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2014-2015 CHCI Fellows

CHCI welcomed its 2014-2015 fellows on August 18. The class is composed of 22 diverse individuals from 12 different states and 10 distinct Hispanic heritages. 

Detailed Demographics:

2014-2015 Graduate Fellows

Grant Barbosa

Margarita Chavez

Cheye-Ann Corona

Araceli Gutiérrez

Félix Muñiz Jr.

Alesandra Nájera

Israel Nery

Ana Pupo

Braulio Salas

Tracie Sánchez


2014-2015 Public Policy Fellows

Melissa DeSantiago

Sarah Diaz

Julian Escarraga

Claudia Flores

Victor Manuel Flores

José R. García


Walter García

Rafael Hurtado Jr.

Rosita López

Victor Mena

Emily Noriega

Alex Sarabia

2014-2015 Graduate Fellows 

Grant Barbosa
PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Oak Park, Illinois
School: Harvard University
Degree: Juris Doctor
1st Placement: American Public Health Association
2nd Placement: Office of Rep. Xavier Becerra

Grant Barbosa is half Puerto Rican, half African-American and was raised in the outskirts of Chicago. As a recipient of the Annika Rodriguez and John B. Ervin Scholarships, he received his B.A. in cultural anthropology and women, gender, and sexuality studies, with a minor in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. While still in college, Grant served as vice president for programming of the Student Union, president of the Pride Alliance, and social chair for the Association of Latin American Students, among other leadership roles.

Grant earned his Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School in 2014. While at Harvard, Grant was named a Presidential Scholar as well as a Harvard Graduate Student Leadership Initiative Fellow. Grant was involved in numerous clinical, extracurricular, and research opportunities, including serving as a clinical student with the Harvard Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, spending a year with the Heath Law and Policy Clinic and a semester with the Food Law and Policy Clinic. He was also an article editor with the Latino Law Review, treasurer for the Food Law Society, and social chair for Lambda, the LGBT organization. During his summers, Grant represented clients in appeals of their denials of SSI disability claims. He later divided his time during subsequent summers, working with ChangeLab Solutions, a national public health law and policy organization, and the Food Assistance Team at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  He also served as a legal research assistant for a study on addressing the dangers of dietary supplements at the Harvard School of Public Health. 

As a CHCI Health Graduate Fellow, Grant looks forward to augmenting his experience, knowledge, and skill set in order to improve the health outcomes of Latinos, other minorities, and the overall population. His interests in improving prevention, increasing access to care, and improving treatment adherence will be greatly enhanced by this experience.

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Margarita Chavez
Davita Health Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
School: University of New Mexico-Main Campus
Degree: M.S. Community Health Education
1st Placement: Office of Sen. Tom Udall
2nd Placement: The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

Margarita Chavez is a native New Mexican public health educator and practitioner who is committed to working with New Mexico’s diverse communities in the public and private sectors. She received her M.S. in community health education from the University of New Mexico.

Margarita’s primary concentration areas are community focused public health assessment and advocacy, health promotion, chronic disease prevention, health equity, personal safety, traditional western medicine and holistic healthcare.  As a faculty instructor with the University of New Mexico, Health Education and Sports Science department, Margarita taught a variety of courses associated to her areas of expertise. She also has ten years’ experience working as an EMT in local emergency rooms, where she has also served as a patient educator and advocate. She has designed and implemented community and workplace wellness programs with great success.

Margarita is a 6th degree black belt and teaches Kajukembo Karate, Jiu-Jitsu and fitness and nutrition programs in her parent’s family owned martial arts school.  She has volunteered for numerous organizations including Comadre a Comadre, a local breast cancer patient advocate organization and Casa de Salud, a health and wellness clinic serving the underprivileged and uninsured in her community.

Margarita is a SOPHIE 21st Century Scholar; a graduate of the 2013 Health Advocacy Summit; and has also completed a post-graduate internship, Exito! Latino Cancer Leadership Training where she conducted breast cancer research with the Susan G. Koman Foundation of Central New Mexico. She currently works as the health and wellness coordinator for Bernalillo County and is developing evidence based worksite wellness programs.

As a CHCI Graduate Health Fellow, Margarita aspires to expand her knowledge of health policy and make a positive impact on health policy reform. As a positive role model for New Mexicans, Margarita hopes to learn more about resources available to the underserved in her community that will allow them to access affordable health education and health care services. Margarita will lead by the example her parents have set, that is, achieving higher education goals, successful and long lived business ownership, and being a strong and critical component of the community.

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Cheye-Ann Corona
Housing Graduate Fellow
Hometown: West Covina, California
School: University Of California, Los Angeles
Degrees: M.A. Urban Studies and Planning
1st Placement: Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
2nd Placement: Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives

Cheye-Ann Corona is a Mexican-American from California’s San Gabriel Valley, located in Los Angeles County. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a bachelor’s degree in international development studies in 2008, and received a joint master’s degree in urban planning and Latin American studies in 2011.

Cheye-Ann has over eight years of experience advocating for viable public policy reforms that provide economic, political, and social mobility for marginalized communities of color. As an undergraduate at UCLA, Cheye-Ann was a Community Development and Social Justice Scholar and active in the campus’ workers rights movement. As a graduate student, she was the co-chair of Planners of Color for Social Equity and the external vice president for UCLA’s Graduate Student Association. Throughout this time, Cheye-Ann helped sustain a statewide coalition of students, faculty, and staff to advocate against significant budget cuts to public higher education that disproportionately affected low-income and racial/ethnic minorities throughout California. Notably, her programming and leadership skills resulted in the first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Orientation for incoming graduate students of color at UCLA.  

As an urban planner, Cheye-Ann has been involved in land-use issues around affordable housing, environmental justice, and inclusive zoning. Using innovative media strategies, she has designed community-based campaigns for communities like South Central LA and Boyle Heights in their fight to fend off the negative implications of gentrification. For the past three years, Cheye-Ann has worked in the California State Assembly as a district representative and senior legislative aide for Assembly Member Roger Hernández, managing a diverse portfolio of legislative issues for the district.

As a CHCI Housing Graduate Fellow, Cheye-Ann is excited to build upon her unique advocacy and planning background to be an effective advocate for viable housing and development policies that empower the Latino community and other communities of color.  

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Araceli Gutiérrez
PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Arvin, California
School: Harvard School of Public Health
Degrees: S.M. Society, Human Development and Health
Placement: Office of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard

Araceli Gutiérrez is a first generation college student and the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. She was raised in the rural and agricultural city of Arvin, in California’s Central Valley. Araceli completed her undergraduate studies at San Francisco State University, earning a B.S. in business administration. Araceli received her S.M. in society, human development, and health from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), with a concentration in interdisciplinary public health leadership.

Prior to her graduate studies, Araceli conducted genetic and health disparities research as a SOAR-Health Scholar at the Howard University Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. Araceli also conducted a policy scan and co-authored a resource guide for the Marin Community Foundation, addressing the social determinants of health impacting underserved and immigrant communities in California's Marin County.

During her time at HSPH, Araceli was selected as a Rappaport Public Policy Fellow, and worked with Massachusetts State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. The Massachusetts House recently adopted outside section provisions within its 2014 budget as a result of her research in one of Boston's most challenged public housing developments. Araceli was also selected by the National Hispanic Medical Association as a NHMA-GE Health Professional Student Leadership & Mentoring Program Scholar for the National Hispanic Medical Association Northeast Region.

As a CHCI Health Graduate Fellow, Araceli looks forward to expanding her knowledge base and experience in health policy. She is interested in examining the triangulation between public health policy, research, and the role of community in informing, developing, and adopting effective and sustainable social policies that address health disparities impacting Latinos and other minority populations. 

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Félix Muñiz Jr.
McDonald's Higher Education Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
School: Bowling Green State University
Degree: M.A. History
1st Placement: Excelencia in Education
2nd Placement: Office of Rep. Marcia Fudge

Félix Muñiz, Jr. was born in Yonkers, New York to a Dominican mother and Puerto-Rican father.  Following a move to Cleveland, Ohio, he obtained both his B.A. and M.A. in history from Bowling Green State University.  Félix’s capstone project compares living standards of Dominican and Haitian women during the 20th century.  The project employed an anthropometric analysis to provide a summary description of nutrition and health on the island.

Throughout graduate school, Félix gained valuable experience serving as an intern for a number of federal agencies.  At the Library of Congress, he assisted the Educational Outreach Office develop teaching strategies to foster the development of K-12 students.  At the National Science Foundation, he studied ways to increase college participation rates of women and minorities engaged in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) related fields.

As a CHCI Higher Education Fellow, Félix seeks to build upon existing efforts to improve college access and success.  During his time in Washington D.C., he hopes to identify innovative strategies to boost Latino/a college enrollment, retention, and hopes to gain experience in the legislative process of drafting higher education policy.

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Alesandra Nájera
Shell STEM Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Wilton, California
School: Stanford University
Degrees: M.A. English; B.A. Human Biology, concentration in environmental science
1st Placement: Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
2nd Placement: Office of Rep. John Garamendi

Alesandra Nájera, a Mexican-American from Wilton, earned a dual B.A. in human biology and English, and an M.A. in English from Stanford University. She spent her childhood in the politically contentious California Delta which gave Alesandra a passion for natural resource management that brings her to the CHCI/Shell STEM Graduate Fellowship.

Alesandra’s eclectic blend of policy, writing, and the natural sciences began during a summer program at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station. As part of the program, she got the opportunity to visit Queensland, Australia, where she conducted coral transects in the Great Barrier Reef. While at Stanford, Alesandra served as an officer on the equestrian team, volunteered as a counselor and tutor, and participated in an Alternative Spring Break on agriculture and food justice.

An internship in the office of Rep. Doris Matsui sparked her interest in the legislative process, and led her to complete a subsequent fellowship with her home representative, Dr. Ami Bera. Finally, she completed a Benest Fellowship at Joint Venture Silicon Valley, where she worked as a research analyst on the 2014 Silicon Valley Index, a comprehensive statistical profile of the region, and also worked to promote renewable energy policy on energy and climate initiatives.

As a CHCI STEM Graduate Fellow, Alesandra plans to immerse herself in federal management of energy and natural resources. She feels strongly that poor resource management disproportionately affects the Latino community, and will work to promote valuable employment opportunities for the Latino workforce in the clean technology sector.

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Israel Nery
PepsiCo Foundation Law Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Schools/Degrees: Woodbury University, M.B.A.; University of Illinois College of Law, Juris Doctor
1st Placement: Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
2nd Placement: Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives

Israel Nery is a first generation Salvadorian-Mexican, born in Compton, and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Israel completed his undergraduate studies at the California State University, Monterey Bay, where he earned a B.S. in business administration, and graduated with honors in 2009. Israel earned his M.B.A. from Woodbury University in 2011. He then earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2014.

While attending California State University, Israel was a college athlete playing for the men’s soccer team. During his tenure, he was awarded the All-Academic Award by the California College Athletic Association (CCAA). While attending graduate school at Woodbury University, Israel worked for RockCorps, a pro-social production company that uses music to inspire people to volunteer and get involved in their community. As a law student, he interned and volunteered for numerous private and public organizations such as the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, Neighborhood Legal Services, AFL-CIO, the Office of Legislative Affairs for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, and the Student Opportunities for After-School Resources (SOAR) program. Israel was heavily involved in the student body at the University of Illinois College of Law by serving as president of the Latina/o Law Student Association, being elected as a representative for the Student Bar Association, and  selected as a student liaison for the ABA Section of Labor & Employment Law Standing Committees. For his efforts, Israel was awarded by the Illinois College of Law the Rickert Award for Excellence in Public Service, the most prestigious award by the College of Law to students who have demonstrated an outstanding degree of commitment to work in the public interest.

As a CHCI Law Graduate Fellow, Israel seeks to build on his skills and experiences to gain a better understanding of the public-policy making process. He hopes to gain valuable insight into the areas of civil rights, taxation, and finance laws and analyze how each of them affects the Latina/o community directly.

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Ana Pupo
Ford Foundation Law Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Miami, Florida
School: Duke University
Degree: Juris Doctor
1st PlacementEconomic Policy Project, National Council of La Raza
2nd Placement: Office of Government Contracting, U.S. Small Business Administration

Ana Pupo was born in Cuba and moved to Miami, Florida at age 12. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston University in 2009 with a B.A. in political science and a B.A. in Spanish language and literature. She went on to obtain a J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 2014.

While at Duke, Ana became passionate about public service and public interest law. She was a student-attorney with the Duke Law School Community Enterprise Clinic, where she helped non-profits make structural business decisions and expand their reach. Ana served as a staff editor with the Duke Forum for Law & Social Change, and was recognized by the North Carolina State Bar Association for her pro-bono work. She devoted her summers as a law student to federal government service, working first at the U.S. Trade & Development Agency with issues of international trade and law. She also worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce where she applied her knowledge of federal procurement law. 

As a CHCI Law Graduate Fellow, Ana hopes to continue honing her legal skills while gaining valuable public policy insights and knowledge. She aspires to have an impact in areas such as access to capital, investment opportunities, and free commerce.

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Braulio Salas
Secondary Education Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland
School: The University of Pennsylvania
Degree: M.S.Ed. Urban Education
1st PlacementNational Urban League
2nd Placement: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, U.S. Senate

Braulio Salas is a native of Silver Spring, Maryland. He graduated from Rutgers University, where he earned a B.A. in political science. As an undergraduate, Braulio served as the Rutgers University Latino Student Council’s male co-chair and as a member of the Vice President’s Leadership Council. In addition, Braulio was a McNair Scholar and centered his undergraduate research on the attrition of Latino students at the secondary and post-secondary levels.

Braulio is an AmeriCorps Alumnus, having served as a Teach for America corps member from 2011 to 2013. As a member of the Greater Philadelphia teaching corps, Braulio taught 10th grade Spanish at ASPIRA Olney Charter High School in North Philadelphia. While teaching full-time, he obtained his M.S.Ed. in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Braulio centered his master’s thesis research on frame theory and the impact framing effects have on education policy.

As a CHCI Graduate Fellow, Braulio seeks to learn more about policy formation and the legislative process that impacts students across the country. He is dedicated to closing the achievement gap and fostering a system in which more Latino students will pursue a college education.

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Tracie Sánchez
Higher Education Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
School: University of California, Los Angeles
Degree: M.A. Higher Education and Organizational Change
1st Placement: The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics
2nd Placement: Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives

Tracie Sánchez was born and raised in East Los Angeles, a predominantly working class Mexican community. Tracie enrolled at Pasadena City College, where she completed her first two years of her undergraduate career. In 2010, she transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she would major in Chicana/o studies and minor in gender studies, education, and labor and workplace studies.

As an undergraduate, she remained involved in a number of social justice based research projects and outreach programs that address racial campus climate, retention and access among underrepresented students both at community colleges and UCLA. As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Tracie served as the principle investigator of a qualitative case study that examined student-centered and institutional factors affecting students decision to reverse transfer.

In June of 2014, Tracie graduated with her M.A. from the graduate department of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, with a higher education and organizational change degree. Her research interests currently include Latina/o educational pathways, intersections of race, gender, and social class in accessing college and graduate school, Latina/o reverse transfer students and overall Latina/o retention within California community colleges.

As a CHCI Higher Education Fellow, Tracie seeks to enhance her knowledge of educational policy-making and the ways in which higher education research can inform policy-making decisions to ensure more Latina/o students who begin their education at community colleges can successfully transfer to elite four-year research institutions. Tracie looks forward to returning to California upon completion of the CHCI Higher Education Fellowship and pursue a doctorate degree in higher education and continuing to serve as graduate mentor for first-generation Latina/o students attending community colleges.

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  2014-2015 Public Policy Fellows

Melissa DeSantiago
BP STEM Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Walterboro, South Carolina
School: Clemson University
B.S. Biosystems Engineering
1st Placement: House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives
2nd Placement: Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

Melissa DeSantiago was born in Chicago, Illinois to Mexican immigrants and raised in Walterboro, South Carolina where she developed a passion for the environment and serving the Hispanic community. She attended Clemson University as a Gates Millennium Scholar and earned a B.S. in biosystems engineering with an emphasis in ecological engineering.

During her undergraduate career, Melissa was involved as a mentor for Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention (PEER), ensuring that underrepresented minorities in the College of Engineering and Science succeeded and contributed an equitable presence in such a demanding field. She became a founding member and vice president for the Clemson University chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, forming a community within the Latino engineering student body. Academically, she immersed herself in her studies, including research in coastal ecosystem reestablishment and was exposed to technological advancements in the environment through her study abroad opportunities and internship with South Carolina’s largest public power utility company.  

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Melissa hopes to gain firsthand experience of how government action and public policy can be used to improve environmental and energy issues nationwide, while gaining the resources necessary to continue to empower Latinos in South Carolina. With her commitment to her engineering background and passion to provide an equal education opportunity for Latino students everywhere, she hopes to continue to use both as a motive to promote STEM education.

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Sarah Diaz
PepsiCo Foundation Health Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Malden, Massachusetts
Tufts University
B.A. Public Health
1st Placement: 
Office of Sen. Kay Hagan
2nd Placement: Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Sarah Valentina Diaz is a first generation Colombian-American born in Boston. The transition from a charter school in Cambridge to a private high school in the same city gave her a firsthand experience with the major inequities in living conditions and education that could exist even in areas of close proximity. An interest in social justice led her to pursue community health as one half of her double major with cognitive brain science for her undergraduate degree at Tufts University.

During her academic career, she supported and contributed to the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) which sought to provide a support network for Latina/o students on the Tufts campus, and was later elected as the public relations officer. Sarah also became an active member of the Student Health Organizing Coalition (SHOC), which sought to voice the interest of students on campus in the health insurance market.  She focused on working on various public health research projects, such as the Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health Study at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she helped recruit and interview Spanish speaking residents.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Sarah hopes to gain a greater understanding of how to develop and implement population health policy. She feels excitement about seeing the political process firsthand.

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Julian Escarraga
AARP Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: New York, New York
School: College of the Holy Cross
Degree: B.A. Political Science & Sociology
1st Placement: AARP
2nd Placement: Office of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Julian Escarraga was born in Armenia, Colombia. He became the first male member of his family to earn a college degree. Julian attended Bard High School Early College, where he was awarded an associates of art from Bard College at the age of 17. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross with a B.A. in political science and sociology, focusing on political mobilization, economic development and social empowerment of marginalized groups.

As an undergraduate student, Julian served as the economic development intern for the New York Office of the State Comptroller. In this position, he showed his commitment to the public good by researching and identifying major financial plans, budgetary and policy issues affecting public authorities in the New York City region. Julian also served as a marketing and advertising intern through the College of the Holy Cross’ Office of Entrepreneurial Studies. In this position, he spearheaded new strategies that aimed to appeal emerging demographical markets in the United States with an emphasis on Latino consumers.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Julian hopes to develop the necessary skills to become a leader in his community and empower the next generation of Latinos. He hopes to build bridges of understanding and cooperation among Americans of different economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds.

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Claudia Flores
Altria Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: San Jose, California
School: Santa Clara University
Degree: B.A. Political Science
Placement: Office of Sen. Robert Menendez

Claudia Flores was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  As a teenager, she left Honduras with her family for the United States. They settled in Silicon Valley, where Claudia attended public school and eventually received a full-ride merit scholarship to attend college. In 2012, she completed a bachelor’s degree in political science from Santa Clara University

Claudia’s first exposure to politics came under the influence of a local councilmember, in the midst of a heated debate over local immigration enforcement. Concerned over the observed lack of political representation, yet curious about the political process, she interned at San Jose City Hall and later served as the city’s youth commissioner- promoting policies aimed towards creating protective factors to improve the lives of youth in San Jose, California.

Claudia feels passionate about improving the living conditions for immigrant families, particularly women and children. She recognizes, however, that there are many issues which make the Latino community vulnerable, including health care access, political and legal representation, and financial education.

Claudia feels excitement in joining the CHCI familia, and hopes that through the Public Policy Fellowship Program she can gain valuable insight into the intersection of politics and the public policy-making process.

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Victor Manuel Flores
SEIU Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Hempstead, New York
School: Harvard College
Degree: B.A. Primary in Sociology and Secondary in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
1st Placement: Service Employees International Union
2nd Placement: Office of Rep. Tony Cárdenas

Victor Flores identifies as a Salvadoran-American, raised in several working class and poverty-stricken communities in New York City and Long Island, characterized by a strong presence of immigrants and people of color. As a result, his upbringing serves as a basis for his resolve for an inclusive society that embraces cultural diversity.

Victor attained a B.A. from Harvard College with a primary concentration in sociology and a secondary concentration in studies of women, gender, and sexuality. Throughout his undergraduate career, Victor was engaged in youth work within the neighborhoods of the South End and Lower Roxbury. Through collaboration with community partners and educational programs, Victor believes youth can and should be part of the foundation for social change.

Through the CHCI Public Policy Fellowship, Victor hopes to gain a better understanding of how public policy is created and implemented on an institutional level. Victor's interest in the intersection of social work, law, and the needs of youth serves as his motivation to become a public servant through coalition building for a greater sense of justice.

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José García-Madrid
Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
School: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Degree: B.A. Women’s Studies
1st Placement: Office of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
2nd Placement: Office of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

José R. García was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. His family immigrated to Phoenix, Arizona, when he was two years old. After 18 years of living in Phoenix, José moved to Las Vegas, where he received his B.A. in women’s studies from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Since attending the National Young Leaders State Conference (NYLSC) at the age of thirteen, José has fulfilled his passion for politics by engaging with politically oriented organizations such as the Junior Statesmen of America. He also represented the College of Liberal Arts as a senator in student government during his university studies. The introduction of SB 1070 in the Arizona legislature in 2010 prompted him to become more directly involved in his communities.          

While at UNLV, José actively sought out to mentor young undocumented Latina/o high school students through his position in MEChA de UNLV. In addition, he served as vice president for the campus’ LGBT student organization, Spectrum, where he worked to ensure that LGBT students on campus had the resources and support needed to be academically successful. Additionally, José was integral in the project to revamp the Alternative Spring Break Program, for which he served as program coordinator. In this role, he introduced students to communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. Collaborating with organizations such as the San Francisco Aids Foundation, El/La Para Trans Latin@s, and the Downtown Women’s Center, he built a curriculum for students to engage issues related to HIV/Aids, LGBT youth of color, and matters of women’s rights.

José has a desire to understand how we can craft more efficient public policy to better the lives of LGBT, immigrant, and other marginalized communities. After interning for the Office of Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod the summer of 2013, he realized that working behind-the-scenes in Congress is his dream job—particularly the position of Chief of Staff.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, José feels thankful for this amazing opportunity and looks forward to gaining a more nuanced understanding of public policy as it relates to immigrant communities and the overall development of resources for Latinas/os. 

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Walter Garcia
NY Life Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Pacoima, California
School: Brown University
Degree: B.A. Political Science
1st Placement: Office of Rep. Tony Cárdenas
2nd Placement: Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State

Walter Garcia is from Pacoima, California—a city located in Los Angeles County. The son of Mexican immigrants, he is a first-generation American and a first-generation college graduate, who attended Brown University and concentrated in political science.

Walter has long been passionate about public service. He has interned at the offices of various elected officials — including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, California State Senator Alex Padilla, and then-L.A. City Councilman Tony Cárdenas — and was a part of The White House Internship Program in the summer of 2013.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Walter hopes to learn more about the policymaking process, and to learn more about what it takes to be an effective leader in government. 

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Rafael Hurtado Jr.
PepsiCo Foundation Pre-Law Public Policy Fellow
Chicago, Illinois
University of Illinois, Chicago
B.A. Criminology, Law, and Justice
1st Placement:
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
2nd Placement: Office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez

Rafael Hurtado Jr. was born and raised in Chicago’s Little Village, a neighborhood known for its vibrant Mexican culture. Rafael grew up feeling a strong connection to the community. He became involved with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) at the age of 15 and remains involved with educating people about environmental justice and the harmful effects of polluting industries in Little Village. His work at LVEJO has helped him see the strong correlation between environmental injustices and crime in his neighborhood, which ultimately inspired him to pursue a B.A. from the University of Illinois, Chicago, with a major in criminology, law and justice. 

 As a community organizer within LVEJO, Rafael worked on several campaigns such as Open-Space, which was successful in the remediation of a super-fund site, currently being converted into the first new park Little Village has seen in over 80 years and the Clean Power Campaign, which was successful in the shutdown of both the Crawford & Fisk Coal power plants. Rafael also sits on the steering committee for Voces Verdes, which has helped him learn the importance of civic-engagement on both the federal and state level.  

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Rafael hopes to learn the inner workings of our federal government in an effort to encourage and assist individuals communicated their concerns from a grass-root level to the Federal level.

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Rosita López
Google Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Puerto de Luna, New Mexico
School: University of New Mexico
Degree: B.A. Mass Communications & Journalism
1st Placement: Office of Rep. Ben Ray Lujan
2nd Placement: Office of Chairman Tom Wheeler, Federal Communications Commission

Rosita López is an experienced strategic communications professional and native Hispana from New Mexico. She has spent the past four years creating social and multi-media niches that inspire people to social action.

In 2012, she received her B.A. in mass communication and journalism from the University of New Mexico. While completing her degree, she worked on academic and social issues by spearheading advocacy efforts around media ethics, health, and agriculture. Rosita’s projects included grassroots and social media campaigns around sexual health education, the recruitment of  800+ participants to a student health event, and lobbying for the Farmer Liability Bill – a bill that aimed to protect agricultural rights of New Mexico farmers. Her post graduate endeavors include crafting internal information infrastructures for virtual marketing plans, and website strategy development with a media startup in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Rosita plans to broaden her background by gaining experience in public policy and contributing her voice as a Hispana to the discourse around media ethics, internet policy, and technology accessibility for poor and marginalized populations.

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Victor Mena
Chevron Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon
Portland State University
B.A. Criminal Justice
Office of Sen. Ron Wyden

Victor Mena was born in Michoacán, Mexico and arrived at the age of three to Beaverton, Oregon. He is the oldest of eight siblings, and is the first in his family to earn a Bachelor’s degree, graduating from Portland State University with a degree in criminal justice and a minor in the Persian language.

Throughout his academic career, Victor received various honors, including the “All Oregon Academic Award,” presented to him by Governor John Kitzhaber after the completion of his associates degree at Portland Community College. Victor was also involved in student government, in a variety of roles such as the vice president, multicultural affairs director, and academic affairs director as well as serving in leadership capacities with student groups such as the Arab Persian Student Organization and Model United Nations Club. Outside of the academic arena, he has been actively involved in advocating for better immigration policies in the state of Oregon, which included the advocacy for college in-state tuition for undocumented Oregon students.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Victor seeks to increase his knowledge regarding the usage of Public Policy and Law nationally and internationally to promote human rights and decrease poverty among immigrants in the United States.

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Emily Noriega
Coca Cola Foundation Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Coral Springs, FL
School: Florida Gulf Coast University
Degree: B.A. Political Science
Placement: Democratic Leadership Office, Rep. Xavier Becerra

Emily Noriega is a first generation Peruvian-American born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Growing up in South Florida, she quickly developed a strong interest in immigration and social justice. These interests drove her to pursue a B.A. in political science from Florida Gulf Coast University, graduating in 2012.

As an undergraduate student, Emily participated in The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars in Washington, D.C. During her time in the capital, she took part in the Political Leadership Program. She also served as the public policy and advocacy intern at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a non-profit community development financial institution that supports community development corporations throughout the United States. She also volunteered at CASA de Maryland, helping to ameliorate undocumented, shadowed youths by applying to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Emily has also dedicated her time to serving her hometown in South Florida, by working for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, where her primary responsibilities included constituent casework in immigration and the IRS.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Emily hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the legislative process while primarily focusing on immigration. She aspires to be a voice for the Latino community and ascertain how to empower future Latino leaders. As a millennial Latino-American, Emily feels that it is her responsibility to promote education, participate in our community and work to make a difference.

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Alex Sarabia
Wells Fargo Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
School: Boston College
Degree: B.A. Economics
Placement: Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Michael Alex Sarabia was born and raised in the heart of South Texas and earned a B.A. in Economics from Boston College.

As an undergraduate, he was an active member of the student government where he served as both a senator and chairman of a leadership council dedicated to empowering students of diversity. In 2012, Alex organized Boston College’s voter engagement campaign in which one-tenth of the student body registered to vote, many for the first time. In his senior year, Alex participated in an advocacy trip to Washington D.C., meeting with Rep. Joe Kennedy and senate staffers of the Massachusetts delegation to emphasize the importance of affordable student loans. He was also a junior fellow at the Clough Center for Constitutional Democracy.

Throughout college, Alex interned for his hometown mayor, Julián Castro, and his twin brother, Congressman Joaquín Castro. As a member of Mayor Castro’s Ambassador Program, he strived to expand educational opportunities while working on projects such as Café College and Pre-K 4 SA. While interning for Rep. Castro in Washington, he was exposed to the national issues like immigration reform, healthcare, and foreign policy.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Alex hopes to continue developing as a pragmatic leader, focused on serving his community and becoming an effective advocate. Alex hopes to acquire new skills and insights in public policy to ensure the infrastructure remains intact for future generations to pursue their American Dream.