Higher Education Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
School: University of California, Los Angeles
Degree: Ph.D. Candidate, Higher Education and Organizational Change
Placement 1: U.S. Department of Education, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans
Placement 2: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
Originally from Oxnard, CA., Miguel Lopez earned his bachelor's degree in 2004 at UC Santa Barbara. He culminated his college career elected by his peers as student body President--serving as the official UCSB student representative for local, state and federal matters, and exercising his organization and managerial skills.
In 2005, Lopez moved to Los Angeles to pursue his graduate studies at UCLA where he is completing his Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change. He has served as a teaching assistant in the Graduate School of Education as well as the Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies. His research focus is educational access and equity, individual and interpersonal processes, and organizational behavior. His most recent work has centered on diversity, campus climate, and the experience of underrepresented students and faculty of color at American colleges and universities. At UCLA, Lopez served as President of the Graduate School of Education Student Association, vice chair of the Student Fee Advisory Committee, member of the Education Executive Committee, the Executive Committee of the UC Council on Student Fees, and elected External Vice President of the Graduate Students Association representing over 11,500 graduate and professional students at UCLA.
Miguel has a long history of advocacy and leadership. He continues to work to raise awareness on educational access, equity, affordability, persistence, and degree completion working on these areas with University leadership, local and state elected representatives, and on Capitol Hill. He has been recognized for his efforts and has received several awards and recognitions including the UCLA Academic Senate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Honorable Mention Award; Graduate Student and Undergraduate of the Year, respectively, from his fraternity Nu Alpha Kappa Fraternity, Inc; University Campus and Community Service Award; Dean of Students Distinguished Achievement Award; and, Award for Research and Creative Studies.
Davita/Genentech Health Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Long Beach, CA
School: University of California, Los Angeles
Degree: MA, Public Health
Placement 1: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Health Reform
Placement 2: U.S. Senate Finance Committee
Berenice Nuñez is a first generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Southern California. She is a recent graduate of UCLA's Master of Public Health Program specialized in Health Care Management and Policy.
During her time at UCLA, Berenice served as a member of the UCLA-USC Collaborative Committee promoting global public health awareness. The initiative efforts introduced students, professionals, and the academic community across all sectors to new opportunities and insights into the field of global public health.
Her professional background includes health care administration, medical billing management, quality improvement, medical policy and compliance. She has had the privilege to work for medical providers, hospitals and managed care health plans. She has advanced knowledge in government-funded and private health insurance plans including Medicare, Medicaid, HMO and PPO.
As the CHCI Graduate and Young Professional Health Policy fellow, Berenice will advocate for the development of culturally appropriate health policies to ensure health care reform efforts promote the interests Latino's and all underserved communities.
National Association of Realtors Housing Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Bronx, NY
School: Fordham University
Degree: Ph.D., Sociology
Placement 1: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development - Grant Programs
Placement 2: U.S. House of Representatives, Financial Services Committee, Housing Policy
Judith obtained her Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Fordham University, where she also obtained advanced certification in Latin American and Latino Studies. Her dissertation is a qualitative analysis on the residential outcomes and housing options of middle-class Caribbean Latino, non-Hispanic Black and ethnic White native New Yorkers. In her research, Judith examines racial and ethnic differences in the road to becoming middle class, exploring issues pertaining to residential mobility, segregation, discrimination, gentrification and homeownership.
Judith completed an Alumni Dissertation Writing Fellowship at Fordham and received additional fellowships that supported her research on housing and residence from Howard University's Summer Institute for Race and Wealth in Washington, D.C., funded by the Ford Foundation, and a dissertation fellowship provided by The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College-City University of New York. Other fellowships include her selection as a summer fellow for the Smithsonian Latino's Center's Museum Studies Program in Washington, D.C.
Publications related to housing include encyclopedia entries: "Segregation and Latino/as", "Residential
Segregation," and "Barrio" in two scholarly volumes: Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society (Russell Sage) and Latinos/as and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press). Judith also published an article in the Fall 2006 volume of The Bronx County Historical Society Journal, entitled: "Movin' on Up": Pioneer African-American Families Living in an Integrated Neighborhood in the Bronx, New York." Currently she is working on a chapter centering on migration and community/cultural formation in The Bronx for an edited volume, tentatively titled: Blacks and Puerto Ricans in the Bronx: Hidden Histories of Culture, Community and Politics in New York's Northern Borough, edited by Dr. Brian Purnell, Bowdoin College.
Professionally, Judith has served as an Assistant Faculty member for the National Equity Center's Summer Civil Rights and Social Justice Training Institute, held at UCLA. She also taught as an Adjunct Lecturer in the Latino and Latin American Studies department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice-CUNY and Fordham University's College of Liberal Studies, teaching courses in both sociology and Latino/Ethnic Studies.
Judith received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., and her Master of Arts degree in College Student Personnel Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University in NYC. Judith is a proud native New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx, New York.
Hometown: Hayward, CA
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
Degree: BA, Political Science
Placement 1: The Office of Congressman Steny Hoyer, Leadership Office
Placement 2: The Office of Senator Harry Reid (NV)
Born in Peru and raised in Hayward, California, Nathaly attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received her B.A. degree in Political Science, with an emphasis in International Relations and Latin American/Iberian studies.
As an undergraduate student, Nathaly held executive positions in Lambda Sigma Gamma Sorority incorporated and was a member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity international. Nathaly was a member of Organizations such as El Congreso, in which she aided with community programming and carried out college outreach events to Latino high school students in the Southern California area.
Nathaly has interned in the Office of the Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, Representative Xavier Becerra, in the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. During her internship, she assisted conducted legislative research, provided constituent assistance and drafted constituent letters and proposed recommendations.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Nathaly hopes to gain more experience and exposure to the legislative making process. She hopes to learn how to bridge the Federal policy making process to the Latino community, in order to help build lines of communication amongst local and federal government.
New York Life Foundation Fellow
Hometown: Weehawken, NJ
School: St. Peter's College
Degree: BA, Economics and Political Science
Placement: The Office of Senator Robert Menendez (NJ)
Ismael Cid-Martinez was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Weehawken, New Jersey. Ismael attended Saint Peter's College, where he received dual degrees in economics and political science.
As an undergraduate student, he was the only undergraduate students to present a paper at the 2008 American Drama Conference held at Saint Francis College. He has served as a 2009 Fellow for the Dominican American National Roundtable's Youth Fellowship Program: "Training the next generation for economic reform." He also worked as a research assistant at the United Nations for Temple of Understanding-a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.
As a Public Policy Fellow for CHCI, Ismael hopes to garner the rich experience needed to pave the road ahead and better understand the many issues of paramount importance to the Latino and Hispanic community in the United States.
Coca Cola Fellow
Hometown: Miami, FL
School: Swarthmore College
Degree: BA, Sociology/Anthropology and Latin American Studies
Placement 1: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Placement 2: Center for Strategic Research, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
Grace Kaissal was born in Queens, NY and raised in Miami, FL. She graduated from Swarthmore College with B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology and a minor in Latin American Studies.
While an undergraduate student, she participated in various student organizations and initiatives and undertook numerous leadership roles. She co-founded the first Women of Color Collective, served as president of the Intercultural Center Intern for Enlace and was a member of the Intercultural Center and Black Cultural Center Leadership Coalition.
Grace interned with various organizations dealing with issues of public health, immigration, education, and the arts. While at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Women of Color Policy Network at NYU's Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, she developed a passion for public policy. While at NLIRH, she served as a blogger for their Nuestra Vida, Nuestra Voz blog.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Grace hopes to learn more about public policy at the federal and international level and connect with fellow Latino policy makers and activists dedicated to the empowerment of our community.
Azteca America Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Santa Fe, NM
School: University of New Mexico
Degree: BA, Latin American Studies
Placement: The Office of Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3)
Brenda Loya was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Born to Mexican immigrants, Brenda is a first generation Mexican-American. She received her B.A. in Latin American Studies with a minor in Chemistry from the University of New Mexico.
While an undergraduate student, Brenda worked as a mentor and tutor for Latino students at El Centro de la Raza. There she trained students in leadership skills, provided academic support and facilitated the transition between high school and college. She continuously explored issues of social and cultural formation, of race, class and ethnicity.
Brenda studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and in Cuernavaca and Veracruz, Mexico, exploring indigenismo and the African Presence in Mexico. She took on various leadership roles, including vice-president of the Mexican Student Association and delivered numerous leadership and facilitation trainings for ENLACE (Engaging Latino Communities for Education) programs. Recently, she organized the first Education Forum ¡En Español!, to engage Spanish-speaking families in the education of their children and to develop a set of recommendations on educational improvement for the Albuquerque Public Schools system.
As the CHCI Azteca America Public Policy Fellow, she hopes to gain hands-on experience in national public policy and looks forward to meeting talented Latino and Hispano leaders from across the country.
Hometown: Maywood, CA
School: University of California, Berkeley
Degree: BA, Social Welfare and Ethnic Studies
Placement: The Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-9)
Oscar Mairena is a first-generation Nicaraguan-American raised in Maywood, California. He received his B.A. in Ethnic Studies and Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley.
Oscar served as a Peer Counseling Coordinator and Peer Counselor for the Educational Opportunity Program, transitioning first generation, low income students to higher education. He worked for the Summer Bridge program for four summers, and helped transition more than 600 incoming first year students. Oscar interned for the Raza Recruitment and Retention Center, an organization dedicated to increasing the representation of Latinos in higher education.
As an Undergraduate Fellow at the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), he worked as an analyst assessing small businesses in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. He is a PPIA Public Policy & Law Fellow at the Goldman School of Public Policy, where he focused on the relationship between parole and recidivism in California. Oscar was elected as the Latino representative for his campus’s student government and chaired the coalition of all 32 Latino organizations. He received his campus' Morrison and Johnson Distinguished Student Life Achievement Award for academic excellence and exceptional community involvement and is a brother of Pi Lambda Phi, International Fraternity.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Oscar hopes to learn more about the legislative process and gain exposure to the many dimensions of government. His interests are education, social services, and corrections reform.
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
School: University of Arizona, Tucson
Degree: BS, Business Administration
Placement 1: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Global Health Affairs
Placement 2: The Office of Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-7)
Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Alyssa Padilla attended the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she received a B.S. in Business Administration from the Eller College of Management.
Upon graduating, she was nominated for the Eller outstanding 100, an award given to students dedicated to their campus community. Alyssa competed in the American Marketing Association National Collegiate Annual event in New Orleans spring 2009. She has remained a strong advocate for youths' rights in order to provide comprehensive health education in local high schools and ambitiously continued throughout her tenure at the University of Arizona.
Her previous experiences include heading the Teen Advisory Group of Planned Parenthood Arizona as the Coordinator and Community Health Educator, volunteering for the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, Student Health Advisory Committee events, and UA Campus Health, as well as managing the Health & Sexuality Committee of the Women's Resource Center.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Alyssa hopes to promote the facilitation of comprehensive sexual health education in local schools throughout Arizona and throughout underserved areas across the United States.
New York Life Foundation Fellow
Hometown: San Jose, Costa Rica
School: University of Nevada, Reno
Degree: BA, Philosophy and Political Science
Placement: The Office of Senator Harry Reid (NV)
Oscar Peralta was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica and attended the University of Nevada, Reno, where he earned his B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science.
While at the University of Nevada, Reno, Oscar was involved in several student organizations, and served as President of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, and Vice-president of the Latino Research Center Student Advisory Board.
Under the Latino Research Center, Oscar worked to increase the participation of Latinos in higher education through community-based initiatives. As a Northern Nevada team leader for the Reform Immigration for America campaign, Oscar helped organize several events and worked on various projects to promote humane and comprehensive immigration reform. As an active participant in his community, Oscar volunteered with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and was a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Oscar hopes to gain a better understanding of the public policy process, from the formulation of policy, to its implementation.
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
School: St. Mary's University
Degree: BA, Political Science
Placement 1: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Placement 2: The Office of Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez (TX-20)
Clarissa Ramon is a third generation Mexican-American from San Antonio, Texas. She attended St. Mary's University in San Antonio, where she obtained her B.A. in Political Science.
During her undergraduate career, she served in a number of leadership positions on campus and in the community. As a member of Phi Alpha Delta-pre-law fraternity and Pi Sigma Alpha-Political Science Honor society, she developed a passion for law and political science. She enriched her collegiate experience through participation in an Austrian study abroad program, participation in the Model Organization of the American States and an internship with the District Attorney's Office of San Antonio.
Clarissa was one of six fellows selected to participate in the Mexican American Legislative Leadership Program where she worked as a Legislative Assistant during the 2009 Texas Legislative Session.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Clarissa hopes to visit National Museums, attend the Cherry Blossom Festival and meet political leaders throughout all facets of government.
Hometown: Chicago, IL
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: BA, Urban Planning
Placement 1: U.S. Senate, Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Placement 2: The White House, Office of Presidential Correspondence
Jose Ramos was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.A. in Urban Planning.
At the University of Illinois, Jose was heavily involved in the campus community. He was president of the Puerto Rican Student Association, helped established the Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity and participated in the United Greek Council.
His passion for public policy began when he interned for the Alderman of Chicago's 26th Ward, an area that is home to the city's largest Puerto Rican community. The internship provided him with a closer look into city politics and took him on rallies and protests for various city legislation and bills. After much volunteering, Jose began working for Chicago Public Schools at Little Village-Lawndale High School, which primarily caters to the Mexican and African-American communities. There he worked with the Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program as a tutor to more than 30 freshmen students.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Jose hopes to learn about the processes that form policy, as well as gain hands-on experience in the nation's capitol.
Hometown: Acworth, GA
School: University of Georgia
Degree: BA, Political Science & French
Placement: Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Placement 2: White House Office of Presidential Correspondence
Alexis Ruiz is a first generation Mexican-American, born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Acworth, Georgia. She attended the University of Georgia where she double majored in Political Science and French.
As an undergraduate student, she served as President of Students for Latin@ Empowerment with whom she was given the opportunity to plan and execute leadership building conferences for Latino high school students. She served on the Executive Board of the Economic Justice Coalition and spear-headed the establishment of an English learning program for day laborers and service workers in Athens, Georgia. Alexis was selected as one of twenty-two Latina women to participate in the National Hispana Leadership Institute's Latinas Learning to Lead Summer Youth Program which took her for the first time to our nation's capitol and enhanced her interest and reenergized her motivation to give back to her community.
In the fall of 2008 Alexis returned to D.C. as a participant of the UGA Washington Semester Program. During her stay in D.C. she interned for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund with whom she conducted research on Latina barriers to higher education.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Alexis hopes to learn successful policy pushing techniques through hands-on experience and contribute to progressive political efforts which will positively affect the U.S. Latino population.
Hometown: Miami, FL
School: Duke University
Degree: BA, Sociology
Placement 1: U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
Placement 2: U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration
Yisel Valdes was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, FL. She graduated from Duke University with a B.S. in Sociology and minors in Economics and French.
While at Duke, she worked as a student researcher for the Duke Center on Globalization, Governance, and Competitiveness where she linked multinational companies and childhood obesity in the U.S., Mexico, and China. She also worked on a study that tracked the effects of food safety standards on developing nations. While studying abroad at the Institute of Political Studies in Strasbourg, France, she conducted research at the European Consumer Center in Kehl, Germany, where she studied the impact of national laws on consumers across the European Union.
Yisel was selected as one of three recipients of the HART Fellowship. She traveled to Pachuca, Mexico where she worked with Pro Mujer, a microfinance institution that provides micro-credit loans and life skills training to women living in rural and semi-urban areas in Mexico. In addition to working directly with the organization's clients, Yisel helped monitor emerging needs and expand existing lending, business and health initiatives.
The CHCI Public Policy Fellowship, she is looking forward to gaining valuable exposure to the legislative and federal policy decision-making process.
Hometown: Hammond, IN
School: Butler University
Degree: BA, Political Science and Spanish
Placement 1: The White House, Office of Health Reform
Placement 2: The Office of Rep. Andre Carson (IN-7)
Josefina Villanueva is a first generation Mexican-American, who was raised Hammond, Indiana. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Josie was very active in the Student Government Association, serving as the Diversity and Student Affairs Coordinating Chair for the Council of Presidential Affairs - a group that worked as a liaison between the needs of students and the university's administration. She was able to serve the community through internships with non-profit organizations such as the Indiana Civil Liberties Union and La Plaza, Inc. Her administrative work with La Plaza allowed her to assist in planning educational and cultural opportunities for over 100 children participants, ages 5 - 12, in the Summer Discovery Enrichment Program. As
An advocate for diversity and progress, she served as President of the Latinos Unidos Student Organization, in which she was responsible for coordinating cultural and educational programming for the entire campus.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Josie is committed to working with immigration, health, international and educational concerns, while gaining a unique experience in the policy making field. Her future plans include attending law school and working professionally in immigration and international law.
Hometown: Mission, TX
School: Rice University
Degree: BA, Hispanic Studies and Kinesiology: Sports Medicine
Placement 1: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers (RSAT)
Placement 2: U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (Public Engagement Office)
Lorena Villarreal is a first generation Mexican-American raised in the Rio Grande Valley in Mission, Texas. She attended Rice University, where she where she obtained her B.A. in Hispanic Studies and Kinesiology: Sports Medicine.
While at Rice, Lorena was selected as a Humanities Research Fellow for the Our Americas Archive Project. Through this program at the Rice Humanities Research center, she was able to translate and transcribe hand-written manuscripts about the Americas into an online-research database available to the public. She was also an avid member of the Rice Minority Interest Committee (MIC), whose main purpose was to encourage and recruit minority high school students to apply and attend Rice University. Through MIC, Lorena was able to help organize Vision Weekend, allowing prospective minority students to stay at Rice for several days and attend classes of their choice
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Lorena hopes to learn as much as possible about ways to help her community. She looks forward to being able to work with non-profit organizations that push young Hispanics to pursue a better education and provide them with better learning opportunities.