Students from California campuses were selected in Fall 2023 to participate in LEAD California’s Community Engagement Student Fellowship (CESF) program, a 4-month initiative specifically designed to support student leaders advancing service, service-learning and community engagement at LEAD California member campuses throughout the state.
Brandon Arenson (he/him) is a Junior at CSUN, where he is a Political Science Major and is on the Forensics Team. A Spring 2023 Transfer from LA Valley College, Brandon was given the opportunity to learn in both a Community College and University environment, and through that opportunity was able to understand what the needs of each community is. Now that Brandon is at CSUN, he is committed to ensuring that students are passionate about civic engagement, and making changes in their communities through not only voting themselves, but educating others about voting as well. Brandon is looking forward to working with the CSUN community, and hopes to motivate others to use their voice & their vote in order to fight for desired changes in their communities.
Dhruv Bahl is a Senior majoring in Computer Science at California State University, Chico. Dhruv hopes to get an MBA in Economics in the foreseeable future. Dhruv grew up in two major cities like London, UK and New Delhi, India. Community engagement wasn’t a big part of everyone’s daily lifestyle. Dhruv hopes to work in civic engagement particularly in social justice and give back to the community and its people.
Kaya Buckley is a proud native of South Los Angeles and she is a passionate community advocate. She is pursuing a degree in Ethnic Studies with a concentration in Pan-Africanism at Sacramento State. Kaya brings a unique blend of passion and purpose to her academic pursuits. Beyond books, Kaya enjoys going to the gym and channeling her boundless energy into inspiring others.
Kamila Campos is a fourth-year student at Cal State LA majoring in Political Science with a minor in Spanish. She is a first-generation college student, with a background in education advocacy and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has a strong interest in public policy, and through LEAD California she hopes to initiate community engagement by informing others about the importance of civic engagement and education in order to promote a positive change in her community. When she’s not at school, she enjoys spending time with her dogs, trying new food spots with her friends, hiking, and traveling.
Sofia Earley is a second-year Political Science major with an intended double major in Communications at the University of California San Diego. Civic Engagement has always been Sofia’s driving force why she decided to major in Political Science and why she wants to go into Political Communications. Sofia is very thrilled to be a part of the Community Engagement Student Fellowship program and excited to work within her campus community to enact meaningful change.
Virginia Giritlian received a Masters of Fine Arts Degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, with a focus on Cinema Studies and Filmmaking. Working in the film industry for many years, and becoming a vice president of several production companies, Virginia returned to College of the Canyons to pursue a degree in Paralegal Studies. Currently, Virginia works with the Center for Civic Engagement and is a member of the Center’s Engage the Vote Action Team. In her quest to examine patent law, she stumbled upon the study of sustainable water and Atmospheric Water Harvesting. Virginia continues to delve into learning about alternative ways to provide potable water by harvesting it from the air, even in areas of low relative humidity.
Wynton Glapa-Grossklag is a freshman at College of the Canyons, majoring in Political Science. He is acting president of the Civic Engagement Club and the Helping Us Become Club. He started his civic engagement activities during his senior year of high school, during which he was dual enrolled at College of the Canyons and participated in the Engage the Vote Action Team. Wynton is a proud graduate of the Sequoia School special education program, where he was recognized by the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation for outstanding success in high school. Wynton’s future goals include completing a BA and MA in political science and pursuing a career in environmental advocacy.
Fatima Jeronimo-Vazquez, is a first-generation college student and a 4th year Child Development major in social and community context at Sacramento State. She is from Sacramento, CA and transferred from Los Rios Community college. Her goals after college include traveling and pursuing a master’s in Social Work. She is very excited to be part of CESF and cannot wait to meet and learn from everyone.
Mitul Kalra is a senior at CSU Northridge pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Political Science. She serves as the Associated Students Chair of Legislative Affairs where she promotes political and voter engagement on campus. She also advocates for CSU students on systemwide and legislative levels. She is very passionate about keeping people around her informed and making sure students are aware of the resources they need to thrive. This year, Mitul is excited to work alongside CSUN Act Now to promote civic engagement.
Elizabeth Lopez is a 3rd year at the University of California San Diego. She is double majoring in Political Science and History, as well as a minor in Education Studies. As a mom, a wife, and a full time student she is very excited to reach all communities and ensure everyone’s voices are heard. Elizabeth is an active student on and off campus as she has served for the California Justice Corps in helping self-represented litigants in different courthouses across San Diego. She has collected data through the United States Immigration Policy Center at UCSD. As well as serving across all UC’s through the Alliance Advisory Committee. As Elizabeth begins her pathway with the LEAD California Fellowship she is excited to give insights on how to improve upon Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
Servando Melendrez is a sophomore from Chico State studying Computer Animation and Game Development in hopes of working as a game designer for a company one day. Servando is currently working as a North State Ambassador at the college. Servando grew up in a rural community known as Westwood, California in Lassen County. Growing up here, Servando did not have the same opportunities that students in larger communities can take advantage of but that did not stop him from pursuing passions which may seem unconventional considering the perception of people from a small town that you don’t necessarily think game designer but here he is breaking expectation. Servando has the same philosophy on voting as he believes that no matter who you are, if you are able to vote you should! It’s important to let your voice be known and the sooner our youth can start voting the better.
Elmar Navarrete Salvador is a 1st year student at California State University, Los Angeles, majoring in political science. His choice to pursue this opportunity stems from his relentless desire to convey transformative changes driven to propel advancements for the low-income and proletarian community. Elmar believes in empowering marginalized communities and holding the government accountable for its actions. He emphasizes that true change begins when the people unite to confront the inequalities in this country; only then can we break the chains of injustice. He understands the need and looks forward to being the change he wants to see in this world.
Mia Vergnetti is a sophomore studying Screenwriting and Political Science at Loyola Marymount University. Mia grew up right outside of Washington D.C. in Bethesda Maryland, and has been interested in politics and storytelling from a young age. She hopes to build a career telling stories that highlight the humanity of social issues. Mia has participated in several annual advocacy days for the Tourette Association of America where she has gotten to meet with her state representatives and their staff to discuss ongoing issues and to request funding. Having these experiences has made her see the importance of participating in electing officials that will impact the issues she cares most about.
SPRING 2023 CESF YVYV STUDENT FELLOWS
Students from California campuses were selected in Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 to participate in LEAD California’s Community Engagement Student Fellowship (CESF) program, a 4-month initiative specifically designed to support student leaders advancing service, service-learning and community engagement at LEAD California member campuses throughout the state.
Martha Carr is a student at College of the Canyons. She had a successful career for many years as a professional C-Suite executive assistant in corporate America and the fund-raising realm of non-profit higher education. After raising and putting her two children through college, Martha was motivated to go back to school as she has always been fascinated by the governing powers of contracts and intellectual property law. As such, Martha joined COC’s paralegal degree program to acquire that specialized knowledge which will serve to underpin her current and future career goals. Martha was somewhat ambivalent about re-entering college at this point in her life, so she started by taking a couple classes per semester while still working full-time. She is so thrilled that she did! The renewed sense of community and opportunities that have been afforded her as a result have been amazing. If Martha had one piece of advice to give, it would be, “never stop learning”; knowledge is power and empowerment.
Natalia Farias Maldonado (she/her) is a first-generation college student and a sophomore at Sonoma State studying Communication and Spanish. Natalia has always been passionate about civic engagement and using her voice for change. Natalia has been involved in many political demonstrations that advocate for voter equality, the right to reproductive freedom, BLM, and for more gun regulations. Natalia believes there is strength in numbers and that when people come together for a cause they care about, they can create change.
FALL 2022 CESF YVYV STUDENT FELLOWS
Students from California campuses were selected in Spring 2022 to participate in LEAD California’s Community Engagement Student Fellowship (CESF) program, a 4-month initiative specifically designed to support student leaders advancing service, service-learning and community engagement at LEAD California member campuses throughout the state.
Callie Adams is a fourth-year at Sonoma State double-majoring in Communications and Political Science, hailing from a small town outside South Lake Tahoe. She has been active on her campus during her time as a student, having hosted and produced the career-oriented podcast The SSU Career Chat, served as News Editor for the STAR newspaper, and led SSU’s 2022 Model UN team as Head Delegate. Her interests lie in audio and visual media, political organization, public relations, and publishing. Callie plans to use her degrees to promote political literacy and help people make informed decisions for their futures. In her free time, she likes to write.
Rahel Gebre is a graduate student at Cal State LA studying Public Administration. Rahel is also working as a healthcare recruiter. Rahel is so excited to get involved with the 2022 Community Engagement Student Fellowship, Youth Voice-Youth Vote (CESF YVYV). Rahel decided to get involved in this opportunity because she wants to make a difference and encourage voter turnout in the community. Rahel would love to get first-hand experience on civic education and voter engagement. Rahel looks forward to working and connecting with my peers who have similar interests in civic and voter engagement!
Oston Djemba Madengue is from Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, California. His non-profit career began with a toy drive for the Jenesse Center at an elementary school in Los Angeles. From 2010 to 2020, he served on the non-profit Jemba Against Domestic Violence (J.A.D.V.) board of directors as the President. He received a certificate in Religion and Domestic Violence Intervention 2016. Oston studied Business Management at John Cabot University of Rome, Political Science at Los Angeles City College, and Domestic Violence and Design at Cal State Long Beach. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art at California State University Los Angeles.
Nick Nyein is a 1st year student at College of the Canyons hoping to major in both political science and data science. His interest in the LEAD fellowship is fueled by his work as a political organizer, particularly regarding his work to foster Gen-Z political engagement. Beyond seeking to engage and educate young voters, he hopes to advance racial equity within public health administration and immigration. As an organizer, Nick has affiliations with Voters of Tomorrow, March For Our Lives, Project Super Bloom, and Hear Our Voices.
MacKenna Jean Rawlins is from Southern California, and she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Cal Poly SLO with a Bachelors in Political Science and a Minor in Asian Studies. She is now in her second year of grad school at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UCSD pursuing a Master of Chinese Economics and Political Affairs. Her professional interest and areas of research include US-China relations, and she aspires to be a professor of Chinese Politics. MacKenna has always been interested in helping others, and LEAD presents her with the opportunity to get student voices involved with public policy decisions. She aims to serve the public, and to improve students’ experiences.
Nikki Saito (she/her) is a fourth year Neurobiology major and double minors in Chinese-Studies and Business at the University of California, San Diego. Nikki currently serves as the Vice-President External for the Associated Students of UC San Diego and the Chief Financial Officer for the UC Student Association. In her roles, she advocates for 230,000 undergraduate students to the UC Board of Regents and UC President Drake. Outside of that, Nikki is a student research assistant at the UC San Diego Center for Healthy Eating and Activity Research. She also loves to play Taiko, which is traditional Japanese drumming, and is the President for the student organization Asayake Taiko. After graduating, Nikki hopes to return to her hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii and further her studies in Public Policy or Law.
Collin Shneour is a student at College of the Canyons. He has developed a passion for civic engagement after going through a rough childhood. Collin’s experiences taught him that if we do not have each other’s back, no one will have our own. Through his continuing work at Engage the Vote on College of the Canyons while serving as the Student Government President, Collin has strived to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. It is important to recognize that if we encourage everyone to be informed and break down barriers to vote, then we will see a wildly different set of representatives in the House, Senate, State and Local governments. It is time we bring these unheard voices to the forefront of our policymaking so that we can see an America that accurately reflects its population’s wishes. Together, we have the power to change this great nation!
Michael Tejax is a first generation college and first generation American, senior Political Science Student at California State University Northridge. When Michael first entered CSUN he wanted to give back to his college community, he decided to join student leadership his junior year as the Chair of Elections. During his time as Chair of Elections he focused on being a student leader and advocating for various communities on campus. Michael Tejax hopes to one day serve his community by becoming an elected government official and giving back to a country that has given him so much.