Where others see broken pathways, we see the opportunity to rebuild and create bridges to academic success. 


14920 West D St #542
Kerman, CA 93630



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Copyright 2020 © Central Valley Scholars. All Rights Reserved. Terms and Conditions.







The Team


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Central Valley Scholars prides itself on assisting the most underserved and oppressed communities in the Central Valley. With an initiative to admit more historically underserved students into prestigious universities, we have made it our responsibility to accommodate and assist students from all types of backgrounds and with all types of identities.

We are a safe and accommodating space for all historically underserved students including, but not limited to: 


LGBTQ+ Students

Womxn and Fem Students

First-Generation Students

Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Students

Undocumented Students 

Formally Incarcerated Students 

Students with Disabilities

Students of Color 

Student Parents 

Students from high school, continuation schools, community college, nontraditional  G.E.D schools, and from undergraduate universities in the Central Valley have access to our services.


If there is an underserved community not addressed above, please email contact@centralvalleyscholars.org.    


As advocates for people of color, we make sure to bring a diverse group of people, with all types of racial identities, to serve as our mentors and panelist. 

As advocates for the undocumented community, we make sure to go over Dream Act applications and pair undocumented students with mentors who share or have shared their same documentation status. Upon request, we offer translators at our events.  


As advocates for the LGBTQ+ Community, we normalize the introduction of gender pronouns, we never assume someone's sexuality or gender and we always provide gender-neutral restrooms to our Gender Queer, Transgender, and Gender Fluid folk at our events. 

As advocates for the disabled community, we contact each student who registered for our workshops to make any accommodation requirements necessary. 

As advocates for student parents, we provide changing tables in our restrooms and maintain children friendly spaces. Students are welcome to breastfeed their children at our events. 


As advocates for womxn, and other individuals who have vaginal hygiene needs, we make it our responsibility to provide tampons and pads in our restrooms. 

As advocates for community college students, we go over transfer essay questions and make sure to pair the student with a mentor who was also a transfer student.  

As an accommodating space, we make sure to buy alternative food options for those students with any dietary restrictions - including those who are pescetarian, vegetarian, and vegan. 

As mentors for students, we understand that some of the information they share with us may be extremely personal. It is our promise to not share their personal information with any staff, mentors, or students. For more information please visit terms and conditions.


Central Valley Scholars cares about our environment and we understand that the world is in dire need of environmental change. We made it our responsibility to make all the products used or given in our events to be either compostable or recyclable. 

Understanding the overabundance of plastic and China's recent denial to take any more trash from the United States, we changed all of our utensils - including cups, plates, and forks - to compostable paper. Plastic is only used as an ultimate last resort after carefully and tediously brainstorming other alternatives for supplies. 


Michael Piña 


President and Founder

Leslie Vasquez


Director of Finance 

Living in Kerman, CA his entire life, Michael knows first-hand the issues and obstacles folk from his community face every day. Since an early age, Michael has been an active member of his community volunteering for the SPCA Stray Center, Saint Agnes Hospital, Kerman Floyd After School Program, and more. Michael graduated from Kerman High School in 2017 as one of the Valedictorians of his class and further pursued his educational career at UC Berkeley. Michael is notorious for bringing resources back to his community. At the age of 19, Michael created Central Valley Scholars to build bridges to academic success for the most underserved students in the Central Valley. Michael has created a safe space for the undocumented community, the disabled community, the queer community, people of color, and more. 

Leslie Vasquez is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley currently studying Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. She is from Selma, California. Leslie joined the Central Valley Scholars team because of the impact she wants to make helping students from underserved communities succeed in higher education. As a first-generation college student and womxn of color, Leslie saw first hand the difficulty that comes with applying for college and finding the necessary resources to succeed while in school. That is why she plans to further her career in helping students from the Central Valley, like herself, with resources/guidance. Thanks to her helpful guidance counselors and family/friends she learned a lot of beneficial information about college readiness and wants to pay in forwarding anyway she can.

Ernesto Casillas 


Fundraising Director 

Kathia Osuna


Event Coordinator

Yadira Hernandez-Figueroa


Marketing Director

Ernesto Casillas was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. His parents immigrated from Mexico to the United States in the ’90s giving him the life of a first-generation Chicanx student. With this perspective, Ernesto has experienced firsthand the alarming lack of academic resources to the underrepresented communities in the Central Valley. Fortunately, with the help of family and a few teachers, Ernesto graduated from Bakersfield High School in 2018 and now attends UC Berkeley.  During his time at UC Berkeley, Ernesto became the fundraising director for Central Valley Scholars and has since committed time and effort to alleviate the egregious lack of resources to the underrepresented Central Valley communities he belongs to. 

As a first-generation American and a first-generation college student, Kathia hopes to address the unique plight of immigrant families and cater to the needs of underrepresented communities. Through her involvement in Central Valley Scholars as Event Coordinator, she will organize summer workshops that will help demystify institutions of higher education and alleviate the college application process for underrepresented groups in the Central Valley. She aims to work towards making these institutions more accessible for students and their families via cultural and financial literacy workshops, providing assistance with FAFSA and Dream Act applications as well as scholarship resources. She promises to work towards expanding the narrative of you can go to college to include undocumented, low-income, LGBTQ+, and first-generation students among others.

Yadira Hernandez-Figueroa is a first-generation undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley studying Political Science and Ethnic Studies. She is from Merced, California and is deeply devoted to creating healthy change in the Valley, with an emphasis on educational policy and inequality. Using her experience as a low income, first-generation Latinx student at a prestigious university, she hopes to work alongside others to create and support educational opportunities for other students in the Central Valley. Through her work in Central Valley Scholars, she hopes to bring to light more resources and support for students like herself. Grounded in family support, friendships and passion for the Central Valley she hopes to continue to bring the Valley into every conversation and create safe spaces for the Valley's most marginalized communities. 

Anokhi Patel


Vice President 

Anokhi Patel is a first-generation, womxn of color from Bakersfield, CA. She graduated from Bakersfield High School in 2017 and is currently studying Political Science and Global Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a passionate advocate of public education and she seeks to support underserved communities to gain access to higher education. She joined Central Valley Scholars to empower marginalized communities and promote higher education, with a specific emphasis on creating pathways to success for non-traditional/system-impacted individuals. Through her work at Central Valley Scholars, Anokhi hopes to demonstrate to current students from the Central Valley that they deserve access to higher education and their voices, stories, and struggles deserve to be heard.


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