Yazmin Meza
Lab Coordinator
In CENTRO since: Fall 2017
Graduation Year: 2020
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Psychological Science 
Hometown: Portland, OR
Yazmin’s CV

Yazmin is a first-generation, low-income student and recipient of the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. Her academic and career interests include working with marginalized communities concerning issues of mental, physical, and sexual health. More specifically, she is interested in using community-based participatory research that priorities the needs of the community to bridge the gap between academia and marginalized communities. Her ultimate goal is to start her own grass-roots organization that supports survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Along with the CENTRO Lab, Yazmin has been heavily involved with FLI (First-Generation and/or Low Income) Scholars, a student-run organization that advocates for the institutional support of first-generation and/or low-income students at Pomona College.

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
Majors: Psychology & Chicanx-Latinx Studies
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.

Karla Ortiz
In CENTRO since:
Spring 2019
Class Year: 2020
Home institution: Pomona College
Major: Chicanx-Latinx Studies
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Karla is a first-generation, low-income student born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. Her family is a large part of her life and thus have guided her research and academic interests in learning how mixed-status families in the United States navigate the world and legal consciousness as well as creating spaces of healing. She is also passionate about telling stories. Karla hopes to become a professor of Sociology or Chicanx/Latinx Studies one day and connect her research back to her Latinx community. In her free time, Karla loves to spend time with friends by watching movies and TV shows.


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.