UCI Dream Center

Meet the DREAM Center Staff

DPF Mentors

Ji Young Kate

Ji Young Baek

4th year, Biological Science Major

Bucket List: Ride a hot air balloon over sunset

Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Christmas because it's a holiday where the "holiday feel" lasts the longest, and it reminds me of joy and warmth.


Carlos Zepeda

4th year, Criminology, Law, and Society & Political Science Double Major

Bucket List: Skydiving

Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving because is usually a three day weekend


Nydia N. Mora

2nd year, Political Science and Sociology double major

Bucket List: Visit Salem, Massachusetts, and move to Italy spontaneously

Favorite Holiday: Halloween! I love October and I love Halloween movies, along with decorations and the history behind it. I think it's a great time, and the weather, to have fun!

Aura Navarro

Aura Navarro

3rd Year Criminology Law and Society Major

Bucket List: Learn how to play the guitar

Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Christmas. This holiday makes me feel very thankful and very happy. This is where my whole family gathers, we eat, we laugh, and we open presents. It is truly the most beautiful time of the year.

High School & Community Outreach


Gabriel Enciso

4th year, Mechanical Engineering Major

Bucket List: Skydive and go to Japan

Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Christmas because its the coziest of all the holidays.

Carlos Benigno

Carlos Benigno Mendieta

4th year, English Major

Bucket List: See the aurora borealis and another thing would be to see glacier cave in person

Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because I am able to converse and eat with my family.

Communications Team

Mariah Rosario

Mariah Rosario

3rd year, Art Major, Digital Arts Minor

Bucket List: Adopt my own a dog and see the Northern Lights someday

Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Christmas because it’s so festive and it brings your family altogether in a cozy atmosphere.


Johanna Mejia

1st year, Psychology Major

Bucket List: Visit the stadium of my favorite soccer team in Spain and travel to tropical islands.

Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Christmas because we celebrate the birth of Jesus and exchange presents with my family. I love the decorations and the joyful atmosphere.

Operations Team


Maria Calderon

2nd year, Undeclared (interested in Nursing)

Bucket List: skydiving and roaming around a city at night in a helicopter

Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Christmas because I love the happiness that is spread throughout that day. Also because I like gifting and when people open up their gifts.

Student Staff

Marco (1)

Marco Ortiz Sanchez

4th year, Business Administration Major- Emphasis in Finance, Digital Information Systems Minor 

Bucket List: Go skydiving

Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because of all the food and then Black Friday.

Scholars in Residence: Graduate Mentors

Ligunas, Joseph (1)

Joseph Christian Labagnao Ligunas

3rd year, Comparative Literature (main research area would be Philippine Literature and Film)

Bucket List: Living my truth, so: Meet Mariah Carey and open a bed and breakfast inn.

Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving, definitely, because it's (1) an excuse for having tons of delicious food, (2) a reason to cook with my mom and sister, and (3) a way to listen to cheesy/sappy Christmas music without being judged too much.


Hi! As a UCI Dream Center student mentor, I am dedicated to assisting you towards success in your academic and professional endeavors. I'm available to provide and discuss information about graduate school as an undocumented student. I'm also more than happy to talk through post-graduation planning. Additionally, I'm available to assist, look over, and proofread applications (grad school, job/internship, scholarships), resume/CV, and even writing assignments in class. Of course, I'm free to also just chat.

The best way to reach me is by email: jligunas@uci.edu.

To book an appointment:jligunas.youcanbook.me.

Looking forward! 🙂


L. Diana Carreño

3rd year Pharmaceutical Sciences Ph.D. Student

Bucket List: I would love to complete a 100-mile trail running race.

Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I get to spend time with my familia.


Barbara Martinez Neda

2nd year Computer Science Ph.D. Student

Bucket List: Visit every Disney Park! Go skiing for the first time!
Favorite Holiday: Christmas! I love spending time with my family and eating all the holiday food we make, like tamales, turkey, and ham.
Hello everyone! Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions regarding grad school, applications, essays, resumes, or CVs. I am also happy to help with any questions regarding Engineering or Computer Science coursework, research, or future plans.
We will set up office hours for the quarter. Feel free to book an appointment with one of us so we can answer your questions and offer any advice and guidance.
Hannah Kim (1)

Hannah Kim

2nd year Master's Student in Mathematics

Fun Fact:  I love hiking in the morning and watching the sunrise.
Favorite Holiday: Christmas!
My name is Hannah Kim and I am a second-year Master's student in the Mathematics department. I received a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics from UCLA in 2019. My office hours will be from 1-3 pm on Tuesday or by appointment. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions regarding the STEM field, especially in Mathematics coursework, or future plans in the graduate program.  This is my email: hannk17@uci.edu If you would like to meet with me at a different time, send me an email and I am happy to find a time that works.
Mayra Varillas Cilia

Mayra A. Varillas Cilia

1st year Master's Student in Statistics

Fun Fact: I love doing high-intensity interval training
Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Christmas because I spend time with my family and eat lots of good.
My name is Mayra A. Varillas Cilia and I am a first-year Master’s student in the Department of Statistics. I graduated with a double major in applied mathematics and statistics from UCLA in 2020. My office hours are on Tuesday from 1-3 pm. Please reach out if you want to discuss anything regarding grad school such as the grad application, essays, resumes, CVs, GRE, or letter of recommendation. I am looking forward to meeting you all.

Professional Staff


Angela Chuan-Ru Chen, Ph.D.


angelacc@uci.edu | (949) 824-6390

Having been undocumented herself for 16 years, her experiences as an undocumented student throughout her undergraduate career has been an influence for her passion to support the undocumented student community. Angela most recently worked as the Director of the Undocumented Student Program at UCLA which served over 500 undocumented students, launched new programming, and built resources across campus departments to better serve undocumented students.

Additionally, Angela's institutional advocacy includes leading University of California system-wide efforts to increase awareness about policies that impact undocumented students and guiding universities across the nation to develop support programs for undocumented youth. Moreover, Angela also completed academic training in UCLA's Graduate School of Education.

Yadira Hernandez

Yadira K. Hernandez

Assistant Director


Yadira is a native of Puebla, Mexico. Since she immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 15, she has advocated for undocumented immigrant rights in higher education and the community. She has managed and organized anti-deportation campaigns supporting families impacted by incarceration and deportation in Nevada and California. Previous to her current appointment, Yadira worked as the Undocumented Student Program Coordinator at UCLA, where she supported undocumented students and their families. To extend the support to undocumented individuals after graduation, she founded the first of its kind, Undocumented Alumni Association of UCLA, where she advocates and provides professional and career opportunities to undocumented alumni. She aspires to become an immigration lawyer to combat racial inequality and offer legal services to the immigrant community who are unable to afford an attorney. She is excited to work at the UCI family and support the undocumented student community and their families.

Alejandra (Allie) Jeronimo

Program Coordinator


Alejandra (Allie) Jeronimo graduated from UCI in 2020 with a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Criminology. She is a proud Anteater and is excited to be back at UCI. During her time at UCI, she was involved with the undocumented student organization, Students Advocating For Immigrant Rights and Equity (SAFIRE), where she supported and advocated for fellow undocumented students through events and programs hosted by the organization. She has also been involved with the Student Alumni Association and served as Vice President of Membership during her last year at UCI. Alejandra is excited to continue supporting the undocumented student community and their families.


Laura Enriquez, Ph.D.

Faculty in Residence

Dr. Laura E. Enriquez holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology and History from Pomona College. During her time there she began working closely with undocumented immigrant students. Building on this work, she has researched, presented, and published on a range of issues related to the educational, economic, political, and social experiences of undocumented young adults who immigrated to the United States as children. She has published multiple articles on the complex role that immigration status plays in the everyday lives of undocumented young adults.  Currently she is working on a book manuscript tentatively titled, Of Love and Papers: Forming Families in the Shadows of Immigration Policy. 

She is faculty chair of UCI’s Committee for Equity and Inclusion of Undocumented Students and currently serves as the faculty advisor for UCI’s Marco A. Firebaugh House, an on-campus housing community for undocumented students and allies.