Student Bios: 2021-2022

Meet our team!

Alelí Andres

Alelí is a PhD student in Sociology and team lead on the gender and family project.

My interest in immigrant advocacy stems from my background as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. I grew up in a vibrant immigrant and working-class community in Maryland, where I witnessed and experienced first-hand the inequalities that immigrants are subject to in this country. As an undergraduate student, my research focused on how local and national immigration policies affect immigrant families. Now, as a graduate student and as a member of MMFRP, my goal is to continue pursuing advocacy work and research that illuminates the experiences of migrants at the US-Mexico border.  

Brianna Angulo

Brianna is a 3rd-year Political Science major with a minor in International Migration and Human Rights.

As a young Latina born and raised in Downey, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles, it is very important to me to fully immerse myself in my culture and learn more about my family’s journey immigrating from Mexico to the United States. Listening to my grandparents’ immigration stories motivates me to aid fellow immigrants and seek justice for them. Their stories have inspired me to spread awareness about immigration and educate people about those who the United States has victimized. MMFRP will allow me to do further research to understand the immigrant experience and address the current humanitarian crisis.

Vania Bailon

Vania is a Master of International Affairs student at UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy and team lead on the humanitarian needs project.

I was born is Guerrero, Mexico but have lived in San Diego since I was four years old. I am a first-generation college graduate who is also DACAmented, identities I consider a source of strength and motivation. As an undergraduate student, I assisted in surveying undocumented members of the San Diego community and connecting them with legal resources. As a graduate student, I hope to take the skills I learn to further promote the wellbeing of these communities.

Jaqueline Bruno Armontes

Jaqueline is a 3rd-year Sociology major with a concentration in Social Inequality.

I was born in the border city of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. When I was only 11 years old, I moved to the United States leaving behind what I had called home for most of my life. Nonetheless, I am thankful for my mother’s decision as it has opened many opportunities and installed the dreams and hopes I have for the future. My identity as an immigrant has inspired me to help my community and encourage others to look over the obstacles and strive for change and justice for those whose voices have been silenced. MMFRP is helping me to gain the tools and understandings needed to advocate for the rights of immigrant communities.

Nelly Carreno

Nelly is a 3rd-year Sociology major with a concentration in Law and Society.

I am a first-generation student born in the colorful city of the Sun, Oaxaca, Mexico. I am a mother of two beautiful children who inspire me every day to continue my education. When I was seven years old, I migrated to the U.S. Learning to navigate two cultures has always been challenging, and I have learned that you do not have to hide your identity.  I always remember where I come from.  Today I can say how proud and honored I am to be part of the University of California in San Diego. MMFRP opens the door to a fantastic opportunity which is to give back to the community.  I want to learn and help those in need; after obtaining my degree from UCSD, I plan to study immigration law. I know this will require work and sacrifice, but it is all for a good cause.  I want to advocate and inspire women of color, my family, and my children. I want to be able to say I did it!

David Castillo

David is a 4th-year Sociology major with a minor in Speculative Design. Artist-Student-Chicano.

I am a first-generation Latino student who was raised in the chaos of a working-class environment. My mother was born in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca and my father born in Jutiapa, Guatemala. Both migrated here in the 1990s to escape the suffering of poverty and violence. The stories of my immigrant parents are often forgotten throughout history, and this is what inspires me to pursue a career in human rights and to be a voice for those without one. MMFRP not only gives me the experience to work in the field of my passion, but it gives me a sense of community working alongside other peers who share the same struggles and aspirations. This opportunity strengthens my understanding of immigration on both a macro and micro level while giving me a deeper appreciation for my parents and their sacrifices.

Dulce Chaidez Zamora

Dulce is a 3rd-year Political Science major focusing in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics.

Coming from Eastern Coachella Valley, I am a first-generation daughter of immigrant parents. My parents migrated from Sinaloa, Mexico, and built a life in a predominantly low-income Hispanic community where we face many environmental and economic challenges. As I learn more about the immigration system in America, I understand why immigrants continue to suffer from social, political, and cultural oppression. Millions of immigrants’ lives change every day due to unfair US policies. Therefore, I am determined to provide help and support in any way I possibly can to fight against the discrimination immigrants face. After UCSD, I plan to attend law school to become an immigration lawyer. I am grateful for the chance to be part of the Mexican Migration Field Research Program and appreciate all the knowledge and experience I am gaining.

Juliana Diaz

Juliana is a Master’s student in Latin American Studies with a concentration in International Migration. She is team lead on the migrant (mis-) information project.

Born and raised in the predominantly Hispanic/Latin@ working-class city of Santa Ana, I have found myself constantly surrounded by stories of external migration. My parents themselves hail from the states of Jalisco and Oaxaca, Mexico, having both made the journey at different points throughout the militarization of the U.S border in the 1990s. While navigating undergrad as a first-generation college student, I was able to study abroad through a program based in México whose focus was on migration, borders, and transnational communities. Though my initial interest in migration may have stemmed from my personal connection to it, I found that as time moved on my interest in this phenomena led me to want to further understand it and its root causes on a more global scale. Through MMFRP I am taking with me the experience of collaboration, planning, and research, but also most importantly helping produce research that in the end will benefit those we come across at the border. 

Jesus Martin Gallegos-Muñoz

Jesus-Martin is a 4th-year International Studies-Political Science and Latin American Studies major.  

Born and raised in San Diego, I am a first generation American and college student who is passionate about immigrant justice as well as political and legal advocacy in immigrant communities. Growing up in San Ysidro and constantly crossing the border into Tijuana, I was able to witness first-hand the inequalities that immigrants were forced to face along both sides of the border. My life experiences have led me to dedicate my time and efforts to San Diego politics and transborder advocacy with groups such as the ACLU and CAUSA. I am proud of my Mexican culture and nationality and grateful for my parents’ immigration to the United States.

Emily Garcia

Emily is a 3rd-year Urban Studies and Planning major.

I am a first-generation Latinx college student. My parents migrated from El Salvador in order to escape the war that was happening in their country. They left everything they had ever known in order to have a chance at life in the United States. I recognize that I have many privileges growing up in the United States, but I still always think about how this country destroyed my parents’ home and how different my family’s life could have been if the war never happened. Because of my family’s struggles, I have always been a strong advocate for immigrants, and I am learning more about what I can do for the struggling people and families at the border. I am a daughter of poor, working class immigrants, and I want to do as much as I can to help address the humanitarian crisis that is occurring at the border of our country.

Oscar Garcia Huante

Oscar is a 4th-year Sociology major, with a minor in Psychology.

I am a fourth year student at UCSD, with a major in sociology and a minor in psychology. I was born in Mexico but raised in San Diego. I have a lot of personal experience when it comes to immigration. Some skills I have are being compassionate, organized, and hard working in the things I am passionate about. This program is helping me reflect on what career paths I will pursue in the future.

Andrea Garza

Andrea is a 4th-year Sociology major with a concentration in social inequality, and a minor in Psychology.

Born in Mexico City and raised in a predominantly Mexican and working-class neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago, immigration is a theme woven into the story of my life and experiences. My studies and participation in this program reflect my passion for human rights advocacy and social justice. MMFRP is an incredible opportunity through which I am turning that passion into action by deepening my understanding of the immigrant experience and helping bring clarity and attention to the human and civil rights issues at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Stephanie Gomez

Stephanie is a 3rd-year Psychology in Human Health major.

I was born and raised in North San Diego County but my parents are from small towns in Oaxaca, Mexico. They migrated during the 90s, hoping to find more opportunities within the US and provide for their families back home. I was always interested in their migration stories and how they adapted to life in the US, influencing me to pick up a migration minor. Through MMFRP, I am gaining a better understanding of the diverse factors that influence migration and the effects migration has upon the identity of individuals, especially as my parent’s migration has greatly challenged my own identity. I aim to use my experiences in the program to aid me in my future goals of attending graduate school and becoming a clinical psychologist. Outside of academics, I also enjoy listening to music, spending time with my family and friends, sending letters to friends, watercoloring, and traveling. 

Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian is a 4th-year Sociology major and transfer student with a concentration in culture and communication.

I was born and raised in Madera, California, and I consider myself a Chicano student. Although my father was born in the United States, my mom was born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, and migrated to the US as a teenager. Also, many of my ancestors migrated from Mexico. Being born in the US has made me realize the privilege that I have, but I have also experienced some of the hardships and stigma that the immigrant community has to face. I have become very passionate about the topic of immigration, and through this program I am learning more about other people’s experiences and stories. I am grateful for learning, gaining experience, and getting more in touch with my roots through MMFRP. 

Jessica Hernandez

Jessica is a 3rd-year Sociology major with a focus in Law and Society.

I am proud to be part of MMFRP. Being part of this university and program means so much to me as the first person in my family to ever receive a university education. As a daughter of immigrant parents and being fortunate to have been born and raised in Escondido, California, I have always been passionate about immigration. I believe my Latino community has really shed even a small light on what the average day looks like for immigrants who feel out of place many times in the day. Being part of the Mexican Migration Field Research Program is allowing me to interact with asylum seekers and refugees who are continuing to battle for asylum. This experience is helping me grow through collaboration with my peers and expanding research about asylum seekers and their stories.

Natalia Livier Jimenez

Natalia is a 4th-year Neurobiology major with a Global Health minor.

Raised in Tijuana, I have been from west to east of the city and seen the sea to the valleys, hills, and mountains divided by a wall, an unnatural border, fracturing and eroding any semblance of a shared past. Outraged by the stark unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities and moved by the stories of those who have left their homeland for a better quality of life in the country that may well be the cause of their misfortune, I became an advocate for immigrants’ rights and developed a passion for border-related issues. In MMFRP I aim to listen, learn, and treat with dignity and humanity the people I encounter and the memories they carry, not to create more harm but, at best, be a friendly steppingstone in their journey toward a healthier and safer future.

Vanessa Leon

Vanessa is a 4th-year Sociology major with a concentration in Law and Society and a minor in Psychology.

I’m a first-generation college student and the daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. As such, I’m well aware of the kinds of injustices that are faced by immigrants and it’s part of what roots my drive for social justice. I hope that I can put the knowledge and experiences I’ve gained (and will continue to gain) to use and help be part of change.

Aleida Lopez

Aleida is a 3rd-year Sociology major.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. My mother migrated from El Salvador in 1980 in order to escape the war that was happening in her country. As a result, I have been able to access resources that she never had. I am passionate about seeking justice for the immigrant community as the crisis at the border continues today. I am honored and excited to be part of MMFRP and recognize the value of this program, as it is allowing me to become more aware of the current state of the immigration population. After undergrad, I hope to attend graduate school and pursue a career in social work. 

Génesis Quetzaly López Morales

Génesis is a 4th-year Sociology major with a concentration in Law and Society

My mother and father immigrated from Guatemala and El Salvador respectively as children, fleeing violence from the US-funded civil wars in their countries. I am a proud Guatemalan-Salvadoran American and undergraduate student at UC San Diego. 

I am an interpreter for the American Bar Association’s Immigration Justice Project, a caseworker at a Southern California immigration firm, a former legal intern for Loyola Law School’s Immigrant Justice Clinic, and the president of the Society of Hispanic Students in Law at UCSD. I have a passion for community building and aspire to attend law school to become an instrument of change in the fields of immigration and human rights through policy advocacy, public service, and lawyering. I am honored to serve as part of the MMFRP team and hope to serve as a vessel to amplify the voices of migrant communities at the US-Mexico border and beyond.

Maya Machado

Maya is a PhD student in Sociology and team lead on the Black Migrant Lives project.

I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and I am a child of immigrants from the Bahamas and Panama. In college, I was able to study abroad in several Latin American countries. In these places, I observed a large number of displaced Black migrants facing several obstacles such as language barriers, travel restrictions, and poverty. Experiences like these coupled with my identity as a US-American born to Black immigrants have motivated me to focus on Black migrant experiences at the border. I hope to use my position as a graduate student researcher to increase awareness of Black migrant lives.

Slade Mahoney

Slade is a Master of Public Policy student at the UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy and team lead on the border violence project.

I first became immersed in immigration issues in the Mexican Migration Field Program when I was an undergraduate student in 2015. Since living in San Diego, I have learned the intricacies of the US-Mexico border and the complexities of immigrating to the United States. After doing MMFRP as an undergraduate and volunteering for a refugee resettlement firm in San Diego, I knew that I wanted to return to school to dive deeper into these issues. I am so grateful to be a part of MMFRP and look forward to using our project as a springboard to learn more about how I can help refugees, asylees, and immigrants. 

Alexandra Martinez

Alexandra Martinez is a 3rd-year Social Psychology and Sociology major, with a concentration in Law and Society.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. My father emigrated from Guadalajara, Mexico in 1972 to look for better opportunities with his family. As a result, I was given resources and opportunities that both my mother and father could not have. My father rarely talks about his past and the struggles he faced, especially with his lack of education. My parents have emphasized the need to be Americanized and leave most of our culture behind so that my siblings and I can live a life they couldn’t. Due to this, I want to educate myself on the hardships and struggles they both faced, especially my dad’s, as even now he still struggles. As someone privileged to be born in the United States, I want to learn more about how I can help my culture and learn more about it. My father may be ashamed and distant about his path through migration, but as his daughter, I hope to understand him more so that one day he can finally open up about his story and learn to be proud of his origins. Through this program, I am gaining knowledge about my culture and contributing to assisting those on their path of immigration.  

Yazmin Mata

Yazmin is a 3rd-year Sociology major and transfer student.

I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco and moved to the U.S when I was 4 years old. Living here since then I have grown up Mexican-American—although undocumented. My status presents unfortunate barriers to reach my dreams of higher education, nonetheless, I continue to persevere and always have mentors to support me along the way. My career goals and aspirations have been shaped by my co-curricular experiences and the drive to help my community. After undergrad, I plan to go to law school to help immigrant communities navigate the legal system, and/or get a PhD to produce research on undocumented communities that can influence public policy. 

Paola Mendoza

Paola (Pa-hola) is a 3rd-year Global Health and Biology major, minoring in Health Care-Social Issues. She is also the Online and Social Media Intern for the Women’s Center at UCSD.

For a long time, I was ruled by fear of my family being deported. I was terrified of joining programs where my identity could stand out or would give a clue of my upbringing. However, over time, I have learned to persist through barriers and dismantle them by forming my voice through advocating and combining it with my journey in healthcare. By finding MMFRP, I know that I can find peers who are willing to use their voice to amplify and connect those who are constantly being silenced or don’t know how to overcome that fear. As I continue my journey through higher education and the healthcare field, I enjoy this research because we bring together several people’s stories and collaborate to think about what can be done. 

Sandy Rodriguez

Sandy is a 3rd-year Urban Studies and Planning major.

I am a first-generation college student who was born to immigrant parents. Both of my parents migrated from El Salvador, and both have their own stories of their journey to the United States. I am grateful to them for their hard work, sacrifices, and motivation that have allowed me the opportunity to be able to, for instance, attend higher education. The experiences of the people around me give me the passion to advocate for migrant and refugee protection. These matters are very complex, and I am learning from this program, MMFRP, and hoping to contribute to the research on the impact that immigration has had on people. 

Selena Sanchez

Selena is a 4th-year Sociology major and transfer student, with a concentration in Social Inequalities and a minor in Psychology. She is also the Social Justice Intern for the Raza Resource Centro on campus at UCSD. 

Due to my identity as a Mexican-American and upbringing in the Bay Area, I am passionate about social justice and providing aid to marginalized communities. The people before me have migrated to the U.S. and worked hard to build inter-generational wealth that has afforded me the opportunity to receive higher education. I was excited to join MMFRP in order to give back to people who are currently facing similar circumstances as previously faced by my family members. 

Isabel Villegas

Isabel Villegas is a 3rd-year Global Health major, minoring in Human Rights and Migration 

I am a first-generation Latinx college student, from the sanctuary city of Santa Ana, a predominantly low-income Hispanic community. My parents migrated from Jalisco, Mexico in order to give me and my sibling the opportunities they were never able to achieve in their corrupt, cartel-dominated hometown. I am the fifth of twelve siblings, and although I recognize the privilege I have to be here, I have also witnessed first-hand the everyday struggles and battles faced by immigrants in this country, specifically in healthcare. Through this program, I am trying to grow and learn more about my community so that I can continue to advocate for those whose voices are left unheard due to the unjust, broken system. 

Karina Zavala-Corona

Karina is a 3rd-year Sociology major with a concentration in Law and Society and a minor in Human Rights and Migration. 

I am a first-generation Latinx woman born and raised in Indio, California. My parents immigrated from Mexicali, Baja California Mexico to escape poverty and inter-generational trauma. Although I have had the opportunity to receive higher education, my goal is to make this opportunity accessible to those of low socioeconomic status. I am extremely proud of my roots and aspire to attend law school after receiving my bachelor’s to give back to my community. This program is helping me gain the tools I will need to be able to provide my community with the resources necessary to break chains of inter-generational poverty and unattainable education.