First Year LCOE Scholars
Arturo Alejandro Aguayo Villegas is a native of East Oakland. He is the eldest of three siblings and the son of Arturo Aguayo Gonzalez and Carolina Villegas Valdez, who are from Nochistlan de Mejia, Zacatecas, Mexico. Arturo graduated as an undergraduate from the University of California, Berkeley, with a major in Legal Studies and a minor in Education in 2012. He also attended the prestigious Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México as a visiting scholar during Mexico's Bicentennial. He has over 12 years of experience working in the education field, mentoring young men in urban schools and juvenile facilities, and as well as teaching at San Quentin State Prison. He previously worked with the Unity Council Latino Men and Boys program as an Academic and Career Mentor at his alma mater Skyline High School and as an Assistant Head Coach for the baseball team. He currently works as a Counselor for the Alameda County Assessment Center. Arturo is a first-year MSW student in Strengthening Children, Youth, and Families specialization and focusing his training in clinical mental health to incorporate with his indigenous-based healing practices. He is interested in establishing mentorship programs and transformational healing circles to work with young men and adults in schools, juvenile halls, and prisons. Arturo's interest include baseball, horseback riding, and world traveling.
Alicia Gonzalez is a first-generation and first-year graduate student in the SCYF concentration. She served two years as an Americorps member in Little Rock before becoming a Golden Bear. Her ambitions include addressing the mental health stigma that exists in the Latinx community and other historically marginalized groups through direct practice, research, and program development. Upon earning her MSW degree, Alicia will work as a school social worker in an elementary school setting to improve mental wellness access and educational inequality in the classroom. She graduated from UC Riverside with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a minor in Education.
Christian Ribeiro is applying his foundational coursework in the Strengthening, Children, Youth, and Families concentration to a first-year field placement with Oakland Unified’s Newcomer Wellness Initiative. In which capacity, Christian provides individual and group therapy and resources to serve predominantly Latinx Newcomers (English language learner students who have arrived in the US within the past three years) and their families at Frick Impact Academy and Castlemont High School. Christian is a Child Welfare Scholar, and he is pursuing both a School Social Work Credential and a Social Work with Latinx certificate. Christian is looking forward to a career of offering culturally responsive service to Latinx children and families through both the child welfare and school systems. Christian loves sports and fitness. He works as a personal trainer so when he is not in Haviland, he can likely be found at the gym!
Daniela Medina is a first year MSW student from East Oakland, California and is in the Strengthening Organizations and Communities concentration (SOC). She previously worked with justice-involved youth and young adults in accessing support services and resources at Community & Youth Outreach and currently serves as an intern at Alameda County Care Connect where she participates in a range of capacity building and user research projects. As a first-generation college student and daughter of Mexican immigrants, the SOC program is helping prepare her to develop, and evaluate programs in her community where she hopes to improve interventions and public systems serving Latinx immigrant families and communities of color. Daniela is a proud member of the Underground Scholars Initiative, a program on the UC Berkeley campus that supports current and formerly incarcerated students in accessing and thriving in higher education. She enjoys spending free time with family and going to Oakland Raiders and A’s games.
Marylou Mendez was born and raised in Los Angeles. Sus padres vienen desde San Mateo de Cajonos, en Oaxaca, México, y han pasado ese orgullo de ser Oaxaqueña a Marylou. [Her parents are from San Mateo de Cajonos, in Oaxaca, Mexico. They have passed on their Oaxacan pride to Marylou]. She is passionate about delivering bicultural and bilingual mental health services to the Latinx community. Prior to UC Berkeley, she attended Humboldt State University, where she majored in psychology and minored in multicultural queer studies. Marylou is a recipient of the 2015 Health Careers and Opportunities Program (HCOP) Award, where she completed a summer research internship at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. Marylou has presented research on a variety of topics at two Western Psychological Association (WPA) Conferences; a qualitative study on attitudes towards affirmative action, and attitudes towards same-sex marriage. After graduating from Humboldt State University, Marylou spent 3 years working with autistic children and with children with other neurodevelopmental disorders. Marylou utilizes her background in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) at her current placement at La Clinica de La Raza in Oakland, CA. When Marylou is not studying or at her internship, she loves going to concerts, walking her dog around Lake Merritt, and exploring new restaurants in the Oakland area.
Silvia Avila-Garcia is an MSW student in the Strengthening Children, Youth and Families concentration. She obtained a B.A. degree in Public Health and a minor in Global Poverty and Practice from UC Berkeley in 2016. Prior to beginning graduate school, she worked at a family resource center in San Francisco's Mission District as a family advocate. Motivated by her roots growing up in the Central Valley community of Arvin, California, Silvia is determined to support the mental and social wellbeing of Latinx immigrant families through direct service. She plans to become a school social worker to advocate for all students in the public education system, including undocumented and unaccompanied children. In her free time, she likes to try new food, drink Thai tea with boba, and spend time with her family.
Second Year LCOE Scholars
Ashley Basualdo is a second-year student in the Strengthening Children, Youth, and Families concentration. She is deeply connected to her work with youth and families who have experienced complex trauma. Being part of individuals’ healing journeys has been incredibly impactful and meaningful; it has been a privilege and one that she hopes to continue throughout her career. Her work has been with Latinx communities. She is inspired by ancestral and culturally rooted practices, such as curanderismo and Mapuche healing practices. With roots in Los Angeles and Chile, she carries her family in all that she does. A vision she holds is to continue development of individual practice with children, youth, and families affected by trauma, and one day implement this knowledge at a systemic level. Holding close values rooted in the decolonization of social work, she is motivated by this re-imagination in the work that she does.
Cecilia Villalobos is a second-year Latinx MSW student. She is studying with the goal of becoming a mental health clinician for Latinx communities. Cecilia has worked as a legal assistant in immigration law offices, as a dedicated volunteer for a Spanish crisis line, and as a Latinx youth mentor for a local congregation. She has witnessed the need for culturally sensitive and representative mental health clinicians in Latinx communities. With her own mental health experiences from her adolescence in mind, she seeks to provide help and hope to the community that helped strengthen her. Cecilia chose UC Berkeley's MSW program for the diversity of the Bay Area. She continues thriving with the help of her chosen family, which she met as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley.
Cindy Hernandez is a second-year student at the University of California Berkeley Social Welfare program with a concentration in Strengthening Children, Youth, and Families. Cindy is the daughter of an immigrant farm working family, raised in Hood River Valley, Oregon, and a first-generation student. She majored in Human Development and Family Sciences and minored in Spanish at Oregon State University. After graduating, it was clear to her that she wanted to continue working with the Latinx community. Cindy gained experience as a bilingual family advocate, bilingual youth advocate, and child protective services caseworker. After working in this field for several years, Cindy recognized the enormous need for Spanish speaking mental health providers. Post-graduation, Cindy plans to obtain her License in Clinical Social Worker and serve the Latinx community experiencing mental health illnesses. Her first placement was at Oakland Unity High School and Oakland Unity Middle School as part of the Wellness Services Department. She helped address student's social and emotional needs. This year, Cindy is working at La Clinica-Casa del Sol, a Latinx focused community health center.
Daniel Espana is a second-year Master of Social Welfare student in the Strengthening Children, Youth, and Families concentration. He is originally from San Diego and he attended UC San Diego where he received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and minored in Electrical Engineering. While at UC San Diego he volunteered at an Autism and Dementia study as a data analyst. Daniel also had an opportunity to volunteer at an after school program that helped Latinx high school students become college-bound and at a domestic violence clinic where he helped victims in the process of getting a restraining order. After college, he took on an offer to work as a case manager that helped families in the CalWorks program receive subsidized child care. Afterwards, he worked at a non-profit focused on preventing and intervening child abuse. In that position, he taught parenting classes and offered wrap-around services to parents involved with Child Welfare Services. Daniel’s passion has always been to help others especially victims of violence. On top of professional experience, Daniel also has a personal connection to victimization. His family has an intergenerational pattern of domestic violence and is blessed to have had mentors, therapists, and social workers who helped his family process and overcome the effects of the violence. He wishes to use his MSW degree to empower children and families who have experienced trauma or are facing any systematic barriers through direct practice.
Daniela Canas Baena is in the second year of her graduate studies at UC Berkeley's School of Social Welfare. Daniela was born in Colombia but she grew up in Southern California. Daniela's parents always encouraged her to follow her educational passions that led her to pursue her undergraduate studies at Scripps College. While at Scripps, Daniela dual majored in Politics & International Relations (focusing on Latin American Politics and US Intervention) and Foreign Languages (Spanish and Italian). Daniela's educational trajectory and life experiences have developed a passion for working with and advocating on behalf of oppressed people. Daniela is currently interning at Instituto Familiar de la Raza where she is gaining greater insights into how she can support efforts to advance holistic health equity for the Latinx community.
Jose Lopez is currently a second-year student in the Strengthening Organizations and Communities concentration. He is a first-generation Mexican American. Jose was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He was the first in his family to attend college. Jose studied Political Science and Peace Justice and Conflict Studies with a Minor in Philosophy at DePaul University. After graduating from DePaul University, Jose moved to San Francisco to do a year of full-time community service with the Vincentian Service Corps. Upon completing his AmeriCorps year he continued the work he was doing as a volunteer serving folks who struggled with homelessness, substance abuse and mental illnesses in the Tenderloin of San Francisco. During his first year in the MSW program, Jose worked at the Center for Harm Reduction Therapy; where he worked on program implementation and evaluation and provided therapy. Jose is currently working at Legal Services for Children, where he is working with incarcerated or recently released undocumented youth. In his spare time, Jose is planning his wedding and training his new puppy, Eevee. He also enjoys eating pizza and popcorn while watching movies, a Lopez tradition!
Juliana Batista is a second-year MSW student in Strengthening Children, Youth and Families (SCYF) concentration. Juliana was born in Brazil and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was ten years old. She received her BA degree in Social Welfare and Legal Studies from UC Berkeley. As a former undocumented student, Juliana experienced many barriers in navigating the educational system and accessing resources for herself and her family. She became politically active and began to advocate for change in community college, where she helped organize events and teach-ins to support undocumented students. After obtaining her undergraduate degree, she continued efforts to advocate for additional resources and support for undocumented youth as a legal advocate for Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC). Before starting the MSW program, Juliana worked as a support services coordinator at Hayward Unified School District (HUSD). At HUSD, she helped the school district establish a program that combines services and resources from the county, schools, and community-based organizations to meet the legal, health, socio-emotional, and academic needs of newcomer immigrant students. She worked to establish relationships with local organizations to build a network of care for newcomer immigrant students and worked diligently to secure dedicated spaces at schools where service providers can connect students and families to resources. For her second-year field placement, Juliana is a clinical case manager intern with the Center of Healthy Schools and Communities, a department of Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. Juliana hopes to obtain her MSW degree to practice school social work in California high schools or community colleges, where she will continue to advocate for increased access to resources for youth and families.
Valentina Vigil graduated from UC Berkeley in 2013 and is currently a second-year MSW student in the Strengthening Organizations and Communities (SOC) concentration with a combined interest in school social work. She is from Oakland, California and chose UC Berkeley to deepen her impact in macro and school social work in the Bay Area. As a first-generation college graduate and a proud daughter of a Mexican immigrant mother and a Filipino / Native American father, Valentina hopes to enhance behavioral health and education systems serving Latinx communities and communities of color. Currently, she serves in a blended internship role with Alameda County Center for Healthy Schools and Communities. There, she serves as a clinical case manager at an elementary school with mostly Spanish-speaking communities and is developing a training tool on trauma awareness for Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth (UIY) providers in Alameda County. Valentina believes it is a critical time to address the vast needs of UIY and is excited about contributing to such a meaningful area. Outside of school and work, Valentina enjoys quality time with loved ones, Golden State Warrior basketball and workout classes.