The College of Liberal Arts Equity Scholars

In 21/22, this inaugural graduate recruitment effort is supporting one graduate research assistantship per academic year (or two one-semester assistantships) for every CLA department offering a graduate degree, in order to recruit promising students into the Humanities and Social Sciences; recruitment of first-generation, historically underrepresented, and/or low-income graduate students is strongly encouraged. This recruitment initiative is designed to promote excellence in research and to support enhanced accessibility to the mentorship and research training of the Liberal Arts graduate experience. 

Please welcome the 21/22 cohort of Equity Scholars!

HIRAM AGUILAR

Meet Hiram Aguilar! After receiving his BA in Business a few years ago, he will begin his MA in Linguistics option in TESOL here at CSULB in the Fall. Hiram's plans post-MA are "to teach and to continue on with my research work for a possible doctorate."

Learn more about Hiram and find out what his best advice for students looking into graduate school is below!

 What excited you most about your selection as an Equity Scholar?

Being able to receive ongoing guidance for research.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

Being in a learning environment with motivated, like-minded individuals.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

To teach and to continue with my research work onto a possible doctorate.

What is your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

Not to get discouraged even if they have changed their mind about their field of interest.

LUPITA BARRAGAN

Meet Lupita Barragan!

She graduated from UCSB with a BA in English with specializations in Early Modern Literature, Literature and the Mind, and the Medical Humanities. She is the leader of two virtual book clubs at UCSB, one of which is the UCSB Reads program. Lupita currently works as a student services assistant for the EOPS program at Ventura College and will begin her MA in English here at CSULB in the Fall!

Learn more about Lupita and find out what her plans for her future are below!

What excites you most your selection as an Equity Scholar? 

As part of the Equity Scholars Program, I am really excited to research metaphors in medical rhetoric, which directly correlates to the fiction I will be developing at CSULB. I am also excited to be working with such a talented and resilient group of people.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

It's hard to choose, as I have been looking forward to this program for so long now, but I'm especially looking forward to working with my professors, some of whom I met with virtually and are absolutely amazing.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

Post-grad, I plan on teaching multi-ethnic literature and creative writing at the college level. I also look forward to continuing my research as well as creative writing.

What’s your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

The best advice I can give an aspiring graduate student is to embrace failure as another professor. Don't be so hard on yourself and be open to growth and change!

JANET CHEN

Meet Janet Chen! Born and raised in Taiwan, Janet came to America as an international student when she was 16. In 2018, she graduated from Central Washington University with a BA in Education and TESOL/Bilingual Education endorsement. She was an exchange student in Macao, China for two years and will be starting her MA in Asian and Asian American Studies, option in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language at CSULB in the Fall! In her free time, Janet loves to hang out with her friends and do outdoor activities! "I am excited to be a part of CSULB, and I can't wait to start my new life at CSULB!"

Learn more about Janet and find out what her best advice for students looking into graduate school is below!

What excited you most about your selection as an Equity Scholar?

I am very happy and grateful to be nominated by the department advisor and professors as one of the equity scholars at CSULB. I am very excited to get to know more information and start my research in order to contribute to the community and be a better teacher in the future.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I look forward to learning different theories and strategies of how to teach Chinese as a foreign language and how to help students learn their second or third language more effectively.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

I want to be an excellent teacher in a bilingual elementary school setting to help my future students learn their second or third language in the easiest way.

What is your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

Since it is going to be my first year at CSULB for my master’s program, I am not sure what my graduate school life will be, but I am very excited about it. However, I believe that knowing what your goal is and never forget why you started is very important. 

JAVIER FERNANDEZ

Meet Javier Fernandez! He graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and will begin his Master of Arts in Religious Studies this Fall! In his free time, Javier loves to hike and says, “I am always doing something related to my area of study.”

Learn more about Javier and find out what his best advice for students looking into graduate school is below!

What excites you most your selection as an Equity Scholar? 

What excites me most about being an Equity Scholar is the opportunity to be an example to my Latinx community. I want to show that there a myriad of social and career opportunities made available from taking one's education seriously. My being an Equity Scholar already changes the narrative for my community.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I am most looking forward to working with and alongside the amazing faculty and students of the Religious Studies department.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

After completing the Master’s program at CSULB I plan on pursuing my PhD with the eventual hope of becoming a full-time university researcher.

What’s your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

Ask yourself why you want to pursue graduate school. Specify your interest, and don't be afraid to be honest with yourself.

ROBYN GARCES

Meet Robyn Garces! She graduated from CSULB in Fall 2020 with a BA in Mathematical Economics and will be starting her MA in Economics this Fall. During undergrad, Robyn was on the board of the Economics Student Association (ESA) and a JusticeCorps intern. In her spare time, she's an "avid movie watcher and film 'reviewer,' musical theatre nerd, amateur guitarist, and bullet journaler."

Learn more about Robyn and find out what her plans for her future are below!

What excited you most about your selection as an Equity Scholar?

As part of the inaugural class of Equity Scholars, I am thrilled to be recognized for my potential in the subject of economics. I also hope that this new initiative will continue for as long as as accomplished and underrepresented students are seeking higher education past a Bachelor's. Personally, I am most excited about the support from CLA and the Econ Department in my journey to developing my skills in research.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

In the MA Econ program, I am most looking forward to narrowing my interests and largely having more career opportunities as I develop my technical skills. I am also looking forward to connecting with my cohort and the department as best as I can.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

Post-grad, I'd love to live and work in Washington, D.C. but would also love to stay in Long Beach to support and uplift the community that helped me in my undergrad. In general, I am hoping to have a career in research working for a governmental organization or a think tank analyzing public policy.

What is your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

My best advice for students would be that once you've decided that you want to go to graduate school, do not confine yourself to only studying that subject. You'll never know what you will learn in those "unrelated" classes that will be applicable to your primary interest. It will not only make your undergrad more enjoyable but will also give you different perspectives to consider.

KIM HU

Meet Kim Hu! Originally from southern Louisiana, she moved to California in 2016. She graduated with her BA in English from UCI in 2019 and will begin her MA in English here at CSULB in the Fall. In her free time, Kim enjoys cooking and watching sea otter livestreams!

Learn more about Kim and find out what her best advice for students looking into graduate school is below!

What excited you most about your selection as an Equity Scholar?

As an Equity Scholar, I'm most excited to represent historically underrepresented groups within the humanities. Growing up in a small rural town in southern Louisiana, I was one of the very few Asian American students in my schools. I also endured many personal struggles including not learning English until the age of three, being raised by a single parent, and being pressured to pursue STEM careers. The Equity Scholars program grants me the chance to highlight the academic opportunities available for others who come from a similar background as well as the chance to collaborate with others to foster a more diverse community within the CLA.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I'm most looking forward to learning from and collaborating with others who can help me foster my intellectual curiosity and progress in my academic career.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

After my M.A., I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in English and eventually become a university professor. I also hope to contribute meaningful research to my field and publish scholarly work in English Romanticism and literary theory.

What is your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

My advice for prospective graduate students is to be confident in yourself and to learn to trust yourself, your knowledge, and your decisions.

ABIGAIL JUDGE

Meet Abigail Judge! She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor in Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Ethics from California State University, Chico. Abigail will begin her Master of Arts in Religious Studies in Fall 2021.

Learn more about Abigail and find out what excites her most about her selection as an Equity Scholar!

What excites you most your selection as an Equity Scholar? 

I am thrilled that CLA is supportive of first generation college students from underrepresented backgrounds. It is exciting to know that CLA is invested in my success.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I look forward to learning from all the wonderful professors in the program.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

My goal is rather simple at the moment! I just want to graduate on-time.

What’s your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

Research the department you want to apply to!

VENUS MEZA

Meet Venus Meza! She graduated with a BA in Geography and minor in Italian Studies from UCSB in 2020. While at UCSB, she was a research assistant for the Geography Department’s Oceanography lab and her research was presented at the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego! During her free time, Venus loves hanging out with her friends and going to shows and the beach!

Learn more about Venus and find out what her best advice for students looking into graduate school is below!

What excites you most your selection as an Equity Scholar? 

I am excited to do research on topics I am passionate about! I hope this opportunity will allow me to gain confidence in my work for my thesis and career.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I look forward to learning and being in classes with those who share the same interests as me. During my undergraduate career, I mostly worked with the physical and technical side of geography. For my masters, I plan to focus on Human Geography topics. I am excited to gain more focus on social issues.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

I hope to find a career that allows me to travel! I am very interested in learning about various cultures and customs. So, I hope to make a career where I am somehow given this opportunity. My future goal is to try different cuisines from at least 20 different countries by the time I am 50.

What’s your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

Learn to manage your time! There will be long nights and loads of work, so make sure to set time aside for yourself. When studying, study as effectively as possible and stay away from your phone! I like to take breaks because every couple of hours so my brain doesn't get fried. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help or extra time.

EVELYN ORTIZ SOTO

Meet Evelyn Ortiz Soto! She graduated from summa cum laude in Fall 2019 from CSULB with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She will return CSULB this Fall 2021 for her Master of Arts in Political Science to “expand upon my sociological research and fain experience working as a graduate assistant.” In her free time, Evelyn enjoys camping, gardening, and spending time with her pets.

Learn more about Evelyn and find out what her plans for her future are below!

What excites you most your selection as an Equity Scholar? 

I am excited to return to school with financial security so that I can focus on my education and take advantage of more opportunities on campus.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I am very excited to work as a graduate assistant and learn from accomplished professionals in the discipline. Even more, I will be able to conduct research alongside other motivated individuals with a passion for political science.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

I aspire to continue my education after earning my MA in the hopes of one day working as a professor in California.

What’s your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

There is no better investment than one in your education!

ZEKI POLAT

Meet Zeki Polat! Born and raised in Germany, he recently graduated from Hacettepe University in Ankara with a BA in German Language and Literature. He describes himself as a social person and is looking forward to meeting "new people from all different backgrounds" and join a variety of student clubs and societies that CSULB has to offer!

Learn more about Zeki and find out what his plans for his future are below!

What excited you most about your selection as an Equity Scholar?

Besides the fact that l highly value the acknowledgement of my academic performance, l am incredibly happy to be able to support my family financially, who otherwise would have to go through difficult times to be able to finance my time abroad.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I am looking forward to meeting new people from all different backgrounds, to join the student clubs and societies that CSULB has to offer and become socially active, to gain independence and finally, to continue my studies in my field of interest.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

I definitely see myself as an academic and I wish to pursue this goal in the United States. I believe having had experience in teaching (during my time at the Goethe Institut in Ankara) and being fluent in three languages will be beneficial in following this career plan.

What is your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

I would definitely advise everyone interested in pursuing their Master's to thoroughly do their research, not to be shy about contacting their university of interest to get information and if possible, to reach out to either students or graduates of their university of interest as both can be of huge help and give a good orientation.

ARACELI RAMOS

Meet Araceli Ramos. She is a graduate student in History. Araceli hopes be able to use her degree to help and make a change to many people in the world. She works full-time to help her mother financially.

What excites you most your selection as an Equity Scholar? 

I was surprised and shocked!

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program? 

Graduate and get my diploma and to say I finally did it!!

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad? 

To make a huge difference in the world and help others in need, how I was helped.

What's your best advice for students looking into graduate school? 

You got this!

NING SHAO

Meet Ning Shao! She received her BA in Philosophy from Shandong University in China and will start her MA in Philosophy here at CSULB in the Fall! In her free time, Ning loves watching Japanese Anime, especially Naruto!

Learn more about Ning and find out what she is looking forward to most in her program below!

What excited you most about your selection as an Equity Scholar?

The Equity Scholar program is set to recruit promising students and promote excellence in research. So, by awarding this to me, my department seems to tell me that they trust my research ability. This encourages and excites me most. I want to make progress in my future study and make contributions to areas of philosophy so as not to let them down.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I look forward to conversations and discussions in my courses on papers with my professors and classmates.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

I want to receive an offer from my dream PhD program and graduate from it. I want to do research in philosophy in the rest of my life and make contributions to some areas of philosophy.

What is your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

Find the one that suits you most!

TARYN THRASHER

Meet Taryn Thrasher! She graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology with a minor in African American studies in 2018. While at UCLA, she was involved with the Afrikan Women's Collective, Black Pre-Health Organization, and Active Minds. In her spare time, Taryn is busy! She loves to travel, read, "get in a good workout," spend time with her family and friends, and loves "taking pictures to remember moments in my life" and putting them in a scrapbook.

Learn more about Taryn and find out what she is looking forward to most in her program below!

What excited you most about your selection as an Equity Scholar?

I am most excited by the opportunity to receive mentorship from the psychology department and the unique honor of representing the inaugural class of Equity scholars. I believe that mentorship can make a world of difference, especially for folks like me who are the first in their family to aspire toward a doctoral degree. Knowing that I am no longer flying blind is a huge relief, and I am humbled and honored to know that the CSULB faculty believe in my ability to succeed. I know that my selection as an Equity Scholar will make me a more effective researcher and thus more of an asset to the community of folks I intend to serve.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I am most looking forward to meeting and learning from my professors and fellow students. The course material is precisely what I have been waiting to study in depth, and the opportunity to learn alongside fellow psychology enthusiasts is exciting. I look forward to being pushed to reach my highest potential through the process of working on my thesis and diving deeply into my research interests.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

I plan to become a clinical (or counseling) psychologist. I plan to be on the front lines of the fight against systemic racism and inequities within mental health care through both research and practice. After earning my master’s degree and a subsequent doctorate in clinical (or counseling) psychology, I plan to open a community mental health clinic of my own in the Crenshaw District where I am from. I hope to run research projects out of the clinic while providing therapeutic services for little or no cost. I plan on using my education as a tool to lead those most vulnerable among us out of the darkness of stigma and inequity and into the light of mental wellness for all.

What is your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

As a strong proponent of mentors, I recommend that students find someone who is doing the work that they aspire to do. Reach out to that person and ask them how they got to where they are now. By working backwards you can decide what might be the best way for you to achieve your ultimate goal. Be honest with yourself about what you want out of the career you seek. The letters after your name won't keep you happy if you don't truly love the work. Passion and hard work make it all worth while!

SHUVAN PAUL

Meet Shuvan Paul! He graduated from UCSB in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Geography. He will begin his Master of Science in Geographic Information Science (MSGISci) in Fall 2021! Shuvan enjoys math, psychical sciences, spatial analysis, and video games. He says, “A recent interest of mine is observing player movement in video games/sports through the lens that GIScience has given me.”

Learn more about Shuvan and find out what his best advice for students looking into graduate school is below!

What excites you most your selection as an Equity Scholar? 

I look forward to gaining experience in real world applications of GISci.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I am interested in integrating programming to GISci and further developing my critical and creative thinking necessary for the field.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

My future goals are to make a beneficial impact on the world as a GIS analyst be it in the public or private sector.

What’s your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

Research every program extensively and find out the things which you have prioritized/interested in.

VICTORIA ROA

Meet Victoria Roa! Victoria graduated from CSULB with a BA in History in 2016. She completed her Social Science credential at CSULB as well in 2018. Since completing the credential Victoria has worked as a long term substitute for different subjects within Social Science but has not worked as a full time teacher. She wanted to go back to school for a MA to continue learning and to open new career possibilities. Victoria is a big Marvel and Star Wars fan and loves going to the movies in her free time. She also loves reading horror and true crime shows.

What excites you most your selection as an Equity Scholar? 

What excites me the most excited about being an Equity Scholar is the opportunity to receive mentoring from the Department of History. I am a first generation student and having this opportunity means so much, as I am the first in my family to attend graduate school.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program? 

I am most looking forward to working with my cohort as well as my department. I am excited to learn further about the historical discipline and becoming a better student.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad? 

As of now I don't have definitive plans for life after grad school. I would love to work in some sort of historic preservation or to work in a museum.

What's your best advice for students looking into graduate school? 

Just do it! If you are passionate about school and learning I would say just to do it. I love history and I am so excited to be back in school.

DANIELA VEGA

Meet Daniela Vega! She graduated with her BA in Applied Linguistics with a minor in Anthropology from UCLA. As a Long Beach City College transferee, she says she has "always looked for opportunities to mentor other first generation students." Daniela will start her MA in Applied Anthropology here at CSULB in the Fall!

Learn more about Daniela and find out what her plans for her future are below!

What excited you most about your selection as an Equity Scholar?

The network between all of the Equity Scholars is going to be a powerhouse.

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I can’t wait to see the work that’s being done in my field and finding how I can collaborate with other graduate students with similar interests.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

I’m pursuing a role in the community where I can directly impact policy changes.

What is your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

Follow all the clichés like “pursue your passions” and “be true to yourself”. It’s how you’ll find the right program and direction for yourself. 

YEDDA ZHANG

Meet Yedda Zhang! She received her first BA in Music Education and Opera Performing in China and says, "singing exercises my heart, lungs, and lifts my spirits." After she received her second BA in International Business at CSUF, she was a public school teacher for 10 years and currently teaches at a local Chinese school on the weekends. She will begin her MA in Asian and Asian American Studies, option in Teaching Chinese As A Foreign Language here at CSULB in the Fall! In her free time, Yedda loves to compose music, play piano, bake, hike, travel, and drink wine!

Learn more about Yedda and find out what she is looking forward to most in her program below!

What excited you most about your selection as an Equity Scholar?

I was very touched that the Chair of Asian and Asian American Studies department nominated me as an Equity Scholar for my first year here at CSULB. It means so much to me, thanks for the support and great opportunity!

What are you most looking forward to in your graduate program?

I am looking forward to further developing my knowledge in Chinese Linguistics, lesson plans, and teaching skills.

What are your future goals or career plans for life post-grad?

My future goal is to become a Chinese language instructor at a college or high school.

What is your best advice for students looking into graduate school?

Map out your goals early, focus on learning, and connect with other graduate students and professors.

The EQS initiative offers the following benefits:

  • Creating of a preferential pathway for our talented CSULB undergraduates seeking graduate degrees, as well as an opportunity for local, regional and state residents seeking to retrain or upskill;  
  • Encouraging graduate role models for first-generation and historically underrepresented undergraduate students;
  • Enhancing the intellectual life of the college and uplifting the graduate community; 
  • Contributing to a faculty pipeline for state education; 
  • Building in and contributing to future access and equity;
  • Serving as a vital springboard to build partnerships, including with the city of Long Beach, locally-based corporations, and businesses in order to support career pathways for first-generation, historically underrepresented and/or low-income students.

For more information, contact CLA Director of Graduate Studies Cory Wright or EQS Co-ordinator Mariya Mileva.