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2009-2010 CHCI Fellows

2009-2010 Graduate and Young Professional Fellows 



Sandra Alcala-Barraza
Motorola STEM Graduate Fellow
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
School: University of Minnesota
Major: Ph.D., Neuroscience
Placement: National Science Foundation

Sandra Alcalá-Barraza is a third generation Mexican-American, born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She attended Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, where she obtained her BA in Psychology with a double minor in Biology and Chemistry. After conducting research as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and completing a competitive summer research program at Indiana University, she decided to pursue a doctorate in Neuroscience.

Sandra completed her doctorate in Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota in July 2009.  Her work involved the investigation of a novel drug delivery method to target therapeutic agents to the ischemic retina and optic nerve.  While a completing her graduate studies, she noticed the lack of minority students pursuing graduate training in the biomedical sciences.  Moreover, she was struck by the low graduation rate of minorities in the sciences.  In order to assist in the recruitment and retention of these students, Sandra served as the minority recruitment representative for the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota.  She has also served in a leadership capacity in the Association of Multicultural Scientists and the Minnesota Network of Latinos in Higher Education to assist incoming undergraduate and graduate students in the transition to graduate training. 

As a CHCI Graduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fellow, Sandra hopes to combine her interests in science and policy, and learn about the current legislative efforts to increase Latino awareness and participation in the STEM fields.





Ulises A. Gonzalez
National Association of Realtors Housing Graduate Fellow
Hometown: East Los Angeles, CA
School: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
: Master's, City and Regional Planning
Placement 1
: Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Placement 2:Office of International and Foundation Innovation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Ulises Gonzalez was born in Colima, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles. He recently graduated with his Masters in City and Regional Planning from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. In 2006, Gonzalez graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a double major in Chicana/o Studies, Geography, and a minor in Geological Sciences.

Gonzalez conducted a thesis study about how Latinos appropriate space physically, socially, and economically. He also won the Graduate Student of the Year for his fraternity Nu Alpha Kappa, Inc.

Ulises worked as a research assistant studying rural parks, a planning intern with the City of San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles, and a Park Guide with the US Department of the Interior. He also helped developed affordable housing projects with People's Self-Help Housing (a non-profit developer).

As an undergrad, Gonzalez was president of the Society of Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science and was involved with student government. He was also a tutor and mentor for high students, providing college counseling and classroom assistance.

Ulises' interests include understanding the federal legislative process and learning how policy is created and implemented at the federal, state, and local levels. Affordable housing, the current home loan crisis, and community/economic development are areas of focus during his fellowship. 

During his free time, Ulises enjoys traveling, learning about culture, and the natural sciences. He studied abroad in Mexico and traveled to Europe, Central America, and Thailand. His hobbies include: swimming, exploring new places, hiking, and relaxing with the good company of friends and family.





 Jorge Madrid
Motorola STEM Graduate Fellow
Hometown: East Los Angeles, CA
School: University of Southern California
Major: Master's, Urban Planning and Public Administration
Placement: The Office of Senator Robert Menendez (NJ)

Jorge Madrid was born and raised in East Los Angeles California.  His experience in one of the nation's most densely populated cities, with one of the highest concentrations of Latinos, urban poor, immigrants, and socio-economic challenges, has instilled in him a passion for community action, service, and innovation to meet the challenges of urban under-served communities.

Jorge completed a dual Masters Degree program in Urban Planning and Public Administration, as a Dean's Merit Scholar, at the University of Southern California (USC).  His research and core degree concentrations were urban economic development and environmental sustainability - with a special interest in the emerging "Green Economy."  While at USC, Jorge participated in an international consulting project through the UN-Habitat program, creating sustainable development recommendations for the Favela-Barrio project in Rio De Janiero, Brazil.  Jorge also served as the president of the Latino Association for Policy, Planning, and Development. 

His professional experience includes a Graduate Fellowship in the office of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, where he worked on economic development strategy and the creation of a Green/Clean Technology economy for the city.  Prior to this, upon completing his undergraduate degree, Jorge was selected for the Senator Richard G. Polanco Fellowship in Public Policy. This fellowship was made possible through the California Latino Legislative Caucus, where he first became exposed to the policy making process. Throughout his undergraduate studies, Jorge worked for Univision Spanish Television.

As the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Graduate Fellow, he will seek to link technological development and innovation in the scientific community, to relevant and meaningful policy applications that will improve the lives of all people and communities - particularly those that have been neglected and degraded by traditional economic forces and polluting technologies.





Rebecca Medina
DaVita/Edward R. Roybal Health Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Whittier, CA
School: Loma Linda University
Major: Master's, Public Health 
Placement: The Office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34)

Rebecca is a first generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Whittier, California. She received a BS in Health Science and Health Care Administration from California State University, Long Beach. Rebecca's family experience as a translator, auxiliary nurse, and reference point between medical providers and family members pushed Rebecca to pursue a Master's degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University.

Rebecca's academic experience and desire to actively participate in community welfare afforded her the opportunity to work for the National Council of La Raza/California State University, Long Beach (NCLR/CSULB) Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training. In this capacity, Rebecca worked to coordinate health programs for underserved Latino communities through research and education. She became involved in the Guías de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe project, where a trained cohort of immigrant, Spanish-speaking promotores helped pregnant Latinas connect with the health care system. Her work on this project was central in the development of a white paper, "Critical Disparities in Mental Health." Rebecca's work at AltaMed Health Services allowed her to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment focusing on women, ages 10-45. The assessment identified the defining features of women and the disparities that impact the use of medical care and social services.

As a graduate student, Rebecca carried out extensive research on health care pay for performance models. She also collaborated with various researchers to report on an ethnographic portrait of Botánicas in San Bernardino, CA. Her interests in maternity care allowed her to collaborate with the San Bernardino Health Department to develop a labor induction education curriculum on the risks of non-medically indicated inductions to providers, health educators, and women.

Rebecca furthered her interests in rural health by spending time in Sri Lanka and Peru. In Sri Lanka she worked on a comparative analysis of health care delivery systems in the US and Sri Lanka. In Peru, Rebecca and fellow classmates assisted in the construction of a cattle shelter, as well as providing dental hygiene education to the community. 

Through CHCI's Graduate and Young Professionals Fellowship Program, Rebecca hopes to gain a broader understanding of formulating health policy to foster an ongoing commitment to improve the health conditions of underserved Latino communities. 

Her interests include reading, making earrings, dancing, and listening to music.





María G. Mendoza
Law Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Las Cruces, NM
School: University of Arizona
Major: Juris Doctor
Placement: Honorable Vanessa Ruiz, District of Columbia Court of Appeals

María Mendoza is a native of New Mexico and a graduate of the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law.  During her tenure in law school, María participated in the Ninth Circuit Appellate Team, where she helped draft legal briefs and successfully argued Cinapian v. Holder in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  After María's first year of law school, Maria worked as an intern for Judge Raner Collins of the U.S. District Court for Arizona, where she drafted bench memoranda on civil matters.  Thereafter, María spent the second summer of her law school career working as a summer associate at Rodey Dickason Sloan, and in the global law department of Schering Plough Corporation. 

As part of a law school clinic María participated in, she interviewed women immigrant detainees in Eloy and Florence Arizona.  The data and research on immigration law she collected facilitated the publishing of "Unseen Prisoners: A Report on Women in Immigration Detention Facilities in Arizona."  Maria spent her final semester in law school working as a legal intern for the Mexican American Legal Defense Educational Fund, where María drafted legal briefs and researched constitutional and immigration law. Finally, María was an active member of the Latino Law Student Association and was the regional president for Arizona and Nevada of the Hispanic National Bar Association for 2008-2009.  She also received the Council on Legal Education Scholarship, an award granted to only four law students per year. 





Rita Rico
Azteca America Foundation International Affairs Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Chicago, IL
School: University of California, Los Angeles
Major: Ph.D., Political Science
Placement: The Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Rita Rico received a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a dissertation entitled "Labeled as ‘Latino': How Racialization, Agency, and Context Affect Panethnicity." She has a Master's in Latin American Studies from the Universidad de Guadalajara (UDG) in Mexico, and a dual BA in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and Latin American Studies from Stanford University.

As an undergraduate, she received a research grant to conduct fieldwork in Cuba, studied abroad in Chile and Brazil, performed spoken word for Stanford events, and took on many leadership roles, including leading a broad fundraising campaign for the various Latino organizations on campus.  Many generous entities have invested in her education. She received undergraduate fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, graduate fellowships from the Ford and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, as well as from the Organization of American States.

After college, she felt strongly that she should gain an academic perspective on Latin American studies from within Latin America itself.  This led her to complete a graduate program as the first American to receive a degree from her department at the Mexican institution of UDG.  Rita subsequently began at UCLA, and throughout her doctoral career worked as an international development and early education consultant, traveling throughout rural parts of the US to work on evaluations of the national preschool program Head Start, including the migrant component.

Rita counts among her greatest accomplishments her ability to finish her fieldwork with LA-based organizations Homeboy Industries and Chirla while 8 months pregnant, and finishing the dissertation during her newborn daughter's naps.  In her free time, she enjoys putting on puppet shows for her daughter and learning how to rock climb with her husband, whom she met while studying in Guadalajara.

As the CHCI Azteca America Foundation International Affairs Graduate Fellow, she will explore ways in which she can work on both improving the quality of lives of Latinos in the US, and integrating more Latinos into the international development and diplomacy spheres. 















































2009-2010 Public Policy Fellows


Karla Acevedo
Hometown: Malden, MA
School: Boston College
Major: BA, Psychology, Women's Studies
Placement 1: Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)

Karla Acevedo was born in the Dominican Republic and migrated to Boston, Massachusetts at the age of 4. She graduated from Boston College in 2008 with a degree in Psychology and Women's Studies. She became interested in public policy when she participated in the Dominican American National Roundtable Institute (DANR) in Washington D.C during the summer of 2005.

Being involved in the community from an early age and having mentors to guide her have heavily influenced her passion for social justice and working with youth. Growing up, Karla was involved in a local non-profit organization called Mission Safe which helped build her confidence to become a leader in her community. Since then, Karla has made it a priority to stay involved and help build the next generation of youth.

After graduating, Karla worked at the Boston Center for Community and Justice (BCCJ) as the Youth Programs Associate. The organization strives to develop a diverse community of socially responsible leaders, both individuals and organizations, which advances social justice throughout Greater Boston area. This position provided her the opportunity to work with a diverse group of high school students and help them become socially responsible leaders through cross-cultural understanding, dialogue and community building. Karla currently serves on the Summer Search Alumni Board and is an active sister of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Karla hopes to gain a broader perspective on issues affecting the Hispanic community as well as politics on Capitol Hill.



Jenny Alcaide
Hometown: Jackson Heights, NY
School: Hunter College
Major: BA, Political Science and Urban Studies
Placement 1: The White House, Office of Management and Administration
Placement 2: The Office of Congressman Luis Gutierrez (IL-4)

Jenny Alcaide is a first generation Mexican-American who was born and raised in Queens, New York. She recently earned her Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Urban Studies from the City University of New York, Hunter College.

At Hunter, Jenny held many leadership roles within school organizations. She was a member of the Hunter College Senate and of the Model United Nations team, Vice President of the Latino Honor Society, and secretary of the Pre-Law Society.

In the summer of 2008, Jenny was awarded 1st place at the City University of New York-Virtual Enterprise Leadership Program, because she created an educational website that provides continued support for undocumented high-school students whose dream is to attend college. 

Last year, Jenny worked for New York State Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, where she performed constituent level work and conducted legislative research on several of the bills the Assembly Member proposed including the Household Scalding Safety Act Bill, a bill designed to address the problem of scalding due to excessively hot tap water, thus requiring tap water in homes in New York State to reach a temperature of no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

This past summer she also interned for Congressman Anthony Weiner's office (NY-9) in Washington, DC.  She plans to attend law school and pursue a career in public policy law.



Evelia Castillo
Hometown: McAllen, TX
School: University of Texas at Austin
Major: BA, Government
Placement 1: The White House, Office of the Vice President
Placement 2: The Office of Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28)

Evelia was raised in the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, Texas.  She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin (UT) with a Bachelor of Arts in Government.  At UT, Evelia earned University Honors and was recognized as a College Scholar in 2006 and 2007.  She was also a member of the UT Foreign Policy Council and Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society.

While at the University of Texas, Evelia interned with Texas State Representatives Dawnna Dukes and Veronica Gonzales.  Her work included research on education finance reform and addressing constituent concerns.  Evelia also interned at Solace Women's Aid (SWA), a nonprofit organization in London, England, dedicated to empowering victims of domestic violence.  At SWA, Evelia helped organize workshops and community outreach events. 

Last fall, Evelia worked for the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.  She conducted research on gender-based violence issues, briefed U.S. officials on Turkish current events, and organized a video conference attended by women and human rights activists in both Washington, D.C. and Ankara.  While in Turkey, Evelia launched an in-kind donation drive for the Van Dernegi Women's Shelter in southeastern Turkey. 

As a Public Policy Fellow, Evelia would like to learn more about international affairs, how federal policy is devised, and women's issues at the national level.  In the future, Evelia hopes to attend graduate school and join the Peace Corps.  Her interests include reading, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.



Abraham Cisne
Hometown: Wynnewood, PA
School: Temple University
Major: BA, Latin American Studies
Placement: The Office of Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-31)

Abraham Cisne was born in Nicaragua and raised in Queens, New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia in 2008.

Some of his academic achievements include: the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, Distinction in Major in Latin American Studies, and the Social and Behavioral Science Summer Research Scholarship.

Abraham has always been active in social responsibility as a volunteer in the US and abroad, where he saw firsthand the challenges faced by minorities in the US and Latin Americans with scarce resources. He has volunteered as a laborer and medical interpreter in La Entrada, Honduras, as a tutor in Philadelphia for inner-city youth, and as an activist and supporter of rights for undocumented immigrants.

As a CHCI fellow, he looks forward to working with members of the Hispanic community in DC and hopes to positively influence minority youth in the same way he was influenced when he was a high school dropout.

Abraham's passions include traveling, cooking, film, and especially music. He enjoys studying Afro-Latin American infused musical genres and hopes to immerse himself in DC's Hispanic music scene. Abraham is also passionate about the arts and would like to learn more about Hispanic artists in the city.



Raleigh Contreras
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
School: University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Major: BA, Sociology, Economics
Placement 1: US Department of State, International Organization Affairs Bureau
Placement 2:

State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers (RSAT)

Raleigh Contreras is a native of Lincoln, Nebraska and graduated with a BA in Sociology and Economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).  In the middle of his college career, Raleigh had to temporarily put college on hold due to financial circumstances, but continued to pursue his passions: education and service.

He served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer, where he took on the role of youth coordinator at the Hispanic Community Center organizing tutoring and Spanish programs for elementary school students.  His proudest achievement was participating in the Cesar Chavez Month of Service food drive where four schools raised over 1,000 food items for the Center and culminated in a Mayoral proclamation in March 2005.

That same year he volunteered to be deployed to Iraq with his army reserve comrades, where Sergeant Contreras served as a guntruck commander on convoy escort missions.  Upon completion of this one-year tour, Raleigh travelled to five countries in Europe and then re-enrolled at UNL to finish his undergrad degree.

In two years, Raleigh served as Chapter Vice President and Chapter President of Latino-based Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc. He also served as the president of the UNL Multicultural Greek Council.  In those positions he had the opportunity to advise a high school Latino club, organize a Halloween carnival for local children, volunteer for Special Olympics, be certified as a voter registrar, and fundraise for a local women's shelter.

He is a Dean's List honoree and recipient of the UNL Greek Affairs Gamma Gamma Leadership Award.  He was awarded an undergraduate research grant to work with Dr. Julia McQuillan on a project titled "The Importance of Fatherhood." He is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society and Omicron Delta Epsilon International Society for Economics.

He enjoys reading, photography, movies, travel and puzzles.



Julio Costa
Hometown: Skokie, IL
School: University of Illinois, Champaign
Major: BA, Political Science
Minor: Spanish
Placement: The Office of Senator Robert Menendez (NJ)

Julio Costa graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Born in Lima Peru, Julio immigrated to the United States at the age of 2 and settled in Chicago.

His passion for public policy began when he was granted the opportunity to intern for Congress in the fall of 2007. Through the Illinois in Washington program at his university, Julio interned at the Office of Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-4) in his Washington D.C. office. Julio juggled a full-time course load and internship but was rewarded with a very insightful experience on issues relating to immigration and housing. Upon completion of his internship, Julio visited his native land of Peru to assist families that have been displaced after the country's infrastructure suffered a severe blow following a massive earthquake.

When Julio returned to school, he became immersed in the current political climate of that time: the Democratic primaries. He became an active member of Students for Barack Obama and was responsible for canvassing around the Midwestern states, phone banking, and registering voters.

In the summer of 2008, Julio had a unique opportunity to work for the largest industrial labor union in North America, The United Steelworkers (USW), in Pittsburgh, PA. Due to his familiarity with labor issues and Spanish, he was offered a position to work on a special case in the Los Angeles area. Through the Health Care Workers Council, a group created to support local health care union within the USW, Julio played an integral role in an effort to rehire an entire department of workers, primarily Latinos, who had been "outsourced" for "cost cuts" in the midst of seeking union representation. The appeals process gave Julio an insight into a broken system in desperate need of reform. His duties included: translating union literature for employees, canvassing to promote union benefits, setting up resume workshops, and most importantly helping the outsourced employees with whatever they needed.

Julio finished up his collegiate career involved in various groups and activities focused around giving back to the community. He worked with his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, to raise money for the American Heart Association. He was also enrolled in coursework that allowed him to volunteer in the university community. Through his Spanish and Entrepreneurship class, Julio had the opportunity to work with kindergarteners at a local elementary school. There he also served as a translator for Spanish-speaking families during parent-teacher conferences.

As a Public Policy Fellow, Julio hopes to understand how policy is formulated within the legislative chamber. He also seeks to gain insight on labor issues important at the national level and to study the loopholes that have allowed employers to abuse the labor process without repercussion.

Julio's interests include traveling around the world and a wide variety of sports.



Judith Davila
Hometown: Nogales, AZ
School: University of San Diego
Major: BA, International Relations, Economics, Spanish
Placement 1: The Subcommittee on The Western Hemisphere
Placement 2:

American Bar Association's Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) - Latin America and Caribbean Division

Judith Dávila graduated from the University of San Diego (USD) with a BA in International Relations, Economics, and Spanish.  As part of her International Relations curriculum Judith participated in study abroad immersion programs in Mexico and Spain.

With an interest in U.S.-Mexico relations Judith joined USD's Trans-Border Institute (TBI) in 2007, an organization dedicated to promoting border related scholarships and activities. Judith's interest in border issues and politics stem from personal experiences, having grown up along the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, the largest port of entry in the state.  As the primary research assistant for TBI's Justice in Mexico project, Judith compiled data and analysis on rule of law indicators in Mexico.

Having been introduced to the multifaceted concept of rule of law and its implications for developing nations, Judith chose to focus her undergraduate honors thesis on rule of law and its affects on foreign direct investment flows into Latin America.

In the future, Judith would like to be a part of international rule of law initiatives aimed at consolidating emerging democracies through justice reform.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Judith hopes to learn more about opportunities for expanding the Latino presence in the foreign policy arena.



Vanessa De La Ossa
Hometown: Miami, FL
School: Florida International University
Major: BA, International Relations and Sociology/Anthropology
Placement 1: State Department, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Placement 2: The Office of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)

Vanessa De La Ossa was born in Barranquilla, Colombia and raised in Miami, Florida. She graduated from Florida International University with a dual Bachelors degree in International Relations and Sociology/Anthropology. She became interested in public policy after participating in a service project in the Dominican Republic with Service for Peace, a service based organization. In the Dominican Republic she assisted in the construction of an elementary school and taught English to local children. Upon completion of the service project she became part of the executive board of Service for Peace and organized various community service projects, including Martin Luther King Day of Service, Summer of Service and Relay for Life. She was also vice-president of Sigma Iota Rho International Relations Honor Society and a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Kappa Delta Sociology Honor Society. She earned two certificates in Latin American Studies and National Security Studies.

During the summer of 2007 she interned with the Protection Project, a human rights research institute based at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. As a Human Rights Research Assistant, she compiled information on child sex tourism, pornography and forced marriages from the Trafficking in Persons Report issued by the U.S. Department of State for the Protection Project's annual publication. She also developed a substantial portion of an academic publication used to supplement a human rights course for Iranian students and gathered Congressional Hearings on trafficking for a comprehensive literature review.

During the spring semester of her junior year, Vanessa studied abroad in Florence, Italy where she was able to learn Italian and embrace a different culture. The following summer, she interned with the Department of State in the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, where she drafted several speeches for the ambassador, helped organize various Embassy events and updated the Mission Activity Tracker.



Bertha Guerrero
Hometown: Santa Ana, CA
School: University of California, Los Angeles
Major: BA, Political Science
Placement: The Office of Congressman Raul Grijalva (AZ-7)

Bertha Guerrero was born and raised in Santa Ana, California.  In 2008, Bertha graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

While in school Bertha was admitted into Justice Corps, an umbrella program under AmeriCorps.  As a Justice Corps member, she provided assistance to Self-Help Legal Access Centers and the LA County Department of Consumer Affairs Small Claims Advisor. At the Self-Help Legal Access Centers, Bertha assisted diverse group of self-represented litigants in cases through one-on-one contact legal workshops, referrals and legal paperwork in the fields of housing, civil and family law.

After graduation, Bertha worked in a law firm as a paralegal, focusing on bankruptcy law.  She maintained familiarity with Federal and California court system Chapter 7 and 13 proceedings, creditor representation, and all facets of motion and appellate practice.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Bertha would like to gain hands-on experience in federal policy decision-making. Her primary focus is to address healthcare, education, affordable housing and immigration issues.



Aaron Gutierrez
Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
School: Colorado College
Major: BA, International Political Economy
Placement 1: The White House, Office of Legislative Affairs
Placement 2: The Office of Congressman John Salazar (CO-3)

Aaron Gutierrez was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado. He graduated from The Colorado College (CC) in 2008, where he received his BA in International Political Economy, with a minor in Spanish.

At CC, he was Co-Chair of SOMOS (the Hispanic student group), Co-President of the multi-cultural house, and participated in student government. He worked in the Office of Admission as a minority recruitment intern, trying to increase students of color on campus. As a brain cancer survivor, Aaron was on the organizing committee for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.  He also had the opportunity to take a pilgrimage to Italy and study Spanish in Santiago, Chile.

Aaron served on city-county appointed boards in Pueblo, including the Pueblo Human Relations Commission and the Pueblo Sister Cities Commission. He also volunteered as an intern with former Senator Ken Salazar's office.

Following graduation, Aaron was a Fellow at El Pomar Foundation, one of the largest and oldest grant giving foundations in the Rocky Mountain West. At El Pomar, he received firsthand experience in the non-profit sector.

As a Public Policy Fellow, Aaron hopes to learn more about the issues of education, healthcare, and civil rights. After completing his fellowship, Aaron plans to attend law school.



Andrew Lomeli
Hometown: Hacienda Heights, CA
School: Stanford University
Major: BA, History
Placement 1: Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Placement 2: The Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV)

Andrew Lomeli graduated with honors in History from Stanford University in June 2009. While at Stanford, Andrew served on staff at El Centro Chicano, Casa Zapata dormitory and the Stanford Daily student newspaper as well as in various capacities within the university's student government. He shared the 2009 Jerry I. Porras Award for Visionary Leadership within Stanford's Chicano/Latino community.

His undergraduate honors thesis analyzed the methods through which the Southwestern agricultural industry exploited immigrant bracero workers in the years following World War II.

He was also an active member of Los Hermanos de Stanford, a campus community service group. As a Hermano, Andrew helped raise several thousand dollars for a college scholarship fund for underprivileged youth from throughout the country.

Outside of the academic setting, Andrew worked at the Latin-American Youth Center in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2007. That same summer, he interned for the John Edwards presidential campaign, focusing on Hispanic voter outreach in Las Vegas. Andrew was also awarded fellowships with both the Public Policy and International Affairs Institute at UC-Berkeley, and the Public Policy Institute at Stanford University's Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity in 2008.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Andrew hopes to gain first-hand experience in labor policy and economics on Capitol Hill.



Andrés Olivo
Hometown: Springfield, MA
School: Northeastern University
Major: BA, Political Science
Placement: The Office of Congressman Jose Serrano (NY-16)

Andrés Olivo graduated from Northeastern University with a B.A in Political Science.

At Northeastern University he was involved with the Latin American Student Organization (LASO). While Andrés served as secretary on LASO's executive board, the group won Northeastern University's Organization of the Year Award. Other accomplishments of his include being a La Comunidad en Acción Scholarship recipient and volunteering at Early Education Centers at school and around the Greater Boston Community. Andrés is also a brother of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. As a senior at Northeastern University, the Latino Student Cultural Center recognized many of Olivo's accomplishments by presenting him with several awards.

Andrés' professional experience includes working with the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Consumer Affairs, and the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County.

After completing his CHCI Public Policy Fellowship, Andrés hopes to attend graduate school in public administration to further strengthen his skills as a government professional.



Elizabeth Pastrano
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
School: University of Northern Iowa
Major: BA, Public Administration: Economics & Finance
Minor: Leadership Studies
Placement 1: The White House, Office of Legislative Affairs
Placement 2: The Office of Senator Tom Udall (NM)

Elizabeth Pastrano is a native of Texas, raised in Austin and currently a resident of San Antonio. After attending community college, she transferred to the University of Northern Iowa and was the first in her family to graduate from college. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Pubic Administration with an emphasis in Economics & Finance and a minor in Leadership Studies in 2008.

Elizabeth has always been an active community volunteer. During college, she served in a number of leadership positions on campus and in the community, including: Student Admissions Ambassadors, Hispanic/Latino Student Union, Students for Barack Obama, American Democracy Project, and Communities in Schools. She has also served on several College Board committees including Foundations of Excellence and the Multicultural Student Advisory Board.

Elizabeth strives for excellence and beneficial impact in her professional and community life. She has received academic and professional achievement awards, including the Humanitarian Award by EXCEL and the "most professional intern" award by The Principal Financial Group. She has also been awarded scholarships from Principal Scholars and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. She gained professional experience by working as a Human Resource intern at The Principal and in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Elizabeth became a full-time volunteer for the Obama Campaign during fall 2007.  It was during this experience that she was ignited with the passion to pursue a political career.

She is dedicated and enthusiastic about mentoring, ethics, and legislation at the federal level of government. Being the first in her family to pursue and succeed at higher education, Elizabeth strives to make a difference in her community by mentoring the youth. She knows firsthand the challenges one faces and the perseverance it takes to achieve something that those around her have not accomplished.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Elizabeth would like to gain deeper knowledge of the policy making process. She wants to learn how she can become an effective leader and make a difference in her community, and she seeks to gain insight for her future political career. She plans to attend law school after her experience with CHCI.



Leslie Prado
Hometown: Hartford, CT
School: Wesleyan University
Major: BA, Government; Concentration: International Relations
Placement 1: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health
Placement 2:U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Global Health Affairs

Leslie Sofia Prado was born in Lima, Peru, and migrated with her family to Hartford, Connecticut at the age of seven. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a BA in Government and a concentration in International Relations. As an undergraduate, Leslie immersed herself in learning about different cultures and speaking different languages. She studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and traveled throughout Europe and Latin America.

After graduating college, Leslie worked as an assistant to Mayor Eddie Perez, translating and helping Hartford residents understand the Mayor's programs, initiatives and other city services. During the summer, she moved to Brooklyn, New York and worked as an Emergency Medical Technician while training for her third marathon. Leslie would like to combine her passion for politics with her love for medicine. She hopes to one day help close the gap between our political system and our medical community in order to enhance and protect the rights of all patients. 

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Leslie looks forward to an opportunity to contribute to the political efforts that direct federal health policies, and assist leaders who work to change and improve our healthcare system. She hopes to become a strong advocate for healthcare reform, particularly focusing on helping women and children in a national and global setting.



Andrea Serra
Hometown: San Juan, PR
: Syracuse University
: BA, International Studies

Andrea Serra was born and raised in San Juan, PR. She graduated from Syracuse University (SU) in Syracuse, NY with a B.A. in International Relations, Advertising and Marketing.

As an undergraduate, Andrea studied in Europe as part of the SU Summer Abroad Program "Globalization and Its Critics." During her senior year she participated in the Maxwell School International Relations Semester in Washington, during which she interned at the consulting firm APCO Worldwide.

Andrea has done two congressional internships in the offices of PR Governor Luis Fortuño (during his time as Resident Commissioner) in San Juan, PR, and of Congressman Dan Maffei (NY-25) in Syracuse, NY.

Andrea was a member of Sigma Iota Rho and a recipient of the Chancellor's Scholarship during her years at Syracuse. She also performed community service with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and worked at the Everson Museum of Art doing fundraising and event planning.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Andrea hopes to keep learning more about the policy-making process and how she can become more involved with the Latino Community.



Nicolas Zarazua
Hometown: El Paso, TX
School: University of Notre Dame
Major: BA, Political Science & Philosophy
Placement 1: The Office of Congressman Silvestre Reyes (TX-16)
Placement 2: Food and Water Watch

Nick Zarazua graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May 2008 with a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy.

At Notre Dame, Nick served as Carroll Hall's vice president, was a member of the Junior and Senior Class Councils, participated in the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors program, and was an admissions tour guide. He spent the fall semester of his junior year studying abroad in Santiago, Chile.

Nick was involved in public policy and community service throughout his college career. He helped lead a cultural education program at South Bend's Juvenile Detention Center, taught children non-violent conflict resolution techniques at the Wilson Elementary School, and was a member of the Students for Environmental Action group on campus. As a junior, he was selected as a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellow in which he completed graduate-level courses in National Security, International Economics, Poverty and Development, and Econometrics.

After graduation, Nick spent the next year in Santander, Spain as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in a local secondary-school named IES Lope de Vega. His main task was to implement the Global Classrooms program, where students practiced and enhanced their debating, public speaking, and writing skills, all done in English.

As a Public Policy Fellow, Nick hopes to gain significant work experience, especially in the non-profit sector, and learn more about education policy.