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.


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.