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2017-2018 Cohort


Amanuel Bizuneh

Hi! My name is Amanuel Bizuneh and I am currently a senior at Santa Clara University. I am a political science major, philosophy minor, and simply a lover of learning. My family was born in Ethiopia and they traveled to the United States in search for a better life. Their presence in my life has truly proven the importance of giving back to the community that has served you. If it weren’t for the mentors who assisted me throughout high school, then I don’t think I would be in the stage of being the first in my family to graduate from college. I also want to be that same guide for students who resemble my background.


Fernando Lozano

Hola! I am from San Jose State University majoring in Electrical Engineering. I am the first in my family to go to college. The struggle is real when you are the first in your family to go to college. Continually moving schools and homes because of rent was a struggle, and having no tutors to ask for guidance and help during High School made it more difficult. Being in my last year of college, I look back and feel blessed to be in the position I am in. Elevate allows me to help struggling students and become a mentor for them, helping them in their journey. This has allowed me to create a fearless, growth mindset, where it is important to fail and learn from mistakes. I am grateful to Elevate for allowing me to give back to my community in one of the best ways possible.


Grace Corona


Gordon Huang

My name is Gordon Huang and I am currently a sophomore at Santa Clara University. I am under the school of arts and sciences seeking my bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics. Working in computer science, people don’t really expect you to go outdoors a lot but I love doing just that. At the moment, I am unsure of how I would like to connect these two things but I ultimately would want to somehow apply my computer science and math skills (which is more than just coding and numbers!) to the great outdoors. When it comes to Elevate, I see so much of my own background in the little tutoring experience that I have gotten to witness. I come from a socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhood in Richmond, California. People who grew up here are not expected to succeed which is one of the main deterrents for people wanting to get out and succeed. I believe in the mission that Elevate has about making little changes every week in hopes that they will have a big impact now or later on in these student’s lives.


Javier Ortega

Hi! My name is Javier Ortega, and I am a sophomore at Santa Clara University. I am majoring in Political Science & Ethnic Studies with a minor in Computer Science. I plan on doing Community Outreach at a tech company. I am considering on either attending Law School or pursuing an MBA. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. Growing up I knew I always wanted to go to college, mostly due to my parents motivating to do so. Since I am a first generation college students, I knew it was going to tough but that I could be able to. Now being a college student, I look back and see how blessed I am to be in the position I am in, which is why I applied to Elevate. Elevate provides me an opportunity to give back to my community, and help out younger students, whose shoes I was in not too long ago.


Ken Tran

Hello everyone, my name is Ken Tran and I am a third-year student at San Jose State. I am on the process on changing my major to Technological Industrial engineering with a business, and with a business minor. Becoming a tutor for Elevate is a dream come true for me, it especially because it is a dream of mine as well to become a high school teacher. I believe our youth should be gifted with the same education as everyone else in this world. It hurts me to see how certain students do not have the same education advantages compared to other because of their economic background or other disadvantages they have faced. Especially since I am as well a first-generation college student in my family who grew up in a low-income household. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to a school that cares about their students and helped us go to college for a higher education. Now I want to help those who needs help in school because everyone should have the same chance as others to go to a 4-year University.


Kevin Vieyra

Hey, my name is Kevin Vieyra and I’m currently a second year student over at San Jose State University. My major is Social Science with a concentration on Single Subject Teaching. My current plan, as my major suggests, is to be a teacher. I am very fascinated by subjects within the social science realm such as history, sociology, and political science and so, I want to be able to talk about them all day to people! I am excited to be a part of Elevate so that I can start engaging and teaching kids, while also giving back the community.


Luis Aguilar

¡Que onda! My name is Luis Aguilar and I am a second year at San Jose State University majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco and I immigrated to the United States when I was 11 years old. I enjoy reading, soccer, and philosophy. Elevate has provided me with the necessary tools to transcend as a human and keep moving forward. Having the pleasure of experiencing the taste of two different world views, I am excited to make a positive impact in the lives of students. As a first-generation student I know the struggles that students face to persevere and succeed in school. Through Elevate I am motivated to share my experiences and knowledge to help students know the value of education and find a passion for it.


Marifer Bernal

Choosing to be a teacher has only crossed my mind twice in my life. One of these moments has been while working with Elevate. My name is Marifer Bernal and I am Health Science major with an interest in making policies that will bring equity to disinvested communities. Attending San Jose state has been a stern social justice foundation to support my aspirations to create healthy spaces for people to live, work, play, and pray in. The kids I tutor grew up similar to how I did in North Richmond, California which has made tutoring more of reflection sessions. I came Elevate to make a difference but never did I think I would come to a family.


Marisol Arredondo


Maritza Soria

Hey! My name is Maritza Soria and I am a sophomore at Santa Clara University studying Bio-engineering and Neuroscience. I am originally from Prunedale, CA and am proud to be a first generation college student who is fighting for my education and my success. I have worked for several years in the non-profit world that works towards making students college bound and am very excited to work with elevate and continue my commitment to make college an opportunity for everyone. I hope to become a mentor and a resource to all my tutees as well as develop their perception of school. I hope to instill my students with the tools they need to find internal motivation to harness the full potential of their education and capabilities.


Maryfer Espinoza

Hello, my name is Maryfer Espinoza and I am a first-generation college student. I am a junior studying Biomedical Engineering at San Jose State University (SJSU). I am very proud to say that while being at SJSU I, along with 25 other females, became founder to the Beta Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a sorority for women in engineering and technical sciences. I was born in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. When I was four years old my family moved to Carpinteria, California and I am very thankful to have been raised in a small beach town. Since I was in middle school, I have loved volunteering for programs that my two younger brothers were involved with, like the American Youth Soccer Organization and Boys and Girls Club. I am very proud to be an Elevate Tutor because I am able to continue being a good role model to my younger brothers while positively impacting students in my community by motivating and helping them achieve their academic goals. Elevate gives me the perfect platform to continue paying it forward to my community, which I am extremely thankful for!


Massoda Habib

Hello! My name is Masooda Habib and I am currently a junior at Santa Clara University. I am pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a concentration in Management Information Systems. I am a first generation college student, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in a low income family but I have always had the advantage of having a strong support system and a mentor throughout my high school and college experience. The hardships and struggles that I have encountered in life are what drives me to succeed and to continue doing my best to help others. I am thankful to be an Elevate Tutor because I want to be able to make an impact on other students lives and to make sure that they too, have the support system and motivation to succeed in life.


Micheal Gonzalez

Hi! My name is Michael Gonzalez. I grew up in Carpinteria, CA and I moved to San Jose three years ago to finish my undergrad education in Computer Engineering at San Jose State University. As a Latino, first-generation college student, I’m no stranger to the academic and personal challenges that a minority student faces along their path to higher education. I feel it is an honor to join the Elevate Tutoring team so that I may be able to help those students who are struggling to realize their full potential. After I graduate, I plan to continue giving back to the community by sharing my passion in technology through working in the industry and later becoming a computer science professor.


Oladotun Hospidales


Patricia Islas


Suiging 'Evelyn' Ruan

Hello! My name is Suijing (Evelyn) Ruan and I am an Industrial Systems Engineer at San Jose State University. I was born and raised in China, but later moved to the US when I was seven. I am the only child and the first person going to college in my family. I was glad that I had a chance in becoming part of the Elevate team. The ideas and motivations that they try to push towards of helping first generations, low-income college students in tutoring is just inspiring. This made me want to be part of it and help others who may have similar backgrounds as well as being there for them when needed. I am excited and proud to be an Elevate Tutor and part of the team.


Vi Nguyen

Hello! My name is Vi Nguyen and I am a third-year Public Health Administration major at San Jose State University. Growing up, there were countless times when I felt like an oddball for not being as intelligent or have a passion for medical and math field like other folks. Without the help and encouragement of families, friends, and especially the teachers who believed and watched over me, I wouldn’t stand as who I am today. Words can not describe how lucky I am to be a part of Elevate Tutoring. Through this program, I hope to be a role model not only for my little sister but also to other first generation and students who have the same struggles as I am. Together let’s break the impossibilities and change the silliest dream into “future goal”.


Vy Tran

Hello there, my name is Vy Tran. I was born and raised in Vietnam but I came to the United States at the age of 6. I can speak, write and read fluently in Vietnamese. I am currently enrolled in San Jose State University as a Business Analytics major. I have a 13 year old little brother. I’ve always been into working with kids in finding ways to influence and make an impact on them. I started tutoring my brother when he was at age 7 and I’ve discovered that it’s something I have an interest in. During this process, I realized that the underlying difficulties are similar, but the counseling approach for each kid is very much different. Before transferring my major to Business Analytics, I was in Child Development. I’ve participated in different tutoring programs and worked with kids from various age. Being in Elevate really brings me joy because it gives me the opportunity to work with them again. This time I get to help kids coming from a similar background. I want to encourage them that every goal is achievable no matter what circumstances you’re in. I am very thankful for this program as I will take on the role of influential mentor to motivate, encourage, and inspire my kids.


Yesenia Garnica

My name is Yesenia Garnica and I am a sophomore at Santa Clara University, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Math and Urban Education. I grew up in the Bay Area and I hope to continue to live here after I graduate. I am a first-generation college student who was fortunate enough to have supportive teachers and parents in my life. However, I know that that isn’t the case for everyone, so I want to be able to become the supportive push for others, just like my teachers were for me. After college, I want to work at a software company and give back to my family. I hope to combine my passion for teaching and working with youth with computer science in the future by teaching computer science to students in low-income areas. I am also passionate about advocacy for Latinas in computing and hope to work with nonprofits with similar goals. As someone who grew up without seeing representation of Latinas in computing fields, I hope to be able to encourage young Latinas that this field of work isn’t out of reach.

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