Students from California campuses were selected in January 2020 to participate in California Campus Compact’s Community Engagement Student Fellowship (CESF) program, a 4-month initiative specifically designed to support student leaders advancing service, service-learning and community engagement at California Campus Compact member campuses throughout the state.
Leslie Aguirre is a third year Political Science major and Sustainability minor at California State University, Northridge. Her passion for community building and promoting civic engagement began in 2016 as a high school senior— where she served as president of three clubs and volunteered at local campaign offices. Leslie’s roots instilled a deep sense of responsibility and good stewardship for the betterment of her community. Leslie’s undergraduate career has been characterized by continuous involvement in her campus community as the President of the Political Science Student Association, Chair of Legislative Affairs for Associated Students, and various other leadership opportunities. Leslie currently serves as a member of the Legislative Affairs committee and the Vice Chair of the Social Justice and Equity committee at the California State Student Association, working you uplift the voices nearly half a million students in the California State University system. Leslie is a fierce advocate for students and is driven by her mission to illuminate her peers to the true power of their voice and their vote.
Joshua Avila was born and raised in the town of Hacienda Heights outside of Los Angeles, California. Growing up the youngest of five, he was taught from an early age that education was both a way to help himself achieve his goals in life and a tool to uplift his community and home. Joshua has interned previously for California Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, and has worked on several political campaigns as well, including Congresswoman Grace Napolitano’s re-election campaign in 2016 and Gil Cisneros for Congress in 2018. Joshua recently interned for Congressman Gil Cisneros in his Washington, DC office managing constituent inquiries, leading tours of the Capitol, and assisting staff with legislative priorities and bills. Joshua is currently a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in political science with a concentration on studying U.S. politics. He has been active in student government for the past two years, coordinating such initiatives as BruinsVote! which registered thousands of students in 2018 and increased student voting rates by over 300%. Joshua has also led lobbying trips to the state Capitol in Sacramento where he has advocated on behalf of University of California students to state legislators for increased funding for higher education, mental health and reproductive services, gun control, and protections for undocumented students. All these experiences have taught him how to speak truth to power, and that community is the most important thing to make substantive change.
Natalie Avina is a second year Neurobiology student at UC San Diego. Her interest in civic and community engagement stems from years of participating in Model United Nations and continues with her involvement in the Student Organized Voting Access Committee. Natalie is a student leader as a representative on her College Council and Muir Environmental Corps. She strongly advocates for community, awareness, and involvement. Natalie hopes to make a positive impact on the world through medicine, volunteer work, and sustainability in the future.
Melissa Banuelos and is a second-year student at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is a Kinesiology Major with an emphasis on Health Promotion and pursuing minors in both Communication and Women and Gender Studies. Melissa is looking forward to planning this event and continuing to work with the sustainability department at SMC!
Taryn Burns is a second year studying history and English at CSU Chico. She plans on teaching at a rural high school to advocate and create resources for students in these historically underserved areas. On campus, she works with the Associated Students on the Legislative Affairs Committee to advocate for student engagement in voting and census. She plans to continue her leadership with A.S. by running for student academic senate to represent members of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities. She also works at WellCat Substance Abuse Prevention and Education to help students at the university who struggle with addiction and misuse. In her free time, Taryn enjoys reading, painting, and binging historical dramas on Netflix. She believes that most people are good, daisies are the happiest flowers, and sunshine is the best medicine.
Griselda Camacho is a senior at Sac State, majoring in forensic chemistry. She is currently living in Sacramento but moved there from Norco, a small horse town in Southern California. Griselda is inspired daily by her hardworking parents who immigrated from Mexico to give her the life she has now. Their constant support and encouragement has allowed her to make it this far in her education. Griselda looks forward to being a fellow at Sacramento State University because she knows she will be working with a great group of people to make a difference in the community she is now a part of.
Ben Carfano is a double major at UCSD studying Clinical Psychology and Human Biology. He is always running EEG and fMRI experiments as a research assistant to study the visual cortex. Outside of academics, Ben enjoys the opportunities he has to work with the Boy Scouts of America and teach leadership skills to young boys and girls. He also works as the Senior Orientation Leader for his college and oversees the training and development of new orientation leaders. His goals as a Campus Compact fellow are to engage more with his community and increase the voter turnouts for young adults. Ben hopes that in doing this, improvements to the healthcare system and many other programs can be made at the legislative level.
Sebastian Cazares is a second year Political Science major at College of the Canyons, where he was elected and currently serves as the Associated Student Government President. Sebastian has been active in community engagement, local politics, student activism, and multiple efforts to engage young voters. He plans on finishing his presidency this year by getting students civically engaged and fighting for serious issues impacting California colleges like student equity and homelessness. His long-term goal is a career in law and advocacy.
Elisa Chang is a first-year master’s student studying Education at UCLA. Her passion for civic engagement and voting began during her undergraduate years at UC Riverside where she coordinated CALPIRG’s New Voters Project, a field-based, peer-to-peer, nonpartisan voter mobilization effort during the 2018 midterm elections. During this time she also worked with many research teams in Education that focused on building community engagement and student voice. Elisa aspires to continue to do work grounded in the grassroots, focusing on the people and the community.
Veronica Cuellar is a senior majoring in Sociology at Cal State University Los Angeles. She values education and always has a desire to learn. In 2019, she was named to the Dean’s List at Cal State LA and continues to maintain outstanding achievement. She is a transfer student and previously graduated from Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga. At her community college she served as an officer in two student clubs. She was able to engage students in events centered on compassion, equality, and justice for human, environmental, and animal rights. Her passions include helping others, research, leadership, and teaching. She has an aspiration for a career in School Counseling. She has volunteered in her own community Ontario, CA where she currently lives, with Kaiser Permanente Hospital and the Ontario City Library. Her volunteer work allowed her to give support to sick patients and encourage and help children read. She enjoys trying various foods from different cultures, exploring museums, being in nature, and enjoying the company of her family and friends in her free time. She is excited to participate in the CESF program where she will engage with Cal State LA students to promote participation in voting and the census to allow student’s voices to be heard and make positive changes in their community.
Amaya Fox is a junior Politics major, European Studies minor at the University of San Francisco. Her leadership experience at USF include being a Senator through the University Student Senate and representing constituents as the USF Title IX Student Ambassador. Amaya is also a McCarthy Fellow in Washington, D.C., spending a semester to build a transferable skillset to connect international public policy with grassroots advocacy. Previously, Amaya worked for the City Councilor Gary Gannon in Dublin, Ireland, where she crafted policy proposals around affordable housing and homelessness for the Dublin City Council. Additionally, Amaya is also an Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere Ambassador for USFVotes, where she was a key lead in institutionalizing voter registration, engagement, education and turnout for the past two years. Through her leadership, Amaya earned the Gold Medal Award designation from the All-In Campus Challenge by registering over 5,000 students to vote and was instrumental in building a campus voter identity at the University of San Francisco. Amaya is interested in creating equitable public policy change in the halls of power and advocating for marginalized communities.
Isabel Garcia is a first year student at San Jose State University. In 2018, as a junior in high school, she served as the Co-Leader of March for Our Lives, Modesto, a student led walk-out in Modesto, California, aiming to “ harness the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives.” She engaged more than 700 people in participation in this community based civic event. In November 2019, she provided a keynote address to a campus-community summit at SJSU regarding gun violence.
Gabriella Maria Andanar Garrido
Gabriella Maria Andanar Garrido is currently a sophomore at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is in the process of receiving her degree in the French language to one day become an interpreter at a company such as Pixar or Netflix. This is Gabriella’s first year hosting an event like this but she is very excited to be working with Ann Drevno, the Sustainability Director, and gaining some amazing life experience that she can apply to the rest of her college career and onward. With all of the ideas and enthusiasm that she and the two other leaders for this event share, Gabriella cannot wait for the campus and Saint Mary’s community to relish in their efforts to make Earth Week fun and educational.
Janneth Magana Gil
Janneth Magana Gil is a third year student at Sacramento State. She is a first generation college student and lives in Stockton, CA. Her major is Child Development and just recently changed it last semester. Janneth loves being involved with her community which is why she decided to be part of this Fellowship. Before this fellowship, she helped the community of Sacramento by being a behavior Technician for children with autism. She is excited to go through all the new experiences she will encounter through this fellowship.
Rafael Heredia is a student at Cal State Los Angeles. He was born in San Luis Obispo and grew up in a small town called Nipomo California. He lived the past twenty-two years there before moving to Los Angeles on his own to pursue his Bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Growing up, Rafael’s parents always taught him to work hard, be honest, and look after others and help when he can. He comes from a family of field workers and construction workers. He would hear his parents wake up early and come back late in the day, to provide food and shelter. During high school, Rafael had the opportunity to work in the fields under the boss of his dad which taught him what actual hard work was, early mornings and late afternoons at the age of 15. This helped him realize that field work wasn’t for him and as long as he pursued a career that he loves then he will never work again. Rafael graduated from Nipomo High school in 2014, and then received two associate degrees in community college in 2019 – one in kinesiology and the other in math and science. He went ahead and also pursued a career in personal training and received his certification. This led him to begin his own online personal training business. Rafael’s hobbies growing up were always athletics and sports. He enjoys playing soccer, going on hikes, running, weightlifting, and training in mma. His love for sports got him to work in physical therapy to see a different perspective. Rafael’s end goal is to become a physical therapist and open a personal training facility back home, and to provide for his family like they have for him.
Lilian Jang is a third year Psychology major at SJSU. In the fall of 2019, she served as a founding member and Secretary of the preliminary project, SJSU Students Demand Action. She is interested in the application of psychology to social problems and successfully organized and conducted 3 voter registration drives at SJSU during Fall 2019. She played a key role in planning the SJSU campus-community summit on gun violence.
Esperanza Lemus is a first generation student, daughter of Mexican and Salvadorian parents, Esperanza Lemus is a 2nd year student double-majoring in Sociology and Spanish at UC Merced. She is an advocate for civic engagement within marginalized communities. As she aspires to be a resource to her community, she hopes to make the knowledge and experiences she has acquired at the university accessible to her community. She is currently the treasurer for IGNITE, which is an organization that empowers women to pursue political careers. She is a volunteer for KIND, a local non-profit in the Central Valley that provides Spanish translation services for immigration attorneys. In summer 2020 she will be conducting research around building civic capacity through collaboration with community, labor and faith advocacy groups through the UROC-H Program. Esperanza invites individuals to not shy away from political involvement, be advocates for the change they wish to see for themselves and their communities; and to be a voice for those who cannot represent themselves.
Shanequewa Love is currently a sophomore majoring in African American Studies and minoring in Theology at Loyola Marymount University. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree, her goal is to enter into a dual program in Social Work and Policy Administration as a graduate student. Shanequewa was raised in Compton, California. After mentoring youth in the foster system, Shanequewa immediately became interested in the field of social justice and was determined to help change the lives of every youth by advocating for them through the laws of the system. During her fellowship, Shanequewa will explore the African American female student engagement in voter registration efforts and youth voice by researching and interviewing AKA sorority members. The impact Shanequewa hopes to make with this fellowship is to increase understanding about student voting and how they interpret their influence or impact.
Ariana Robert Martinez
Ariana Robert Martinez is a junior Psychology major on a pre-med track along with a minor in Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of San Francisco. Among her notable student leadership experiences, Ariana is Muscat Scholar, a Fellow in the Magic Emerging Leadership Program, and a Student Lead in the Arrupe Immersion Program focused on migration and restorative justice in the Dominican Republican. As a Latinx first generation student from Puerto Rico, she is passionate about creating actionable change for the younger generation. Ariana used her transferable skillset as a McCarthy Fellow with the City of San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth and Their Families to organize community outreach and civic engagement opportunities for all 11 districts in the City to disrupt social disparity and build more equitable public policy. As an Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere Ambassador for the USFVotes Team, she was instrumental in helping register over 5,000 students to vote ahead of the 2018 midterm election and to build institutional priority around voter engagement on campus. She hopes to become a surgeon and work on voter education initiatives in Puerto Rico.
Iracema Navarro is a junior majoring in journalism at California State University, Dominguez Hills. A lifelong sports fan, the thought of watching and talking about sports drew her to journalism. Once she entered the journalism world as a reporter for the Bulletin, the student newspaper at CSUDH, she realized journalism had so much else than sports to offer. Her career aspiration is to first work for a local newspaper such as the one that covers her hometown of Carson, The Daily Breeze and then a national paper like The New York Times. She also plans on pursuing a master’s degree in journalism. She has a curious mind and a will to listen to others. She encourages respect to all, no matter the differences.
Maya Patel is a second-year student at Saint Mary’s College of California. She grew up in Oakland, resides in South San Francisco and attended El Camino High School. Her intended majors are Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and Justice, Community, and Leadership. Aside from working at the Center for Women and Gender Equity and the CARE Center, Maya is the Chair for the Class of 2022, part of the Intercultural Center Street Team, sits on the High Potential Program Advisory Board, Co-Set Director for Asian Cultural Night, Founder and President of the Southern Asian Society, and Co-Founder of the Youth Advisory Board for the City of South San Francisco. Maya enjoys learning from new experiences and looks forward to meeting and interacting with people through her various activities while bringing a sense of justice into many spaces. She hopes to make the Saint Mary’s Community a more inclusive one and a community in which everyone is proud to be a part of.
Rhiannon Philippi is a sophomore at Sonoma State University, majoring in Liberal Studies with a minor in Political Science. She is currently a Volunteer Coordinator for Join Us Making Progress (JUMP), where she recruits volunteers to help prepare and serve dinner at a shelter three nights a week for the residents experiencing homelessness. She is also the coordinator of events held twice a month on campus where students have the opportunity to get fresh produce for free. Rhiannon hopes to blend her passions of public service and education to create meaningful change in the world.
Larissa Ramirez is currently a senior theology major at Loyola Marymount University with the goal of becoming a graduate student in higher education policy and administration upon graduation. Larissa grew up in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles. She became interested in voting to encourage youth to vote and influence the outcome of local and presidential elections. Those born here have the privilege to vote but may not. Others are unable to vote, including those who are undocumented or formerly incarcerated. Larissa’s freshman year was during the 2016 presidential election and she had not experienced such blatant racism in classes or from professors. This made her want to do something about such outcomes through working with StudyLA, a research center based at LMU which examines voting behavior. During her fellowship, Larissa will be a field supervisor and join her classmates as they conduct an exit poll in Los Angeles during the primary election.
Hannah Rice is a Junior at Occidental College. She is a psychology major and a politics minor. Her hope is to become a social worker and advocate for special needs kids. She is the president of Challah for Hunger Occidental and the Communications Director for Occidental Democrats. Hannah is also a part of Challah for Hunger’s Campus Hunger Project student cohort and a leader for their advocacy week. She is excited to continue to develop her advocacy skills by working to help get her community ready to vote. Hannah is a vegan and is obsessed with her dogs, so much so that she drives home from college every weekend to see them.
Nour Salameh is a graduate student in the Masters in Public Administration (MPA) program at Sonoma State University. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from California State University, Fullerton. Nour has a diverse background with experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Her passion for public service has brought her to the MPA program and to her current role at the Sonoma State Career Center, where she advises students on career options, the job application process, and professional development skills. She is eager and excited to participate in the CESF program where she’ll be able to connect with even more students across her campus.
Diana Vicente Santiago
Diana Vicente Santiago is a fourth year Marketing major and Management minor at California State University Northridge. Her passion for leading change and representing her colleagues began in middle school. Since 6th grade, Diana has been involved in student government through various positions. During her undergraduate career she has been involved in over 10 clubs and organizations. As a senior, she ran and was elected into the position of Associated Students President, representing over 36,000 students at a campus, state and national level. Every day in office she advocates for student success in and outside the classroom. She believes that students’ success is a reflection of our nation’s future. She continues her work by representing our CSU students as a Board of Director for the California State Student Association, providing students jobs and learning about what it means to be a servant leader.
Since his freshman year of high school, Mark Singzon has been enamored by the duties of civic engagement through his school’s student government. Through trial and error, he has honed his leadership skills within College of the Canyons through multiple projects including a schoolwide first aid response workshop. Years of project-based learning has instilled individual responsibility as a fundamental tenet of his personality. He hopes to fight for those who are marginalized and stereotyped in society, especially regarding mental health.
Maddie Solomon is a sophomore at Occidental College from Denver, CO majoring in Politics with a minor in Education. A graduate from Denver School of the Arts high school where she was a creative writing major, she has career interests in law, academia, journalism, and non-profit work. She is passionate about political theory, civil rights, feminism, and social justice. She has interned at CentroNia and City Year. At Occidental College, she tutors and mentors low-income, first generation youth through groups like Upward Bound and the Neighborhood Partnership Program, leads conversations about religious pluralism through her position at the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and serves on a sexual assault coalition. She believes that giving back to her community is the foundation for understanding social and political issues, and looks forward to more service and engagement experiences!
Tatiana Ybarra is a third-year student at Chico State majoring in criminal justice and minor in American Indian studies. She is currently lobbying chair for Chico State Legislative Affairs. Transferring from Lassen Community College, she hopes to become a district attorney after returning to her Western Temoak Shoshone reservation in Elko, NV. She combines her culture with community advocacy and her studies as they are interwoven into her goals for her future. She wants to give hope to her reservation and her people to have loud voices and be active in voting and census rights to have adequate representation for our future generations.