UCI Dream Center

Meet the DREAM Center Staff

DPF Mentors

IMG_9435_Original - Ji Young Baek

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.

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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!

My Picture

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

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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.

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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

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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.


Hannia Aguiar

2nd year, Undeclared

Bucket List: Go parasailing and travel to Europe

Favorite Holiday: My favorite holiday is Christmas because the whole family gets together, and the weather just fits perfectly with the holiday.

Student Staff

IMG_1112 - Marco Antonio Ortiz Sanchez

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


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.

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.

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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 Jeronimo

Program Coordinator












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.