Yazmin Meza
Lab Coordinator
In CENTRO since: Fall 2017
Graduation Year: 2020
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Psychology and Gender and Women’s Studies
Hometown: Portland, OR

My name is Yazmin Meza and I was born in small town in Mexico, but now call Portland my home. I love to dance, and binge watch Netflix shows, especially Grey’s Anatomy! In elementary school, I wanted to be like my school counselor which sparked my interest in psychology. Since then, I have been interested in working with marginalized communities concerning issues of mental health and educational access. As of now, my research interests are community-based research with Latinx communities, especially low-income and/or immigrant women and children, around mental health. My goal is to create mental health programs that are accessible and designed specifically for the needs of Latinx communities.

Jovani Azpeitia
In CENTRO since: Fall 2016
Class Year: 2019
Home institution: Pomona College
Major/Minor: Psychology Major & Chicanx-Latinx Minor
Hometown: Kirkland, WA

Jovani’s research interests lie in understanding the intrapersonal and interpersonal factors that impact education access and achievement, with a focus on first-generation, low-income, and students of color. Additionally, due to the centrality of family in Latinx communities, Jovani is interested in understanding how the family and facets of familismo can serve as protective factors against health and educational adversities. He hopes to become a professor of psychology and mentor the next generation of Latinx scholars and use his research to better inform policies in higher education. When Jovani is not in the lab, he likes to mentor psychology classes, play the clarinet, and binge watch comedy stand ups on Netflix.

Jennifer Aminta Acevedo
In CENTRO since: Spring 2017
Class Year: 2019
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Psychology with a Minor in Chicanx/Latinx Studies
Hometown: West Covina, CA

Jennifer Acevedo is a first-generation College student and second-generation Latina. Her academic and career goals involve integrating her interests in mental health, medicine, and education, by seeking an MD/ MPH or MD/ MSW degree after graduation. Jennifer is interested in applying what she has gained from her research assistantship with CENTRO Lab to understand the process of creating community interventions or workshops and the epidemiology of Latinx health in general. In her down time, she enjoys long-distance running, reading, and watching shows or movies on Netflix.

Sergio Antonio Ruvalcaba
In CENTRO since: Summer 2017
Class Year: 2019
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Cognitive Science with a Minor in Chicanx/Latinx Studies + Pre-Health Track
Hometown: Chicago, IL

Sergio Antonio Ruvalcaba is a first-generation, low-income student and recipient of the Posse Foundation Leadership Scholarship from the Southwest Side of Chicago. His academic and career goals involve pursuing an M.D. or M.D./Ph.D program following his undergraduate career, as he hopes to one day become a physician or surgeon. His research interests include clinical psychology, health psychology, and language and cognition. Sergio is interested in applying what he has gained from his research assistantship with CENTRO Lab to further explore and assess the disparities within the healthcare system, and the epidemiology of Latinx health in general. On his downtime, he enjoys drawing, practicing the trumpet, watching shows on Netflix or Hulu, and looking after dogs.

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

I am a proud Latina born and raised in the Northside of Chicago. During my first year of college I had the opportunity to get involved with CENTRO Lab, the First Generation and Low-Income (FLI) Scholars, and Healthbridges. In my free time, I like to dance Cumbia with my closest friends and go eat ice cream at la Michoacana. My passion for learning and helping the Latinx community has shined throughout this past year. In the future, I hope to learn more about my community in the context of science and culture and use data collected from research to develop methods that will hopefully prevent health misconceptions from occurring.

Alejandra Valencia
In CENTRO since: Fall 2018
Class Year: 2021
Home institution: Pomona College
Majors: Psychology & Chicanx-Latinx Studies
Hometown: Chicago, IL

Alejandra Valencia is a first-generation, 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.


Jasmine Lopez
In CENTRO: Fall 2016 – Spring 2017
Class Year: 2017
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Psychology
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
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Psychology + Pre-Med Track
Hometown:Chicago, IL

Cierra spent her years mentoring through various organizations on campus including OBSA, Posse, and Pre-Health Liaisons while at Pomona College. I consider myself a movie buff, with a special affinity for the horror genre. In terms of research, I am interested in mental health, cultural psychology, school/educational psychology, and multicultural competence in clinical settings. After college, I plan to attend medical school in hopes of becoming a psychiatrist.

Stephanie Contreras
In CENTRO: Summer 2018
Class Year: 2019
Home institution: Boston College
Major: Applied Psychology & Human Development + English Minor
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: Chicanx/Latinx 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.