New Leader Scholar summary biographies listed alphabetically by last name 2001-2021 (click link for pdf).


TERRY ALLEN, 29, graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a Bachelor’s Degree in Rhetoric.  A few months after graduating, he was accepted into the White House Internship Program at the Travel Office of the Obama Administration. Shortly thereafter he received a Masters Degree from Columbia University in Education Policy and Social Analysis. Now in his fourth year of doctoral study in the Education Department of UCLA, he serves as a lead researcher for the Million Dollar Hoods Project, which maps the fiscal and human cost of mass incarceration in Los Angeles. The project documents how hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted every year on ineffective and inequitable law enforcement. Little did he know, he was born and raised in precisely a community that is the basis of the project. Terry's dissertation research focuses on the structural inequality in youth contact with law enforcement and school discipline. During his studies, he worked as a trainee at the U.S. Government Accountability Office and summer associate-adjunct researcher at RAND Corporation. Terry currently holds  several other research positions on the campus of UCLA. This year Terry has completed his dissertation   and has entered Law School at UCLA. This is his fifth New Leader Scholarship.

VIOLETA ALVAREZ, 31, BA, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor's in Political Science and a minor in Ethnic Studies. She grew up with a single mother who worked two jobs in order to take care of her and her two siblings. As a thirteen-year old, she began a history of drinking, using drugs and became involved with gangs, spending time in juvenile hall on several occasions. At seventeen, she dropped out of high school and at nineteen found herself in jail facing a long prison sentence. As a result of her incarceration, she vowed to forge a different path for herself and her son through education. Violeta tutored at San Quentin State Prison from 2014 to 2017 and is a member of several social justice organizations. She was the first full-time Program Director of Berkeley Underground Scholars–the first ever UC established organization serving formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students. She is now in her second year at UC Hastings College of the Law and plans to use her law degree to continue uplifting “underprivileged and minority communities.” She is currently the Co-President of La Raza Law Students Association and a Staff Editor of the Hastings Journal on Crime and Punishment. This is her fourth New Leader Scholarship.

RICHARD D. BRIDGES, JR., 53,  graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education in 2014. He then went on to receive a Master’s in Public Health from  San Jose State University in 2017.  His goal is to use his graduate degrees  to have an impact on others who have struggled with many of the same problems which led him to a “vicious cycle of recidivism, substance abuse, and hopelessness”. While working full time and attending school, he has facilitated a bi-monthly group at a substance abuse treatment facility, working with those struggling with Hepatitis C.  Richard spent his young adulthood in and out of the criminal justice system, ultimately turning to education in order to break the cycle. “I am compelled to be a champion for the betterment of humanity.” is how he describes his own transcendence from addiction and hopelessness. Currently, Richard is enrolled in the second year of a doctoral education program at San Francisco State University. He is continuing his research on Hepatitis C. This is Richard’s seventh New Leader Scholarship.

JANAE BRIGGS, 26, is currently in her third year at UC Berkeley, majoring in Public Health. She grew up in a low income neighborhood hearing gunshots daily and being aware of the disparities in safety and nutrition that plagued her family and her neighbors. “Environmental health became the lens through which encompassed how I perceived the world; public health became my story.” She began envisioning how she might mitigate social disparities in her community through this lens. As a Chicana and following her attendance at a local junior college she “began understanding structural barriers in my community- binding specific demographics to an impoverished life and inadequate health”.  Through the mentorship of two of her professors at Berkeley, she began a research opportunity to assist underrepresented West Contra Costa minority high school students in their pursuit of higher education.  Janae sees herself in the model of a Centers for Disease Control researcher. This is her first New Leader Scholarship.

ANDREW CARRILLO, 21,  is currently in his final year at San Francisco State University with a double major in  Political Science and History. Andrew is one of five children and the first to attend college. As the son of teenage parents, Andrew was determined “to break the mold set for me as a Latino man coming from a low-income background”. He excelled  in high school and entered college with 22 credits. Fighting for those who have been institutionally marginalized is a central concern of Andrew’s. His goal is to be a public servant, one who advocates for those with little ability to represent themselves. In that capacity, he interned  for San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee as a legislative intern advocating for seniors and also campaigning for universal pre-k. He plans to attend law school and study constitutional law while continuing his advocacy work. This is his second New Leader scholarship.

JUAN FLORES, 32, is in his final year at UC Berkeley, majoring in Sociology. He hopes to pursue a doctorate in either Sociology or Ethnic Studies. As someone who survived “gang” violence, incarceration and drug addiction, he has dedicated himself to “use my life’s struggles and resiliency to empower others.”  He is the first in his family to attend college and hopes to use his hard- won advanced education to inspire others from disenfranchised neighborhoods. He currently meets with an incarcerated person to help with pre-release as well as engaging in resource development for formerly incarcerated persons. In addition, Juan is a Co-Founder of “Brown Issues” where he promotes civic engagement and social justice for youth as well as connecting with formerly incarcerated youth through the Underground Scholars Initiative. This is his first New Leader Scholarship.

BAILEY GARCIA, 23, is in his senior year at UC Berkeley, majoring in Social Welfare. He is involved with a mentorship program on campus called Starting Point in which he helps connect current UC students with those in community college who hope to transfer to a university.  Having experienced homelessness himself as a child and being responsible for two younger siblings have led him to an acute awareness of how to help others with food insecurity.  These early experiences also focused him on the need for acquiring an advanced education. He graduated as valedictorian from his community college in three years and then transferred to Berkeley. He hopes to attend law school in the future. This is his first New Leader Scholarship.

AMINA JONES, 34, is a senior majoring in African American Studies with a minor in Race and Law.  She attended community college both in Oakland and Contra Costa before transferring to UC Berkeley. Amina is the single mother of two sons aged 12 and 14, both of whom require additional support due to learning and emotional difficulties. Currently, she is the director of the Teach in Prison Program that serves in the San Quentin Correctional Facility. She supports and guides the tutors who help incarcerated persons with illiteracy to obtain their GED’s. Additionally, Amina is also a research assistant to Dr. Nikki Jones in her Justice Interaction Laboratory and a fellow in the “Othering and Belonging Institute” which helps to develop practices to combat anti-Black racism. This is Amina’s first New Leader Scholarship.

RANDELLA JONES, 22, graduated from San Francisco State University  majoring in Music. She has a strong desire to give back to her community as a music educator and  believes that while coming from a low income family that she still had incredible opportunities which have prepared her for this role. Randella is very cognizant  of the stark disparity that income makes in being given an art and music education. First as a student and then as an instructor, she has been concerned with providing access to music education for young students from low income backgrounds.  Randella has used the model of an El Sistema Program based on the Venezuelan Fundacion Musical Simon Bolivar Mission of providing an opportunity to alleviate the harm due to living surrounded by violence through access to a musical education. Her goal is to “become a primary school music educator “, obtain her doctorate education and go on to  teach at the college level. She is taking an additional year at San Francisco State to acquire a teaching credential. This is Randella’s second New Leader Scholarship.

NAZINEEN KANDAHARI, 25, BA, graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley with majors in Public Health and Molecular & Cell Biology, and an emphasis in Infectious Diseases. Nazineen is committed to serving the underserved, particularly refugee and multicultural communities, through medicine, research, and public health advocacy. She is passionate about resolving health inequities and improving reproductive and sexual health. Nazineen is currently the Senior Project Coordinator to a research project collaboration between UC Berkeley and a predominantly Latino church; she recently received an award from the American Public Health Association for producing novel culturally-sensitive health promotion and health education materials. Nazineen also conducted qualitative research at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research to improve the healthcare experience for historically marginalized patients; she is published in Contraception journal for her project titled, “Exploring young women’s decisional needs for contraceptive method choice: A qualitative study.” Upon graduation, she received the Departmental award of Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher for her contribution to molecular genetic research on delaying the effects of aging and age-associated disease. She is the recipient of numerous scholarships from institutions including Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Women Health Care Executives. She is currently in the prestigious UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program pursuing her Medical Doctorate and Master's Degree in Health and Medical Sciences and is part of the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved, a five-year track at the UCSF School of Medicine for students committed to promoting social justice through medicine, community-based work, and policy change. This is her fourth New Leader Scholarship.

CALEB MARTINEZ, 30, majored in Political Science and Public Policy at UC Berkeley.  He grew up with six siblings and was raised by a single mother on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation in Tucson. His mother fled domestic violence, immigrating to the United States as a 15-year-old and found work through the Bracero Program. As a single father with an 11-year-old daughter, he feels a heavy burden to provide her the opportunities which he lacked. At the age of 13, he was incarcerated for the first time and “began to recognize how structural violence established institutional barriers that prevent rehabilitation and reintegration”. Caleb’s journey through the criminal justice system, his marginalization and ultimately his fatherhood, has led him to pursue a goal of obtaining a joint Master’s Degree in Public Policy and a JD in Law. He aspires “to become a public legislator on the state or federal level …to reverse …structural violence.” He is completing his second year of  Law School at UC, Irvine. This is his third New Leader Scholarship.

LARRY McDANIEL JR., 36, received his Bachelor’s Degree from UC, Berkeley, majoring in Sociology, with an AA degree from Peralta College. As he saw many of his friends falling victim to the challenges which face poor minority communities and finding himself struggling to survive, he vowed to dedicate himself to helping those coming from similar backgrounds. At Berkeley, he joined a student-run organization “Spread the Word” which assists underperforming minority youth through mentoring and advocacy. He became the president of the organization, a testament to his leadership skills.  Larry earned a Master’s Degree in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania and is pursuing his doctorate in Higher Education and Organizational Change at UCLA.  He  aspires to become a university professor, using his own background as a means of reaching out to students who have been similarly discouraged.  Following his own struggle over a 10-year period in community colleges, he is acutely aware of the struggles of Black children ”growing up in economically neglected neighborhoods”. He plans to engage in research which affects policy changes in social structure with a particular emphasis on “racial identity for community college transfer students of color who attend historically and predominantly white universities”. This is his fifth New Leader Scholarship.

ABDULLAH PUCKETT, 48, is pursuing his doctorate in cultural anthropology at UCLA and was awarded the prestigious Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship. He majored  in Political Economy and Interdisciplinary Studies and received his BA from UC Berkeley. On his own from the age of sixteen, he was imprisoned from 1999 through 2014. Inspired by the election of Barack Obama in 2008, he saw that real change in our systems was more than a theoretical possibility. He saw that “when ordinary people come together, we can make extraordinary things happen”. Initially, he was inspired to become a community organizer  like President Obama but began to realize that many more avenues were open to him through his studies. His mother went to school at the age of 47 and earned a doctorate in Pharmacy in part to inspire and demonstrate to her children what was possible through education and determination. This is his fourth New Leader Scholarship.

ARIANNA M. WOOD, 25, is currently in her first year at UCLA’s Graduate School of Nursing.  She graduated from San Francisco State University with a BS in Health Education. As the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, at age 16, Arianna saw first hand the power of an inequitable immigration system to remove her father from their home. The loss of their home, forced her family to become homeless for the duration of her high school years, which deeply affected her future goals. As a student in the Metro Academy at San Francisco State, her “lived experiences” were reinforced and supported by learning about the realities that minority communities face. These experiences have led to her determination to bridge the “relationship between social injustice and health outcomes.” She plans to devote her career to creating programs that are focused on the social determinants of health that cause health disparities and health issues among minority communities. This is her second New Leader Scholarship.






















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