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2020-2021 Cohort


Alex Tochihuitl

Hello, my name is Alex Tochihuitl. I am a junior at Santa Clara University and am pursuing a Neuroscience major as well as a Philosophy minor. I was born and raised in Mountain View, so the Bay Area has always been my home and I really cherish that. I joined Elevate because I always wanted to give back to my community and Elevate gave me that opportunity. A lot of the kids I tutor remind me of a younger me and it is really heartwarming to see them exploring what they are interested in. My goal is to someday start a nonprofit organization, but first I am planning to develop a career in self improvement, more specifically adopting a healthy lifestyle and staying active for a more prosperous life in the future.


An Doan

Hi all! I am An, a first year undergraduate at Santa Clara University. I was born and raised in Vietnam, and moved to America with my family when I was 12. Overcoming the challenges in my life made me realize that I have won a jackpot through the people that I met and the opportunities that I received. Hence, I want to give back similar, if not better, chances and opportunities for other first generation students. My thanks to everyone in Elevate for giving me the opportunity to make both my dreams and the dreams of other first generation students come true!


Chloe Tat

Hello! My name is Chloe Tat, and I’m currently a second year student at Santa Clara, majoring in marketing and minoring in Japanese. I was born and raised in San Jose, and a first generation college student. I think it’s super important for students to have the opportunity to have the support and resources to succeed academically and in life, and Elevate provides that opportunity to so many students! When I’m not tutoring or studying, I like to bake and travel (when it’s safe!).


Cecilia Guerra Rios

Hello! My name is Cecilia Guerra and I am a second year student at San Jose State University majoring in International Business. I was born in Baja California Sur in Mexico, but at the age of 14 my mother brought me to San Jose California. I’m a First generation college student in my family. My goals are to get my degree and get a job in a large international company, so that later I can create a company to help Latina women start businesses. Since my mother has struggled a lot in this country and I want to support her and more women to move forward and be successful mothers. To continue studying for me has been very difficult since I have had to work two jobs and go to college at the same time, but thanks to Elevate Tutoring it has given me an opportunity to work in an environment of goals, dreams and above all help, because it has inspired me to not give up and help the children of the future because thanks to this program it inspires me and I also let the children know that there will always be people around them supporting them. THANK YOU ELEVATE!


Dhruv Pais

Hello! My name is Dhruv Pais, I am a junior at Santa Clara University pursuing a double-major in Mathematics and Economics. I grew up in Pune, India where I finished High School before moving to the Bay Area to continue my education. Having to move to a whole new education system in a whole new country really expanded my worldview, while simultaneously showing me how important it is to have someone you can throw questions at when feeling lost. Elevate gives me the chance to help those in need, and I am extremely grateful for that. Academics aside, I absolutely love the outdoors and will take any chance to go on a backpacking or rock climbing trip (and will talk about it until you make me stop).


Dwight Johnson

My name is Dwight Johnson and I am a first-generation junior at Santa Clara University studying Biomedical Engineering. I was born and raised in Lancaster, CA. I am a transfer student and transferred to Santa Clara University from a small school in Indiana. I joined elevate with the hope of giving back to the community and helping students who may be having trouble with schooling or learning. My dream is to go to medical school and eventually become a Cardiovascular Surgeon.


Estefany Meza

Hello! I am Estefany Meza and I am a third-year transfer student at Santa Clara University. I am majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law and minoring in Ethnic Studies. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. As a first-generation college student, my parents are my biggest motivation. I am fortunate enough to count on a strong support system throughout my college journey. Elevate has helped me build the skills to help tutor, motivate, and support other students in my community, including my younger siblings. For this reason, I am grateful to be a part of Elevate. Through Elevate, I have the opportunity to be a part of a support system for all of my tutees.


Guadalupe Peralta

Hello everyone, my name is Guadalupe Peralta. A little bit about myself, I am currently a second year at San Jose State University, pursuing a psychology degree. My life goal is to one day have my own private practice as a psychologist. I am a proud member of a multicultural Sorority, Sigma Alpha Zeta, which focuses on women empowerment and it has given me the opportunity to make my college experience unforgettable. A little bit about my background, I was born and raised in San Jose,CA. I come from a low income family and I am hoping that through Elevate I am able to help those that may not have the support system at home.


Gustavo Gutierrez

Hi, my name is Gustavo Gutierrez and I am currently a junior at Santa Clara University majoring in Accounting. I was born and raised in Sonoma County, CA by my immigrant parents. As my parents had never achieved higher education, it was always emphasized how important it was to go to college. Along the way, I had the help of various mentors and programs to get me where I am now. If it weren’t for those people, I may have not even made it to college, let alone graduate high school. Looking back, those people had one of the biggest impacts on my life, and because of that, I want to be able to give back the same way to the next generation of students. Elevate has given me the platform to do so and I plan to take it and perform at the best of my abilities. Coming from an underprivileged high school, I can only hope that I can make an impact on at least even one person through this program and make them realize that they are not alone.


Jamon Roberts

Hello everyone, I am Jamon Roberts and I am currently completing my Associates Degree in Computer Science at Canada College. This is my last year and I am very excited to apply to San Jose State, San Francisco State and several other universities to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. My specific area of interest is Cyber Security, but I am also interested in web design. I played college football when I was at Humboldt State University, which helped me to learn a lot about myself. My hobbies include working out, going for long hikes with my wife, and coming up with crazy cooking recipes. Some things I value most in life include, healthy life habits (mental and physical), obtaining a strong education and of course, my lovely wife. One current goal that I have is to go to Sri Lanka to finally meet my in-laws and better understand the culture over there. That is a little bit about myself and I hope to meet you all soon.


Jose Avelar

Hello! My name is Jose Avelar, and I am a first semester nursing student at California State University, Stanislaus. I was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States when I was 12 years old. I have been interested in the medical field since I was little, which has led me to pursue a career to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. As a child, I never had guidance and support to get an education. I am honored to be part of Elevate Tutoring, and to have the opportunity to guide and support youths that have similar backgrounds. I strongly believe that providing youths with the tools and guidance is imperative to their academic success.


Julia Sierra Aguirre

Hello, my name is Julia Sierra Aguirre. I am currently a student at San Jose State University. I’m a junior with an Associates’s Degree in Human Development Studies and pursuing an Economics major. I was born and raised in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico and moved to the US when I was 15. This event completely marked my life because I was able to meet a version of myself that I did not think I knew. I faced a new life in another country with a new language, new friends, and a very different culture. While I was in my sophomore year in high school, I had a hard time finding someone to help me face this reality, which is why I decided to join Elevate Tutoring. I want to help all those students from low-income families who come from other countries and don’t have any academic and personal support. As I provide this help to the Latino community, I would like to learn and analyze more about the causes and problems that these families face on a day-to-day basis. With my major in Economics, one of my long-term goals is to help these families financially to no longer suffer in the United States. These Latino families struggle every day with the discrimination that is shown in society towards them, who rarely find a hand that offers them the help they need. Through Elevate Tutoring I want to be that sincere help and support.


Justin Vuu

Justin Vuu here! Currently, I am a Sophomore at San Jose State University majoring in Packaging and minoring in Nutrition. My goal is to learn how to design packages for food products to be more sustainable in the hopes of better helping the planet. I am a first-generation student trying to gain a higher education to be able to care for my parents who never had the chance to attend a university. I decided to join Elevate because I used to get tutored back in middle school. I know that I would not be where I am today without the support of my tutors. They believed in my abilities as a student even when it took me longer to comprehend the materials than my peers. Now being a tutor myself, I show my tutees that getting help is not something to be ashamed of and that I am here to guide them towards success. Elevate is a program based around community, mentorship, and corroboration that has only led me to grow better as an individual.


Kevin Cauich Tejero

Hi there! My name is Kevin Cauich Tejero, and I am a freshman at San Francisco State University, majoring in Math. Immigrating from Mexico to the United States at the age of twelve made me value my peers’ support at my middle school as they made me feel more accepted and helped me improve educationally. Being a tutor at Elevate Tutoring allows me to provide the same support I once received. As I mentioned, I am from Mexico, and I grew up in Yucatan, in the Mayan city of Oxkutzcab. One of my dreams is opening schools for indigenous societies across the Americas since education liberates and improves communities.


Kybeth Ruiz-Gaytan

Hi my name is Kybeth (kī-beth), I am going into my 4th year at UC Berkeley double majoring in Comparative Ethnic Studies and Social Welfare, with a minor in Portuguese. I am originally from San Bernardino, CA and I am really excited to be a part of such a wonderful community of tutors! I believe community to be central to who I have become as a person. It would be amazing to say it was all me who lifted myself up into this position, but that is simply not true. There were and currently are a ton of people who helped me reach university. What motivated me the most to be an Elevate tutor is the opportunity to be able to give back communities of students who are possibly going through similar trials that I had to face. I also had an amazing group of tutors, mentors, and community members provide me with guidance and hope to not only graduate high school but also reach college. It really does take a village to raise a child. Which is why I want to give that same guidance to students, what I bring to the table is not amazing math or science skills, what I bring is empathy, patience, love, and determination; tools students need to grow and overcome the challenges they will face in education and so on. I am really excited to tutor but I am also ready to learn from each and every student I come across.


Kimberly Fernandez Peraza

Hi! My name is Kimberly Fernandez and I am a current senior at Santa Clara University majoring in Ethnic Studies & Art History. With my majors, I hope to one day highlight the artworks of nonwhite artists and bring a platform where they can be praised to the same height as the New York School artists. I was born and raised in Napa, CA with an immigrant single mother. As a child of a parent who lacked formal education, education and pursuing a college degree were always emphasized to me from a young age. My three siblings and I have all been very fortunate to currently be enrolled in higher education and we attribute our success to the hard work our mom taught us. As someone who has always had a desire to motivate students the same way my mom motivated me, I decided to apply for Elevate. Elevate has shown me ways to further develop my tutoring skills to efficiently work for the student, however, it has also allowed me to form impactful connections with students who share my background. Through this program, I can give back to a community that I have always wanted to help in and form relationships with students who also shared my struggle.


Luis Ramirez

Hey ya’ll, I’m Luis! I’m currently a freshman at UCSC with the idea of studying Computer Science Engineering. I’m a first gen student and I was born in Mexico but was raised in America ever since I was 2 years old. I tend to spend a lot of time either doing homework or studying in general or even working. But when I’m not doing any of that, I’m either playing video games, driving, drinking coffee or eating a cookie (oreos are my favorite!). This being said, I have been taught to enjoy the wonders of life and not be held back due to the lack of opportunities. My parents describe me as opportunistic because I tend to take full advantage of any opportunity that will better my education. Now, I’m here with Elevate to help spread knowledge about different opportunities and to give those who need it, a little boost to keep them going!


Maily Juarez

Hi! My name is Maily Juarez and I am a first-year at San Jose State University majoring in Mathematics Preparation for Teaching. I was born in Morelos, Mexico, and moved to the United States when I was one year old. I am the oldest sibling with two younger sisters and I am the first to attend college out of my whole family. I want to become a mathematics teacher so once I heard about Elevate, I knew it was the right fit for me since I will be able to gain experience for the future. Not only is Elevate allowing me to do what I love, but it also helps me pay for college to achieve my dream to be the first in my family to graduate college.


Maria Leal-Perez

Hi everyone, my name is Maria Leal-Perez 🙂 I’m currently a junior at UC Davis pursuing a B.S. in Human Development with a minor in Education. I was raised in San Jose, CA for a majority of my life, but I spent my early childhood in Oaxaca, Mexico. This is where my passion for education/learning first developed and where my interest in becoming a teacher first emerged. I hope I can share my passion with others and I believe Elevate Tutoring is a great opportunity for this. While I don’t know what it means to be a perfect tutor, I understand that being patient, being able to connect with students, and validating a students feelings are very important when it comes to tutoring.


Matthew Tran 

Hi! My name is Matthew. I am a second year business student at Santa Clara University. I was born and raised in San Jose. Some of the things I enjoy are skateboarding, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and good food. As a first generation college student, I know what it feels like to feel lost within the education system. I see it first hand with my younger cousins. I joined Elevate because I want to be the support that I needed when I was in high school.


Maximus Vega

Hi, my name is Maximus Vega and I am 19 years old, and I go by he/him/his pronouns. Currently, I am attending University of California Santa Cruz and I am majoring in Psychology. I really aspire to be a psychologist/psychiatrist after college because I want to be able to help people who don’t have the ability to get the help they need and create a safe space for them. I am a first generation student and I come from a low-income family, so giving back to my community as much as possible is something that I was and still am passionate about to this day. The reason why I joined Elevate is because I love their pay-it-forward model as it’s something you don’t really see a lot of nonprofits follow. I was at one point in my education where my family and I were homeless during my freshman year of high school. I didn’t have a program like this to help me with school so I want to be able to be there for other kids who are going through their own struggles and be able to inspire other first generation students to strive to be the best that they can be.


Miriam Rodriguez

Hi! My name is Miriam Rodriguez and I am a first-year at Foothill College in pursuit to transfer to a UC as a Political Science major. I am a first-generation student, and pursuing higher education means a lot to me and my family. When I started the first grade, my English skills were below average compared to my peers, since I was raised with Spanish as my primary language. Therefore, I required extra help and attention to reach my academic goals. Thanks to the tutors and the teachers that always set time apart to help me individually, I am the student that I am today. The trust and patience that they had with me pushed me to challenge myself and be more confident in my academic journey throughout middle school and high school. That is why I joined Elevate because I have the first-hand experience of how much tutoring can help. It is an amazing way to help out my community and be able to give back the same support that I had growing up. In the future, I want to be involved in an activist Latino Organization to push more resources and support for Latinos low-income households. My dream is to be able to work somewhere in the field of politics, or in government to push a progressive agenda. The possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to see what the future has for me.


Montserrat Sanchez Lopez

Hi! My name is Montse and I’m a third-year at San Jose State University. I am currently majoring in psychology in hopes of eventually obtaining a masters degree in educational counseling. My goal is to become an academic advisor for underrepresented students. I am the first generation in my family to pursue a college degree. As a low-income, first-generation student I faced many challenges to get to where I am today. I received a lot of help from mentors, advisors, teachers, and tutors along the way. I hope that I can be of much help to other students who face similar challenges as I did. I joined Elevate in hopes of giving back to my community by helping other students succeed in their academics.


Zaira Seulveda Ocha

Hi! My name is Zaira Sepulveda Ochoa and I am from East Palo Alto, CA. I am currently a student at UC Merced but I will be attending UC Berkeley to complete my teaching credential. I am a senior with an Environmental Systems Science major with a minor in Natural Science Education Credential. My main goal is to become a high school science teacher and motivate students to attend college. I was born in Apatzingan, Mexico, and immigrated here with my family for a better future and education. I am a first-generation college student and I definitely understand how hard it is for students like me when seeking help. The reason I joined Elevate is to encourage other students to pursue their dreams and let them know that they are not alone in their educational journey. I also want to help students understand the importance of higher education and all of the ways it can open up more doors for them in the future.

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