2012-2013 Fellows

CHCI welcomed its 2012-2013 fellows on August 13.  The class is composed of 22 diverse individuals from 12 different states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. 

Detailed Demographics:  Download file 2012-2013 CHCI Fellows Demographic Profile


2012-2013 Graduate Fellows


Alma Acosta Garcia

Adam Briones

Jennifer Castillo          
                                             

Aurelia De La Rosa Aceves 

Daniel Lind

Emma Lopez 
               

Nicolas Perilla
                                
Jose Plaza


 

 






2012-2013 Public Policy Fellows


Morgan Brand                  

Michael Bueno

Jonathan Castaneda

Charlene Cordero

Pamela Diaz

Reuben Kapp                      

Edgar Leon
                                             
Kimberly Lopez

Maybeline Mena-Hadyka
                                                      
Livida Privado


Sonia Rangel
                                        
Jameil Saez

Diana Silva

Cristela Solorio Ruiz











 



2012-2013 Graduate Fellows 

Alma Acosta Garcia
Housing Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Brea, California
School: California State Polytechnic University
Degree: Masters of Urban & Regional Planning 
Placement 1: Urban Institute Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Alma Acosta was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and raised in Southern California. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and a Master of Science in City and Regional Planning from California State University, Long Beach. While pursuing her master’s degree in urban and regional planning from California State Polytechnic University, Alma was able to study abroad in China through an interdisciplinary program in collaboration with the North China University of Technology. During her studies in China, she worked with several teams to develop design projects to preserve the historical Beijing Hutong communities, which were scheduled for demolition to make way to for high rise residential buildings.

As a CHCI Graduate Fellow, Alma hopes to research and further study affordable housing for minorities, innovative and environmentally friendly high-density housing, sustainable communities and urban farms as catalysts for community development.

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Adam Briones

Housing Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Oakland, California
School: University of California, Los Angeles
Degree: Masters of Urban & Regional Planning
Placement 1: National Housing Partnership
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Maxine Waters

Adam Briones is from Oakland, California and received his Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2002. Prior to graduate school, he spent four years at the Greenlining Institute, a non-profit public policy organization in the San Francisco Bay area. At Greenlining, Adam helped to develop affordable housing in California’s rural Central Valley, expand access to solar technology for low-income families, and lobby state and federal officials on economic development policy. In 2012, Adam received his master’s degree in urban and regional planning from UCLA with a focus on affordable housing development and finance. While at UCLA, Adam interned with the West Angeles Community Development Corporation as well as Union Bank’s Community Development Finance Group. His master's capstone project explores the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program and strategies that developers use to mitigate the impact of shrinking public subsides.

As a CHCI Graduate Fellow, Adam hopes to continue supporting affordable housing development as well as broader economic development and wealth building policies for low-income communities.
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Jennifer Castillo

Law Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Lawrence, Massachusetts
School: Boston College Law School
Degree: J.D.
Placement: Clerkship with Judge Marisa Demeo

Jennifer Castillo is a Dominican-American from Lawrence, Massachusetts. She received her undergraduate degree from Boston College where she majored in international studies. In college, Jennifer dedicated her time to advocating and working on behalf of vulnerable populations, including victims of domestic violence, refugees, and special education students.

While at Boston College Law School, Jennifer served on the community service board for the Law Student Association and on the diversity committee for the Latin American Law Student Association. During her third year, Jennifer was a student clinician in the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project Clinic, where she advocated on behalf of special education students as their Guardian ad Litem. Jennifer was recognized with the Association of Corporate Counsel Law Student Ethics Award for Boston College Law School and the Susan Grant Desmarais Award for outstanding work in a clinical program.

Jennifer’s primary career goal is to work on issues affecting the legal rights and welfare of children, especially the poor and disadvantaged. As the CHCI Graduate Law Fellow, Jennifer will continue to hone her legal skills while gaining valuable insight and knowledge about the public policy process.

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Aurelia De La Rosa Aceves
Pepsico Foundation Health Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Alhambra, California
School: City University of New York - Baruch College
Degree: M.A., Sociology and M.P.A.
Placement: U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
Focus: 
Nutrition, Homelessness & the ACA

Aurelia De La Rosa Aceves is a Mexican-American, raised in Alhambra, California, a suburb of Los Angeles County. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and minor in ethnic studies from Santa Clara University in 2008. She completed her Master’s degree in sociology at Arizona State University in 2011 and went on to receive a second master’s in public administration from CUNY-Bernard M. Baruch College, School of Public Affairs in July 2012.

Aurelia served as a member of the 2012 cohort of the National Urban Fellows program. As part of the fellowship, Aurelia worked at Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organization based in Boston. She designed and conducted an assessment to identify effective strategies to engage communities of color in the policy implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The assessment culminated in the report Advancing Health Reform by Inclusion: Engaging Communities of Color in Creating Policy Change.

As the Health Graduate Fellow, Aurelia seeks to build on her skills and experiences to gain a better understanding of how to effectively integrate Latino and other underserved communities into the federal health policymaking process.

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Daniel Lind
API STEM Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Miami, Florida
School: Clemson University
Degree: M.S., Automotive Engineering
Placement 1: Senate Finance Committee
Placement 2: API

Daniel Lind is a Cuban-American from South Florida, who comes from a  single-parent household and is the first in his family to attend college. He received a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Miami. In August 2012, he completed his Master's degree in automotive engineering from Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville, South Carolina where his team designed and built a Mazda prototype vehicle.

Daniel is an active volunteer, serving as a mentor and role model to young students through the Hispanic College Fund and as a Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Alumni Ambassador. He also established a chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at Clemson University, the only one in South Carolina.

As a CHCI STEM Graduate Fellow, Daniel plans to combine his expertise through his work experiences across the oil and gas, automotive, locomotive, government and manufacturing industries. His goal is to become a leader in the energy and transportation industries within the world of public policy.
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Emma Lopez
Shell STEM Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Cutler Bay, Florida
School: Florida International University
Degree: M.S, Environmental Engineering
Placement 1: National Science Foundation
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Emma V. Lopez, of Guatemalan descent, was born and raised in Miami. She graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor and Master of Science in environmental engineering with a minor in earth science. During her undergraduate career, Emma was actively involved in Gamma Epsilon Phi, Society of Women Engineers, and the Catholic Student Union. She participated in various community service events including a research service project in the Amazon. She designed and constructed three rainwater collection and storage systems to provide clean drinking water to rural communities along with sanitation and hygiene educational campaigns.

As a graduate student, Emma enhanced her skills in remote sensing, geographic information systems, and groundwater modeling to target her interests in water resources. She also worked as a teaching assistant and lecturing for senior undergraduate engineering students.

As a CHCI Graduate STEM Fellow, Emma is eager to gain more leadership skills and learn firsthand about Congress and policy-making. She wants to use this knowledge and experience to promote a healthier environment and  best management practices in the field of environmental engineering.
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Nicolas Perilla

Secondary Education Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Springfield, Virginia
School: Columbia University
Degree: M.A., Educational Leadership
Placement: Senate HELP Committee

Nicolas Perilla is a Colombian-American raised in Bogota, Colombia and Springfield, Virginia. He attended the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in physics. After graduation, Nicolas joined Teach For America where he taught physics and AP physics in Texas, leading his students to achieve the highest test scores in the school for two years in a row. During his second year teaching, he and his students fundraised over $25,000 to travel to Washington D.C. to meet various Latino leaders – an event that was critical to shaping his future goals.

Nicolas’ work as a classroom teacher and school administrator opened his eyes to the inherent injustice of the American educational system. In an effort to increase his understanding and broaden his influence, he earned his Master's in educational leadership from Columbia University in New York.

As a CHCI Graduate Fellow he looks forward to researching what government can do to support and strengthen underperforming schools, especially those with traditionally underserved populations.
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Jose L. Plaza
Higher Education Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Oxnard, California
Schools/Degrees: California State University - Long Beach, M.S., Counseling
University of Southern California, Ed.D. Candidate, Education Leadership-Higher Education
Placement 1: The Education Trust
Placement 2: The Office of Rep. Raul Ruiz

Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, Jose is the proud son of migrant farm workers. His family immigrated to a small farming town in Southern California at the age of five. Jose earned bachelor's degrees in social science and English in 2005 from San Diego State University. While at SDSU he was actively involved in student life and Greek life. In 2005 he moved to Long Beach, California to pursue a M.Sc. in counseling with an emphasis in student development in higher education from California State University, Long Beach. Because of his research on migrant college students, he was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship and began his professional work as a counselor for the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), co-authoring a federal multi-million dollar grant to implement CAMP at the community college level.

Jose is pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of Southern California in educational leadership with a focus on higher education administration. Jose’s work on migrant, undocumented, and Latino populations strives to close gaps in access, equity, and achievement. Through his experience in CHCI, he hopes to further his research and practice focusing on macro policy and political issues to ensure quality impact in his home base, specifically at the community college level.
 

  2012-2013 Public Policy Fellows

Morgan Brand
BP Foundation STEM Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
School: Emory University
Degree: B.S., Neuroscience
Placement 1: American Public Health Association
Placement 2: Leadership Office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi

Morgan Brand attended the University of Washington before transferring to Emory University where she received a bachelor of science in neuroscience and behavioral biology with additional studies in sociology.

During her undergraduate career, Morgan worked with Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps program, advocating early childhood education by working to improve language and literacy in underserved preschools in Seattle and Atlanta. Additionally, Morgan worked for Volunteers for Intercultural and Definitive Adventures where she planned and participated in two week-long trips to rural areas of Costa Rica and Nicaragua with limited medical resources.

Morgan's passion is promoting proper nutrition and healthy eating habits as a means of sustaining health. As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, she hopes to add to her knowledge of public policy in order to positively influence the lives of people from underserved communities.

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Michael Bueno
BP Foundation STEM Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Raymondville, Texas
School: Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
Degree: B.S., Environmental Science
Placement 1: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Placement 2: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Michael Bueno graduated from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) with a degree in environmental science focusing on policy and regulation. Originally from Mission, Texas, he always had an interest in the field of science, participating in academic science competitions, junior science fairs, and conducting simple home based experiments. Over time he developed an interest in politics, governance, and the reciprocal roles science and government play in society, especially with regards to the environment.

As member of the TAMUCC Honors Program, Michael pursued scholarships and activities dedicated to better understanding these relationships. He presented research at conferences on the topics of mercury pollution and international electronic waste policies, attended environmental conferences, volunteered for the Sierra Club, and studied the relationships between the scientific enterprise and democracy for his senior project.

After his fellowship with CHCI, Michael intends to pursue his master’s degree in international development and science policy, and looks to work with various development initiatives in the future.   

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Jonathan Castaneda
Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: West New York, New Jersey
School: Seton Hall University
Degree: B.S., Diplomacy and International Relations
Placement 1: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security
Placement 2: Office of Senator Robert Menendez

Jonathan Castaneda is a first generation Cuban-Colombian American born in New Jersey. He attended the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University where he received a Bachelor of Science in diplomacy and international relations with a concentration in Latin America and minors in Spanish and Latino/a studies.

As an undergraduate, Jonathan interned with Asociación Tepeyac de Nueva York, a nonprofit Mexican community organization, where he helped lobby New York State legislators for passage of the Dream Act.  He then went on to intern with the Department of State as a Virtual Foreign Service Intern with the United States Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, where he monitored print and broadcast media for emerging trends on US-Venezuelan bilateral relations as well as Venezuelan-Andean Region relations., Jonathan went on to intern with the Office of Honorable Albio Sires in Jersey City, New Jersey and eventually moved on to join his staff. There, he worked with the communications department and focused on understanding the demographics and needs of the constituents.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Jonathan hopes to continue focusing on US bilateral and multilateral issues with nations in Latin America, particularly drug and human trafficking, democratization, and issues of trade and economics.

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Charlene Cordero
New York Life Foundation Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
School: Manhattanville College
Degree: B.A., International Studies
Placement: Office of Senator Robert Menendez

Charlene Cordero is a first generation Dominican-American born in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She received her bachelor of arts from Manhattanville College in New York with a double major in political studies and international relations and a minor in theater. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree, Charlene was an active member of Castle Scholars, Manhattanville’s only Honor Society. She was also fundamental in the establishment of the “Children’s Hope” Volunteer Program, where students would visit assisted housing for HIV+ families and work with the children to improve their reading and math skills as well as to provide emotional support.

Her interest in international politics and development was further enhanced by her participation a study abroad program to Brazil, South Africa, and Vietnam to study the role of politics and international influences on a country’s internal urban development. During the summer of 2010, she worked as a fellow during Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s re-election campaign in New York City. There she obtained hands-on experience on current campaigning practices.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Charlene wishes to continue learning the workings of government with regards to international public relations and policy, so as to properly represent the concerns of the Latino community, both domestically and abroad.

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Pamela Diaz

Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
School: University of the Incarnate Word
Degree: B.A., Business Administration
Placement 1: U.S. Trade Representative, Congressional Affairs Office
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Joaquin Castro

Pamela Diaz was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. In 2006, she moved to San Antonio to attend the University of the Incarnate Word where she received a bachelor of arts in business administration with a concentration in economics and finance.

Pamela worked as an intern for AVANCE and after receiving her bachelor’s degree she was promoted to the position of executive assistant to the president and CEO. During her time with AVANCE, she acted as the liaison to the national board of directors where her responsibilities included facilitating all board meetings and events, preparing presentations for corporate audiences, and managing the office of the president while attending additional professional development courses. Pamela gained valuable experience in the area of nonprofit management and learned the importance of early childhood education.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Pamela hopes to gain a better understanding of how public policy can make a positive impact on the Latino community.

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Reuben Kapp

Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Saginaw, Michigan
School: University of Michigan
Degree: B.A., Public Policy & Management
Placement 1: U.S. Department of State
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Gary Peters

Reuben Kapp is a Mexican-American from Saginaw, Michigan. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public policy and management from the University of Michigan and a minor in political science with a concentration in international conflicts. As an undergraduate, Reuben worked closely with the Latino community on campus with several student organizations. In addition, he worked as a student assistant for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and for the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

In 2010, Reuben interned for the University of Michigan’s Federal Relations Office located in Washington D.C. where  he experienced many political procedures and lobbying practices. He went on to study at Carnegie Mellon University where he received intensive training in public policy.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Reuben hopes to develop his leadership skills, meet other aspiring young professionals, and use the experience to encourage minorities to strive for higher educational attainment and future success. Most importantly, he would like to learn more about the achievement gap in our nation and help in the efforts to develop the next generation of minority leaders.

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Edgar Leon
AARP Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
School: DePaul University
Degree: B.A., Public Policy & Urban Studies  
Placement 1: AARP
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez

Edgar Leon was born and raised in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, a predominantly Latino neighborhood, where he developed an interest in housing and educational policy. In the spring of 2011, he earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy with a concentration in urban studies from DePaul University. During his time at DePaul, Edgar put theory to practice and interned at various municipal government offices, delved into electoral campaigns at the local and state level, and worked in the nonprofit sector gaining insight into how policy works in practice and the various ways to influence policy change.

Most recently, Edgar worked at Enlace Chicago, a community-based organization in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, the largest Mexican community in the Midwest. While there, Edgar made a positive difference in the lives of residents through his role as Operations Coordinator and later as the Development and Operations Associate.

Edgar volunteers for a number of nonprofits including the National Hispanic Institute, the US Hispanic Leadership Institute and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, where he coaches a freshman debate team

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Kimberly Lopez

SEIU Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: New Castle, Delaware
School: Cornell University
Degree: B.S., Industrial and Labor Relations
Placement 1: SEIU
Placement 2: Office of Senator Chris Coons

Kimberly Lopez was born and raised in New Castle, Delaware. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University in 2012. Kim was active during her time in college, serving as a Cornell Tradition Fellow, through which she participated in a service trip to El Limon, Dominican Republic where she tutored students. She was also active in recruiting underrepresented students through the Cornell University Increasing Multicultural Admissions and Gains in Enrollment program, and worked on various projects with MECHA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) at Cornell.

Kim has interned with Service Employees International Union local 32BJ as a Strategic Researcher. She also conducted research at a mental health institution in Napa, California with the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley through the Occupational Health Internship Program.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Kim hopes to learn more about policy making and legislative processes so that she may be an effective and resourceful leader for the Latino community.

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Maybeline Mena-Hadyka
Altria Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
School: University of California, Berkeley
Degree: B.A., Peace and Conflict Studies
Placement 1: U.S. Department of State
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Xavier Becerra

Maybelline Mena-Hadyka was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in May 2012 with high honors as a Phi Beta Kappa scholar. She earned her bachelor’s degree in peace and conflict studies with a concentration in rights and citizenship in the global south and a minor in ethnic studies.

During her time as an undergraduate, Maybelline consistently held leadership positions throughout campus. She was a UC Berkeley Ambassador where she served as a campus tour guide for the Berkeley Visitor Center. She also represented the Berkeley Education Abroad Program as a student ambassador after studying abroad twice during her undergraduate career.

Maybelline became very interested in social justice issues in college while working with Latino communities both in Los Angeles and in the Bay Area. She was a summer intern for InnerCity Struggle, a nonprofit organization in East Los Angeles, working toward education justice for inner-city students. She also served as a JusticeCorps student intern at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Alameda County, where she assisted over 300 litigants who could not afford an attorney. During her senior year, Maybelline was a research apprentice in the UC Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program where she examined the roles of federal, state, and institutional policies that affect college preparation among Latino students in California.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Maybelline wants to continue working toward good public policy that will fully protect citizenship and human rights for poor vulnerable populations.

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Livida Privado
UPS Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Greer, South Carolina
School: Clemson University
Degree: B.A., Political Science
Placement 1: ABA Commission on Immigration
Placement 2: Office of Rep. James Clyburn

Livida Cristi Privado, a first-generation Salvadoran-American, was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and Greenville, South Carolina. Cristi attended Clemson University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science and minor in Spanish. As an undergraduate, Cristi served on the board of the Latino group, Latinos Unidos, as the Community Outreach Chair where she promoted higher education, assisting Latino high school seniors through the college application process.

During her undergraduate career, Cristi was chosen as a Clemson Community Scholar, which allowed her to volunteer in the community and to work with small groups of students to promote civic engagement. As a Public Policy Fellow, Cristi hopes to become a better leader in order to help the underprivileged.

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Sonia Rangel
Google Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
School: University of Texas, Austin
Degree: B.A., History
Placement: Democratic Caucus Leadership Office, Rep. Xavier Becerra

Sonia Rangel is a first generation Mexican American born in California and raised in the borderland region of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin earning a degree in history and a minor in journalism.

During college, Sonia was the vice chair of a nonpartisan political student organization, UT Votes that encouraged voter registration on campus. She was deputized to register new voters and collaborated with other student organizations during the 2008 presidential election to register over 1,000 new voters.

Upon graduation, Sonia became involved in two grassroots nonprofit organizations, Latinitas and BorderSenses, to promote Latino culture and serve the underprivileged communities. As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Sonia is enthusiastic to gain a better understanding of the public policy process to improve the quality of life to the underserved Latino communities. 

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Jameil Saez
UPS Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Vega Alta, Puerto Rico
School: University of Puerto Rico
Degree: B.A., Anthropology
Placement 1: La Clinica del Pueblo
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Raul Grijalva

Jameil J. Saez Hobson was born and raised in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. In high school he participated in High School Career Opportunities in Research, a program designed to improve the participation of Hispanics in the scientific community. He graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in anthropology, focusing his electives courses on environmental science. As an undergraduate, he began an outreach program for middle school students with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources to promote the conservation of a tree mitigation farm in Coamo, Puerto Rico, one of the historical habitats of the crested toad, an endangered species endemic to the island.

During his college years, Jameil helped found Grupos Aliados Interdisciplinarios Ambientales, whose purpose is to create vegetables gardens in public schools in urban areas to be used as an educational tool incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

As a CHCI fellow, Jameil expects to gain more knowledge in the process of public policy with the hopes to better help Puerto Ricans both on the island as well as the mainland. His goal is to focus on education, farming and public health in the Latino community. His academic goal is to pursue graduate studies in medical anthropology.

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Diana Silva

Coca Cola Foundation Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Duluth, Georgia
School: University of Georgia
Degree: B.A., International Studies
Placement 1: World Bank
Placement 2: House Committee on Homeland Security

Diana Silva was born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in Duluth, Georgia. She attended the University of Georgia, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in international affairs with a concentration in international relations and a minor in Italian.

As an undergraduate, Diana was involved with school organizations, often rising to leadership positions. As secretary of the Hispanic Student Association, Diana formed part of many motivational projects that helped influence lives of Latino students in the community, including a program called Sígueme that allows minority students to see how their goals can be achieved by attending higher education. In addition, she served as member of UGA H.E.R.O: a non-profit student run organization focused on helping improve the lives of kids infected by HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, she was an active member Sigma Iota Rho, a recipient of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and a UGA Excel Award of Excellence in Education and Leadership winner.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Diana hopes to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to develop future policies that will positively affect her community and the Latino community as a whole. She plans to pursue a dual master’s degree in public policy and international business. She hopes to work for a government agency or multinational corporation.

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Cristela Solorio Ruiz
Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Huntington Park, California
School: University of California, Santa Cruz
Degree: B.A., Political Science
Placement 1: The National Council of La Raza 
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez

Cristela was born and raised in Huntington Park, California. In 2011, Cristela graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) with a Bachelor of Arts in politics and a minor in legal studies.

Before transferring to UCSC, Cristela attended Rio Hondo College in Whittier, California. It was there where she found her passion for public service. She became very involved on campus and co-founded Students without Borders, an organization that focuses on informing, assisting, and educating undocumented youth and allies about current legislation, issues of interest, and scholarship opportunities. 

During her tenure at UCSC, Cristela worked at the Watsonville Law Center as a clinic assistant. She served as the liaison between attorneys and clients and helped provide free legal services to low-income individuals by providing one-on-one consultations and advice clinics. It was there that she gained invaluable experience and an understanding of the severe negative impacts of the lack of access to legal aid to individuals who cannot afford legal representation. This experience profoundly influenced Cristela’s future endeavor, leading her on the path to pursue a master’s in public policy and a law degree in the future.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Cristela would like to gain hands-on experience in the policy making decision process. Her primary interests are in higher education, the Dream Act, comprehensive immigration reform, poverty policy and increasing Latino civic engagement.

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