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.

Guillermo Alonzo is a senior psychology student at Cal Poly Humboldt in Arcata, CA. When he first came to Humboldt he was a history major, but he wasn’t sure that was the right path for him. He thought about changing his major to wildlife, but he eventually became a psychology major during his second semester of freshman year. Eventually, Guillermo decided that he wants to work with children because he thinks they are quite interesting. In the future, he wants to help children with mental illnesses gain control of themselves and help them interact with other people. Before this experience, he was very shy and didn’t take opportunities to get involved with anything that involved talking to new people. Now, during his senior year, he is trying to get involved as much as possible. Guillermo is excited to be a part of the Community-based Learning Peer Leadership Program at Cal Poly Humboldt because he enjoys supporting students in their community engagement and hopes to build his leadership skills.

Michael Benner is in his last year as a criminology student at Cal Poly Humboldt. He originally planned on using his degree to pursue a career in law enforcement that would end up as a Homicide Detective. As of now he is interning for the Peer Leadership Program, which is centered around Community-based Learning. Through this opportunity, Michael plans on further developing his leadership skills, along with helping out his community. When Michael is not working and doing school work, he is a father of two; a 3 year old daughter and a 4 month old. Whenever there is free time, he likes to play video games with his friends, play outside with his kids, and watch or play basketball.

Valeria Alejandra Cortez is a 3rd year first-generation college student pursuing a bachelor’s in Political Science at Sacramento State. She hopes to one day serve her community as an elected official in local government and give back to those in need. Valeria is a welcoming spirit who is always available to help those around her and answer any questions. She is excited to be a part of the Community Engagement Center and is looking forward to making relationships with other Hornets.

Ilene Izaguirre is from Lodi, California. She is a junior double-majoring in criminal justice and political science with a legal studies option at CSU, Chico. She is a student assistant for the Office of Civic Engagement. She has a great interest in criminal justice and law, as well as helping those who have been affected by injustice. She plans to enter a law school after graduating to become a criminal defense attorney. She is a part of some projects as a Campus Compact Fellow that includes a film screening series about voting rights and a video she’s helping produce. For the video, she is including interviews of professors from campus to discuss voting rights and civic engagement, all with the intent of improving voter education and outreach. She is looking forward to researching more about voting rights in the United States and the different perspectives the interviews with the professors will give her. She hopes these projects will have the same impact on the campus as they did for her. 

Tejhasvi “Teju” Jaikumar is a transfer student at Sacramento State, majoring in sociology. She received her associate degree from De Anza College, with a major in liberal arts with an emphasis in social and behavioral sciences, and certificate in leadership and social change, as well as being awarded the De Anza Student Leadership Award. Her career aspirations are to be involved with social justice and/or community advocacy.

Erin Martin is an Occupational Therapy Assistant Student at Stanbridge University. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine in 2018. Erin was exposed to occupational therapy shortly after graduating from UCI, and immediately knew she wanted to become an OT practitioner. Stanbridge University’s OTA program caught her attention and she feels that it has been a great experience so far. Erin’s desire to become an OTA stems from her passion of helping others and wanting to make a difference in the world. She wants to be able to give back to various parts of her community as an OTA. When Erin is not working on school-related activities, she enjoys watching movies, playing sports, and exploring new places. She hopes to travel more in the future to experience new and beautiful scenery, but to also broaden her knowledge and appreciation of other cultures and environments.

Samantha Perez is a second-year student at College of the Canyons working towards an associate’s degree in biological sciences with a minor in business. After graduating from university, she plans on attending medical school where she wishes to specialize in thoracic surgery. Sam is passionate about advocating for accessible healthcare and housing, and through the PLACE project she can work locally to combat the lack of resources available to the public. With the hopes to inspire positive change within the Santa Clarita Valley, she has recently joined the NAACP to join others in activism for civil rights and social justice.

Gabriela Rodriguez. Hailing from Miami Beach, Gabriela moved to Los Angeles in 2018 as a student of Occidental College. She is a senior majoring in Diplomacy & World Affairs and minoring in Media, Arts, & Culture. In her first year on campus, she served as the First Year Senator of the Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) Senate and advanced as the Labor Liaison in the Diversity and Equity Board of ASOC. Throughout her college career, she has drafted the Self-Guided Tour booklet in Spanish and helped coordinate the Multicultural Visit Program for historically underrepresented students as the Diversity and Equity Initiative Intern at the Office of Admissions. Now, she works as a Program Coordinator at the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLICE) facilitating community engagement through event programming and the Co-President of Latinx Student Union. Most recently, Gabi has been selected as a Law Fellow at the UCLA School of Law as she is dedicated to social change and equity initiatives within the legal field. Upon graduating, Gabi plans to use her education and prior experiences towards the goal of empowering disenfranchised communities.

Julia Shapiro is a second-year student at California State University Channel Islands. She has always had a passion for math and problem solving, and she is currently using these skills towards a degree in business with an option in finance. She has always loved helping those close to her, as well as helping her community. In high school, she served as the Vice President for the Teen Coalition Committee of Agoura Hills, where she worked with her peers to plan events that benefited various individuals within the neighboring communities. Additionally, she has always enjoyed learning about the environment and the causes and effects of climate change, as well as teaching others about the topic. Therefore, she is excited to be a member of the CSUCI Climate Corps program and to be working towards a more sustainable future. 

Karissa Smathers is a junior at CSU Channel Islands completing her Bachelor’s in Anthropology and Psychology. Prior to CSUCI, Karissa was a Senior Lead Compost Intern with Moorpark College’s Compost Project while completing her Associate’s in Environmental Studies, Psychology, and Anthropology. There, she studied and led various projects about hot composting, vermicomposting, and food waste diversion. She volunteers for the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, Sea Center, educating guests about the diversity and importance of the Santa Barbara Channel and works for Island Packers, the boating concessionaire for the Channel Islands National Park. Karissa is passionate about the environment and is now a Climate Corp fellow for her campus, where she is looking to assist the Center for Community Engagement and Office of Sustainability to launch a food waste recycling program on campus to reduce environmental impact and help curb climate change.”

Addison Smith is a fourth year communications major here at Sonoma State University and is originally from San Diego. During his fourth year at Sonoma State he hopes to work closely with both the Center for Community Engagement and community partners to bring the county’s issues to the forefront of students’ minds. Addison Smith hopes to accomplish many things in his final year at Sonoma State but his main focus is journalistic integrity. He hopes to become a journalist after college and settle down in California.

Sona Tigranyan is a College of the Canyons sophomore studying Environmental Science. She has been very active on campus, becoming involved with the Associated Student Government, Honors Program, Pathway to Law School, and the Center for Civic Engagement. As a member of the PLACE Project, she has worked with the local homeless shelter, Bridge to Home, to help the residents feel more comfortable in their stay. Sona believes that everyone should feel safe and secure in their housing, no matter what their circumstances are.