CURRENT CENTRO LAB MEMBERS


Yazmin Meza Lazaro
Lab Manager
In CENTRO since: Fall 2017
Class Year: 2020
Thesis Title: Supporting the Mental Health Needs of Trans Latinas: A Mixed Methods Study in Collaboration with the TransLatin@ Coalition
Advisor: Prof. Lupe Bacio
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Psychological Science 
Hometown: Portland, OR
Yazmin’s CV

Yazmin Meza Lazaro graduated in May 2020 and is currently the Lab Coordinator for the CENTRO Lab. She is a first-generation, low-income student and recipient of the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. She is interested in researching mental health disparities among immigrant communities, including undocumented individuals. More specifically, she is interested in investigating how individual, interpersonal, and systemic factors impact mental health outcomes, with a focus on trauma, stress, and anxiety. She plans to approach this work utilizing mixed methods and community-based participatory research. Ultimately, Yazmin would like to inform prevention and intervention efforts and policies that benefit immigrant communities as a professor and clinician.


Jennifer Rufino
In CENTRO since: Spring 2018
Class Year: 2021
Home institution: Pomona College
Majors: Anthropology and Biology
Hometown: Chicago, IL

Jennifer Rufino is a first generation, low-income college student pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology and Biology. She is the recipient of the Questbridge National College Match Scholarship. Her academic and career interests involve pursuing a MDE/DNP and/or a MPH after her undergraduate career. Her research interests include positive psychology, gender roles and parenting styles on human development and relationships, traditional medicine, and health disparities among minority populations. Jennifer hopes to take what she has learned in CENTRO lab to tackle health disparities in marginalized communities and create change in disadvantaged groups. In Jennifer’s free time, she likes to try out new snacks, watch old Pixar movies, and paint!

Alejandra Valencia
In CENTRO since:
Fall 2018
Class Year: 2021
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Chicanx-Latinx Studies
Minor: Psychological Science
Hometown: Chicago, IL

Alejandra Valencia is a first-generation and low-income student and a recipient of the Posse Foundation Leadership Scholarship. Her research and academic interests lie on learning about people of color that was denied to her growing up and making that information accessible to other young people. She is also interested in the impact of gender and generation in psychological research. Alejandra hopes to become a professor of psychology and/or Chicanx Latinx Studies. She wants to use her research to shed light on issues involving Latinx communities. During her free time, Alejandra enjoys spending time with friends, watching TV shows, and reading poetry.

Chris Meng
In CENTRO since:
Spring 2020
Class Year: 2023
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Psychological Science
Hometown: Lewisburg, PA

Chris grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania. His experiences as a queer, Asian-American influenced him to take a gap year with an education nonprofit called City Year, where he discovered his commitment to social justice for himself, for others, and especially for the kids that he worked with. Chris was drawn to the CENTRO lab community because of its human-centered research focused on making an impact on marginalized communities. He loves connecting with people through sharing and listening to life experiences; he is a tour guide for Pomona admissions. In his free time, you can catch Chris jamming to music in his room, playing guitar, or writing.

Jacqueline Alvarado-Perez
In CENTRO since: Spring 2020
Class Year: 2021
Home institution: Claremont McKenna College
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Winder, GA

Jacqueline Alvarado-Perez is a first-generation, low-income student and the proud daughter of Guatemalan immigrants. She is a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship. Her research and academic interests are in ethnic mental health, addiction/substance abuse, and health disparities. After her undergraduate career, Jacqueline hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in order to provide bilingual therapy and expand research in marginalized populations. Her ultimate goal is to help destigmatize and create greater access to culturally competent mental healthcare for minority, low-income communities. In her free time, Jacqueline enjoys spending time with friends, dancing, and listening to music.

Lynette Lucero
In CENTRO since: Spring 2021
Class Year: 2022
Home institution: Claremont McKenna College
Majors: Public Policy and Psychology
Hometown: Chicago, IL

Lynette Lucero is a proud Ecuatoriana that was born and raised in the city of Chicago. She is interested in the intersection of policy and psychology and its relationship to the Latinx community within the United States. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has worked with various nonprofit organizations and on-campus groups with issues of immigration, citizenship, affordable housing, living wages, and labor organizing. Her involvement with different communities in Claremont, Washington D.C, and Chicago, heavily influence her commitment to helping uplift marginalized communities. In her free time, Lynette loves to do yoga, read, and try new foods from different parts of the world.

Jennifer Cuautencos
In CENTRO since: Spring 2021
Class Year: 2024
Home institution: Claremont McKenna College
Majors: Psychology and Economics
Hometown: Anaheim, CA

Jennifer Cuahutencos is a first-generation, low-income student. She is a QuestBridge College Match Finalist and a recipient of the McKenna Scholar Award. Jennifer is interested in learning about the issues impacting marginalized communities and policies/interventions that can help those communities. After her undergraduate career, with the knowledge and experiences gained from CENTRO, Jennifer hopes to help these communities by helping in the development of such policies/interventions. In her free time, Jennifer loves to read, watercolor, spend time with family and friends, and run. 

Diana Tlaseca
In CENTRO since: Spring 2021
Class Year: 2023
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Chicanx/Latinx Studies
Minor: Mandarin Chinese
Hometown: Zion, IL

Diana Tlaseca is a first-generation college student born in Chicago and raised in a small city on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Despite growing up attending predominantly Latinx and African American schools, she only had white teachers and never saw herself represented in her curriculum. Now in college, she enjoys the opportunity to take Chicanx/Latinx studies classes and to explore and research the Latinx community issues she has experienced. Her research interests include mental health disparities among minority groups, parenting styles on child development, and substance use in the Latinx community. In her free time, Diana likes to walk her dog Kovu, visit forest preserves, eat creamy desserts, and watch Chinese dramas! 

 


CENTRO LAB ALUMNI

Karla Ortiz Martinez
In CENTRO:
Spring 2019-Spring 2020
Class Year: 2020
Home institution: Pomona College
Thesis Title: La Casita de Cristal: Socio-Legal Realities of Mexican Mixed-Status Families in the United States
Major: Chicanx-Latinx Studies
Minor: Mathematics
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Karla_Ortiz_Resume

Karla Ortiz Martinez graduated in May 2020 and is currently a Math and Science Associate Teacher at The Nueva School, an independent school in San Mateo, California. She currently teaches chemistry to 9th grade students and mentors a cohort of ten 9th grade students, supporting the development of their social-emotional learning skills and executive functioning skills. She is a first-generation, low-income graduate and recipient of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship – Claremont Colleges and the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. Her thesis focused on understanding the sociopolitical realities of Mexican mixed-status families in the United States through the lenses of gender, race, generations, and documentation status. With the skills she learned at CENTRO and now at Nueva, she ultimately intends to address the health, educational, and financial disparities that exist for low-resourced communities. 

Jovani Azpeitia
In CENTRO: Fall 2016-Spring 2019
Class Year: 2019
Thesis Title: An Immigrant Paradox: Latinx Cultural Values and Academic Outcomes Among High-Achieving Latinx College Students
Advisor: Prof. Lupe Bacio
Major: Psychological Science
Minor:  Chicanx-Latinx Studies
Home institution: Pomona College
Hometown: Kirkland, WA

In his time at Pomona College, Jovani was a research assistant in the CENTRO Lab investigating how culture affects first-generation and Latinx college students’ development and navigation of educational contexts. He served as a student liaison and mentor to the psychology department and advocated for the needs of first-generation and low-income students. Jovani is currently working at Next Generation Scholars, an educational non-profit in San Rafael, CA, as the Director of Family and Community Engagement. Jovani plans to attend graduate school to become a professor of psychology.

Jennifer Aminta Acevedo
In CENTRO: Spring 2017 – Spring 2019
Class Year: 2019
Thesis Title: An Eco-developmental Approach: The Relation between Minority Stress and Academic Adjustment among Latinx College Students
Advisor: Prof. Lupe Bacio
Major: Psychological Science
Minor:  Chicanx-Latinx Studies
Home institution: Pomona College
Hometown: West Covina, CA

Jen began working at CENTRO lab in the spring of 2017, and was involved in a range of research projects including a longitudinal study on the academic adjustment among first generation college students; a study on drinking behaviors, cognitions, and norms among Latinx college students;  and the role of acculturation in substance use among Latinx adolescents through secondary analyses of the longitudinal Adolescent to Adulthood Health Dataset. Outside of research, she worked as an academic tutor for Upward Bound, as a Jumpstart Corp member, and as a Health Bridges advocate. After graduating from Pomona, Jennifer joined the Teach for America (TFA) corps in Houston, where she teaches an English as a Second Language (ESL) Kindergarten class. She hopes that her research and work in the classroom can ultimately be used to better inform policies that aim to bridge education and health disparities.

Sergio Antonio Ruvalcaba
In CENTRO: Summer 2017-Spring 2019
Class Year: 2019
Thesis Title: Familismo and Language Brokering Experiences Predict Impulsiveness Among High-Achieving Latinx College Students
Advisor: Prof. Lupe Bacio
Major: Cognitive Science
Home institution: Pomona College
Minor:  Chicanx/Latinx Studies
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Sergio’s CV

Since joining the CENTRO Lab in the summer of 2017, Sergio Antonio Ruvalcaba assisted in various studies that explored the role of inter-and interpersonal factors on well-being among adolescents and college students. Currently, he is working as a Sourcing Information representative for McMaster-Carr Supply Company. He spends several evenings throughout the month volunteering at CommunityHealth, the largest volunteer-based free medical facility providing comprehensive medical and dental care to uninsured communities, as a Spanish Interpreter. Additionally, he leads leadership development workshops and advises pre-med students as a volunteer staff member for the Hispanic Center of Excellence’s Medicina Scholars program through UIC Medical School. He plans on pursuing an M.D./MPH, with a goal of becoming a physician in family medicine. Sergio is intent on applying the skillset and knowledge he gained from CENTRO—as well as from courses such as Latinx Mental Health taught by Dr. Bacio—to combat  healthcare disparities throughout his career pathway.

Jasmine Lopez
In CENTRO: Fall 2016 – Spring 2017
Class Year: 2017
Thesis Title: Latino College Students: The Role of Acculturation on Drinking Behaviors, Cognitions, and Norms
Advisor: Prof. Lupe Bacio
Major: Psychology
Home institution: Pomona College
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Jasmine began working at CENTRO lab in the fall of 2016, and worked with Dr. Guadalupe Bacio to develop a research project on drinking behaviors, cognitions, and norms among Latinx college students. She hopes that her research can be used to develop interventions for at-risk Latinx students, and to inform college policies on substance use. As an undergraduate at Pomona, Jasmine participated in many research activities. She worked as a research assistant in the Lichtman lab at Harvard University, investigating synapse rearrangement in the developing cerebellum using serial section scanning electron microscopy. She also worked in the Teplow lab at UCLA, examining secondary formation and morphology of specific mono-D-amino acid substituted amyloid-beta peptides using circular dichroism and transmission electron microscopy. Jasmine plans to attend medical school. 

Cierra Howard
In CENTRO: Summer 2017 – Spring 2018
Class Year: 2018
Thesis Title: The Effects of Cultural Discontinuity on the Experiences of Black College Students
Advisor: Prof. Eric Hurley
Major: Psychology + Pre-Med Track
Home institution: Pomona College
Hometown:Chicago, IL

Cierra spent her years mentoring through various organizations on campus including OBSA, Posse, and Pre-Health Liaisons while at Pomona College. She considers herself a movie buff, with a special affinity for the horror genre. In terms of research, she is interested in mental health, cultural psychology, school/educational psychology, and multicultural competence in clinical settings. She is currently in medical school at University of Chicago and hopes to become a psychiatrist.

Stephanie Contreras
In CENTRO: Summer 2018
Class Year: 2019
Home institution: Boston College
Major: Applied Psychology & Human Development
Minor: English
Hometown: Pomona, CA

Stephanie was born and raised in Pomona, California. She is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrant parents and a first-generation college student at Boston College. She loves to read, cook, and spend quality time with her family. Stephanie aspires to pursue a career in Psychology with specific interests in Psychiatry, Forensic Psychology and Psychotherapy. She hopes to return to her home-state in the future, and to use her career choice to aid the under-resourced communities—specifically the immigrant and Latinx populations.

Anayansi Alatorre Romo
In CENTRO: Spring 2018 – Spring 2019
Graduation Year: 2020
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Latin American Studies
Hometown: Chicago

I was born and raised in the southwest side of the beautiful Windy City. I am a proud Chicana, who loves to dance and listen to Latinx tunes. I hope to someday be a pediatrician, but if that does not work out, I would still like to work with children some way or another. My research interests revolve around better understanding and shedding well deserved light onto the Latinx community.