicencio is enrolled in the MA program in Sociology. Her research interests are racial inequalities, immigration, and race and ethnicity. Her goals consist of becoming a professor; she wants to teach and mentor students in unrepresentative communities. In her future role in academia, Villavicencio wants to teach others the importance of research in her community. The voices of people of color are necessary to provide services and help aid these populations in issues they are experiencing. Being a woman of color, a minority, a first-generation student, coming from immigrant parents, she wants to be a change and a role model to future generations.


williams kianaKiana Williams

Kiana Williams will complete her M.S. in Reading and Literacy this fall semester and will utilize the funds of the Graduate Equity Fellowship for tuition and books. With her master’s degree, Williams will be able to teach reading courses at the community college level, in conjunction with her elementary teaching role. She will be pursuing her doctorate immediately after, with a concentration in diversified literature for elementary education.




wise camilleCamille Wise

Camille Wise is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in American Studies at California State University, Fullerton. Her areas of interest include beauty cultures among different groups of people and how they are consumed, practiced, and represented. Wise’s academic goals include bridging her beauty retail experience, esthetics and cultural education towards a doctoral degree. Her objective is for her research and teachings to educate those in academia as well as cosmetic companies. By doing so, she plans to make a positive contribution towards marketing, product development, and diversity inclusion programs in the beauty industry.