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PATHS Scholars

The PATHS Program will be available to academically talented students who demonstrate an interest in the advancement of historically underrepresented populations in the sciences and related fields who have been accepted into STEM-related undergraduate programs at UC San Diego. The PATHS Program selects annual cohorts students to participate in the 4+ year round pilot program, receiving a comprehensive package of student support components to address financial, cultural and academic barriers.

 

Ideal PATHS Scholar candidates will:

  • Be admitted to a STEM major at UC San Diego as an incoming freshman
  • Demonstrate an interest in the advancement of historically underrepresented populations in the sciences and related fields
  • Students from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds are highly encouraged to apply
  • Demonstrate commitment to character, culture, and community
  • Must commit to living on campus for the first two years of the program

P1 Scholars

  • Naomi Abraham

    Naomi Abraham

    Naomi Abraham is a fourth-year majoring in Biochemistry in the Division of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She has worked in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Burkart studying the synthesis of organic chemical compounds. Her research focuses on polyketide enzyme modification and how enzyme form impacts function. Polyketides are naturally produced organic molecules that have antimicrobial and immunosuppressive properties and are often employed in drug discovery research. Naomi is driven to medical research by a strong sense of humanitarianism and ethics and believes that through chemistry, she can help provide relief to those in need. She plans to pursue a doctorate in biochemistry working on discovering new drugs for diabetes and cancer. As a first-generation Eritrean-American and first-generation college student, Naomi is dedicated to honoring those communities she came from by serving as an advocate in health care and improving their access to health care education. She currently serves as a College Ambassador for the Office of Admissions and Orientation Leader within John Muir College and intends to pursue more leadership roles at UC San Diego. Naomi is passionate about civil liberties and international human rights and believes in health care accessibility and equity regardless of citizenship and socioeconomic status.
  • Cain Elizarraras

    Cain Elizarraras

    Caín Alexander Elizarraras Galván is a senior majoring in electrical engineering and minoring in photography. He is currently at Viacyte working on the design and development of encapsulation devices for insulin delivery. Caín gained an interest in technology at a young age by shadowing his father while he worked on old radios and televisions on the patio. He intends to pursue a doctorate combining his two passions: electrical engineering and photography. Cain is interested in developing new image sensors for cameras. In 2019 and 2020, Caín joined the STARS graduate program, which offers valuable resources for students intent on graduate school. Caín faced much adversity being a first-generation Chicano college student from the low-income community of City Heights and so he strives to advocate for and mentor students of similar backgrounds. As a P1 Scholar, he is a guide for P3 Jessica De La Torre and their navigation through UCSD.

  • Ruby Rios

    Ruby Rios

    Ruby Rios is a fourth year Biochemistry/Chemistry major at Sixth College, with a minor in Law and Society. She is currently assisting with research at Dr. Gentry Patrick's lab focusing on neurobiological activity and dendrite detection. In the previous two years, she gained research experience in building biosensors and analyzing data to develop detection systems for swallow disorders. She hopes to bring her research skills, passion for community advocacy, and leadership to pursue graduate school to study neurological diseases through bioengineering techniques/technology. She participates on and off campus through positions such as a volunteer and officer to help support her community and classmates. In 2021, she participated in Stanford University's Bioscience Advance Undergraduate Institute (AUI) where she gained research skills, mentorship, and guidance to pursue graduate school. She hopes to pass on her skills and mentorship to future scholars and community.
  • Jessica Sanchez

    Jessica Sanchez

    Jessica Sanchez is a fourth-year majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. Jess is currently working in the behavioral neuroscience laboratory of Brenda Bloodgood. Jess comes from Tijuana, Mexico and she was always aware of the inadequacy of academic opportunities at home. As a first-generation college student, she looks forward to giving back to the San Diego community and particularly to its underserved students whose hard work entices them to pursue careers in STEM. Jess was a PATHS ambassador in the Alternative Breaks Civic Engagement program that traveled to Washington D.C. to engage promising students in the world of policy and civil service.

P2 Scholars

  • Yeabsira Atnafu

    Yeabsira Atnafu

    Yeabsira is a fourth-year Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience major and a proud first-generation student. Yeabsira has lived with epilepsy, a neurological condition, since a young age, and this has propelled her to study neurology and its relation to perception and behavior. She feels compelled to address misconceptions of neurological diseases since the varying impacts of certain illnesses are often broadly misunderstood. By developing a better understanding of neurological conditions, as well as their distinction from other health conditions, she wants to help ameliorate the severe impacts caused by neurological conditions on the lives of those affected. Yeabsira is also passionate about expanding her vision on a global scale and collaborating across international lines. She wants to serve not only her community in San Diego but also communities across the world that need improved access to health care. Yeabsira is certain that the PATHS Program is the first step to achieve her career aspirations.

  • Jair Isai Cortes Ocampo

    Jair Isai Cortes Ocampo

    Jair Isai Cortes Ocampo is a first-generation Chicano student majoring in Environmental Systems (Ecology, Behavior & Evolution). He is currently working with the California Sea Grant at Scripps Institute of Oceanography focusing on environmental issues and healthier communities. He has previously worked with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (NMFS/NOAA) under the guidance of five diverse researchers studying marine mammals and turtles, fisheries ecology, sustainable markets, ocean acoustics and public education. Jair intends to pursue his interests in supporting vulnerable ecosystems and coastal communities in underserved areas. In doing so, Jair plans on engaging BIPOC youth through science communication by sharing his experiences with students at ProKids | The First Tee of San Diego, and Ocean Discovery Institute in order to inspire future scientists and designers.

  • Ruby Gamboa

    Ruby Gamboa

    Ruby Leigh Gamboa is a senior majoring in Environmental Systems: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution at Muir College. Being a Mexican-American first generation college student, she plans to advocate for fellow underrepresented youth in STEM. Ruby’s research interests include creating and innovating sustainable technologies, as well as creating cleaner alternatives to implement into lower income communities. She has previously worked in the Deheyn lab at Scripps Institute of Oceanography on the thermal capabilities of bird feathers, and how this research could be applied to thermal protective equipment such as paints. Currently, she interns at Genomatica, a San Diego-based biotechnology company that develops more sustainable, bio based processes to implement into current mass produced products such as cosmetics and single use plastics. As well, Ruby is apart of the Econauts in the Housing, Dining, and Hospitality Sustainability sector of UCSD. Econauts aims to make UCSD’s campus more sustainable, and has introduced more eco-friendly alternatives to items sold on campus as well as eliminating single use plastics from dining halls. Ruby also has a drive for giving back to the San Diego community, and is currently the Weekends Event Chair for the Muir Volunteer program on campus.

  • Arianna Girmai

    Arianna Girmai

    Arianna Girmai is majoring in Human Biology at Eleanor Roosevelt College. Arianna is a first-generation college student, as her mother encountered many hardships early in her life that precluded her from attending college. The challenges her mother faced inspired Arianna to attend college. Arianna is interested in pursuing a career as a pediatric surgeon; she loves the energy children radiate which is why she sees a future working with kids. She says, "They are a bit shy at first (who isn't), but once they begin to open up to you, you can build a beautiful relationship with them." While she is unsure in which branch of pediatric surgery she will specialize in, she knows her experiences at UC San Diego will help her decide. One of Arianna's long term goals is to extend her services at little to no cost because hospital bills can be overwhelmingly unaffordable. 

  • Kenton Guarian

    Kenton Guarian

    Kenton Guarian is a senior PATHS Scholar. He is joint-majoring in mathematics and computer science. His biggest goal is to see life livable, enjoyable, and/or productive for everyone who wants to live, enjoy life, and/or be productive. Kenton enjoys competition, learning immediately useful information, and earning a feeling that he's optimizing the human experience for as many people as possible. Kenton recognizes that a plethora of unavoidable barriers frivolously renders the general act of maintaining and enjoying their lives and acting productively as they see fit by completing the same structural tasks impossible for different people. He believes that this is unjust, and is predisposed to support anyone who is oppressed in this way and more. This is irrespective of the convenience of the entity which sets or maintains these barriers.

  • Mabel Munoz

    Mabel Munoz (she/hers) is in her fourth undergraduate year at UC San Diego double majoring in Business Psychology and Sociology in Muir College. She is a proud scholar of the PATHs P2 cohort, San Diego Education Fund, and Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Mabel further serves her communities as the Oasis-RMTL Student Coordinator, Director of Operations and Resources for the Student Sustainability Collective, and more recently as Project Management Intern at ViaCyte. Mabel grew up in Baja California Sur, Mexico and City Heights, San Diego as a first-generation Mexican-American. Being born to a single father in low-income communities distinctly catalyzed her purpose at a young age to profoundly improve the lives of people with health issues, bring people together in meaningful ways, and positively affect change in the healthcare field. To do this, Mabel is taking a diverse approach through her degree plan in studying the human mind, society, and workplaces/business. As a student who struggles with syringomyelia, a chronic health disability, Mabel intricately understands the importance of actualizing your goals as she quickly moves through college and is one step closer to becoming a part of a senior and executive management health team where she can work the necessary change from within. Until then, she will continue to recast and affirm the lives of people with health issues, especially BIPOC, as unstoppable, worthy beings with full futures. In addition, Mabel hopes to inspire her fellow South East San Diego Chicanx and Latinx communities on an intimate level to, "not hold back on being yourself but instead incorporate all of your identities in what you do.”

  • Salma Parra

    Salma Parra

    Salma Parra Pulgarin is a fourth-year, first-generation Mexican American student double majoring in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology and Latin American Studies. Salma was born and raised in the diverse, low-income community of City Heights, San Diego where early on, she noticed the detrimental diseases and the health disparities that are so prominent in underserved communities. She has seen first-hand, with experiences of her own family members, how the outcomes of certain diseases are worsened among diverse, low income, minority individuals compared to their non-disadvantaged counterparts. Her ultimate educational goal is to get a PhD in Epidemiology and be able to conduct research and clinical trials on a variety of possible treatments and interventions for diseases that disproportionately affect individuals from underserved communities like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. She is currently a Biology Intern at Escient Pharmaceuticals, whose focus is on revealing the therapeutic potential of GPCRs, including Mas-Related G-Protein Receptors and is first pursuing medicines for autoreactive and neuro-immuno-inflammatory diseases. As a first-generation student with a disadvantaged background, Salma strives to be an advocate for diversity in STEM and to empower other students from backgrounds such as hers to pursue careers in the field and see the positive changes that they can create in the world.

  • Emi Sanchez

    Emi Sanchez

    Emi Sanchez is a fourth-year Scholar majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology at Eleanor Roosevelt College. Emi grew up in Tijuana, Baja California where she undeniably witnessed the poor conditions of medical facilities and inadequate healthcare quality provided to underprivileged communities. Her pursuit for an M.D./Ph.D. stems from her desire to function as a leader and advocate of accessible healthcare in addition to her passion for groundbreaking scientific research. She is currently working under the guidance of Dr. Hemal Patel investigating the effects of the overexpression of Cav-3-OE in mice, a muscle-specific caveolin that has been associated with cardioprotective characteristics. She has also worked under Dr. Kamil Godula whose research aims to gain an understanding of glycans, or carbohydrates, through the use of synthetic mucin mimetics in microarrays modeled to resemble the glycocalyx. As a first-generation biracial college student, Emi strives to serve as an advocate of diversity and equity in the STEM field, especially among higher education institutions. Programs such as PATHS have allowed Emi to realize her potential in a university setting, giving her access to a range of opportunities such as mentorship and networking that are vital to a student’s success.

  • Jasmine Stefanos

    Jasmine Stefanos

    Jasmine Stefanos is a fourth-year, first-generation Eritrean-American majoring in Biochemistry. At a young age, Jasmine was exposed to science and it prompted her to pursue a STEM-related career path. Jasmine is interested in pursuing a career in pharmaceutical science or biochemistry research. She is particularly drawn to drug-discovery research for cancer and diabetes, disorders that impact the lives of millions of peoples, especially those within disadvantaged communities. Jasmine also hopes to head her own research laboratory and focus on making medication accessible and equitable. She believes that the PATHS Program will expose her to more opportunities to further her knowledge of medicine and research. Jasmine loves giving back to the community and her goal is to be the change that she wants to see in STEM. She wants to be able to support her peers and steer them away from the discouragement that constantly seems to surround people of an underserved background. Jasmine hopes to be a role model to youth and future PATHS Scholars who don’t see scientists who look like them and remind them that minorities do belong in STEM and that they have so much to offer.

  • Sara Toumi

    Sara Toumi

    Sara Toumi is a fourth-year Molecular and Cellular Biology major at Muir college. She is minoring in Bioethics to study moral practice within medical and biological research. She is a first-generation Moroccan-American and the eldest child of her family. Sara is passionate about the involvement of women of color in STEM and hopes to become an active researcher in genomic science. She took part in the Muir Volunteer Program Board as the Quarterly Co-Chair and is now an undergraduate peer reviewer and the outreach coordinator for the Challenger Research Journal. Sara is looking forward to empowering other underrepresented students in her community who also aspire to pursue a career in STEM.

  • Mekdelawit Yitayih

    Mekdelawit Yitayih

    Mekdelawit Yitayih is a third-year General Biology major at Muir College. Mekdelawit emigrated to the United States at the beginning of her first year of high school and it was one of the major changes that happened in her life. Adjustment to a completely different environment was a challenge at first but she made sure to remember her purpose for coming to the United States. She came here for the opportunity to obtain an excellent education so she can return to her country of origin and other medically underserved communities and help those communities obtain adequate access to medical treatment. Mekdelawit is here today to show that she is capable of doing anything as long as she continues to work hard. She plans on becoming a pediatrician and helping her community as much as she can with her career. As a first-generation student, Mekdelawit wants to be a role model for similar students who have a passion for science and humanitarianism so that they can work and support each other in their endeavors.

P3 Scholars

  • Stephanie Barajas

    Stephanie Barajas

    Stephanie Barajas is a third-year Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience major and first generation student. She has been highly interested in the field of medicine from a young age and hopes to attend medical school with the goals to specialize in a surgical field and pursue research. Her aspirations to become a physician stem from the personal experiences she had accompanying her grandparents to doctors’ appointments. Her determination to gain more exposure to the medical field has led to her receiving medical assistant experience as well as a certification in phlebotomy to give the most interactive and helpful patient care. For research, Stephanie is currently working with Dr. Geoffroy Noel and medical student Niveda Rao by studying how the presentation of a body donor can impact a student’s empathy and compassion during cadaveric dissection. With her continuous gain in knowledge and experiences, Stephanie hopes to apply them after finishing her studies by helping others in low income communities and the people close to her.

  • Jessica De La Torre

    Jessica De La Torre

    Jessica De La Torre is a third-year student majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Warren College. She is interested in researching ways to increase accessibility on highly demanded products, such as automobiles and medical devices, while reducing detrimental costs on environments and health. Her interest in mechanical engineering came from her community in South Gate, which has suffered from the impacts of excessive vehicles and pollution, to the extent where the residents and their health have been compromised and lack the resources to target the issues. Jessica aspires to attain her Masters in Mechanical Engineering in the future. As a first-generation Latina, Jessica hopes to encourage and support individuals from similar backgrounds in pursuing their interests. After college, she intends to return to South Gate and continue serving her community and increase awareness and opportunities for youth.

  • Melissa Güereca

    Melissa Güereca

    Melissa Güereca is a third-year undergraduate majoring in Biology with a Specialization in Bioinformatics. Melissa is interested in overcoming the present limitations of medicine and intends to pursue a career in STEM. She believes that a multidisciplinary approach merging biology and computer science can assist in the development of novel medical treatments. Currently working with Dr. Alistair Russell, Melissa studies influenza A viruses’ chimeras to determine how these structures affect its virulence. During her years as an undergraduate, she hopes to conduct research focused on the development of personalized healthcare. After witnessing the impact of health inequities in the Bay Area, she aspires to contribute to the field of science, helping reduce the high rates of infectious and chronic illnesses in underserved populations. As a daughter of Mexican parents, Melissa is excited to harness every opportunity presented, so that one day she can give back to the community that shaped her.

  • Mickey Gwynn

    Mickey Gwynn

    Mickey Gwynn (They/Them) is a third-year Ecology, Behavior & Evolution major and Theatre minor. They are planning on becoming a teacher after college in the hopes of making education a more accessible and beneficial experience for future students. Having grown up in a household and community that held very harmful views on gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity, Mickey saw, and in some ways experienced, how hard it can be to just exist in toxic education systems. With a bit of luck and some amazing mentors, Mickey made it out of this environment and is now focused on becoming a teacher so that they can help other students succeed and thrive in our questionable educational system.

  • Amari Henry

    Amari Henry

    Amari Henry is a proud, third-year/first generation college student and an Environmental Systems/Environmental Policy major. As an African American student, she wants to become quickly familiarized with UC San Diego by joining clubs and other recreational activities. Her passion in the STEM field is derived from her passion to find solutions for ocean pollution. She is interested in supporting other students like her, specifically her younger sister, to pursue STEM careers. Amari hopes to one day work as an independent, freelancer or in some other form of entrepreneurship.

  • Anasilvia Herrera Fuentes

    Anasilvia Herrera Fuentes

    Anasilvia Herrera Fuentes is a third-year student at Revelle College majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology and minoring in Dance. She identifies as a first-generation, Chicanx student - proud to have been raised by Mexican-immigrant parents. In addition to her academic work, Anasilvia has had the wonderful opportunity to intern for the company Unity Biotechnology in South San Francisco. As Anasilvia plans to pursue a Master's and PhD in nursing prior to attending medical school, she is currently supplementing her industry experience with experience in healthcare, working as a Certified Nurse Assistant with the company San Diego Senior Helpers. Aside from achieving her own dreams, Anasilvia plans to help other minorities in their STEM journey; as a seed to this plan, she has recently joined the board of UCSD's SACNAS (The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) as the Social Media Chair, helping to organize outreach events. 

  • Henry Luu

    Henry Luu

    Henry Luu is a third-year majoring Data Science in Thurgood Marshall College. His pronouns are he/him/his, identifies as a Taiwanese - Vietnamese American, and was born and raised in San Bernardino, CA. Growing up in a largely first-generation, low-income community, Henry has personally seen the effects of systemic inequality and the effects of the asymmetric access to resources. PATHS provides an amazing opportunity for Henry to find the resources and guidance to help him build a strong foundation for future endeavors. He hopes that through Computer Science and Data Science, he can empower others in underserved areas to broaden their horizons, think critically, and challenge socioeconomic barriers they may face. Henry would also like to learn more about the deep-rooted systemic issues in society and initiate deeper conversations about them. He is currently a PR Director for UCSD's ACM org and on the Alter Ego Dance team.

  • Mayra Mendiola

    Mayra Mendiola

    Mayra Mendiola is a third-year student majoring in Human Biology at Marshall College with a minor in Chicanx/Latinx Studies. Mayra identifies as a first-generation, low-income college student. She is also the daughter of Mexican immigrants who couldn’t finish primary school in order to help out their household. Thus, these identities fueled Mayra to set high standards for herself. Her current plan is to pursue medical school, but she hopes to affirm this interest or discover a new passion in the upcoming years. She plans to seek more knowledge and opportunities to grow throughout her college journey, meanwhile, continuing to help out her community by getting involved on campus or in any way that she can. She is currently working in Dr. Susan Ackerman’s lab on finding mutations that disrupt homeostasis in the nervous systems and are tied to abnormal CNS development or neurodegeneration. Regardless of what she ends up pursuing, Mayra hopes to use her voice to advocate for a more diverse STEM field and an equitable health care system.

  • Judy Mohamad

    Judy Mohamad

    Judy Mohamad is a first-generation college student majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in controls and robotics at Warren College. She is a member of a robotics student organization called Triton Robotics and is currently working in a sub-team to design and control a projectile-shooting hexacopter drone from scratch. In 2021, she started working under Dr. Mike Tolley's Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab and worked on integrating pneumatically actuated "soft feet" onto rigid animal robots to help stabilize them as they walk. In Summer 2021, she participated in STARS graduate research program and worked in Dr. Jinhye Bae's Nanoengineering lab and studied photo-thermally responsive hydrogels. Judy grew up in the war-torn and heavily polluted country of Syria and became passionate about making renewable energy more affordable and accessible to developing countries. She hopes to work in automation for manufacturing liquid metal batteries to lower the cost of renewable energy storage.

  • Angie Santos

    Angie Santos

    Angie Santos is a third-year student majoring in Biochemistry at Muir College. She plans on pursuing a career in the medical field as a physician or medical researcher. She is currently working in the George Lab, an addiction research laboratory, investigating the behavioral and neurological components of addiction. Not only is Angie inspired by the complexities of the human body, but she is also eager to become an advocate for minorities in the medical field. She is a first-generation Latinx student, the first in her family to attend a four-year university, and the oldest child in her family. Angie is motivated by her parents’ pursuit of the American Dream as they both immigrated to America as teenagers with only a middle school education in search of better opportunities. Having grown up in a primarily immigrant and minority community, Angie hopes that by accomplishing her own American Dream, she will inspire future generations of underrepresented students in STEM to pursue their own educational goals.

  • Angel Sarabia

    Angel Sarabia

    Angel Sarabia is a first generation junior majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Imperial Beach, California. He is currently working in the Dutton Lab which studies the complex lives of microbes using a simplified microbial community: cheese! Under the guidance of his awesome mentor Tara Spencer, he specifically researches how bacteriophage replication changes in the context of a community. Angel has been interested in viruses ever since high school because of his amazing Biology teacher, Gisela Wolfe. He hopes to utilize his college education so that one day he can pay it forward to the people and communities from which he came. Angel hopes to create a diverse and inclusive STEM field that listens to the ideas of all and breaks away at the systemic barriers that prevent people like him from becoming scientists. He aims to make discoveries that will change the way we see viruses!

  • Alberto Valencia

    Alberto Valencia

    Alberto Valencia is a third-year college student majoring in Mathematics-Computer Science. He has a passion for helping others and hopes to serve socioeconomically disadvantaged communities by providing educational resources to students excited to pursue STEM. He wants children to dive into their curiosity and experience the joy of creation. Low-income areas often lack the resources to expose students to early education in STEM; he has sadly witnessed it since elementary school. Throughout high school, he has undertaken many programming projects and classes to experience the joy of learning, and most importantly, creating. Alberto will earn a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics-Computer Science to further his programming skill in hopes of transmitting his passion for Computer Science to underserved communities. Alberto is passionate about serving his community and hopes to bridge the connection between STEM and service to others. Currently, Alberto is exploring new interests outside of STEM, but continues to learn more programming during his free time.

  • Chao-Li (Michael) Wei

    Chao-Li (Michael) Wei

    Michael Wei is a junior majoring in Mathematics-Computer Science at Eleanor Roosevelt College. Michael chose this major to better understand the principles of machine learning, which he is very passionate about. To be better at machine learning, Michael is actively taking courses online about machine learning, becoming the project lead and events chair at NeuroTech club at UCSD, and a lab assistant at TNEL. Michael's potential was limited due to the lack of resources he had when he emigrated to the US during high school. Michael understood the importance of equity and diversity in STEM and decided to help the unrepresented population to discover their passion for STEM like himself.

  • Celine Yang

    Celine Yang

    Celine Yang is a third-year student majoring in General Biology and minoring in Visual Arts at Revelle College. Although she is interested in many career paths, she currently plans to attend medical school after her undergraduate years. At UC San Diego, she intends to deepen her passion for biology and continue exploring biomedical and clinical research, ethics in biology, and health inequities and disparities. As of right now, Celine aspires to be a traveling physician who can provide adequate healthcare to underserved communities domestically and abroad. All in all, she is excited to see how she will continue to grow in STEM at UC San Diego with the support from PATHS and mentors.

P4 Scholars

  • Nicholas Azpeitia

    Nicholas Azpeitia

    Nicholas Azpeitia (he/him) is a second-year student majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in controls and robotics at Warren College. Nicholas attended high school in the Bay Area. He is looking forward to engaging with the UCSD STEM Community through clubs, makerspaces, and competitions. Nicholas hopes to help younger underrepresented students become interested in STEM through coordinating and helping in STEM-related educational outreach programs. He hopes to gain valuable engineering experience through internships and research while completing his education at UCSD. Nicholas' ultimate dream is to help the world through STEM by solving the 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century.

  • Jose Beltran

    Jose Beltran

    Jose Beltran is a second-year student majoring in Computer Engineering at Muir College. He is a first-generation immigrant from Sinaloa, Mexico living in a low income, single parent household. Just before graduating middle school, he decided to move to the United States in order to have the best possibilities for a college education. His passion for STEM is based on the desire to be part of developing the next generation's technology. He believes that technology should and can be made more accessible to the public including minorities and people in developing countries. Part of his dream is to eventually be able to go back to the valley that opened up so many opportunities and be able to inspire students to follow their dreams in STEM.

  • Adriana De Paz

    Adriana De Paz

    Adriana De Paz (She/Her) is a second-year, first-generation Human Biology major at Revelle College. Adriana has pushed herself to pursue the most rigorous curriculum and excel at the highest levels. She learned through her rigorous years of high school that facing challenges is a passion. It allows her to become the best she can be. This has helped her discover that there is never a dull moment in medicine; it requires critical thinking, problem solving, and there is always something new to learn on the job. Adriana solidified her decision by completing a plethora of hours of community service. In addition, taking her first Chemistry course opened her eyes to the beauty of science. Adriana has put significant thought into her educational goals, as well as her strategies to achieve them. Her short-term goal is to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology and then attend Medical school and obtain a Doctorate Degree in medicine and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination. To achieve her educational and career goals, she will rely on the persistence and resourcefulness she has inherited from her rigorous years of high school. As a first-generation student, Adriana will use her background to become the first in her family to become a Family Medicine doctor.

  • Sophia Echeverria

    Sophia Echeverria

    Sophia Monseratt Echeverria (she/her/hers) is a second-year Neurobiology major in Revelle College. Her passion for STEM derives from the fact that it helps innovate the future. After a car accident that resulted in multiple visits to the neurologist, she found that medicine (more specifically neural science) provides the necessary function and uniqueness to every individual which inspired her passion for pursing her major. She believes that by committing to STEM, she can contribute to the progression of this field.

  • Tausala Eteuati

    Tausala Eteuati

    Tausala Eteuati is a second-year college student majoring in General Biology at Seventh College. She plans on pursuing a career in the medical field as an Emergency Medicine doctor with a subspecialty in Pediatrics. Coming from a low-income background and perceiving the bias from the healthcare system towards lower-economic individuals, she plans to make a difference in the ER by treating all patients equally and with the utmost care. Her passion for medicine began at a young age, when she took care of her grandmother who was suffering from kidney failure. Her passion was later heightened when her mother was diagnosed with Degenerative Disk Disease, and faced negligent doctors as well as unreasonable treatment plans. She plans to contribute to the community by working in hospitals with a lower socioeconomic background and providing every patient with exceptional care.

  • Michelle Gomez

    Michelle Gomez

    Michelle Gomez is a second-year student at Sixth College majoring in Psychology: Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience with an intended minor in Linguistic Studies: French. She plans to become a Clinical Neuropsychologist after completing her Ph.D. Her interest in Neuroscience and human behavior stems from watching the neurological effects that her grandma suffered. Michelle aspires to better the lives of those suffering from brain injuries and illnesses as well as widening our knowledge in the field. Eventually, Michelle plans to combine her education in Neuroscience and life-long passion in Criminal Justice to work in Neurocriminology in order to reform the way we treat and prevent crime whilst also working to dismantle racial injustices that plague the U.S. justice system. As a first-generation Latina that migrated to the U.S. to pursue STEM, Michelle understands the importance of representation and hopes to support, encourage, and inspire others with similar backgrounds and goals.

  • Veronica Hernandez

    Veronica Hernandez

    Veronica Hernandez is a second-year Psychology student with a Specialization in Clinical Psychology at Muir College with plans to minor in music. Growing up, she developed an interest in topics related to psychology after seeing how mental health affected those around her. Ultimately, Veronica aims to take part in research to find treatments for mental illnesses and disorders, learn about more mindfulness principles as well as how to help others implement them in their lives, and overall help others with their mental health. Veronica plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology. Being a first-generation Mexican-American college student and the oldest of three siblings, Veronica aspires to be someone her siblings can look up to while making a positive change in not just her community, but in the world. In addition, she greatly values both connections with others and access to educational opportunities, which PATHS provides her with as well as other resources that will greatly support her in pursuing her goals. She is more than excited for what the future holds and is eager to begin her journey to make a change for the better.

  • Leena Kang

    Leena Kang

    Leena Kang (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate student studying Applied Mathematics and Data Science. She is currently working as a Research Intern at the UCSD Computer Science and Engineering Department performing large scale simulation experiments to mathematically model HIV transmissions in San Diego. In the end, she hopes to present her teams’ findings that provide useful insights on HIV transmissions and its origin and spread throughout San Diego. Growing up, she often excelled in Mathematics. However, it wasn’t until she began offering private tutoring sessions where she realized that she has always enjoyed presenting and teaching others information about her expertise. Whether it was teaching her students Calculus, explaining to her peers how to bake perfect French Macarons, or preparing class presentations about her current research, effectively communicating her skills and findings is something she hopes to continue to practice moving forward. So, she is translating her passion in Mathematics and Public Speaking into pursuing a career in Data Science/Analytics and Product Management. She hopes to not only be a testament and advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEM, but share and inspire other women studying STEM who may have shared the same obstacles as her. 

  • Manal Mohamad

    Manal Mohamad

    Manal Mohamed (She/her/hers) is a second-year, first-generation student majoring in Human Biology at Earl Warren College. Manal immigrated to the United States at the age of seven and faced many adversities but never failed to give up despite the language barrier. Her passion for medicine and finding a cure for diseases came from taking biology courses at school and observing her loved ones being sick. She hopes to end diseases and to help her community to strive for a better version. Manal, like many other immigrant students, noticed how the medical field lacks diversity and has seen some patients being prioritized more than others, usually, people of color having longer wait times. She hopes to use her biology degree to break barriers in the medical field and to be a role model for other Muslim ladies.

  • Mark Morera

    Mark Morera

    Mark Morera (he/him) is a second-year Cognitive Science major, with Specialization in Machine Learning, at Warren College. Mark moved to San Diego from an island named Saipan, in the Northern Marianas Islands. Despite the lack of STEM opportunities there, his love for the field grew when he participated in island wide mathematics competitions and other scientific challenges. Now in San Diego, he has been able to join clubs and go to engineering forums that furthers his interest in STEM. Mark has won first place in a MESA Grade-Level Mathematics competition and met engineers who taught him about their education. Mark is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree (perhaps Masters) in computer engineering and with PATHS, Mark can't wait to network with professionals in his field. One day, I'd love to give back to the community and prioritize diversity, especially in STEM.

  • Diana Oliva Najarro

    Diana Oliva Najarro

    Diana V. Oliva Najarro, is a sophomore at Marshall College majoring in Environmental Systems with a specialization in Earth Sciences. Additionally, she plans to double minor in Political Science and Studio Art. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies and become an Environmental Scientist, to help solve issues on climate change and make sustainability more accessible to all communities. Diana was born and raised in El Salvador and migrated to California at the age of 10 years old with her family. She became interested in STEM during her freshman year of high school, and discovered her passion for Environmental Studies, when she visited the USC Wrigley Institute in Catalina Island through her participation in her school’s Math, Engineering, Science, and Achievement (MESA) Club. In this experience she did many labs, and other hand-on activities that she enjoyed and hopes to do in the future. She comes from a Latinx, single-parent household. and will be the first in her family to achieve a college degree. In her future at UCSD and with the help of the PATHS program, she plans to participate in research in her area of interest, and join other clubs. With the knowledge and experience she gains in her research and participation, she plans to share it with people in her unrepresented community, and encourage everyone, especially girls to follow their passion for STEM.

  • Natalie Pok

    Natalie Pok

    Natalie Pok (she/her/hers) is a second year Scholar and first-generation student majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology and minoring in Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies at Marshall College. She participated in the Research and Methodology Lab under supervision of Dr. Ami Abbott and later held a summer internship at Escient Pharmaceuticals, working as a biology intern. She learned about reverse transcription and qPCR techniques while also handling mice in the vivarium and with the help of Escient, presented at the UCSD Summer Research Conference on if mast cells are expressed in asthma patients. As a daughter of Cambodian immigrants raised in San Bernardino, Natalie learned at a young age about adversity within communities of color and systemic inequalities regarding lack of resources (healthcare, education, identity, etc). Her goal in STEM is to gain more laboratory experience in order to work towards being a STEM cell biologist or biomedical engineer, utilizing the study of cells to gain a deeper understanding of diseases. Knowing that accessible healthcare is unequally distributed to different groups of people, she wants to travel to developing countries to help with the lack of medical equipment in hospitals by designing new devices. These ambitions come from her parents’ poverty-stricken experiences in Cambodia with little to no resources and being involved in multiple community service organizations at her high school and UCSD. Natalie aspires to earn a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology and become a role model to underrepresented students on their pathway to STEM by letting them know it is possible.

  • Stephanie Rios Ramirez

    Stephanie Rios Ramirez

    Stephanie Rios Ramirez (she/her/hers) is a second-year Bioengineering:Biotechnology major in Warren College. Her passion for STEM comes from how demanding and creative STEM fields and careers could be. She aims to grow into a person who is able to include her personal, as well as others experiences, into her STEM experience. Her passion for the demands in STEM motivates her to look forward to an engineering career. She hopes to be a bioengineer due to the impact of medicine being so large in people’s lives and wants to work to make sure that impact is developing to help more people.

  • Memory Robles

    Memory Robles

    Memory Robles (she/her/hers) is a second-year student majoring in chemistry at Muir college. Coming from a low income area, Memory observed how many disheartening compromises many people must make in regards to their health due to a lack of funds or access. From personal experience, she has witnessed how the quality of healthcare within most underprivileged communities has grown to become both inadequate and saddening. She intends to pursue a career in the medical field and aid socioeconomically disadvantaged communities to attain proper medical help while providing the dedication and perspective necessary in the medical field today. Having grown up as not only the eldest of her family but also a first generation student, she hopes to show others that creating a voice within the world of STEM is possible.

  • Jocelyn Salguero

    Jocelyn Salguero

    Jocelyn Salguero is a sophomore PATHS Scholar that goes by the pronouns she/her(s). Her declared major is Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in controls and robotics at Muir College. Being a first generation, Mexican-American college student, her goal is to raise the percentage of Latina women in the STEM field. Her passion for pursuing a STEM oriented career begins with her flow of creativity and love for seeing how different components are combined to make up something big. Her biggest goal is to live life to its fullest potential and make every second of every day count as well as uplift others along with her.

  • Brandon Salinas Sanchez

    Brandon Salinas Sanchez

    Brandon Eduardo Salinas Sanchez is a second-year/first-generation Chicano college student majoring in Computer Science at Warren College. Brandon developed his passion for STEM through his participation in his high school’s robotics team. There, he developed an even deeper passion for computer science. Brandon grew up in a poor neighborhood with limited access to technology and the internet. As a result, he came to know how important it is for young students, especially underrepresented students, to have access to technology and a reliable internet connection. For this reason, at UCSD, Brandon hopes to learn more about computer science and its applications in order to help make technology and the internet more accessible to historically underrepresented populations. He also holds a deep passion for environmentalism and hopes to continue to develop this passion through environmental activism and joining the environmental student organizations at UCSD.

  • Julia Sarnoff Espinosa

    Julia Sarnoff Espinosa

    Julia Sarnoff Espinosa is a second-year Human Biology major at Sixth College. Her goal is to attend medical school and become a doctor focused on genetic medicine. Her interest in medicine started when she first learned that a genetic mutation was the cause of her own medical issues. Her passion grew as she participated in clinical trials and her experiences as a patient. Discussing symptoms, test results, and possible treatments is now a very normal thing. In high school she attended a biotech-focused magnet school to further this passion for medicine. Julia was also raised in a biracial, bilingual and bicultural, Mexican-American household, including attending dual immersion schools and spending many summers in Mexico with grandparents. She has one older brother who recently graduated in engineering, but math still does not come naturally to her. Julia enjoys swimming, and manages her stress by baking a variety of desserts, usually at around 2am. She also volunteers as a breeding foster for a service dog nonprofit, and has now successfully whelped 2 litters.

  • Kevin Soto

    Kevin Soto

    Kevin Soto is a second-year Latino student majoring in Clinical Psychology at Eleanor Roosevelt College. He has lived half his life in the Bronx, New York, and the other half in Chula Vista, California. Kevin aspires to pursue an M.D. in Psychiatry. In eleventh grade, Kevin's math teacher introduced him to mental health strategies that empowered him to persevere during the pandemic. By practicing strategies like journaling Kevin felt immense stress relief which allowed him to focus on his academic goals. Motivated by his success Kevin desires to help young adults develop good mental health habits. His end goal is to create a guide that can help high school teachers and students overcome intense stress and anxiety. Through his STEM research on mental health, he hopes to develop the skills necessary to help young adults in their troubles find encouragement and peace.

  • Jorge Torres

    Jorge Torres

    Jorge Torres (he/him/his) is a second-year in Revelle College majoring in physics to pursue a career as a physicist. Jorge has always been interested in understanding how and why our world works the way it does. Physics has allowed him to answer those questions his younger self had. There are always new discoveries in the field which always means room for improvement. Jorge is excited to be on the forefront and hopefully make a positive change in the field.

  • Jacquelyn Tsui

    Jacquelyn Tsui

    Jacquelyn Tsui is a sophomore pursuing a degree in Clinical Psychology at Thurgood Marshall College. Jacquelyn was born in Taiwan and grew up in Diamond Bar, CA. She intends to pursue graduate school in school psychology and partake in early prevention to assist children in becoming comfortable with building emotional intelligence. In college, she wishes to become involved in opportunities to volunteer or intern at autism centers in San Diego and to take part in research that delves into neurodegenerative diseases. Jacquelyn is excited to interact with the empathetic individuals in the PATHS program and hopes to utilize their education to provide services and opportunities to other underrepresented groups.

  • Luis Velediaz

    Luis Velediaz

    Luis Antonio Velediaz (He/Him/His) is a first-generation Mexican-American electrical & computer engineering student at Muir College. The future of the world is here, and Luis is truly captivated by the evolution of technology within people’s daily lives. His family of tenacious immigrants has implemented the true value of education and cultural pride. Hispanics and Latinos are generally misrepresented within society and growing up within his underserved neighborhood, Luis scarcely witnessed people like himself become leaders of the technological industry. This inspired him to transform the standards and expectations of the Hispanic-Latino community throughout his high school career. He will certainly continue to do so in future endeavors as engineering is truly an emerging industry everywhere, and he is intrigued to become a part of this ongoing development. He loves to work with the software aspect of this profession because this allows him to be innovative. Yet he has always relished getting hands-on with projects to provide innovative and groundbreaking discoveries to everyday problems. A local native from South East San Diego, Luis has experienced the difficulties many low-income students have to adapt to, therefore his passion for STEM comes from the goal of aiding other motivated students with technological necessities. He hopes to develop his own company or work for one of the big tech giants to provide the world with groundbreaking innovations. He also hopes to develop a non-profit organization that allocates low-income students with technology to facilitate anyone’s path to success within life. He hopes to influence his fellow Latinos, as he has learned that many of us have obstacles in life, however with a tenacious attitude, no matter one's background, one can achieve success, causing society and statistics to progress.

P5 Scholars

  • Chioma Amadi

    Chioma Amadi

    Chioma Amadi (she/her) is a Nigerian freshman majoring in Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience at Seventh College. She comes from the Riverside County area and is excited to start a new chapter in San Diego. Witnessing her immigrant mother work so hard as a registered nurse to provide for her family inspired Chioma to be just like her mother and strive toward a career in the medical field. As she researched more about medicine, her interest grew more and more until she eventually decided to try her hand at becoming a pediatric psychiatrist. Realizing that many children in ethnic households struggle with mental health, Chioma hopes to destigmatize mental health in POC spaces. She wishes to learn about and help children with neurological diseases and to, one day, give back to her community.

  • Ricardo Amador

    Ricardo Amador

    Ricardo Amador (he/him) is a freshman at John Muir College majoring in Data Science. Although he originally planned to major in Computer Science, during the summer before junior year, Ricardo participated in the LUCIR Study and, as a result, discovered Data Science. This study, taking place in his hometown of Salinas, CA, aimed to find out if conventional cleaning products were harmful to health, specifically the health of Latinas and their families in his community. Ricardo and his team not only found that many conventional cleaning products contained carcinogens and endocrine disruptors that were toxic and harmful but also identified cleaner, healthier products and educated his community about making better decisions when cleaning their homes. This study resonated deeply with Ricardo and he hopes that, with the field of Data Science, he will be able to conduct more similar studies and make a positive impact on his Latinx community.

  • Kaitlyn Butcher

    Kaitlyn Butcher

    Kaitlyn Butcher (she/her) is a first-year, Mexican-American student majoring in Bioengineering: Biosystems at Muir College. Her interest in Bioengineering originates from her exposure to the Da Vinci Surgical System at Intuitive Surgical as a middle schooler, as well as the neurological effects Alzheimer’s had on her great aunt. Since middle school, she has been heavily involved in robotics, blood services at her local American Red Cross chapter, and several STEM projects ranging from Synopsys Science Fair to Maker Faire. At UCSD, she aspires to continue her involvement in projects alike to learn more about how technology can be used to enhance the quality of life for those with chronic illnesses, particularly neurodegenerative diseases. Ultimately, her goal is to pursue a Master’s in Bioengineering or to pursue medical school. As a PATHS Scholar, she is beyond excited to explore this passion more in-depth while seizing opportunities to give back to underrepresented communities.

  • Andy Dinh

    Andy Dinh (he/him) is a freshman majoring in Human Biology at Warren College in hopes to pursue a career in Physical Therapy. Andy grew up in City Heights where he developed his love for basketball, which created a domino effect that led him to discover his love for Physical Therapy. Since the age of 14, he has been passionate about seeing people better themselves and strive for a healthier body. Andy became fascinated with human movement and how fast the body can adapt and heal to various situations. He was first intrigued with this when a Physical Therapist once helped him recover from a broken hand. The joy and fulfillment he had when he was able to return to physical activities was a feeling he wanted others to experience as well. He chose Human Biology because he believes that this is the most efficient route to becoming a doctor in physical therapy and, to him, the ability to better the lives of others and see the smiles on people's faces brings him the utmost satisfaction. In ten years, he visions himself surrounded by athletes at the pro or college level, and even mixing in business in his ventures.

  • Natalie Gaytan-Garcia

    Natalie Gaytan-Garcia

    Natalie Gaytan-Garcia (she/her/hers) is a first-year, first-generation student majoring in Electrical Engineering at Earl Warren College. Natalie is the only daughter in a family with three brothers who grew up in South Central in a Mexican family. She has a strong passion for engineering and coding. Her interest in STEM peaked in middle school when she was introduced to engineering and computer science for the first time by her older brothers. She enjoyed the challenge and unpredictability of STEM fields and fell in love with its rigorous nature. Living with predominantly men, she hopes to see the number of Latina women rise within STEM fields and hopes to make a change within her own field in the future.

  • Simret Gudat

    Simret Gudat

    Simret Gudat (she/her) is a freshman at Muir College studying Cellular and Molecular Biology. Simret has always been drawn to science, and as she learned about the various fields of science, she discovered her love and enthusiasm for biology, particularly cellular and molecular biology. With a fascination towards the complexity of cells, especially given their small nature, Simret hopes to apply this knowledge in the field to her work as a doctor. As a premed who also aspires to be a scientist, Simret wishes to integrate two aspirations into one by undertaking active research as a doctor in the future. In addition to her passion for science, she also shares an interest in community organizing, especially when it comes to issues of social justice. As one who aspires to work in healthcare and scientific research, Simret aims to actively seek out and support equity and justice in both fields, especially given both institutions' lack of diversity and history of systematic racism.

  • Christopher Huerta

    Christopher Huerta

    Christopher Huerta (he/him/his) is a first-year, first-generation Neurobiology major at Revelle College. His passion for STEM sprouted at an early age, and yet was further reinforced and explored through the hospitalization of his mother. Through this experience, hospitals and the medical environment became normal to Chris. He hopes to attend medical school where he would then further specialize in Neurology to aid patients that are dealing with similar conditions to that of his mother. Christopher makes annual trips to Mexico to keep in touch with his family and stay connected to his culture and roots. He enjoys hobbies such as video editing and playing piano (although he's not very good at it). In the far future, Chris hopes to invest in the future by contributing to/creating a scholarship program to help underrepresented students dealing with harsh life obstacles.

  • Evelyn Lorenzo

    Evelyn Lorenzo

    Evelyn Lorenzo (she/her) is a first-year, first-generation student majoring in Aerospace Engineering at Revelle College. Ever since going on a field trip to the California Science Center when she was eight and seeing the retired orbiter Space Shuttle Endeavor, Evelyn was inspired to pursue a STEM career. Despite the lack of STEM opportunities in underrepresented communities and discouragement for Latinas in engineering, she is determined to graduate from college and pursue a master’s degree in aerospace. She intends to work with a diverse team to improve spacecraft for space exploration and solve problems, such as faster transferral information and cost reduction for High and Medium Earth Orbit satellites for improved monitoring and weather forecasting about climate change. She also plans to work on various projects in laboratories, such as testing prototypes and creating concepts for discoveries and space missions. Using her knowledge and experience, Evelyn hopes to establish resources to promote STEM accessibility in underrepresented communities. She is excited to become the first woman engineer on both sides of her family and to be a role model, especially to young girls.

  • Gabriela Marcial

    Gabriela Marcial

    Gabriela Marcial (she/her) is a first-year, first-generation student at Revelle College, where she wishes to surround herself with people who share her interest in making the world a better place to live in. Her passion for the environment and conservation has driven her to pursue a career in STEM. Not only is Gabriela fascinated by the natural world, but her curiosity has also allowed her to truly explore environmental challenges. Gabriela’s interests in wildlife and ecology are connected to her proposed major: Environmental Systems with an emphasis on Behavior, Evolution, and Ecology. She hopes to use her knowledge to tackle issues such as climate change, global warming, pollution, and the preservation of ecosystems. She is more than thrilled to be involved in the PATHS Program where her dreams can soon become reality. Gabriela seeks to use her experiences as a Latina in STEM as a driving force in her journey to becoming a wildlife biologist in hopes of creating a brighter future for the planet.

  • Raquel Mijangos

    Raquel Mijangos

    Raquel Mijangos is a first-year student majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience at Muir College. Raquel has been fascinated by medicine for as long as she can remember and cites her mother, a Registered Nurse, for her first exposure to the field. Along with her passion for medicine, Raquel cares deeply about social issues. Growing up in the Los Angeles area with insight into the foster care system, low-income areas, and immigrant communities, Raquel became increasingly aware of the many disparities within society. The intersectional perspective between medicine and social justice has driven her to seek to improve medical and healthcare accessibility. To help remedy this disparity, Raquel aspires to become a physician and provide medical treatment in an accessible manner to the very groups she witnessed struggling while growing up. In the future, she sees herself going on medical missions as a part of mobile medical units, such as the International Medical Corps, providing much-needed medical services to those in developing countries. While particularly interested in Neurology and Surgery, Raquel wants to take advantage of the many educational and research opportunities at UCSD to come closer to gaining the knowledge necessary to help others in the future.

  • George Nakoud

    George Nakoud

    George Nakoud (he/him) is a first-year student at Sixth College majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Controls and Robotics. During high school, he was introduced to the field of artificial intelligence and immediately recognized its immense untapped potential. George hopes to integrate both of his passions into his career by developing autonomous vehicles and robots. He plans to implement this technology to assist those who are less fortunate and require an extra pair of hands. In preparation, George intends to join student organizations at UCSD and participate in cutting-edge research.

  • Doanh Nguyen

    Doanh Nguyen

    Doanh Nguyen (he/him) is a freshman majoring in Math-Computer Science at Warren College. Growing up, Doanh did not see people in his family or community go to college, but with their unconditional support, he became the first person to attend a four-year university within his family. Doanh is passionate about STEM because he feels that STEM advancements are the key to a brighter future. With breakthroughs in science and engineering, he feels he will have a direct impact on the betterment of our society. He hopes to one day work closely with AI, believing that AI is the future and the key to many beneficial breakthroughs.

  • Esmeralda Rico

    Esmeralda Rico

    Esmeralda Rico (she/they) is a first-generation Latina studying Cell and Molecular Biology at Muir College. She also intends to minor in Bioethics and has had a profound love for science for as long as she can remember. This interest in science became significantly more intense when her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and Esmeralda saw the toll that treatment took on her. Esmeralda became absolutely engrossed in all things related to genetic diseases as she sought to find a way to help her grandmother. Although there was nothing at the time she could do to help on a larger scale, Esmeralda hopes that one day, there will be a way to support others so no one has to suffer from diseases–or watch their loved ones suffer. She hopes to work in a lab studying genetic diseases and ways to prevent them or go into genetic counseling. However, Esmeralda’s ultimate goal is to inspire her younger siblings by demonstrating that first-generation, low-income children of Mexican immigrants can also break barriers and succeed in STEM.

  • Carina Rocha

    Carina Rocha

    Carina Rocha (she/her) is a freshman at Revelle College majoring in Neuroscience. As a first-generation student from a low-income household, Carina witnessed a history of family health complications, which drove her passion to pursue medicine. Her parents immigrated from Mexico to the US only to work their entire lives in the fields. Their hardships motivate her to obtain a degree and give back to her community. She hopes to attend medical school and one day open up her own clinic in underserved communities.

  • Sadrac Santacruz

    Sadrac Santacruz

    Sadrac Santacruz (he/him/his) is a first-year student majoring in Data Science at Warren College. Sadrac is a first-generation student that came to the United States when he was only 14 years old. He worked hard to fulfill his goal of going to college. Sadrac believes the connections that one creates with the people in their community are a key piece to being able to fulfill dreams. Sadrac has a goal of creating programs that can help underserved communities. From a very young age, he was interested in the world of programming, which led him to use his skills to create programs both for his benefit and that of others. In addition, he faithfully believes that technologies will be of great help in almost all sectors in which humanity is involved. Sadrac grew up in a supportive Latino community and plans to share and give back to his community the help that was given to him, as well as empower and support young people who are interested in STEM so they can also achieve their dreams!

  • Alana Tamayo

    Alana Tamayo

    Alana Tamayo is a first-year student majoring in Chemistry at Eleanor Roosevelt College. She intends to pursue a career in the medical field specializing in Pediatrics; hoping to serve her community by providing medical care and encouraging STEM opportunities to the youth. Her passion for becoming involved in the STEM field gradually grew from at-home experiments in elementary school to learning about intriguing discoveries and applications in high school. Growing up as a military child, Alana has moved across the country numerous times and learned to adapt readily to new situations. Through first-hand experiences, she has learned that the most successful and efficient teams are those that embrace people of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and knowledge. She believes that, by becoming involved in the STEM field, she can aid the innovation, development, and critical thinking that the evolving world needs. Continuing to explore her passions, Alana hopes to motivate and empower other underrepresented groups in STEM to pursue their dreams.

  • Benjamin Toland

    Benjamin Toland

    Benjamin Toland (he/him) is a freshman majoring in Neurobiology at Earl Warren College. With a long-held affinity for understanding the makeup of life, he has grown a passion for exploring its minute intricacies and the interconnected structures that comprise it. Ben hopes to further ground his interest by researching external and internal influences that alter synaptic pathways, wherein he will pursue these curiosities alongside his medical studies through an MD/Ph.D. program. Additionally, as an Afro-Brazilian who has grown up around a significantly diverse community, Ben has seen how unique perspectives can intersect to spark innovation, which is why he hopes to augment the mission of PATHS by making contributions in STEM that will encourage other underrepresented students to do the same. He sees his research and achievements as a way of establishing a cultural connection with those who come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, in which he would also like to mentor said students who have faced (or are facing) many of the same social forces he has had to overcome.

  • Aaliyah Vaden

    Aaliyah Vaden

    Aaliyah Vaden (she/her) is a first-year student at Revelle College majoring in Neurobiology. Her passion for the STEM field is a path she will follow to become a neurosurgeon. It has been a passion of hers since she was nine to change the field of neurosurgery with her presence as a Black woman. While working her way up the Totem Pole to the top of her field, Aaliyah hopes to change the way medicine is performed when it comes to Black and Brown people. The stigma they face as to whether or not they can receive the same treatments or even feel the same pain is one that has cost many their lives. Aaliyah hopes to fix this issue with the help of others who look like her and her allies. In addition to this, she hopes to be able to set an example for little Black girls, like her sisters, so that they know they can do anything, just like her.

  • Mya Verrett

    Mya Verrett

    Mya Verrett (she/her) is a first-year student at Muir College majoring in Bioengineering: Biosystems and minoring in Physics. She aspires to become a biomedical research scientist and have her own research lab, providing a new perspective in the bioengineering field and solving more problems in medicine. Captivated by the innovation and creativity that engineering provides within science, she desires to pursue a career in research and gain a Ph.D. in bioengineering. Growing up in San Bernardino, Mya has seen the lack of STEM opportunities available to minorities and women in education. She hopes to overcome this by creating STEM programs specifically targeting those in lower-economic communities in the future.

  • Kelly Wang

    Kelly Wang

    Kelly Wang (she/her) is a first-year Biochemistry major at Seventh College. She was raised in Walnut, CA to first-generation Taiwanese immigrants. Having found a love and passion for the tiny, minuscule interactions between biomolecules, she hopes to study these reactions and apply them to research in genomics and STEM cells in the future. She hopes to contribute to a larger body of research and to make an impact in finding treatments for currently incurable genetic diseases. She also hopes to apply to an MD/Ph.D. program where she can apply the skills and knowledge obtained from her experiences to achieve her goal. In doing so, she hopes to inspire future generations of young girls and female scientists to achieve their STEM-related dreams—regardless of gender stereotypes or any obstacles that may be in the way.

PATHS Alumni

  • Martin Jesus Casas Maya

    Martin Jesus Casas Maya

    Graduation Date: 2021

    Major: General Biology

    Minor: Educational Studies

    Hometown: San Diego, CA

    Cohort: P1

    Update: Lab Technician in Professor Rob Knight’s Biomedical Pediatrics laboratory at UC San Diego. Plans to apply to graduate school.

  • Lizbeth Corona

    Lizbeth Corona

    Graduation Date: 2021

    Major: Human Biology

    Hometown: San Diego, CA

    Cohort: P1

  • Tina Dang

    Tina Dang

    Graduation Date: 2021

    Major: Cognitive Science and Behavioral Neuroscience

    Minor: Ethnic Studies

    Hometown: San Diego, CA

    Cohort: P1

    Update: Lab Technician for mindfulness based stress reduction intervention for participants with parkinson's disease at the Veteran Affairs hospital

  • Nicholas Fisher

    Nicholas Fisher

    Graduation Date: 2021

    Major: Cognitive Science with a Specialization in Neuroscience

    Hometown: San Diego, CA

    Cohort: P1

    Update: Internship at Genomatica

  • Haniyeh Javaheri

    Haniyeh Javaheri

    Graduation Date: 2021

    Major: Human Biology

    Minor: Middle Eastern Studies

    Hometown: San Diego, CA

    Cohort: P1

    Update: Summer Internship at Escient Pharmaceuticals