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.

Isabel Fajardo
In CENTRO since: Spring 2022
Class Year: 2023
Home institution: Pomona College
Majors: Chican(o/a/x) Latin(o/a/x) Studies and Psychology
Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Isabel identifies as a FLI (First Generation Low-Income) student from Washington, DC and she is majoring in Chican(o/a/x) Latin(o/a/x) Studies at Pomona College. She is proudly honduran and comes from a beautiful barrio of central americans. In her free time, Isabel enjoys playing with her cat (pato), drinking tea, napping, etc. She is interested in working in CENTRO Lab for many reasons — to better build public understanding of the Latinx community, to demystify higher education for young Latinxs, and to understand her own familial experiences with mental health challenges and substance abuse. After graduation, she hopes to become an early childhood bilingual educator and artist.

Emily Pereznegron
In CENTRO since:
Spring 2022
Class Year: 
Home institution:
Pomona College
Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
Chicago, IL

Emily is from Chicago and is majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) with a minor in Chicane, Latine Studies at Pomona College. She identifies as FLI (First Generation Low-Income) and Chicana. In her free time, you can find her working out at the CMC gym, working at the Coop Fountain, or studying at the library. She joined CENTRO with the intent of identifying factors that cause disparities for the Latine community to then help bridge the gap in many facts of life. In the future, she hopes to work in law or government to facilitate the transparent representation of the Latine community.

Sarai Ortega
In CENTRO since: Fall 2021
Class Year: 2023
Home institution: Claremont McKenna College
Majors: Molecular Biology
Hometown: Camarillo, CA

Saraí is from Camarillo, CA studying Molecular Biology at Claremont McKenna College. She identifies as a first-generation, low-income student and is of Guatemalan and Mexican descent. She is a QuestBridge Scholar and the current Chapter President of CMC’s QuestBridge Scholars Network. Sarai is interested in learning how to better support the Latinx community when it comes to access to healthcare and mental health resources. She hopes to pursue medical school to provide compassionate care to underserved communities. In her free time, Sarai enjoys crocheting, spending time with friends, and watching Twilight!

Brian Sitanggang
In CENTRO since: Fall 2021
Class Year: 2023
Home institution: Pomona College
Majors: Psychology
Hometown: Montclair, CA

Brian is FLI (First Generation Low-Income) from the neighboring city, Montclair. Having gone to schools in under-resourced communities. Recognizing and honoring the guidance of his many previous mentors, Brian hopes to pay it forward to his community through research dedicated to improving the psychological well-being and minimizing negative health behaviors of immigrant/low-income communities. With the research and client-interaction skills gained from the CENTRO lab, Brian hopes to work in clinical psychology to assist those from underrepresented populations. In his free time, he loves to dance (hip-hop), follow the NBA, and thrift!


Anna Teske
In CENTRO: Fall 2021
Graduation Year: 2022
Home institution: Scripps College
Major: Molecular Biology
Hometown: Los Altos, CA

Anna is from Los Altos, California, and is studying Molecular Biology at Scripps College. They are passionate about healthcare equity and are an advocate for safer sex education in the queer community. Anna is excited to join the CENTRO Lab and assist in producing valuable research. After graduation, Anna hopes to become a pharmacist and work with Latinx communities. In their free time, Anna loves ballroom dancing, writing limericks, and playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Lynette Lucero
In CENTRO since: Spring 2021
Class Year: 2022
Thesis Title: The Latinx Student Achievement Gap: How Two-way Dual Language Immersion Can Help
Advisor: Prof. Tomoe Kanaya
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:  Environment, Economics, and Politics
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 Achievement 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’s Resume

Diana Tlaseca is a first-generation college student born in Chicago and raised in a small city on the Illinois-Wisconsin border called Zion, Illinois. 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! 

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

Chris grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania. His experiences there 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. His current research interests include queer and racial/ethnic identity development, student experiences in education, and pedagogy. Outside of the classroom, Chris loves connecting with people through sharing and listening to life experiences; he is a tour guide for Pomona admissions (and also an avid tennis fan). 

Alejandra Valencia Medina
In CENTRO since:
Fall 2018-Spring 2021
Class Year: 2021
Thesis Title: Platicando Sobre la Sexualidad: Delving into the Nuances of Latina Sexuality
Advisors: Prof.  Gilda Ochoa and  Guadalupe Bacio
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Chicanx-Latinx Studies
Minor: Psychological Science
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Alejandra Valencia Medina’s CV

Alejandra Valencia Medina graduated from Pomona College in 2021 as a first-generation and low-income student and a recipient of the Posse Foundation Leadership Scholarship. Currently, Alejandra is attending the University of California, Santa Barbara to complete her doctoral degree in Chicana and Chicano Studies. Her research interests include questions of sexuality among emerging adult Latina women, mothering, and higher education. 

Jennifer Rufino
In CENTRO since: Spring 2018-Spring 2021
Class Year: 2021
Thesis Title: Possibilities and barriers to the humanization of birth in Mexico and Argentina: A cross cultural ethnography on perceptions of the Humanized Childbirth Law in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina and San Miguel Allende, Mexico
Advisor: Dr. Joanne Randa Nucho
Home institution: Pomona College
Majors: Anthropology
Minor: Biology
Hometown: Chicago, IL

Jennifer Rufino graduated from Pomona College in 2021 as a first-generation and low-income student and a recipient of the Questbridge National College Match Scholarship. After graduation, Jennifer decided to continue her studies at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. She is currently obtaining her Master’s Entry into Nursing Practice. Jennifer hopes to take what she has learned in CENTRO lab to tackle health disparities in marginalized groups and provide health promotion strategies to those in need. Eventually, Jennifer is planning to pursue a DNP (Doctors in Nursing Practice).

Yazmin Meza Lazaro
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. 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.

Karla Ortiz Martinez
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 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
Jovani Azpeitia’s CV

At Pomona, Jovani investigated how culture affects first-generation and Latinx college students’ development and navigation of educational contexts. He also served as a student liaison and mentor to the psychology department and was an advocate for the needs of first-generation and low-income students. After graduating, Jovani worked for Next Generation Scholars, a college-access program primarily serving low-income, Latinx youth in Marin County, CA. Jovani is now a PhD student in Social Psychology at the University of Washington. His research broadly focuses on the educational experiences of marginalized students, in particular, combatting prejudice and leveraging students’ cultural assets to remedy educational inequities.

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
Jennifer Aminta Acevedo’s CV

Jennifer began working at CENTRO lab in the spring of 2017 and was involved in a range of research projects related to education policies and health disparities among Latine populations. Outside of research, she worked as an academic tutor for Upward Bound high school students and as a Jumpstart Corp member for pre-schools students. After graduating from Pomona, Jennifer joined the Teach for America (TFA) corps in Houston, where she taught Kindergarten Bilingual students, and was awarded a resolution in 2022 by Senator Carol Alvarado for her students’ academic excellence, with her students achieving 8 points above the national average on MAP Reading and Math scores and more than 80% of her students reaching end-of-year growth goals in MAP reading and/or math tests. During her time as an educator, she was also selected as a Grade Level Chair, Advocacy Captain, and Texas Teach Plus Policy Fellow, where she published policy recommendation briefs and Op-eds to advance education equity in Texas. Additionally, she co-founded Kindle, a virtual longitudinal program aiming to address reading and health literacy needs among students in Aldine, TX, which was selected as a recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship grant. She now works as a Data and Research Analyst for Texas Public Charter School Association (TPCSA).

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
JasmineLopez’s Resume

Jasmine joined the CENTRO lab in the fall of 2016 and worked with Dr. Bacio to develop a research project examining the role of acculturation 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 inform college policies on substance use. Jasmine also has research experience in cellular biology, neuroscience, biochemistry, and clinical trials. She is currently a physician assistant student at UC Davis and has a strong interest in psychiatry and health equity. 

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.