Congratulations to our 2021 Graduates!! We are so proud of your perseverance through the last year and a half! We send you positive vibes for what comes next in your life and we can't wait for you to join ULAA in supporting the next generation of Latino scholars.
In order of submission:
Jessica J. Nunez
Jessica is graduating from UCLA with a double major in Cognitive Science and Spanish, Community and Culture. She will be taking a few gap years to study for the MCAT, gain medical experience, and apply to medical school.
Maria (she/her) is majoring in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Computing. She is originally from San Francisco and the oldest of 5. She is interested in tech and behavioral psychology and hopes to find a career that interfaces her two interests.
Upon graduation, she will start a full-time job at Google in Mountain View!
Dr. Cristina Villalpando, MD, MPP
Hometown: Hawthorne, CA
Undergrad: UCLA (Anthropology, BS)
Master: UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs (MPP)
I am graduating from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA as the first Doctor in my family! I will be starting my residency training next month in Emergency Medicine at UCLA (Go Bruins!!)
My path to medicine was non-traditional as a first-gen student, but the experiences I had along the way ultimately made me a stronger applicant. To my first-gen pre-meds: always believe in yourself, and never let anyone deter your dreams. Feel free to reach out, as I will be around campus for the next 4 years!
Thank you to my amazing family for always believing in me and being the best support system. Si Se Pudo!!
Hometown: Stockton, California, United States
I dedicate my degree to my grandparents, they never gave up on me and always did their best with raising me.
If I could go back, I would definitely tell myself to not worry so much or be so hard on myself, and that everything would work out the way it was supposed to in the end.
B.A in Political Science + minor in Public Affairs and Chicana/o & Central American Studies
Hometown: La Puente, CA, USA
My journey with school is still not over. I was the first in my family to graduate from high school. I was also the first in my family to receive a B.A. The next goal is to be the first in my family to get a law degree.
Daian Adilene Lopez Villegas
B.S. in Biology
Hometwon: Palmdale, CA, USA
I will be working on improving myself by taking a gap year where I will study for the MCAT as well as take part in post-bacc programs.
I am dedicating my degree to my family. They have been my rock along my entire journey and I don’t know what I would’ve done without them.
Sociology and Education
Hometown: Santa Maria, CA, USA
This June, I will be starting graduate school at the UCSB Gevirtz School of Education in their Teacher Education Program (TEP) to earn my Masters of Education and my teaching credential. The following year, I will become a high school English teacher.
If I could go back in time, the advice I would give myself about school would be: Don't worry because you will soon meet some of the most beautiful people of your life at this school. Also, carb up plenty before you go out on Thursdays.
Nancy La Chingona
Chicanx & Central American Studies, Minoring in African American Studies & Education
Starting Chicana/o Latina/o Masters Program in the Fall @ CSULA
I dedicate my degree to my son Dee Sun Gutierrez
Linguistics and Psychology
Hometown: Long Beach, CA, US
I will be pursuing a career in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP). I will be doing my post-baccalaureate in Speech-Language Pathology at San Diego State University (SDSU).
I dedicate my degree to my parents, mami y papi: Llegaron sin nada pero me lo dieron todo!! Thank you for your endless support and for always being there for me. I also dedicate my degree to myself. As a first-gen student, it is a big accomplishment for me and it is so rewarding to see how all the hard work pay off.
B.A. in Anthropology, Minor in Chicana/o and Central American Studies
Los Angeles, CA
Take it one day at a time and never give up.
This is for you Matthew, Nathan, Katie, Jayden, Pakal, and Emma. I love you all! ❤️
B.S. in Physiological Science
Hometown: Pacoima, California, USA
Dedicated to my parents who accomplished their dreams through me.
If I could go back in time I would tell myself to relax and not let stress overcome me. College is tough but if it's meant to be it will happen.
Traditions: Walking to Target late at night when things got tough.
Aerospace Engineering, Master of Science
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
My plans are to continue working at Raytheon Technologies as a GPS Design Engineer. I plan to use my master's for higher breath into the aerospace industry.
If I could go back in time, I would make sure to not be afraid to apply for a technical master's. I think it’s important to challenge oneself and know everything is going to be ok!
Environmental Science; minors: Environmental Health, Environmental Engineering
Caracas, Venezuela and Phoenix, Arizona, USA
I will be attending Emory University to start an MPH program in Global Environmental Health with an emphasis on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. I am passionate about environmental health and hope to be able to incorporate this into my goals of working in environmental microbiology, specifically on improving water infrastructure and mitigating outbreaks of tropical diseases in Venezuela and other places in Latin America.
Dedicating this degree to my mama who raised my brother and me as a hard-working, single mother. Te quiero mucho!
Psychology Major and Education Studies Minor
Hometown: Shafter, CA
Gracias a mi familia por todo su apoyo ❤️ I couldn’t have done this without you!
I will be attending graduate school this upcoming fall to become a school psychologist + licensed educational psychologist!
I would tell myself to just have fun and don’t worry about the future so much. Things will eventually work out 🎓❤️
Spanish, Comparative Literature
Hometown: Moroleon, Guanajuato, MÉXICO
Me voy pa' México a pistear y regreso luego a Grad school.
Folklorico es vida, Banda pa Bailar, sin poesía no hay inmortalidad.
Hometown: East Los Angeles, CA
After UCLA, I am happy to announce that I will be attending USC this fall for my master's in Educational Counseling!
""Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar"". - Gloria Anzaldua
This quote reminds me that there is no clear path for many of us. As a first-generation college student, a transfer, and a woman of color, I need to persevere and continue to break down barriers placed on people like me to show that stigmas can discourage us, but they cannot stop us.
Hometown: San Diego, CA, USA
Operations Analyst at Goldman Sachs
Things turn out how they’re supposed. This does not mean it follows a set path or plan. Así pasa cuando sucede.
Kevin Menedez Lopez
Political Science, Minor in Chicano Studies
Transfered from De Anza Community College with and AA in Administration of Justice
Kevin is a first-gen undocumented graduate!! After UCLA he plans to go to UCLA Law School in order to be an Immigration, Corporate or Contract Lawyer. He isn't sure which, but maybe all three!!
Hometown: Whittier, CA
When my dad had just come to the states, he got a job as a chef at one of the UCLA sororities, Pi Beta Phi. He then met my mom and they became pregnant with me and my twin brother. My parents told me about how they would often walk around and admire the campus while they talk about "What if one of our babies went to UCLA?" As a first-gen student at UCLA, that story has always motivated me to keep moving forward even in the times that I thought school just wasn't for me. Their love, support, and patience for my academic journey have guided me through some of the toughest years of my life! I am forever grateful for the sacrifices my parents have made for me and my family, and I hope that I am everything they hoped their little baby would turn out to be :)
If I could go back in time, I would probably tell myself to prioritize my own needs before I focus on others. Be a little selfish! It's ok! You're gonna make it.
Monica Elizabeth Moreno
Spanish and Sociology Mexican Studies
Hometown: San Bernardino, CA, United States
My post-grad plans are to be a Teach For America corps member. I will be teaching Spanish at a high school in Los Angeles and a full-time graduate student at LMU.
A quote that has motivated me throughout my journey as an undergrad has been, "La vida es prestada y hay que disfrutarla."
History with a minor in Education
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
I am dedicating my degree to my mom and dad who have endlessly guided me, supported me, and loved me throughout my academic career. To my community who has taught me to never give up on my dreams. My loving boyfriend, who has given me a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on lastly my amazing friends who gave me endless memories and laughter.
I am pursuing a career in education! I will serve as a fellow in UCLA’s DCAC for the next two years and continue on my journey to becoming a school principal / academic program coordinator.
I say thank you after a meal even if no one is around because my dad taught me that the universe is always listening.