The Undergraduate Fellows program provides a community of inquiry and practice focused on peer-to-peer academic stewardship, empowering undergraduate students at UC Santa Cruz to meet their academic goals through learning from one another.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Aiming to place student experts and their insights at the center of support for navigating academic life, this program builds a rich network of undergraduate peer learning experts who can assist their peers in becoming outstanding learners, based on research and on their own experiences on campus.
Since fall of 2018, advanced undergraduate students from across the university have joined the CITL to engage in year-long fellowship and collaborative exploration of the principles and support of student learning.
The program includes off-site retreats to University of California Natural Reserves; a year-long course on the Theory and Practice of Stewardship for Learning (2 units each quarter with monthly seminar meetings in the Fall, Winter, and Spring); and the creation and implementation of projects to enhance learning across campus. Fellows share meals, insights, research, and direction, and their contributions help to develop the curriculum for our future student-to-student programming for undergraduate learning expertise.
The founding year of the program has received generous support from Anu Luther Maitra and Thomas Kailath.
2020-21 UNDERGRADUATE FELLOWS COHORT
Sruthi Shriram (She/Her) is a 3rd-year student in the Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics Program at UC Santa Cruz, affiliated with Merrill College. Sruthi is incredibly passionate about the intersection between engineering and medicine and aims to grow as a student and give back to the community through mentorship. She has worked as a Research Assistant in an Interdisciplinary Braingeneers Research team in the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute and UCSF Neurosurgery with the objective to establish Cerebral Organoids as effective models of the Human Brain. Last summer, she was fortunate to be part of the Clinical Observership Program at the Kauvery Hospital in India, where she received direct mentorship from physicians and surgeons to further develop her interest in Medicine. Sruthi has had an enriching multicultural upbringing throughout her childhood as she lived and traveled to various countries, and she works to create a sense of community and support amongst her friends and loved ones. Outside of school, Sruthi serves as the head of the Media Committee at the Colleges Against Cancer Chapter at UCSC, and an Executive Board Member in Medlife, an International humanitarian aid organization, and as part of the Outreach Team in Operation Smile. Her experiences with the MINT Mentorship program and the College Scholars program have been immensely supportive of her growth as an individual and a scientist in training, and she hopes to give back to her student community by working with CovEd, a non-profit student-led initiative that offers tutoring support to school students during the pandemic. She loves trying out delicious vegan recipes, digital art tools, and reading in her free time!
Sruthi ShriramUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Kaden Austin-Lane (they, them) is a third-year Merrill affiliate majoring in Sociology. They have a strong passion for lifting up and supporting the UCSC student population. They have served as a Merrill Core Course Assistant, a Writing Tutor, and an MSI Learning Assistant. In these roles, they have learned the importance of community building and empathy to a student’s academic success. They hope to create a positive environment that builds up each student to do their best given the changes they will face this academic year. After college, Kaden strives to further help the surrounding community as a librarian.
Kaden Austin-LaneUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Ethan Davis is a 3rd year Stevenson Affiliate and Neuroscience Major. His experiences at UCSC have taught him to be outgoing and ask questions, as clarity is key to success. He believes it’s important to make resources and knowledge accessible to everyone, like those before him who have done the same. Ethan is a Student Life and University Guide for the Office of Admissions as well as a Learning Support Services Chemistry Individual Tutor. He also works with the Mehta Lab on Mauthner Cells and C-starts, which are concepts involved in fish evasion behavior. Ethan has plans to pursue Biology research. Ethan has been a Resident Assistant for the Rosa Parks African American Themed House and has participated in the Black Student Union, Black Men’s Alliance, and the UCSC NAACP Chapter.
Ethan DavisUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Alejandro Ruelas-Mora (He/Him) is a fourth-year transfer student who was born and raised in the SF Bay Area. Alejandro is a first-gen neurodivergent student, who is majoring in Intensive Psychology and Sociology with a concentration in GISES. Alejandro first began to develop a passion for Psychology after taking AP Psych with his high school teacher who is no longer with us. This sparked Alejandro’s passion for wanting to learn how psychology plays a role in our everyday life. Alejandro has always felt the desire of helping and serving others, which was seen from his three years of participating as a Police Explorer for the Newark Police Department, being a community leader that helped reassure community members that every city event will be safer. Alejandro has also been a peer mentor at Ohlone College where he helped new and continuing students and students whose first language might not be English. Alejandro has been involved in many areas from social justice internships like CHIRLA, to currently being involved as a Team Captain for marketing major music artists for Culture Fusion Agency. Alejandro has developed a research interest in topics involving mental health, race and ethnicity, and computer-mediated communications. Alejandro has worked with the Everett Program to build a website for the community project We Belong. Through the Everett Program, Alejandro was hired to be a tech guide and project guide fellow to teach students tech and guide the projects of students who are joining the Everett Program. Out of school, Alejandro likes to play video games, listen to music, and play board/card games. Alejandro looks forward to continuing his personal development through CITL and is hoping to make even more connections.
Alejandro Ruelas-MoraUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Samantha (Sam) Rozal (she/her) is a fourth-year College Nine affiliate in Environmental Studies combined with a Biology major. She is passionate about promoting safe and positive learning environments for all students as she believes that everyone has the right to be comfortable in school. Sam is extremely grateful for the wide variety of experiences and opportunities she has had at UCSC including participating in both the College Scholars Program and College 9/10’s Alternative Spring Break. She has also been a learning assistant for both Biol 20A and Biol 20B and has taught science to elementary school children during the summer. Currently, Sam is a student leader in the Intervarsity fellowship and is working on a senior thesis about marine debris in Dr. Robin Dunkin’s lab. All of these experiences have helped shaped and enforce Sam’s love of teaching, learning, and service. She hopes to continue to help and serve other students as they move through their own journeys at UCSC. As a CITL undergraduate fellow, Sam aims to promote space for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural conversations/connections so that students with different perspectives can learn from one another and form a community.
Samantha RozalUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Alexa Manning (she/her) is a third-year student majoring in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Alexa is also passionate about politics and served as a Congressional Intern for a year where she began a group for high school students to get involved in and educated on activism and politics. Alexa has demonstrated some of this activism coupled with her interest in biological sciences in a research paper on Bioethics in education that she hopes to get published. Alexa is a seasoned student leader and has previously held Executive Board positions as Treasurer and Chairperson of Merrill Student Government and is currently serving her second year as a Residential Assistant at Merrill College. As a student leader, Alexa’s goal is to create a safe, accessible, and comfortable environment for other students so that they may go on to achieve academic success.
Alexa would describe herself as a creative person. She has recently learned how to embroider and loves to paint. Alexa put these artistic skills to use spring quarter of 2020 by painting three murals in the Merrill Library, Casa Latina, to provide a serene environment for future students to study. Alexa is excited to embark on this journey as a CITL Undergraduate Fellow and see where the new opportunity and community will lead.
Alexa ManningUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Vivian Lee is a fourth-year Merrill affiliate majoring in Intensive Psychology and minoring in Computer Science. She is a proud student-athlete on the UCSC Women’s Tennis team and a driven student leader. Vivian is passionate about building community, fostering meaningful relationships, and helping others. During her undergraduate career she has been fortunate to be involved in the College Scholars Program, hold multiple positions within Merrill Student Government, serve as a Crown Residential Assistant, paint a mural in the Merrill moat as a Merrill Moat Mural Finalist, and assist students with scheduling, enrollment, and other academic needs as a peer coach in the Peer Academic Success Program. This year she is looking forward to gaining research experience as a lab assistant in Professor Fox Tree’s lab. In the near future, she plans to pursue a career in human-computer interaction and user interface. As a CITL Undergraduate Fellow, Vivian hopes to expand academic support and further promote student collaboration and success. Since coming to UC Santa Cruz as a freshman, she is grateful to have met many people who have inspired her to make the most of her college experience. She hopes to encourage others to explore and find their passion, and help students feel like they belong and are supported at UC Santa Cruz.
Vivian LeeUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Zitlali Lara (she/her) is a winter 2020 transfer student who is passionate about learning new things. She struggled to adapt to University life since she only experienced it for a quarter and had to move back home. After a while, she tried to do self-care activities and use that time to get to know herself more. This allowed her to find her path where she is currently majoring in Sociology, in hopes to change our society to be more equitable. Zitlali is a first-generation college student that is determined and curious about our social systems and tries her best to move forward and create a better life for herself and the ones she loves. Through her journey, Zitlali has learned to get out of her comfort zone and take opportunities even if she thought she wouldn’t qualify. She hopes to inspire people to achieve their goals no matter what they may be and no matter if they may be too afraid to take that next step. That is why she has joined CITL so that she can help find new ways of learning and make it easier for people to find their calling. She has participated in various opportunities from helping the immigrant community to tutoring young children but she has always found herself passionate about education and creating a safe space for people to push themselves to find their path, even if they feel lost.
Zitlali LaraUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Jasmine Hunt-Silva is a fourth-year student affiliated with Merrill college and majors in psychology and minors in education. Jasmine has always had a passion for mental health and just recently found her passion for learning about the education system. She hopes to integrate her two passions and wants to help beyond her local communities. Outside of school, she is currently working for a crisis intervention residential rehab community program as a part-time mental health counselor. She has always involved herself in different organizations within her community. During her previous summers, she volunteered at her local YMCA as a youth leader or had an internship with Big Lift Inspiring Summers as a third-grade teacher. She values creating connections with the people in her community and in other communities as well.
Jasmine Hunt-SilvaUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Dora is a third-year College Ten Affiliate who majors in Sociology with a concentration in Global Information and Social Enterprise Studies. Dora believes that hard work and compassion leads to success and that having a growth mindset is one of the most important aspects of being a student and young adult. Dora has found passion in using digital media to create opportunities and highlight stories of those who might be otherwise silenced or feel invisible. Dora has always tried to involve herself in community activities and became the president of one of her high school service clubs, Key Club. As she transitioned to university, she continued to find joy in working with community-based organizations to make a difference in society. She helped with the Community-Engaged Research team and established a relationship with community service providers and other community organizations. She also helped conduct interviews and focus groups to gain a better understanding of the sense of belonging and immigrant community experiences in Santa Cruz. Additionally, Dora is a part of the Everett Program and has developed student-led projects that establish a sustainable collaborative connection for solidarity and mutual growth based on technological and cultural co-learning between the undergraduates in UCSC’s Everett Program and Bhutanese university students. All in all, Dora hopes to be able to create a safe space in which stories are heard and that no one in the UC Santa Cruz community feels invisible or unheard.
Dora KhuuUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Suzanne Lee is a third-year student affiliated with College Ten. She majors in Art but is also extremely passionate about Architecture and Climate Justice. Outside of school, Suzanne loves to create and garden. She believes doing what makes you happy will lead you to live a fulfilling life. In previous years, Suzanne has volunteered with many organizations like Friends of Sausal Creek and San Francisco Bay Wetlands. She helped spread awareness on the issue of Sea Level Rise and even presented in City Hall with the Mayor of Oakland. Suzanne has also spent some time educating her peers and her community on the importance of using the 3-bin system and the global issues of climate change. During her first two years at UC Santa Cruz, Suzanne focused her studies on Environmental Studies but realized how fascinated she was by Art and the Architecture that surrounds us. This encouraged Suzanne to change paths. It has been challenging for Suzanne as Architecture is not a provided major at UCSC however, she has been fortunate enough to be introduced to a Tiny House Design Lab course by one of her peers. Soon after taking the course, Suzanne joined Ecologic Architects as an Intern. Her experiences here at UCSC and at Ecologic Architects opened her eyes to how opportunity is always out there and that all we have to do is step out of our comfort zone. WIth CITL, Suzanne hopes to be able to not only help others step outside of their comfort zone but to help them find their own path.
Suzanne LeeUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Jimmy Jose Gomez is a third-year College Ten affiliate majoring in MCD Biology, Psychology, and Education. Jimmy is a spirited philanthropist who enjoys implementing community activism efforts and sharing medical knowledge to improve healthcare accessibility alongside equitable methodologies. His ongoing passion for community service-learning frameworks has been reflected in previous leadership positions throughout campus and across Santa Cruz County while promoting STEM educational equity at the University of California, Santa Cruz. These past two years, he has had the privilege to serve as a COSMOS Summer Resident Assistant (RA), a campus-wide Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) Peer Adviser Leader, and Black Men’s Initiative Community Development Intern. This summer, Jimmy participated in countless internships focused on public advocacy, medicine and conducted vector-borne diseases research with UC Berkeley. Prep Medico, a pre-medical internship through UC Davis Medical Center, was his most memorable experience as he learned about prevalent health care disparities in under-represented communities from an epidemiological perspective. Although Jimmy’s ultimate professional aspiration is to become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, he aims to obtain a Master’s in Public Health to combat health imbalances and raise awareness on global health initiatives. Jimmy hopes to apply to the University of Southern California’s Medical School in the near future and provide medical assistance to his native Los Angeles community. He loves outreaching with students about organizations and is happy to be of any guidance in finding opportunities, scholarships, and resources. As a Latinx first-generation student, Student Union Assembly College Ten Representative, and CITL Undergraduate Fellow, Jimmy is excited to encourage collaborative learning, establish substantial relationships, and promote an inclusive, safe space for students to nurture into outstanding professionals.
Jimmy GomezUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Theodora Buchanan (she/her/hers) is a third-year Merrill affiliate majoring in Politics and minoring in History. She was previously Merrill Student Government’s secretary and is currently space’s parliamentarian. In addition to this, she was also a Merrill Core Course Assistant, in which she got first-hand experience providing support to students in the hopes of helping them achieve their highest potential. It is through these experiences that she has solidified her belief in finding a path that works for the individual rather than the collective alone. She hopes to carry these beliefs with her through the rest of her educational career at UCSC, including applying to UCDC, as well as law school further down the road.
Theodora BuchananUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Elise Benton is a third-year Merrill affiliate double majoring in Intensive History and Politics with a minor in Classical Studies. She strongly believes that everyone deserves access to the resources they need to thrive both personally and academically. She had the privilege of being a Merrill Core Course Assistant, where she was able to directly help new students with the transition into college life at UCSC. Elise is also a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, where she has served as Media Correspondent, Risk Management Chair, and currently, as Education Vice President. Through these positions, she has learned and grown as a leader and strives to empower other women to succeed. Outside of campus, she also works a part-time job and volunteers with the local Girls on the Run chapter.
Elise BentonUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Sofia (she/her) attributes her deep sense of compassion and curiosity to being raised by a community college instructor and ER nurse. At UCSC, these qualities pushed her experiences beyond what she expected from her time there. She was shaped by the AFSCME and COLA strikes and continues to learn for the sake of liberation. Sofia’s practices are informed by non-hierarchical structures and harm reductionist principles and hope to extend these models into learning, and other spaces. Her involvement in various organizations on campus, including Student Health Outreach and Promotion (SHOP), the Merrill pottery co-op, and Learning Support Services, facilitated her engagement with different communities throughout campus. She is interested in community health, education, and organization of physical space. She’s invested in the power of generative conflict, interdependence, and consensus decision-making. She is in her last year of completing a B.A. in Sociology.
Sofia LeosUndergraduate Fellow 2020-2021
Jacob Bomgaars is a third-year Merrill affiliate majoring in Philosophy. He has been a peer mentor for transfer students and first-year students, a staff member for Crown Merrill events, a CA for Merrill’s core class, and a member of the College Scholars program while at UC Santa Cruz. He looks forward to learning how to build honest and truthful communication with students while improving our shared community. After CITL he plans to go into law school to help change economic injustice and encroachment on constitutional rights. Jacob loves all things punk, indie, and alternative.
Jacob BomgaarsSenior Fellow 2020-21
Jaquelyn is a fourth-year Merrill affiliate studying Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology with a minor in Education. Jaquelyn is a driven humanitarian, whose passion is to learn and improve the quality of life through knowledge and kindness. Jaquelyn believes that helping is life’s greatest gift and is constantly searching to improve the quality of life. This belief translates to her work as a Residential Assistant (RA) for Merrill College, where she has had the honor to collaborate with residents and co-workers to host programs, promote wellness, and create a comfortable space where respect is shared amongst all. This past year, Jaquelyn launched Networking for Minorities, and participated in a pre-medical internship, Prep Medico, at UC Davis Medical Center where she had the opportunity to shadow doctors, observe surgeries, and interact with patients. After undergraduate school, Jaquelyn plans to do an internship abroad, become a Yoga Instructor while abroad (:, and participate in a Masters in Public Health program. Jaquelyn wishes to go to Medical School at UC Davis to become an OBGYN doctor and serve patients in underserved communities in the Central Valley. She wishes to intertwine her endearment for science with her passion to help others: she wishes to become involved in the fight to eliminate food deserts, make rehabilitation centers more accessible, and promote food security. As a first-generation student, RA, and CITL Undergraduate Fellow, Jaquelyn is excited to encourage collaborative learning, meaningful relationships, and diversity and eliminate the competitive nature of college!
Jaquelyn Kinner-FletcherSenior Fellow 2020-21
Samantha Chacon Sifuentes
Samantha Chacon Sifuentes is a Kresge affiliate and a fourth-year Psychology major. During her undergraduate career, she has been fortunate to be involved in Kresge College as an Academic Mentor, and an intern researching UC Santa Cruz students’ mental health and collecting data to further research how to improve resources. This year she is returning to CITL as a Senior Fellow and will also be working with the First Generation Initiative. Samantha is a strong advocate for mental health education and aspires for all students to feel supported and able to succeed in all their academic and personal endeavors. As a CITL Senior Fellow, Samantha hopes to support this year’s cohort in promoting a learning environment that fosters mental health and resiliency. Aside from academics, Samantha enjoys practicing yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and hiking!
Samantha Chacon SifuentesSenior Fellow 2020-21
My name is Claire Donovan-Suguitan I am a 4th-year sociology major at UCSC. During my time at UCSC, I have participated in an array of clubs, organizations, and programs. Some of my experiences include being a volunteer at the UC Recreations Center, being a member of a Pilipinx organization called Bayanihan, and participating in the College Scholars Program, Pathways to Research, being a Field Inquiry Mentor, and a CITL fellow. I value compassion, curiosity, and courage for myself and others. Upon graduation, I hope to find a community that I can serve and be a part of using the skills that I have learned at UCSC and throughout my life.
Claire Donovan-SuguitanSenior Fellow 2020-21
Sabrina Schmier is a fourth-year, Merrill affiliate studying Literature with a minor in Education. Always placing value on student-centric organizations, Sabrina has involved herself in student-run publications as an Editor at StudyBreaks Magazine and is currently one of the Editors-in-Chief at the on-campus Chinquapin Literary Magazine. Additionally, she has had the pleasure of participating in both the College Scholars Program and the Merrill Core Course Assistant Program, which has sparked her passion for learning. These experiences have anchored her gravitation toward community-based learning and a holistic approach to education. At present, Sabrina is furthering her knowledge and practice of her interests as a Research Assistant for Jessie Dubreuil’s work with CITL and as a Print Coordinator with UCSC Student Media. In her time at UC Santa Cruz, she has discovered the importance of education with foundations in community and in learning without any fear of failure; as a CITL Senior Undergraduate Fellow, she hopes to find a way to infuse this idea into the competitive college culture of the current moment. Aside from academics, Sabrina is an aspiring world-traveler, a founder of Sequoia Singers A Cappella, and a lover of all forms of storytelling.