New Leader Scholar summary biographies listed alphabetically by last name 2001-2017 (click link for pdf).

New Leader Scholar summary biographies listed by year (2001-2018).


TERRY ALLEN, 27, 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 third 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. He works as an adjunct researcher at RAND Corporation and holds several other research positions on the campus of UCLA. This is his third New Leader Scholarship.

VIOLETA ALVAREZ, 29, BA, NLS Scholar 2015 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 has been tutoring at San Quentin State Prison since 2014 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 plans to earn a Masters in Public Policy as well as a law degree in order to work with “underprivileged and minority communities” with an emphasis on stigmatized groups. She is now in her first year at UC Hastings College of the Law. This is her second New Leader Scholarship.

RICHARD D. BRIDGES, JR., 51, received his Master’s in  Public Health from San Jose State University this year. He graduated from San Francisco State, majoring in health education in 2015.  His goal is to use his Master’s Degree in Public Health 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 doctoral education program at San Francisco State University. This is Richard’s fifth  New Leader Scholarship.

SEDERIC GRANT, 27,  graduated from UC, Berkeley, with a major in Public Health and is committed to becoming a dentist, working with underserved populations.  Coming from a family of seven, whose mother died when he was nine, Sederic was raised in Foster Care from elementary school. While in foster care, he involved himself in campus leadership and athletics, continuing to pursue these same interests on the Berkeley campus. While at Cal, he was active in the Berkeley Scholars to Cal and mentored both middle and high school students as well as participating in the UC Black Recruitment and Retention Center.  He is focused on the dilemma of foster care youth “aging out” at age 18 and losing their Medicaid coverage. Though planning to become a dentist, he is still intent on addressing this seriously neglected problem. Sederic spent a year as a Research Assistant at Highland County Hospital in Oakland, gathering and analyzing data in the Emergency Department in preparation for his doctoral work in dentistry. He spent a summer studying physics at the University of Sussex in order to strengthen his background in the health sciences and then enrolled in a year- long  academic preparatory program for dentistry at UCSF. Sederic is now starting his third year in dental school at UC, San Francisco. This is his fifth New Leader Scholarship.

ROSA HERNANDEZ, 28, BA, NLS Scholar 2014, graduated from  UC, Berkeley, with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She immigrated to the United States with her mother in 1997, attempting to escape the poverty of her life in rural Michoacán and with the hope of pursuing a higher education. As an undocumented immigrant. Rosa has faced numerous challenges in order to attend college and not fall victim to a life as a field hand or factory worker, like her own mother. Rosa is using her field of study to understand better the intersection of migration, labor and globalization. This has helped her to understand “the factors that shape our world’s industrial relations, and thus as existence as laboring subjects”, to quote her. These deep concerns, coupled with personal experience, have led her to work with groups such as the Homecare Workers Union, (ULTCW of Oakland), as well as with other labor rights organizations. She has started a support group for undocumented workers who are attempting to organize unions. This group has helped participants discuss issues of immigration and domestic violence. Rosa’s future goal is to obtain joint degrees in Law and Public Policy that will allow her to practice Labor and Employment Law. She is currently in her first year of Law School at UC, Berkeley. This is her second New Leader Scholarship/

NAZINEEN KANDAHARI, 23, BS, NLS Scholar 2016, 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 awarded from the American Public Health Association for producing novel culturally-sensitive health promotion materials. Nazineen also conducts 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. This is her second New Leader Scholarship.

ANGEL KU, 28, graduated from San Francisco State University  in 2012 with a BS degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. As an undocumented student, Angel and his family have faced numerous serious challenges in everyday survival. In his application to the New Leader Scholarship, he wrote, “My morning walks to the bus station for my commute to San Francisco State (are) always accompanied with the fear of having my future and family taken from me.”  His deep commitment to his community and his indomitable focus on academic achievement have resulted in goals that merge his love of science with his commitment to community action. Angel aspires to become a research scientist in order to address the limitations of modern medicine to alleviate health disparities. Furthermore, Angel seeks to mentor other students in the biomedical sciences through his work with Pre-Health Dreamers.   As an undergraduate, he was President and Student Organizer for IDEAS to achieve legislation to help undocumented students move into higher education. That work has taken a new form through his leadership in the “Pre-Dreamers Project” which advocates and prepares undocumented students across the nation for future careers in the health sciences with the goal of affecting health disparities. He has combined his interest in public health with functional genomics and become better able to understand how molecular biology can be applied to advancing the understanding of human disease.  He is in his fourth year of a doctoral program in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics at UCSF. This is his sixth New Leader Scholarship.

JIRAYUT LATTHIVONGSKORN, 29, BS, NLS Scholar 2013-2016, graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in Molecular and Cell Biology. He came to the United States with his parents as an undocumented nine year old immigrant from Thailand. Jirayut (New) has experienced firsthand the alienation and confusion immigrant families face during health crises driving him to become a physician. He is  the first and only undocumented immigrant to be accepted into medical school at UCSF. With his awareness of how cultural competency affects health disparities, he is committed to bridging that distance between patients and their medical care. New became active in the immigrant rights movement and has served as Co-Chair of Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE) where he advocates for DREAM Act-related legislation to help undocumented immigrants attend college. He, along with Angel Ku and one other person, created a national organization, the Pre-Health Dreamers Project to prepare undocumented students for careers in the health sciences and address health disparities. New was awarded the 2015 UCSF Chancellor’s Award for Service and the Thomas N. Burbridge Award. He currently serves as an appointee on UC President Napolitano’s Advisory Group on Undocumented Students. New was awarded an MPH from Harvard this past year and is now entering his final year of medical school.  He received six New Leader scholarships.

CARLOS MACIAS PRIETO, 36, BA, MA, PhD candidate, NLS Scholar 2007, 2011-2016, 2018, was born in Nochistlan, Zacatecas, Mexico and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was ten years old. He received his BA degree from UC, Berkeley in 2007 and his master’s degree in American Studies from Purdue in 2011. He is currently in the PhD program in Spanish and Portuguese at Berkeley. In 2015, he passed his fourth language examination in the Nahuatl language, an important aspect of his scholarly research. Over the years, Carlos has shown a passion and commitment to help disadvantaged students whose original language was not English become proficient in writing. He has been a tutor at Laney Community College in Oakland and at UC Berkeley. Carlos has tutored first-generation, low-income students in the Student Learning Center, taught in the Summer Bridge Program, and served as a coordinator for the Starting Point Mentorship Program. He has devoted himself to becoming a reader for scholarship applications in several programs and has offered workshops on graduate school application to New Leader Scholars. Carlos plans to become a professor in a leading academic university in order to merge his scholarly and research interests with those of serving disadvantaged students. He has received seven New Leader scholarships.

CALEB MARTINEZ, 29, majored in Political Science and Public Policy at UC, Berkeley.   Caleb 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 has been accepted into Law School at UC, Irvine. This is his second New Leader Scholarship.

LARRY McDANIEL JR., 35, received his Bachelor’s Degree from UC, Berkeley, majoring in Sociology, with and 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 last year was accepted into the doctoral program 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 effects 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 third New Leader Scholarship.

CHRISTIAN NOLAN, 23, is currently a senior at San Francisco State University with a Double major in Bio: Physiology and Latino/a Studies. He plans to earn  a MD/MPH degree with the specific aim of providing  help to those living with chronic illness in marginalized communities. Growing up in a working class family with a disabled brother in constant pain and parents unable to provide the necessary care has led him to this strongly held desire. Christian has volunteered with Clinica Martin-Baro, a student led free clinic providing  primary care services to uninsured immigrants in the Mission District.This clinic was created through a Latino/Latina Studies classroom approximately 12 years ago and “has transformed the lives of patients and students alike”. It is an example of an alternative system providing healthcare within a community perspective that helps underserved populations.

ABDULLAH PUCKETT ,45, was accepted into the doctoral program in cultural anthropology 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 second New Leader Scholarship.

BRIANNA ROGERS, 37,  is currently a senior at UC Berkeley working towards her BA Degree in Rhetoric. A former foster care child, she became a single mother at the age of 19. Having troubling interactions with the legal system in her young adult years made her realize that education was the key to help with poverty and disenfranchisement. As a student at Berkeley City College, she became president of the Associated Students and a student trustee for the Peralta Community College district. With this experience, she learned  the power of both education and language “to craft strategic persuasive arguments” which she plans to use in order to advocate for “Black girls in higher educational settings”. Brianna recently launched ‘Black Girls Rise’ which is a student led organization at Berkeley High School that empowers young Black students by equipping them with the tools needed to evolve and exceed expectations of them, both academically and in their personal lives. Brianna plans to pursue a Masters Degree in Policy management at Georgetown University.

GABRIEL SANTAMARIA is currently completing his senior coursework at UC Berkeley. He is earning dual majors; a BA in Public Health with Honors as well as a BA in Molecular and Cell Biology. He plans to attend medical school in order to work towards an MD-DrPH. Born in Nicaragua, he and his family emigrated to the United States due to political unrest. Growing up in predominantly immigrant and Latino communities, he has first-hand experience with the consequences of both environmental and structural inequalities. Seeing the lack of appropriate medical care and their lifelong impact on the individual, family and community members has led him to a profound dedication to work within the health care system supporting underserved communities. Gabriel hopes to bring about systemic change and greater access to care, while empowering the voice of those most affected. He leads violence prevention and youth leadership programs while working as a home health aide with seniors and disabled members of the community. This has not only shown him the lifelong results of health inequalities, but has increased his passion to pursue medicine. Gabriel hopes ultimately to contribute to structural change, which will help expand who can become a physician.

KHANH TRAN, 21, is in his fourth year at San Francisco State University, with a double major in Biology and Asian American Studies. Khanh emigrated to the US from Vietnam with his mother as a six-year-old  child, needing to leave his father behind. While his family felt liberated from communism, life in the U.S. was far from easy. The struggle for economic survival left Khanh feeling lonely as his mother for her long hours of work. As a teenager, struggling with his identity, he spent many difficult years until helped to understand his dilemma by high school teachers. His discovery of a path through education led him to major in biology.  However, not until he took a second major in Asian American Studies was he able to combine a sense of community along with his science interests. His goal is “to pursue a PhD in Ethnic Studies and research intersectionality to bridge the gap between science education and cultural identity”. He holds several positions in Student Affairs and Enrollment Management office, Asian American Studies and within the Center of Science and Mathematics Education at San Francisco State University. Khanh also serves his community through Pinoy/Pinay Educational Partnership (PEP), where he teaches Filipino American History to high school students. This is his second New Leader Scholarship.




















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