MEET THE TEAM
Led & Built
By Central Valley Students
President and Founder (He/She)
Michael was born and raised in Kerman, CA. 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 her class and further pursued his educational career at UC Berkeley. At the age of 19, Michael created Central Valley Scholars for the most forgotten populations in the Central Valley. As a Queer Latinx person, first-generation student, and raised in a low-income immigrant household, Michael made sure to create an accessible space for students with his identities and beyond.
Vice President (They/Them)
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.
Event Coordinator (She/Her)
As a first-generation American, first-generation college student, and Latinx womxn from Fresno, CA, Kathia advocates for the unique plights of underrepresented communities in the Central Valley. Kathia is a current undergraduate student studying Sociology and Spanish at UC Berkeley. She has been an active member of her community throughout her high school career, organizing for several social justice causes which she brings with her work here at Central Valley Scholars. She will work to demystify institutions of higher education, expand the narrative of who can attend these institutions, and alleviate the college application process for marginalized groups in the Central Valley.
Fundraising Director (He/Him)
Ernesto Casillas was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. He grew up in an immigrant low-income household and is the first in his family to proceed with an educational career. Ernesto understands the lack of academic resources for the underrepresented communities in the Central Valley and works to bring the funding necessary for the service that students need. Ernesto graduated from Bakersfield High School in 2018 as the Valedictorian of his class and is now a Regent Scholar at UC Berkeley studying Philosophy. Ernesto joined Central Valley Scholars with the initiative to alleviate the egregious lack of resources to the underrepresented Central Valley communities he belongs to.
Marketing and Media Director (She/They)
Yadira Hernandez-Figueroa is a first-generation undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley studying Political Science and Ethnic Studies. Coming to from Merced, California, she 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, womxn, and Latinx student at a prestigious university, she to works alongside the Central Valley Scholars team to create and support educational opportunities for other students in the Central Valley. Grounded in family support, friendships and a passion for the Central Valley, Yadira will bring the Central Valley into every conversation and create safe spaces for the most marginalized communities.
Director of Finance (She/Her)
Leslie Vasquez is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley currently studying Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. Originating from Selma, California, Leslie joined the Central Valley Scholars team because she wants to make an impact on 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 and is will work to ensure students from the Central Valley and with her identities and beyond do not face the same barriers.