COE ambassadors

Student Ambassadors

The Student Ambassador Program is a leadership opportunity for students to serve and represent the Women’s Health, Gender and Empowerment (WHGE) COE among the student population and larger community. Specific roles of Student Ambassadors include identifying and raising awareness about events related to WHGE on campus and in the community, participating in monthly tele-meetings, working with COE Faculty Ambassadors on campus and supporting COE programs to address campus-based sexual assault and dating violence.

Faculty ambassadors serve as liaisons between the WGHE COE leadership and the faculty members on each UC campus.

Claire Amabile

Claire AmabileMajor: Global Studies; Minors: English, Feminist Studies
UC Santa Barbara

  • Worked as a CARE intern, assisting in implementing the first "Green Dot" program at UCSB
  • Studied in Córdoba, Spain for 6 months while volunteering for ACOGE, a pro-immigration center for immigrants from Northern Africa
  • Active member of UCSB's Planned Parenthood, Generation Action, in which she participates in educating the public on safe sex, lobbying, and activism on campus

Leslie Avila

Leslie AvilaFeminist Studies Major, Economics Minor
UC Santa Cruz

  • Strives to be a useful resource that women can feel safe to go to and seek help either with Health, Gender, or/and Empowerment without any problem
  • Volunteered at UCSC Student Health Outreach & Promotion (Shop) as a Condom-Co-Op where they offered advice to college students on safe sex
  • Volunteers at the Walnut Avenue Family & Women's Center, offering services to women in Domestic Violence and youth in dating violence relationships in Santa Cruz

Connie Balbuena

Connie BalbuenaPublic Health Major
UC Merced

  • Bright Success Mentor helping first-generation students achieve their academic and personal goals during their freshman year of college.
  • Health Ambassador at UC Merced for a semester promoting healthier lifestyle choices in areas such as physical activity, eating habits, sex education and self-care.
  • Interested in health education and behavioral sciences research to address the worldwide chronic illness epidemic.

Brittnie Bloom, MS

Brittnie Bloom, MS Global Public Health PhD Student
Joint Doctoral Program: UC San Diego and San Diego State University

  • Sexual assault prevention and aftercare services and advocacy, specifically on college campuses and among vulnerable populations
  • Improving screening practices and removing barriers among health care providers who work with those who may be victims of violence
  • Improving access to higher education and improving retention and graduation rates among underrepresented undergraduate students in STEM fields

Alexandra Carter

Alexandra CarterMaster of Public Health
UC Berkeley

  • Former sexual health educator in California and Guatemala
  • Interests: reproductive justice policy & advocacy; adolescent sexual health & sexual violence prevention
  • Worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern, CA on the statewide implementation of comprehensive sexual health education

Hanna Christianson

Hanna ChristiansonMaster of Public Policy

  • Hanna Christianson has been fighting for reproductive justice for the past 10 years
  • After studying Sociology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Guilford College in North Carolina, Hanna moved to Washington, DC to pursue her interests in intersectional reproductive and social justice
  • She has worked for the Unitarian Universalist Association on reproductive justice policy and advocacy in the United States, as well as the Population Reference Bureau on the intersections of women's empowerment and economic outcomes around the world

Huong Chu-Nguyen

Huong Chu-NguyenLLM Candidate, specializing in Health Law
UC Hastings

  • Grew up living a small town in Vietnam, and dreamt of being a lawyer in the USA
  • Met my female boss in an international program of a university who encouraged Huong to pursue her dream
  • Huong is a member of Hastings Race and Poverty Journal

Rahel Demissie

Rachel DemissieInterdisciplinary Studies
UC Berkeley

  • WHGE COE summer scholar 2017
  • Research Project: How agriculture can reduce maternal mortality
  • Studies the role of livelihood programs in improving maternal health

Emily Eddy

Emily EddyHuman Development
UC Davis

  • WHGE COE summer scholar 2017
  • Research Project: Helping adolescent girls to receive secondary education in Zimbabwe
  • Helped establish workshops for young girls in order to break down the stigmas surrounding women's health

Darice Espino

Darice EspinoPublic Health Major, Psychology Minor
UC Merced

  • UC Water Communications Specialist Assistant to the Director of Communications for UC Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative headquartered at UC Merced
  • Public Health Society (PHS) active committee member for a Nutrition Project addressing food insecurity in the Merced's Planda Community
  • UCGHD Student Planning Member as the UC Merced Representative

Esmeralda R. Garcia, MA

Esmeralda R. Garcia, MADoctoral Student
UC Irvine

  • Esmeralda R. Garcia is a doctoral student in Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) studying women’s health including perinatal health, health disparities, and methods of promoting well-being among survivors of domestic violence (DV)
  • She earned grants from the University of California Global Health Institute's Center of Expertise in Women's Health, Gender, and Empowerment as well as from the UCI Initiative to End Family Violence for her work with survivors of DV
  • Through her research, she hopes to inform services to reduce health disparities and help women as they move past their DV experience

Michelle Gregorio

Michelle GregorioGlobal Health
UC San Diego

  • WHGE COE summer scholar 2017
  • Research Project: How Structures in South Asia Stigmatizes Women's Reports on Violence and How Concealing Violence Affects Aspects of Their Physiology
  • Participateed in UC San Diego's Global Seminar in India through the Medical Anthropology and Global Health program

Abigail Greydanus

Abigail GreydanusMajor: Psychology; Minor: Gender Studies

  • Volunteer crisis counselor for the Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to the LGBTQ youth community
  • Research assistant in the Culture and Contact Lab at UCLA, under Dr. Tiffany Brannon
  • Plans to pursue her PhD in clinical psychology, with a focus on mental health care services in underrepresented populations, especially the LGBTQ community. She also hopes to focus future research on the psychological studies of topics like gender and sexuality

Gennifer Holt

Gennifer HoltUC Davis

  • Currently working as a Registered Nurse at UC Davis Medical Center caring for critically ill patients
  • Research is focused on adolescent girls who are depressed and inflict self-harm
  • I want to explore the mental health narratives, stories, and languages of this marginalized population and give a voice to the experiences of these girls
  • I am interested in understanding the stories that may be silenced as a result of the biomedical model

Iris Jovel

Iris JovelMedical Student

  • Her current work includes research on access to care and decisional certainty among women seeking abortion information online, as well as aiding in the development of a scale measuring sexual health and reproductive empowerment among young adults
  • At UCSF, Iris is involved with Latino, LGBT, and Underrepresented in Medicine student groups and has focused on community health at ZSFG Hospital
  • Personal experiences as a first-generation college/medical student of color and clinical experiences in underserved communities have greatly motivated her interests

Harmeet Kalsi

Jolene KokrokoSociology Major, Writing Minor
UC Merced

  • Lead of Events and outreach at Degree Attainment for Returning and Transfer Students (DART).
  • Research Intern for the Calfresh Program at UC Merced where she learned challenges and issues related to food insecurity on campus and created a more efficient application process, which will be used and adapted by CSU Chico and eventually the rest of the Calfresh programs throughout the CSU system
  • Aspires to obtain her Masters and Doctorate degrees and work in higher education to help students achieve academic, professional, and personal success

Jolene Kokroko

Jolene Kokroko4th year medical student and Maternal and Child Health Masters Public Health candidate
UCSF and UC Berkeley (respectively)

  • Interested in improving child health by focusing on maternal health. Specifically, I am interested in improving mental health and substance use during pregnancy
  • In medical school, I am part of the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved, which focuses on training doctors to serve and partner with people who live in urban and under-resourced settings to improve access to healthcare and health
  • Currently looking at an if there is an association between in-utero pesticide exposure and child IQ at age 7 for my MCH MPH capstone project

Darryl Laforteza

Darryl LafortezaAnthropology
UC Riverside

  • Hopes to go to medical school
  • Darryl’s work at hospitals, with UNICEF, and with Global Brigades, among other organizations, fuels her passion for global health and she is excited to share this passion with others
  • In her spare time, Darryl creates comics to empower girls to believe in their own capabilities
  • As a first-generation immigrant and a woman of color, she couldn’t be prouder to be the voice of women in the underserved communities her campus serves

Katherine McClendon

Katherine McClendonMaster in Nursing

  • After serving as a preventative health volunteer with the Peace Corps in Senegal, Katherine obtained a master’s in global health science from UCSF, and subsequently worked on gender-focused policy and health research with the UCSF Global Health Group and the UCSD Center for Gender Equity and Health
  • Her past research primarily investigated issues of child marriage, family planning, and intimate partner violence in several countries, including India, Uganda and Ethiopia
  • More recently, Katherine has been involved with community-based public health nursing research among middle-aged and older-adult homeless women in Central City East, Los Angeles (‘Skid Row’)
  • Upon completion of her MSN, Katherine plans to pursue a PhD in nursing, and investigate barriers to preventative sexual and reproductive health service access among adolescent women and girls within a global context

Erika Mey

Erika MeySociology & Public Health
UC Irvine

  • WHGE COE summer scholar 2017
  • Research Project: Identifying Risk and Protective Factors of Adverse Birth Outcomes Among Cambodian Refugees
  • Helped identify factors at the individual- and neighborhood-levels that confer risk and offer protection against adverse birth outcomes among refugees' offspring, drawing comparisons between the study population and infants born to native-born Cambodians who share a similar cultural orientation but were not exposed to the same political conflict

Emily Milstein

Emily MilsteinLaw
UC Hastings

  • Hopes to work in international development after finishing law school
  • She has an MA in African Studies from UCLA and a BA in History from UC Santa Cruz
  • Prior to entering law school, she lived in Washington D.C. where she worked for the National Endowment for Democracy’s fellowship program
  • She grew up in Mill Valley, California and spends her free time training for and competing in triathlons

Janice Mwaniki

Janice MwanikiBiochemistry and Molecular Biology
UC Davis

  • WHGE COE summer scholar 2017
  • Research Project: Empower single mothers in urban slum in Nairobi, Kenya
  • Helped provide motivational talks and workshops on topics such as entrepreneurship, home growing skills, reproductive health and how to prevent HIV and malaria

Daisy Orellana

Daisy OrellanaFeminist Studies and Community Studies
UC Santa Cruz

  • After graduating, Daisy hopes to study Public Health and Medical Sociology
  • This summer, through the Reproductive Rights and Activist Service Corps, Daisy interned at ACCESS Women’s Health Justice. There, she operated their health hotline to connect people across California to reproductive health services
  • Daisy recently studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico through UC Davis Abroad’s Latino/a Health Internship Program. The highlight of her time in Oaxaca was learning from parteras who attended women in the coastal region

Alexandra Ornelas

Alexandra OrnelasDoctoral Candidate, Sociology
UC Santa Barbara

  • Research focuses on how sexual violence affects marginalized communities and the resistance movements led by these communities and allies
  • Teaching and research interests in social movements, violence against women, intersectionality, qualitative methods, and Latina/o sociology
  • Dissertation examines activism against sexual violence on University of California campuses

Michelle Gomez Parra

Michelle Gomez ParraSociology, emphasis in Latin American and Latino Studies
UC Santa Cruz

  • Research interests include race, class, gender, sexuality, and feminisms
  • Current research project examines the gender and sexual identities of working-class Latina college students
  • After completing my dissertation, I plan on becoming faculty at a public university where I can continue centering the needs of women of color through mentoring,  research, and teaching

Maya Richardson

Maya RichardsonMajor: Global Studies; Minor: Global Health and History
UC Los Angeles

  • Maya has lived overseas for most of her life, and currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland
  • Maya is a coordinator for the Youth Empowerment Program at UCLA, and is a member of Colleges Against Cancer and the Global Development Lab
  • She is looking forward to collaborating with the Women’s Health Gender Center of Expertise Program, and hopes to learn from the UC Global Health Institute and other student ambassadors to help maximize everything the program has to offer

Adetutu Sadiq

Adetutu SadiqPublic Health
UC Berkeley

  • WHGE COE summer scholar 2017
  • Research Project: Assessing the effectiveness of mobile health programs and telemedicine services on maternal and child health in the Bay Area
  • Adetutu conducted qualitative interviews with pregnant women in the Richmond and Oakland area who use Text4Baby or any other computerized maternal health service
  • Her findings will help future development of health care programs to better suit the needs of pregnant women, mothers and infants in the Bay Area

Sharada Saraf

Sharada SarafHuman Biology major, Global Health minor
UC San Diego

  • Works with student writers and faculty researchers to make science more accessible as a core staff member of Saltman Quarterly, UC San Diego’s undergraduate biology research journal
  • Researches genetic, environmental, and epidemiological factors behind outbreaks of highly pathogenic viruses such as Zika at the Scripps Research Institute
  • Mentors potential first generation college students interested in the health sciences through involvement in community organizations, free summer camps, and high school mentorship programs

Rupali Sharma

Rupali SharmaBusiness
UC Riverside

  • As a feminist, Rupali looks forward to promoting equality and knowledge about how we can work together to reduce gender disparity, through her work as a Student Ambassador
  • Some of her hobbies include dancing and playing tennis, both of which she has been doing since the age of 10, as well as doing community service.

Laura Tanner

Laura TannerDoctoral Candidate in Department of Feminist Studies
UC Santa Barbara

  • Laura is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Barbara. She received her bachelors in Women Studies from Oregon State University, and her Masters in Feminist Studies at UCSB. 
  • Her research interests include women's health and reproductive justice, socioeconomic class and the experience of poverty in the United States, and motherhood. She is currently working on her dissertation, which examines women's self-determination in pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.
  • Laura lives in Santa Barbara with her three children aged 16-23.

Georgina Torres

Sociology and Demography
UC Berkeley

  • I have always expressed a deep interest in public health issues, particularly social determinants of health and barriers in accessing medical care.
  • I understand from my experience growing up in an underserved community, the barriers and hardships one faces when trying to access quality healthcare.
  • My passion for health equity and social justice has motivated me to pursue a career in Public Health and do work that will help marginalized populations access the care they need.

Roxanna Villalobos

Roxanna VillalobosPhD Student in Sociology
Designated Emphasis in Latin American and Latina/o Studies
UC Santa Cruz

  • Aims to conduct community-engaged research in the Central Valley of California through a feminist lens
  • Exploring how women of color activists and leaders working in community-based organizations in the Central Valley navigate their feminist/gendered-based politics in the grassroots campaigns they are involved in or leading
  • Strives to learn about how feminist activism and/or feminist consciousness takes shape in the poor rural farming communities of the Central Valley of California

Holly Wertman

Holly WertmanPublic Health
UC Berkeley

  • WHGE COE summer scholar 2017
  • Research Project: Improving maternal and child health in Uganda
  • Worked to close the gap between Oyam and the rest of Uganda in terms of maternal, neonatal, and child mortality rates by working with Global Health Network Uganda

Faculty Ambassadors

Faculty Ambassadors serve as a liaison between the WGHE COE leadership and the faculty members on each UC campus. They offer mentorship to Student Ambassadors and provide oversight to their activities on each campus, host and participate in regular meetings with Student Ambassadors on campus and tele-meetings with other COE Faculty Ambassadors, lead and raise awareness about WHGE-related events, participate in or lead educational opportunities on WHGE topics and disseminate information related to the COE to the larger academic community.

Ann M. Cheney, PhD

Ann M. Cheney, PhDAssistant Professor, Department of Social Medicine, Population and Public Health, Center for Healthy Communities
University of California, Riverside

  • Research field sites include Italy, the United States, and Mexico
  • Uses community-engaged research approaches to conduct mental health and substance use services research
  • Holds expertise in qualitative research and mixed-methods study design

Jennifer Templeton Dunn, JD

Jennifer Templeton Dunn, JDLecturer in Law
University of California Hastings College of the Law

  • Women’s Reproductive Health & Justice
  • Pregnancy, Informed Consent and the Right to Refuse Treatment
  • Eugenics and Forced Sterilization
  • Pregnancy Leave & Discrimination
  • The Right to Health under International and Constitutional Law

Sylvanna Falcón, PhD

Sylvanna Falcón, PhDAssociate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies
Incoming Director, Chicano Latino Research Center (7/1/18)
UC Santa Cruz

  • Author of award-winning book Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activism inside the United Nations (University of Washington Press, 2016)
  • Former United Nations co-consultant to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
  • Research and teaching interests are in human rights activism, transnational feminism, racism and antiracism, and transitional justice in Peru
  • Producer/host of a weekly public affairs radio program Voces Críticas/ Critical Voices on KZSC 88.1FM (UCSC’s radio station)

Michele Bratcher Goodwin

Michele Bratcher GoodwinChancellor’s Professor of Law
Director, Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy
UC Irvine

  • Elected member of the American Law Institute and an American Bar Foundation Fellow
  • Author of several highly acclaimed books, including, Policing The Womb, which chronicles how women’s reproduction has become the political scapegoat in Congress and legislatures across the U.S., resulting in the rise of personhood measures, practices that force women to undergo cesarean births under threat of court order, abuse of prosecutorial discretion that results in the criminalization and punishment of pregnant women for falling down steps, refusing bed rest or attempting suicide, and policies that dramatically erode reproductive liberty
  • Lectures world-wide on issues involving constitutional law, human rights, reproductive justice, bioethics, and health law. She served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago and as a Visiting Scholar at the University of California-Berkeley and Columbia University Law School

Shelly Grabe, PhD

Shelly Grabe, PhDAssociate Professor, Psychology
University of California, Santa Cruz

  • Social movements, activism, justice, women’s human rights
  • Women’s resistance/activism/empowerment in Nicaragua and Tanzania
  • Transnational intersectionality/decolonial feminism/neoliberalism

Rana M. Jaleel, MFA, JD, PhD

Ann M. Cheney, PhDAssistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies
UC Davis

  • Holds a PhD in American Studies from New York University, a JD from the Yale Law School, and an MFA from the University of Michigan
  • Research and teaching interests in transnational feminisms, law, queer studies, labor, and reproductive justice
  • At work on a book that analyzes how transnational feminist efforts to address sexualized violence have impacted popular and legal concepts of consent and coercion
  • Co-founder and Co-director of HATCH, a Mellon funded, community-engaged Feminist Arts & Science Shop at UC Davis

Jessica Draughon Moret, PhD, RN

Jessica Draughon Moret, PhD, RNAssistant Professor of Clinical Nursing
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
UC Davis

  • Research focuses on structural and independent factors contributing to women’s health disparities
  • Leverages mobile technologies to improve women’s access to and participation in research studies. She also co-developed the mobile application “bMOREsafe” which provides information on how to access resources following abuse or assault through a trauma informed care framework
  • Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior from UC Davis in 2004. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2006; went on to receive both a Master of Science in Nursing in 2008 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 2013, all from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Prior to joining the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, she was a postdoctoral scholar at the UCSF School of Nursing from 2013 to 2015

Laury Oaks

Laury OaksJoint PhD in Anthropology and Population Dynamics
Johns Hopkins University
Professor and Chair, Department of Feminist Studies
UC Santa Barbara

  • Reproductive politics and reproductive justice
  • Health-related social movements
  • Women’s health and well-being

A. Susana Ramírez, PhD, MPH

A. Susana RamírezAssistant Professor of Public Health Communication
University of California, Merced

  • Research at the intersection of communication science, public health, and Latino health
  • Expert in mixed methods to understand the multiple levels of communication influence on health behaviors and to reduce health disparities among Latino populations across the acculturation spectrum
  • Examines the feasibility of using mobile phones for tailored behavior change communications, understanding communication barriers to health decision-making, developing and evaluating a multilevel communication strategy to create a culture of health, and community-based participatory research to prevent obesity in rural Latino families

Chikako Takeshita, PhD, MS, MBA

Ann M. Cheney, PhDAssociate Professor, Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies
UC Riverside

  • Author of The Global Biopolitics of the IUD: How Science Constructs Contraceptive Users and Women's Bodies (MIT Press, 2012)
  • Her work demonstrates that various social interests, including the desire to restrict global population growth, the threat of medical malpractice litigations, anti-abortion politics, and women's aspiration for better reproductive control have all played a significant role in directing scientific research on the device
  • Her current research project Surgical Birth examines cesarean section as a controversial technology that has been the focus of debate in obstetrics, public health, and women's health advocacy as well as among mothers who are subjected to the procedure