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2019-2020 GRADS Ambassadors cohort

The Graduate Recruitment and Diversity Services (GRADS) Program is the peer-advising arm of the DREAM Office. The goal of GRADS is to foster diversity within the student population at the School of Public Health by connecting prospective applicants with a team of student volunteers—the GRADS Ambassadors. Our GRADS Ambassadors are available to provide application advice, support and a current student perspective over the course of the admissions cycle.

Below are the profiles of our 2021–2022 GRADS Ambassadors are available below—reach out to us at sphgrads@berkeley.edu if you would like to connect with someone!

Jasmine Lee

She/Her/Hers

Jasmine Lee is a 4+1 Epidemiology/Biostatistics MPH student. She graduated from Cal with a BA in Public Health and a minor in Public Policy. She is passionate about health equity and is particularly interested in understanding its intersection with environmental health. As an undergrad, she was involved with Partners in Health Engage at Berkeley as part of the education committee to educate and advocate for the right to health movement. Her goal during the 4+1 MPH is to gain more quantitative skills and experience to apply to her research interests and health issues in her community.

Jessica Thai

She/Her

Jessica is a current 4+1 student in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics program. She just recently completed her undergraduate degree in Public Health with a minor in Toxicology. Her research interests lie in Asian and Pacific Islander health, community health, and social epidemiology. Currently, Jessica works on data disaggregation advocacy and research interventions for reducing obesity and cancer disparities in the Pacific Islander community. In her free time, Jessica enjoys painting, working out, and hiking.

Katrina Le

She/Her

Katrina grew up in San Jose, CA and is currently a 4+1 MPH student in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She loves analyzing data and is very interested in cardiovascular disease and health issues in the AAPI community. Outside classes, Katrina is a coach for Partners in Health Engage, helping chapters for this grassroots organization fight for the right to health. During the pandemic, she volunteered as a contact tracer and at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination site in Santa Clara County. In her free time, Katrina enjoys getting boba with her friends and playing with her dogs.

Amia Nash

She/Her/Hers

Amia Nash is excited to start her third year of Berkeley’s DrPH program. She attended Santa Clara University for her undergraduate education where she was a public health major and triple minor in biology, sociology, and religious studies. Her diverse coursework challenged her to think critically about the intersections between public health and social justice. Amia earned her Master of Science in Community Health and Prevention Research from Stanford University School of Medicine. Her thesis focused on the ethical considerations for community-based research with homeless populations. Her past research was at the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Well-being where she conducted qualitative research focused on the mental health needs and concerns of Asian-American adolescents and parents in Palo Alto. In 2019, Amia was nominated by the Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Department for a Community Hero Award for her policy and advocacy work focused on adolescent mental health. Amia is currently a graduate student researcher with Berkeley’s YPAR lab focusing on youth-led participatory action research in school settings and bringing youth voice to the development and implementation of health programming and policy.

Makayla Leonard

She/Her/Hers

Makayla is a 1st year MPH student in Environmental Health Sciences. She received her BA in Environmental Studies from Spelman College in 2021. Makayla is an African American woman born and raised in Richmond, California. Her interests include air pollution, social and environmental determinants of health, environmental justice, and climate change. In her free time she likes to bake, listen to music and spend time with friends and family.

Monique Miller

She/Her

Monique (she/her) is a first year MPH student in Environmental Health Sciences specializing in Industrial Hygiene. Since graduating from UC Berkeley in 2019, she has worked with various COVID-19 response efforts including UCSF’s Benioff Homeless and Housing Initiative to pilot a rapid COVID-19 test program throughout San Francisco homeless shelters. She also worked at the Public Health Institute as a Community Care Specialist to reach out to communities in California that were most impacted by COVID-19. In this position, she provided culturally competent COVID-19 and vaccine education and worked closely with various counties to provide essential resources and services to these communities. She is interested in promoting health equity in the context of occupational health, with a focus on low-wage, vulnerable workers who are disproportionately people of color. Outside of school, she enjoys cooking, fermentation projects, screen printing and collecting tattoos.

Didien Meyahnwi

He/Him

Didien Meyahnwi is a Cameroonian born Medical Doctor with 3 years of medical humanitarian experience. After graduating with Honours from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon in 2018, he returned to the Anglophone regions to offer medical care to the struggling population engulfed by the violent Anglophone crisis since 2016 which deteriorated an already weak health system. He initially worked in a strategic government-run health facility for 9 months (August 2018- April 2019) which served as a referral hospital for several rural health facilities. Learning about the immeasurable suffering of rural populations, he then moved to work with Nobel prize-winning humanitarian organisation, Doctors Without Borders, aka MSF to provide free high-quality humanitarian medical assistance to hard-hit rural populations of the English-speaking regions. This care has been focused on training healthcare workers, clinically treating children, trauma and sexual violence victims, internally displaced people, women with obstetric complications and malnourished children. In addition to my clinical skills, Didien amassed research experience while working on my MD thesis exploring the genetic diversity of a malaria vaccine candidate, Erythrocyte Binding Antigen (EBA-175) and the humoral response to this antigen in children in Cameroon. During this year-long research, he also worked as a laboratory assistant at the Biotechnology Center, University of Yaoundé I. These experiences have spurred a research interest in infectious diseases, health conditions affecting minority, low-income or conflict-afflicted populations. In addition to healthcare, Didien is passionate about increasing access to secondary and higher education opportunities to high achieving, low-income students. Thus, he serves as a mentor in Open dreams, a HALI- affiliated not-for-profit organisation, which serves to bridge the gap between talent and opportunity. In his leisure time, he enjoys politics, watching various sports, wildlife and history. He looks forward to becoming proficient in swimming, tennis and learning the piano.

Brian Aldana

He/His

Brian Aldana was born in Tokyo, Japan but grew up travelling the world as part of a military family. He moved to the Bay Area in 2014 and graduated from UC Berkeley in 2019 with a BS in Nutritional Sciences. Following graduation, Brian worked as a data analyst for the San Francisco Department of Public Health and UCSF, harvesting and analyzing data for a project examining the benefits of targeted nutritional interventions in vulnerable populations. Starting in 2020, he also performed weekly “sentinel-style” COVID-19 tests on students, teachers, and staff in the Bay Area via a small lab operating out of Oakland. He loves learning, teaching, and talking about data, but believes strongly in working on applying insights to real world issues. His research interests include chronic diseases of aging, analysis of large-scale medical data, and statistical genomics. After obtaining his degree, Brian hopes to use his training as a biostatistician to contribute to a wide variety of projects with a focus on improving patient outcomes, especially in underserved communities.

Ruben Vargas

He/Him/His

Ruben is a first-year in the Epidemiology/Biostatistics MPH program from Watsonville, CA. He is a recent first-generation college graduate from UC Berkeley where he completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular & Cell Biology and Integrative Human Biology with minors in Global Public Health and Chicano Studies. He recently worked with Virta Health as part of their medical-science team, studying the difference in health outcomes using their patient data and formulating potential interventions to overcome set barriers common among our health system. During his masters, he intends to continue researching cardiovascular and/or chronic disease epidemiology due to the disproportionate burden of these diseases on low-income communities. Aspiring to become a Cardiologist, he aims to attend medical school after completion of this 2-year graduate program where he will implement a public health point of view in medical practices.

Richard Pulvera

He/Him/His

Richard Pulvera is a second-year MPH student in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from Oceanside, CA. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2019 with bachelor’s degrees in Public Health and Molecular & Cell Biology. While at UC Berkeley, he was deeply involved in student-initiated recruitment and retention programs, working to improve higher education access for underrepresented students of color. After graduation, Richard worked as a researcher at UC Berkeley School of Public Health on school-based approaches and impact evaluation to reduce childhood obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Richard is determined to use his training to assess the health impacts of social and economic policy, to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases, and enhance the health-promoting qualities of physical environments. His goals are further narrowed by his passionate commitment to tackling health disparities. He strives to dismantle systems of inequity to advance the health and representation of communities of color.

Tiffany Nguyen

She/Her/Hers

Tiffany Nguyen is a second year MPH student in Epidemiology & Biostatistics. She graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from UC Davis in 2014. Since 2019, Tiffany has worked at San Francisco Community Health Center, supporting the clinic and its programs as a Data Analyst & Patient Panel Manager. During this role, she also provided HIV testing during weekly drop-in hours and at special events. In addition, she volunteers as a research assistant for the Transgender Research Project, investigating HIV transmission and care in the transgender population. She hopes to become a social and infectious disease epidemiologist, specializing in the transmission of STIs for women of color. In her summer internship, she analyzed CDC NHIS data and did analysis on vaccine adherence in populations with comorbidities. Her hobbies include cooking/eating, creating video content, finding new restaurants, exercising, exploring, and lounging on the beach!

Allison Work

She/Her/Hers

Allison is a first year Global Health and Environment MPH student. Originally from Washington state, she studied biology at Whitman College before moving to Colorado and working in STEM education and communications for several years. Her interests in climate change and science communication brought her to public health. In free time, she can be found drinking copious amounts of coffee or anywhere out-of-doors.

Hiruni Jayasekera

She/Her

Hiruni is a first year MPH student in Global Health and Environment. She is originally from the South Bay Area, but spent time living in Washington state for several years. She graduated from University of Washington in 2019 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. While at UW, she spent time researching the effects of human infecting schistosomes and their ability to manipulate snail intermediate host behavior. Prior to graduate school, she worked at a USGS lab studying disease in wild and cultured Pacific herring populations. Hiruni’s main interests encompass disease ecology, One Health, and science communications. She hopes to be an translator of science to public policy in the future. In her free time she enjoys learning guitar, backpacking, and tidepooling.

Isabella Araldi

She/Her

Isabelle is a first year student in the 2-year Global Health & Environment MPH program. She just moved to the Berkeley from San Jose, and is originally from Connecticut. Isabelle graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2019 with a degree in Biological Anthropology, minors in Biology and German, and a certificate in Forensic Science. While at UT, she was part of a research lab studying the ecological effects of climate change and deforestation on humans and primate species in Southeast Asia, and also worked as a researcher at a consumer genomics company in Austin. Her academic interests include disease ecology, the effects of climate change on epigenetics, and WASH. In her free time, Isabelle enjoys trying new restaurants around Berkeley, going on nature walks, playing the piano, and playing board games too competitively.

Johanna Roth

She/Her/Hers

Johanna is a second year MPH/MCP dual degree student studying Global Health & Environment and Environmental Planning & Healthy Cities. She immigrated to the United States from Germany and lived in Seattle before completing her B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies in 2017. Before returning to UC Berkeley as a graduate student, she worked at an environmental nonprofit focused on sustainable land use and brownfield redevelopment and as a high school rowing coach. Johanna’s research interests include social determinants of health, environmental justice, land use planning for public health, climate change resiliency, and spatial analysis. In her free time, she loves spending time outdoors and going to concerts.

Frieda Khan

She/Her/Hers

Frieda is from Oakland, CA, and is a first-year Master of Public Health student in Health Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. She has a Bachelor of Science in Health Science: Health Care Management and a Minor in Anthropology at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Also, she has an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts: Math and Science, Liberal Arts: Behavioral Science and Social Science, and Liberal Arts: Arts and Humanities at Los Medanos College. After undergraduate, Frieda has two years in management in the education field, where she oversees its daily operations and helps grade K-12 students meet their academic goals. Currently, she has been working for more than three years now assisting the vulnerable population with the Affordable Care Act enrollment at a non-profit organization. Her interest is management, improving and expanding healthcare, and to reach equality of the people. In her free time, Frieda enjoys time with her friends and family, self-care, and learning about cultures when she is traveling the world.

Jeenal Mehta

She/Her/Hers

Jeenal Mehta is a first-year MPH student in Health Policy and Management. She earned her B.S. in Community Health with a main concentration in Health Planning and Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to graduate school, for almost three years, Jeenal worked as a Patient Care Program Associate at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Palo Alto, CA where she managed a portfolio of grants in support of nurse leaders and innovators as well as serious illness care. Her interests include health equity, digital health interventions in underserved populations, human-centered design thinking, community-centered care, and reducing disparities in maternal health. In her free time, Jeenal enjoys playing tennis, hiking, biking, singing, cooking & playing board games with her family, and spending time with her niece!

Rogelio (Roger) Bazan-Flores

He/Him

Rogelio (Roger) Bazan-Flores is a 1st year MPH student in the Health Policy & Management Program and a Kaiser Premanente Public Health Scholar. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) class of 2021 getting his B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Environmental Systems & Society. A 1st generation Mexican-American student, growing up in the heart of East LA, Boyle Heights, Roger’s Chicano roots are strong. A Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Scholar in undergrad Roger’s research interests include the Social Determinants of Health, Access to Healthcare in Latino/immigrant Communities, Burnout in the Medical workspace, and Environmental Health. Roger remains humble and as his grandma always told him growing up “el que Quiere.. Puede”. Taking these words to heart despite the setbacks of coming from a low-income single-parent household and being a first-generation Mexican-American and the first in his family to get to college and now graduate school, Roger has always strived to be the best he can be. To be a good man, a good student, a good brother, and a good son. On his downtime, you can find Roger tinkering with electronics (building gaming computers) or spending time with his bearded dragon ‘Guapo’ while learning how to breed and successfully incubate lizard eggs (herpetology is rad). On his weekends you can find him going on scenic hikes through nature or going to the gym to exercise his body. Roger is also a musician who plays saxophone (alto, tenor, soprano) and enjoys marching band arrangements, and is an avid electronic music fanatic going to music festivals whenever possible.

Shelby Rorabaugh

She/Her

Shelby Rorabaugh is a graduate student in the two-year Health Policy and Management MPH program (Class of 2023). After receiving a BA in Political Science from New York University in 2017, she pursued her public health passions in program coordination for the global health nonprofit Orbis International and the New York City Department of Health’s Bureau of Equitable Health Systems. While working for the Department of Health at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she talked to physicians and patients to increase utilization of vital social services, such as housing assistance and unemployment benefits, and to improve vaccination rates among BIPOC communities in the outer boroughs. Shelby has returned to her Bay Area roots for grad school where she hopes to learn more about health equity, program evaluation, and primary care quality improvement initiatives in California’s healthcare landscape. In her free time, Shelby loves to read epic fantasy novels, hunt for hidden gem coffee shops, and bake apple pies.

Sherry Pablo

She/Her

Sherry is a 2nd-year MPH student in the department of Health Policy and Management. She is interested in a career in healthcare administration with a focus on increasing accessibility and improving the patient experience for people with disabilities. This past summer Sherry was an admin intern at PeaceHealth where she identified educational needs for ambulatory staff within PeaceHealth’s Medical Group. Before coming to Berkeley, Sherry served multiple terms with AmeriCorps, her most recent work with the Public Health Institute in Oakland where she managed and supported a 40-member team of VISTAs working in a statewide opioid safety coalition program combating the opioid epidemic. Sherry also spent time as a health educator with La Clinica’s school-based health department in San Leandro where she provided nutrition education as well as sexual health and reproductive education to youth. A local Bay Area native, Sherry enjoys being outdoors, exploring unfamiliar neighborhoods, live music, museums, and spending time with friends and family.

Leslie Giglio

She/Her

Leslie Giglio is a first year MPH student in the Health and Social Behavior Concentration. She is originally from Los Angeles, and graduated from Santa Clara University in 2019 with a BS in Public Health Science and Spanish, and a minor in Ethnic Studies. As a first-generation Latinx student, she is passionate about eliminating health disparities among Latinx, immigrant and BIPOC communities, and addressing racism as a social determinant of health. Having worked closely with marginalized folks at a community health clinic and at the UCSF Latinx Center of Excellence, she hopes to utilize community based research as a tool to amplify community need and influence policy towards systemic level change. In her free time, she loves to go to the beach with her puppy, go on hikes, and travel.

Melika Jalili

She/Her

Melika is a first MPH student in the Health and Social Behavior program. She graduated from Simon Fraser University and received a BA with distinction in Health Sciences. Throughout her undergraduate studies she became involved in Indigenous communities and took an interest in Indigenous health and issues of social injustices. Moreover, she recognizes the importance of community support and reciprocity, and wants to do her part in giving back to the community by walking a path of reconciliation. Her research interests include: the social determinants of health and increasing access to health resources in marginalized and vulnerable populations, with a focus in Indigenous populations. Additionally, she wants to tackle issues of systemic racism within healthcare and emphasize the importance of diversity and culturally competent care. During the pandemic, she served as a lead on a Health & Safety COVID-19 team, which reconfirmed her passion for Public Health. In addition, she enjoys sports, fitness, hiking, traveling, and discovering new ice-cream shops!

Summer Lewis

She/Her

Originally from Oklahoma, Summer Lewis is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation and an Oklahoma Seminole descendent. After receiving her bachelor’s in Psychology from Ithaca College, she became a conference planner for the National Indian Health Board and later on a Health Education Specialist for the California Rural Indian Health Board. More recently, Summer has been working as a writer for Tribal health programs such as Indian Country ECHO and We R Native. She recently accepted a fellowship with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board where she will assist with piloting a new culturally-appropriate community-based public health curriculum, 49 Days of Ceremony. She is also a Kaiser Permanente Scholar. Summer calls San Francisco her home where she resides with her partner Chris and their cat Nori. She enjoys hiking, basket weaving, beadwork, and baking.

Sagaree Jain

They/Them

Sagaree Jain (they/them) is a writer, researcher, graduate student, poet, and queer from the Silicon Valley currently working on a Masters of Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley. Sagaree served as a John Gardner Fellow at Human Rights Watch and as a Global Health Corps fellow at the Center for Health, Human Rights, and Development in Kampala, Uganda. They are committed to ethical and community-involved research at the intersections of queerness, health, and reproductive justice. In their free time, you can find them practicing yoga, performing poetry, and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sagaree lives in Oakland and tweets at @sagareej.

Jessie Melina García Gutiérrez

GRADS Coordinator | she/her/ella and they/them/elle

Jessie is a proud transgender Chicanx woman from Salinas, CA, and is a third-year student in the 3-year MPH/MSW concurrent degree program. She is in the Health and Social Behavior program and Advancing Well-being across the Adult Lifespan program in the MPH and MSW programs, respectively. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2018, where she earned a B.S. in Anthropology with minors in French, Food Studies, and Global Health. She then worked as the Trans* Empower Workforce Development Program Manager at a Transgender Health Program at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in South Central Los Angeles. In that role, she assisted transgender patients with job readiness skills, job placement, legal gender, and name change paperwork, and trained employers in Los Angeles on transgender competency to best support transgender workers. Additionally, she completed her public health internship doing a UCSF Youth and Participatory Action Research project with the youth of color from Richmond, California. Her research interests include how institutions, systems, and organizations affect the mental health of transgender people of color. She is also interested in Latine holistic health. In her free time, she enjoys watching professional wrestling, running, dancing, cooking, and hanging out with her dog!

Shalini Chatterjee

She/Her/Hers

Shalini (she/her/hers) is a third-year student in the concurrent MSW/MPH program. Prior to graduate school, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps and then worked at a non-profit supportive housing site, where she provided mental health services to formerly homeless adults in San Francisco. As a dual degree student, she is interested in exploring the intersections of community mental health, homelessness, and criminal (in)justice reform through harm reduction and restorative approaches. During her time in graduate school, she has worked on multiple projects aimed at developing, evaluating, and improving services supporting marginalized individuals, including youth experiencing homelessness, youth impacted by commercial sexual exploitation, people who are pregnant and housing insecure, and people living with HIV/AIDS. She has also served as a street outreach worker at People’s Park and a student practitioner at the UC Berkeley Restorative Justice Center. She is currently the social work intern with Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital’s Emergency Department Case Management team, working with adults with complex medical and psychosocial needs. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, reading, music, and spending time with animals.

Emily Kaner

She/Her/Hers

Emily is a third year MPH/MCP student focused on the structural determinants of health, intersections between health and place, and the use of mixed methods in research. Throughout graduate school, she has worked as a GSI for several courses, interned with the City of Berkeley and conducted research at two research centers in Alameda county. Her current research explores contexts and meanings of substance use for different communities. She holds a BS in Molecular and Environmental Biology from UC Berkeley and loves spending time outside, hiking, biking and walking around.

Whitney Francis

She/Her/Hers

My name is Whitney (she/her) and I’m a second-year dual MCP/MPH (Health and Social Behavior) student. I’m originally from San Diego, but I’ve been in and around the Bay for the past 6 years. I graduated from Stanford in 2019 and have a background in environmental studies with a focus on sustainable food systems and also minored in Asian American Studies. I previously worked in a clinic-based food security/nutrition behavior change program at the San Francisco Department of Public Health called Food Pharmacy and this past summer, I was working for Alameda County on their ALL IN Eats Circular Food Economy initiative. My time doing food security work prompted me to think a lot about the need for institutions to break through the silos and work together to address systemic issues. My goal for my time in the MCP/MPH program is to better understand how we can strategically build more sustainable, resilient, and equitable integrated systems through our cities and my goal is to eventually do advocacy work that addresses the root causes of hunger. In my free time, I enjoy gardening, eating my way around the Bay, and listening to music!

Clarissa Aquino

She/Her/Hers

Clarissa is a second year student in the 2 year infectious diseases and vaccinology MPH program from Vacaville, CA. She earned a BS in Public Health with an emphasis in Epidemiology and a minor in International Development from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. After completing her degree, she volunteered in the Philippines for 2 year with underserved, rural communities in the Bicol region. Upon returning to the US, she joined Americorps and worked as a case manager for community clinics in Salt Lake City. Her most recent work experience was as an infectious disease epidemiologist for the Salt Lake County Health Department where she performed surveillance and outbreak investigations on their non-enteric disease team including work on the current COVID-19 response. When she is not in class, Clarissa enjoys being outdoors, hiking, and spending time with her dog, Noodle.

Kathryn Lin

She/Her

Kathryn is a first year in the MPH program with an Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology concentration. She is originally from Indiana and completed her undergraduate degree in Human Biology at Indiana University. After graduation, she worked as a researcher in a gut immunology lab at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, working on projects related to maternal-infant health, late-onset sepsis, and microbiota analysis. She hopes to continue exploring microbiota and diet-associated impacts on overall health and how early-life health outcomes influence long-term wellbeing. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing volleyball, rock climbing, and exploring new foods.

Lian Ching Yun Hsiao

She/Her/Hers

Lian is a first-year student in the Infectious Disease and Vaccinology concentration of the MPH program. She studied biology during her undergraduate time at UC Riverside, where she realized her passion for public health and healthcare. She is interested in infectious disease epidemiology and how genomic data and bioinformatic technology can be used to study this. As a first-generation college and graduate student, Lian strives to be part of the team to bring diversity and representation to Berkeley’s School of Public Health. On her free time, she enjoys traveling (both domestic and abroad), trying new recipes, exploring new restaurants and places, and spending time with her loved ones.

Rushlenne Pascual

She/Her

Rushlenne is a first-year MPH student in the division of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. Originally from Seattle, she graduated from the University of Washington with her BS in Microbiology and BA in Public Health. Prior to joining Berkeley Public Health, Rushlenne worked as a Research Scientist at the UW Neisseria Reference Laboratory, helping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects to enhance domestic gonorrhea surveillance and stop the spread of resistant infections. She is a proud first-generation college and graduate student, and hopes to inspire students with similar backgrounds to pursue higher education and give them the resources they need to succeed. If she is not at school or work, you can probably find her participating in outreach and social activities at her church. She also loves playing tennis, exploring the outdoors, spending time with friends, and trying new restaurants.

Abena Asare

GRADS Coordinator | She/Her

Abena is a second-year MPH student in the 2-year Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health program from Berlin, NJ, a small town right outside of Philadelphia. She graduated from Wellesley College in 2018, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Health & Society. Shortly following graduation, Abena moved to Oakland, California to work as a Program Assistant at Prevention Institute where she helped coordinate prevention initiatives focused on collaborative and community-based approaches to addressing intimate partner violence & mental health and wellbeing across the country. Most recently she worked with Contra Costa Health Service’s Office of the Director assisting with the county’s COVID-19 response and health equity plan. She is passionate about addressing the historical injustices and determinants of health that impact the maternal and child health population, particularly how racism affects Black birthing people and babies in the United States. In her spare time, Abena enjoys going for walks and runs outdoors, organizing gatherings with friends, and spending time with family.

Annalissa Waston

She/Her

Annalisa is a first year MPH student in the 2-year Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health program. She grew up in the East Bay suburbs in California, about 30 miles from UC Berkeley. She graduated from UCLA in 2019, majoring in Psychobiology and minoring in Global Health. Upon graduation, Annalisa worked as a clinical research coordinator at UCSF in the Institute for Health Policy Studies where she managed a variety of projects concerned with pediatric health and well-being. Her public health interests involve adolescent sexual health, perinatal care, and program evaluation. In her free time, she enjoys running and biking in the Berkeley hills, listening to podcasts, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Julie Grassian

She/Her

Julie Grassian is a first year Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health MPH student. She is originally from San Pedro, CA and graduated from UCLA in 2020 with a B.A. in Psychology and minor in Public Health. Prior to Berkeley, she served as the Program Coordinator for the UCLA Women’s Health Education & Research Center, where she coordinated community outreach programs focused on promoting environmental/reproductive justice, LGBTQ+ health, and addressing the health-wealth gap. She also works as a youth grief counselor and just finished working on a grant with AUCD/UC-Lend to promote vaccine confidence among neurodiverse communities. She is passionate about addressing the social determinants of health and wellbeing for children, adolescents, and their families, including ACEs, accessible and affordable health and social services, and environmental racism.

Kimsa Nguyen

She/Her

Kimsa Nguyen is a second year Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health MPH Student. She was born and raised in San Jose, CA and graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Cell Biology in 2017. During her time at UC Davis, she developed her interest for health education and reproductive justice. Before coming to Berkeley, she worked as a medical and research assistant at a Gynecologic surgery clinic in addition to serving as the Director of Community Outreach at Worldwide EndoMarch, a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness for endometriosis. As an aspiring OB/GYN, she’s determined to center healing, equity, and justice in her future practice. In her free time, she likes to cook new recipes, spend time in nature, and dance.

Lupita Ambriz

She/Her/Hers

Lupita Ambriz is first-generation college student in the Maternal Child and Adolescent Health MPH program. She grew up in Salinas Valley before moving to Sacramento, California. Her college journey began at Sacramento City College and then she graduated with a B.S. in Nutrition Science Public Health from UC Davis. Throughout her college journey she gained interest in addressing health disparities, so she volunteered at a nutrition intervention non-profit that serves low-income elementary schools in the greater Sacramento area. Upon graduation, she worked as a NICU Lab Technician, where she established her passion for maternal and neonatal health. Her goals are to continue to expand her knowledge and gain skills to improve the quality of life of members of underserved communities by developing and implementing preventative health methods. Lupita enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending quality time with friends and family.

Mariah Jiles

She/Her

Mariah Jiles is a first-year Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health MPH student. She grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and attended the University of Illinois, where she earned a degree in Global Studies with a focus in Global Health. During undergrad, she became immensely interested in reproductive health disparities after working on a research project investigating eugenic sterilization abuse in the United States. Coming to Berkeley, she brings with her a desire to improve the birthing experiences of Black mothers in the United States, and an aim to empower the work already being done by community birth workers. In her free time, Mariah enjoys working out, practicing yoga, and exploring new cities.

Xenia Mendez

She/Her

Xenia is a second year Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health MPH student. She is Salvadoran-American and was born and raised in San Francisco. She studied biopsychology at UC Santa Barbara as an undergraduate. Upon graduation, she worked with children as a behavioral interventionist and as a teacher’s assistant. She then worked with the Women’s Community Clinic and Lyon Martin Health Services assisting patients with health coverage eligibility and enrollment. She helped patients get coverage for services such as primary care, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and transgender health services. The challenges she has seen patients face, as well as the challenges her family has faced within health care systems is what motivates her to work in public health. Areas she would like to work on is increasing access to health coverage particularly for undocumented/under-documented folks who are often left uninsured, and bridging gaps in digital health in perinatal care. In her free time, Xenia enjoys running, dancing, and travelling.

Christopher LeBoa

He/Him

Christopher LeBoa is a first year PhD student in Environmental Health Sciences. He grew up in San Leandro, CA and completed his undergraduate and masters degrees at Stanford University. His work mainly focuses on environmental surveillance techniques for infectious diseases. At Berkeley he works with Justin Remais on understanding the spread of coccidioides and with Amy Pickering on surveillance for soil transmitted helminths. Outside of work he enjoys running, wandering the bay area and trying new recipes on his housemates.

Isabel Muñoz

She/Her

​​Isabel Muñoz earned her BS in Human Biology at UC Santa Cruz and her MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UC Berkeley. Isabel is a Research Manager at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a research program within UC San Francisco, where she is primarily responsible for managing the data of a longitudinal study. Through her professional experiences at ANSIRH, Ibis Reproductive Health, where she was a graduate student intern during her MPH, and personal experiences, she has become passionate about reproductive justice and conducting research to improve access and the quality of care for marginalized individuals- which is often low income people of color. She is interested in measuring social factors, specifically racism and classism, and examining people’s intersecting identities and how those identities shape access to care. Her hobbies include hiking with Zoe (her adorable pit bull), biking, dancing, and spending quality time with loved ones.

Xing Gao

She/Her

I am a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. My research interests center around examining neighborhood context, structural racism, and racial/ethnic health inequities using epidemiologic and geospatial methods. I hold a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology/Biostatistics from UC Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and International Studies from Macalester College. Outside of work, I enjoy taking care of my houseplants, spending time in nature in small doses, and trying out new restaurants with my friends.

Chris Lowenstein

He/Him

Chris Lowenstein is a PhD candidate in the Health Policy program with a concentration in health economics. He is also a graduate of the MPH program in Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Berkeley and works as a Graduate Student Researcher in the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. His primary research examines the impacts of labor market conditions on mental and behavioral health among low-wage workers, and the effect of income support policies on the health of children and low-income working families. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Chris worked in a social and economic policy research organization in Washington, DC. Chris is a graduate of Colorado College, where he received his BA in Mathematical Economics and Spanish.

Adenike (Nike) Omomukuyo

She/Her/Hers

I am a first-generation Nigerian American and first-year MPH student in Public Health Nutrition. Originally born and raised in Atlanta, GA, I graduated from Cornell University with my B.S. in Human Biology, Health, and Society and have spent the past three years in Los Angeles, CA working in the public health nutrition field as a health policy innovator, eating disorder recovery coach, and clinical health researcher. My career motives focus on food system decolonization and food sovereignty for Black communities. Having navigated a multitude of PWIs, I understand how the consequential harms of underrepresentation can further influence isolating and marginalizing experiences within higher ed. I aim to counteract the severity of this occurrence on the Berkeley campus for prospective Black and Brown students through intentional engagement efforts that build campus solace, assuring space for expressing truth, belonging, and community. For my joy and wellness, I enjoy spending time with my loved ones, watching TV dramas, catching sunsets, exploring music, and wine-tasting.

Taylor Baisey

They/Them

​​Taylor is a first-year MPH student in the Public Health Nutrition concentration. Born and raised in North Carolina, they graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2017 with a B.S. in Biology. As an undergrad, they pursued interests in public health and social justice, particularly with a focus on addressing the lack of access to quality food within historically disinvested communities. Taylor served as a Peace Corps Community Health Facilitator in Ghana from 2018–2020, where they became even more invested in the food security of vulnerable populations. Taylor’s ultimate goal is to support community-led efforts to build sustainable, equitable, localized food systems to increase access to affordable food within divested communities, support local economies, and improve environmental sustainability. In their free time, you can find Taylor at the beach, reading, practicing yoga, or walking their dog, Lucky.

Erika Neal

She/Her/Hers

Hi, I’m Erika! I am a second-year Online Master of Public Health (OOMPH) candidate concentrating in interdisciplinary studies. I started my journey into public health by researching best practices when educating student populations about the effects of Lyme Disease on patients with myelinated skin. I am originally from Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from Virginia State University. Now I live in the South Bay and work full time as a Health Navigator while completing classes entirely online! In my free time, I enjoy finding DIY projects to complete and sharing good food with friends from around the Bay. I also love to discuss with students their interests in public health whenever I can through various student organizations such as Black Advocates for Equity and Health (BAEH). Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about UC Berkeley and the School of Public Health!

Mirna Melissa Hernández

She/Her

My name is Mirna Melissa Hernández and I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area—for the most part. I am first generation Honduran-American. At the age of 2 I was sent to live in with my grandmother in Puerto Cortes, Honduras due to my parents legal status in the US. I lived right next the Caribbean sea up until the age of 10, surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. When I arrived to the States I learned how to assimilate rather quickly, thanks to the influence of Britney Spears and Lizzie McGuire. I graduated high school with no real idea of what I wanted to do, nor did I have people around me to guide me and so I went to Pasadena Community College. The community college had a superb science department which allowed me to hone in on my strengths and interests. I then transferred to California State University, Los Angeles were I received my undergraduate degree in Nutritional Science. The Cal State is a commuter school which allowed me to work part-time at a non-profit that aids adults with developmental and/or physical disabilities. My role in Villa Esperanza was to help young adults become more independent by teaching them about personal hygiene, money management, and proper food preparation. During March of 2020, when the world was unrecognizable, I took the plunge after losing my job at the non-profit and applied to my dream school, UC Berkeley. I am in my second year in the OOMPH program and thrilled with Health Management and Global Health.

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