Introducing our 2019-2020 Fellows

Immigrants Rising offers year-long fellowships for undocumented young people in the Bay Area and nationwide. This year, we selected 18 new fellows. They will benefit from extensive training and professional development in Entrepreneurship, High School Engagement, Higher Education, Immigration Law, and Research & Storytelling.


Immigration Law Fellow

Alejandra immigrated to the U.S. from Jalisco, Mexico at the age of one. She and her family settled in the Bay Area, where she has been living ever since. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in biology and Latina/Latino studies. She is currently working for the California State Legislature and plans to attend law school to become an immigration attorney.

After being undocumented for over 20 years, Alejandra was able to adjust her status in 2016. She continues to have a strong connection to the immigrant community and a true passion to work on immigration policies.

Alejandra’s 18-month-old son brings her the most joy. She also finds joy in eating delicious meals, exploring new places, and spending quality time with her family. Through the Immigration Law Fellowship she looks forward to learning about immigration law and working collectively with the immigrant community to create positive change.


Research & Storytelling Fellow

Alejandro was born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico (donde la vida no vale nada). He moved to the U.S. at the age of fourteen and grew up in Eastside San Jose with his relatives.

Alejandro graduated from the University of California, Davis with bachelor’s degrees in Chicana/o studies and community and regional development. Recently, Alejandro completed his master’s degree in Chicana/o studies from San Jose State University. His research focused on undocumented students in graduate and professional schools and their strategies for navigating through educational challenges.

Moreover, Alejandro is a storyteller and public speaker. Through his artistic and scholarly work, Alejandro seeks to recognize and celebrate how migrant communities are creating ways to take care of, support, protect, and liberate one another.


Entrepreneurship Ambassador

Alejandro and his single mother immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 1997. From an early age, his mother instilled strong progressive values and introduced him to organizing and local campaign work in Santa Ana, CA. After years of working on state and local elections in California and a successful campaign of his own for Student Body President at Santa Ana College, Alejandro began working at Grassroots Campaigns where he led campaign projects in New York City, Boston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Denver. He has received several notable honors, including a proclamation from the City of Santa Ana that names June 2nd, 2015 “Alejandro Flores Day” for his service to the city. He hopes to one day run for public office and use his upbringing and life experiences to drive his policy agenda.

Driven by a strong sense of entrepreneurship, Alejandro opened two businesses and partnered with Stokes Poke which started as a food truck business in Denver. He was selected by Denver Startup Week 2018 to moderate a panel on immigrant businesses in Colorado. This year Alejandro was selected to be a food truck mentor to a cohort of mobile-food and catering owners who are ready to scale up.

Through the Entrepreneurship Fellowship, Alejandro looks forward to creating entrepreneurship networks for people of color.


Entrepreneurship Ambassador

Bo is an artist and advocate from Thailand with his own streetwear/vintage clothing line BoThai (@thebothai). His art, which rangesrom drawing to painting to screen printing, is influenced by surrealism, graffiti, street art, and anime art as well as his youth in Thailand, his activism, and his undocumented identity.

Bo finds joy in dancing, drawing, traveling and having insightful conversations with others. Through the Entrepreneurship Fellowship, he looks forward to building a network of undocuhustlers and finding ways to uplift lives while enjoying everyday living.


Immigration Law Fellow

Carolina immigrated to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico at the age of four. She is currently pursuing a double major in psychology and philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. She loves both majors because she has a keen interest in the human mind, behavioral studies, and philosophical thinking, and enjoys deep thoughts and questions. She hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in Psychology as well as a J.D. in order to work in the legal field and create policies to combat stigma and prejudice.

Carolina finds joy in listening to music, singing, spending time with her friends, and traveling. Through the Immigration Law Fellowship, she looks forward to learning more about immigration policies, sharing her knowledge and awareness, and giving back to her community.


High School Engagement Fellow

Citlaly immigrated to the U.S. from Tepechitlán, Zacatecas, Mexico with her mother at the age of six. She is currently finishing her last year at the University of California, Berkeley with a major in integrative biology and a focus on human biology and health sciences. She hopes to attend medical school and become a doctor who provides healthcare to the most vulnerable populations.

Citlaly finds joy in helping students in their educational and career goals. For the past two years, she has served as a mentor for R.I.S.E., an academic support and college preparation program for low-income, promising students attending Berkeley High School. She feels a special personal connection to the undocumented community and a deep passion to encourage undocumented high school students to pursue higher education.

Through the High School Engagement Fellowship, she looks forward to collaborating with others who share a similar vision and continuing to support the undocumented community.


Immigration Law Fellow

Daniela immigrated to the U.S. from Veracruz, Mexico at the age of nine. She is currently studying ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley and hopes to pursue immigration law in the future.

As the eldest child in her family, she often had to navigate through education systems and policies on her own. From this journey, she realized that it is often easy to feel powerless as a member of the undocumented community. As a result, she has sought to ensure that the work she does is a reminder for others and herself, that they have the agency to continue fighting for their dignity.

Daniela enjoys sharing jokes and spending time with other undocumented queer folxs. Through the Immigration Law Fellowship, she looks forward to growing with other fellows and learning directly from immigration attorneys about the different ways she can continue fighting for the undocumented community’s rights and dignity in the future. For her, this fight can take many forms, from resource sharing to supporting grassroots deportation defense campaigns and policy advocacy.


Immigration Law Fellow

David is from a family of entrepreneurs who work in multi-level marketing and photography industries. At the age of eleven, he immigrated to the U.S. from Cuautitlán Izcalli, Edo de Mexico, Mexico with his family and fought through discrimination, patronization for having difficulty speaking English, and systemic oppression of migrants.

David is a competitive swimmer, student leader, and entrepreneur. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, he led Empowering Latino Advancement Through Educational Development (ELATED), an organization founded to create a community and share resources amongst Hispanic/Latino people and undocumented students. He graduated with a double major in linguistics and political science and plans to pursue a master’s degree in linguistics and a Ph.D. in public policy.

David finds joy and peace in seeing others experiencing joy. He enjoys hiking, traveling, and reading. Through the Immigration Law Fellowship, he looks forward to gaining more knowledge in policy and giving back to his community and family.


Research & Storytelling Fellow

Fernando credits his academic success to his mother, whose resilience and willpower led her to flee extreme poverty in Oaxaca. He also attributes his continued tenacity to overcome adversity as an undocumented brown man to the experience of being abandoned by his biological father.

Fernando transferred from Santa Rosa Junior College as part of Berkeley Underground Scholars’ first transfer cohort in collaboration with Experience Berkeley. He is currently finishing his last year at the University of California, Berkeley with a major in sociology.

Fernando’s area of study ties deeply to his lived experience as an incarcerated young adult. This academic year, he has been selected by the Department of Sociology to conduct his senior honors thesis on how undocumented people with “criminal” convictions challenge deportation. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Fernando plans to pursue a joint graduate degree program to contribute to the debate about how policing, “crimmigration,” and deportation sustain the carceral state and deportation regime.


High School Engagement Fellow

Hazel immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines at the age of eleven, in order to join her mother who had left a year earlier seeking a better future. She is currently studying business at a local college and preparing to transfer to a 4-year university.

Hazel is particularly interested in the High School Engagement Fellowship because she wants to be a mentor and a friend with whom undocumented students can feel personally connected—as her high school counselor was for her. Through this fellowship, she looks forward to advocating for undocumented high school students while learning more about her current situation.

Hazel finds joy spending the day in nature, with her friends and family, and going to concerts.


High School Engagement Fellow

Hugo immigrated to the U.S. from Guadalajara, Mexico at the age of thirteen. He was an honor student in high school, took college courses, and participated in and won MESA competitions. Upon graduation, however, he was disqualified from his salutatorian rights for having been placed in an ESL course in 9th grade; instead, he received a plaque for his “Exceptional Test Scores.”

Hugo’s college journey has been a long struggle. He was heavily impacted by his family circumstances and the political climate in the 90s, which affected his academic progress. For this reason, it took almost a decade to earn his first associate’s degree. Yet, through his personal struggles in pursuing education and making a living, he learned first-hand how vital it can be for undocumented students to have a support system to navigate through school and post-high school life. He recently started at Skyline College in order to continue his education and explore career options, and hopes to eventually transfer to a four-year college.

Hugo finds joy being in nature and enjoys playing soccer, running, hiking, camping, and mountain biking. He also enjoys a good philosophical conversation, attending church, and singing. Through the High School Engagement Fellowship, he looks forward to making a difference in the lives of undocumented/immigrant students and bringing motivation, resources, and opportunities to underrepresented students.


Entrepreneurship Ambassador

Kai is a native of the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. After immigrating to the United States, she began her U.S. educational journey in the New York City public school system. She completed her associate’s degree at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and later attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

While at John Jay, Kai faced the hardship of being undocumented as she struggled to pursue a degree while managing the cost of living. Armed with determination, she made the critical decision to work several jobs in order to continue her education. In 2018, Kai graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in law.

Presently, she attends George Washington University and is pursuing a master’s in public policy. After graduation, Kai hopes to work with state employment and education agencies to reform policies that restrict undocumented residents.

In her spare time, Kai finds joy in helping others and volunteering to give back as an alumni council member for TheDream.US and other organizations such as the Undocublack Network. Through the Entrepreneurship Fellowship, Kai looks forward to working with other fellows to provide undocumented entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow and reach their highest level of success.


Higher Education Fellow

Mayra immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 2009. She is the eldest of six children and helps her mother by supporting her family financially and emotionally.

Mayra is currently pursuing environmental studies at San Jose State University. She chose this major after seeing a huge disconnect between the immigrant community and nature. She hopes to obtain a Ph.D. and become a professor in the future.

Mayra finds joy in her siblings and community. She is a member of PASOS, which is a group based in Sacred Heart Community Service that is run by immigrant community members who care about protecting the undocumented community. Through the Higher Education Fellowship, she looks forward to getting experience in data analysis, presenting data to the general public, and learning about resources for undocumented students in higher education.


High School Engagement Fellow

Nelson immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador at the age of nine to reunite with his mother. He is starting his first semester at San Francisco State University, where he will be studying statistics. He is a hardworking and humble student who continues to seek out challenges and does not settle for less.

From his early years in the United States, Nelson found strength and encouragement growing up in a community of students and families with backgrounds similar to his own. These interactions motivated him to participate in multiple organizations throughout high school and to share resources and information with other students. Through the High School Engagement Fellowship, Nelson looks forward to learning about the immigrant population in different high schools, finding solutions to various problems they are currently facing, and building a good relationship with students.

Nelson finds joy in playing and watching soccer, listening to music, playing video games, and watching movies.


Entrepreneurship Ambassador

Norma immigrated to the U.S. from Michoacan, Mexico at the age of fifteen. She is a first-generation college student and graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a degree in business administration and an emphasis on marketing management. She has associate degrees in executive assistance, accounting and real estate.

Norma began her entrepreneurship journey at the age of seven, taking care of her aunt’s liquor store and her grandmother’s street vending business. While attending college she launched and managed a small business through eBay for two years. After gaining experience in business management, she started her consulting services in 2012 and launched her real estate business in 2017. Through the real estate business, she has had the opportunity to work with first-time home buyers and has seen a need for increased financial literacy and retirement planning in the undocumented community. She hopes to start a non-profit for underrepresented communities in the future.

Norma finds joy in mentoring others and celebrating her culture. Through the Entrepreneurship Fellowship, she looks forward to connecting and sharing resources with other immigrant entrepreneurs.


High School Engagement Fellow

Ricardo immigrated to the U.S. from Guadalajara, Mexico at the age of ten. He is currently attending Contra Costa College and plans to transfer to a four-year university to study mechanical engineering and Chicano studies.

At Contra Costa College, Ricardo volunteers at an organization that provides free legal workshops for students and community members. He is also working with administrators to create a space on campus for undocumented students.

Ricardo finds joy in volunteering, camping, swimming, and spending time with his friends and families. Through the High School Engagement Fellowship, Ricardo wants to inspire and empower people, instill self-determination and pride in students, and create a support system for students to achieve their academic goals.


High School Engagement Fellow

Tania’s commitment to her education is a direct reflection of her hardworking parents, who despite having only a 6th grade education found ways to succeed and provide a better quality of life for their children.

Tania is currently attending Cañada College and plans to transfer to a four-year university in order to study business and accounting. Through her education, she hopes to give back to the community by starting an accounting business to help low-income entrepreneurs succeed in their business. She hopes to create equal opportunities in the business market for small businesses by providing financial coaching and tax services at a low, affordable cost.

Tania finds joy in her family’s health and wellbeing, helping her community, and a good book. Through the High School Engagement Fellowship, she looks forward to becoming a resource to undocumented students, encouraging students to pursue higher education, and working on new projects to help our community.