Rising Together

Building Bridges: The Power of Us

Thank you for joining the 2021 Rising Together, Thriving Together Conference!

You can find our workshop recordings here: https://dream.uci.edu/conference-recordings/

We will continue to update this page as we receive recordings from our amazing presenters. Please be on the lookout for any updates.

We hope you enjoyed the conference!


2021 Rising Together, Thriving Together Conference Committee


Conference at a Glance

  • 9:30 am - 10:00 am - Welcome & Music
  • 10:00 am - 10:30 am - Keynote Speaker
  • 10:30 am - 11:15 am - Session 1 Workshops
  • 11:15 am - 11:30 am - Break
  • 11:30 am - 12:15 pm - Session 2 Workshops
  • 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm - Virtual Campus Tour, Networking Spaces and More!
  • 1:15 pm - 2:00 pm - Session 3 Workshops
  • 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm - Closing & Award Ceremony

Virtual Help Desk

Need support? Have questions?

Stop by our Virtual Help Desk any time during the conference!

Virtual Help Desk Hours: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm 


9:30 am - 10:00 am


Join us for a Welcome message from the 2021 Rising Together, Thriving Together Conference Committee.

10:00 am - 10:30 am


The presentation will address our keynote speaker's personal narrative and journey in honoring her power as an undocumented Mexican woman and professional. It will also include discussion around the importance of owning our story and coming together during our journey in achieving our aspirations. In particular, exploring how our undocumented identity has shaped us and surrounded us by individuals that truly care for our future.

The purpose is to acknowledge that once our circle becomes more intentional within ourselves and those around us, we rise together and thrive together.


Maria Isabel Ramos Martinez

Maria Isabel Ramos Martinez is a Mexican undocumented single mother and first-generation alumni from the University of California, Irvine (UCI). She currently works in California’s Central Valley as a Support Counselor & Youth Specialist for two non-profit organizations. In Fall 2021, she will be beginning the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Spanish bilingual program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her commitment as a helping professional is motivated by the need for more Spanish-speaking professionals that understand experiences in the community such as, immigration, domestic violence, sexual assault, trauma and resilience, and racial discrimination as a start while engaging in cultural humility that is much needed in the field.



(select ONE workshop to attend)

10:30 am - 11:15 am

WORKSHOP SESSION 1 - OPTION A: Pathways to UCI: My First Year at UCI

Join this session to hear from five first-year Anteaters who will highlight their insights as students at UCI. The five student speakers will touch on their journey to UCI, the transition to their first-year in college, and some tips and advice for prospective and incoming students.

Join this zoom if you have questions about what it is like to start at UCI.

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Josue Mena | UCI DREAM Scholar

Josue is a first year transfer student majoring in Psychology with an interest Cognitive Psychology. He is currently in a research laboratory studying the influences of bilingualism on the brain. As a first generation college student, Josue plans to pursue research as a way to help understand the world and accommodate the diverse communities around us.



Marieli Ariguznaga | UCI DREAM Scholar

Marieli is a first year Education major student, who enjoys watching movies and shows in her spare time. Marieli was born in Ensenada but raised in Riverside, California. She hopes to study Education Sciences and aspires to be an elementary school teacher.



Jennyfer Perez | UCI DREAM Scholar

My name is Jennyfer Perez, and I am proud to say that I am an undocumented student. I attended Riverside City College in 2018, and recently graduated from my community college in 2020. I earned 4 Degrees which are administration of Justice , Social and Behavioral Studies, Communication, and Humanities. I was super happy that I got accepted to UCI for fall 2020, and here I am being a proud transfer, undocumented student still learning to navigate through UCI :).



Valeria Robles | UCI DREAM Scholar

I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco and I currently live in Montclair CA in the San Bernardino county. I graduated from Claremont High school last year and am currently a freshman at UCI. I am a biological sciences major on a pre-health track. My favorite thing to do is spend time with friends and family.


10:30 am - 11:15 am

WORKSHOP SESSION 1 - OPTION B: Medical Residency Panel

This 45-minute panel session aimed for current undocumented/DACAmented medical students. The panel will include perspectives from DACA recipients who have matched into residency and are current residents.

This session will discuss strategies for becoming a competitive applicant and lessons learned from their residency application cycle.

***Medical Student Track: This track is aimed for current medical students with DACA to receive mentorship and understand how to be competitive applicants for residency programs.***

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Priscila Cevallos | Moderator

Priscila Cevallos is a rising third year medical student at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. She was born in Germany and grew up in Brazil before moving to Houston, Texas when she was 10 years old. She attended the University of Texas at Austin for undergrad and subsequently worked at Boston Children's Hospital for several years doing research in pediatric interventional cardiology. She earned a Masters in Medical Sciences at Brown University before starting medical school. Priscila is interested in combining a career in surgery with her passion for advocacy and policy.


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Blanca Morales, MD | UCSF, HMS/Ob-Gyn, PGY-1 

I was born in Mexico, but my family and I moved to Orange County, Southern California when I was five. I am the first person in my family to go college and the first (but hopefully not the last) to pursue medicine. My road to residency has been quite an extended one, as I started at Santa Ana Community College, and realized I needed to transfer to a four-year school to continue my love of science. I am currently a first-year resident in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UCSF.


Dalia Larios

Dalia Larios | Brigham Oncology PGY-2

Dalia Larios is currently a radiation oncology resident at the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program (HROP). She was born in Mexico but was raised in Arizona where she attended college at Arizona State University. After university, she became the first DACA recipient to be accepted to Harvard Medical School where she obtained her medical degree. She is an avid advocate of immigrants across the country and is passionate about cancer and health disparities.


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Zarna Patel | Emory Pediatrics PGY-2 

Zarna Patel is a 2nd-year Pediatrics Resident in Georgia. She is from India originally and has been in the US since 1996. She is originally from Florida and went to medical school at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, graduating in 2015. She has been involved in advocacy and lobbying for immigration reform at the state and national level. She aspires to care for underserved children while continuing to advocate for access to healthcare for undocumented and uninsured children and families.



Mikail Kamal | NYC Family Medicine

Mikail, a resident physician at St John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, NYC, grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Growing up, he witnessed numerous family members and neighbors jeopardize their health due to limited healthcare access because of their immigration status. These experiences inspired Mikail to become a doctor and ultimately pursue a residency in Family Medicine in one of the most underserved areas in the country. Mikail is currently preparing to transition to a two year fellowship in Healthcare Leadership and Geriatrics at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC, and aims to increase healthcare access to the immigrant community across NY.


10:30 am - 11:15 am

WORKSHOP SESSION 1 - OPTION C: Medical Student Q&A Panel

This is a 45-minute session discussing first-hand perspectives on the application process to medical school and lessons learned during the medical school experience. This session will also provide advice for prospective applicants as they prepare for medical school applications.

This will be a panel-style presentation with panelists from a diversity of medical schools across the nation. 

***Pre-Med/Health Track: This track is aimed for college students, post-bacc students, and others interested in pursuing a career in medicine and health care professions.***


Ivonne Beltran | Loyola Stritch SOM

Ivonne was born in Bogota, Colombia and immigrated with her family to the United States as a child. She witnessed the challenges her family faced navigating the healthcare system which inspired her to pursue a career in medicine. She is passionate about addressing social determinants of health and committed to providing excellent patient-centered care for underserved populations as a family medicine resident physician at the University of Washington. As an undocumented student, she faced challenges to complete her education such as paying out of state tuition. After obtaining her DACA status, she completed her psychology degree at Kennesaw State University in Georgia and was accepted to medical school at Loyola University Chicago. As a medical student she participated in global health initiatives, organizations that address social injustices, and opportunities to strengthen wellness efforts. Outside of medicine, Ivonne loves to spend quality time with her family and friends, to maintain a healthy lifestyle through running and cycling, to hang out with the dogs in her life, and to challenge herself in the kitchen with new recipes!



Christian Ugaz | Stanford SOM

I'm a queer DACAmented rising 4th-year medical student at Stanford Med applying into Emergency Medicine. I was born in Arequipa, Peru, and grew up in Union City, NJ. I went to Saint Peter's University in NJ, and after college, I worked 2 years as a clinical research coordinator at Mount Sinai in NYC. In medical school, I was involved with Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, conducted clinical research, and TAd Neuro to 1st-year med students. I'm very passionate about mentorship, immigrant and refugee health, and harm reduction.



Saloni Agrawal | Mount SInal SOM

Saloni Agrawal is a third-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She graduated from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology, a Master of Arts in Biotechnology, and a Minor in Theatre. Prior to medical school, Saloni conducted translational research in cancer metastasis at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and her efforts resulted in a paper in Nature Cell Biology. Aside from research, Saloni is passionate about the intersection of health and human rights and has worked with multiple non-profit organizations in the NYC area. Specifically, during her time at Sinai, Saloni pursued a Global Health project to understand the barriers to care that affect the South Asian population with the support of the Global Health Fellowship. She envisions patient advocacy to be a central component of her eventual work as a physician.



Romina Almada | Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine 

Hi! My name is Romina and I am a rising 3rd year medical student at Dartmouth. I was born is Asuncion, Paraguay and moved to the U.S. at the age of nine. I studied Neuroscience in undergrad at NYU and would like to practice family medicine or psychiatry in the future.


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Aldana Garcia | Michigan State

Aldana was born in Rosario, Argentina, and immigrated to Santa Ana, CA when she was 9 years old. She attended UCLA, where she earned her Bachelors’ of Science in Psychobiology in 2016. As a first-generation student, Aldana experienced the lack of mentorship opportunities and representation of physicians of color which further motivated her to pursue a career in medicine.

Today, Aldana is a first-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (MSU CHM). At MSU CHM, Aldana is the Co-director of the Latin American and American Indian Medical Association (LANAMA), Public Relations chair for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), and social chair for the Internal Medicine Interest Group.

On her free time, Ms. Garcia enjoys spending time with her family, hot yoga, and watching Netflix.


10:30 am - 11:15 am

WORKSHOP SESSION 1 - OPTION D: DREAM Project Fellowship Panel Presentations

In these sessions you will hear from DREAM Project Fellowship fellows and their year-long projects conducted across the UCI campus.


11:15 am - 11:30 am

Virtual Self-Care Room

Join our virtual self-care room to help you unwind and destress! You can navigate the room to engage in different activities ranging from our relaxation space, art exhibit, and game hub.


(select ONE workshop to attend)

11:30 am - 12:15 pm

WORKSHOP SESSION 2 - OPTION A: Introduction to Research & Graduate School

UCI DREAM Center's Scholars-in-Residence Graduate Mentors will discuss information about doing research, graduate school, and some research opportunities available at UCI.

If you are interested in research or graduate school or would like to know more, please join us in this presentation.


Diana Carreño | UCI DREAM Center Scholar in Residence, Graduate Student, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Diana Carreño is a PhD student in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is a member of Dr. Shahrdad Lotfipour’s lab. Her research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of adolescent drug addiction. She previously was awarded the UCI Office of Inclusive Excellence Ambassador Summer Fellowship. In addition to research, she mentors undergraduates in STEM to help them achieve their career and personal goals. Having previously served for two years as a mentor at the UCI DREAM Center, she was selected to co-lead their Scholars-in-Residence program where she works to provide professional development to undocumented undergraduate and graduate students. In addition , she is a Leadership Coach for Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience: Partnering in Leadership for Undergraduate Students (DECADE PLUS) Program by mentoring Chancellor’s Excellence Scholars.



Mayra Varillas Cilia | UCI DREAM Center Scholar in Residence, Graduate Student, Department of Mathematics

Mayra Varillas Cilia is an indigenous Mexican woman in the field of data science. She attended UCLA, where she obtained her degrees in mathematics and statistics. She is currently attending UC Irvine to continue her statistics studies. One of her goals is to bridge the gap of minority representation in the technology field, particularly for women, people of color, and first-generation students.


11:30 am - 12:15 pm

WORKSHOP SESSION 2 - OPTION B: Becoming a Competitive Applicant for Medical & Professional Programs

This 45-minutes session will discuss tips for becoming a competitive applicant for medical and health professional programs. This session will provide key takeaways learned from screening and evaulating applications first-hand. This session will have time to answer questions asked by audience members.

***Pre-Med/Health Track: This track is aimed for college students, post-bacc students, and others interested in pursuing a career in medicine and health care professions.***

©Eva Ho Photography 2016 - www.evaho.com

Sunny Nakae, Ph.D., MSW, Associate Professor and Senior Assocaite Dean, California University of Science and Medicine

Pronounced “nuh KAI” (rhymes with eye)

Dr. Nakae is the Senior Associate Dean for Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Partnership, and Associate Professor of Medical Education at the California University of Science and Medicine. Prior to joining CUSM she served as Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine where she holds an adjunct appointment as Associate Professor of Social Medicine, Population and Public Health. Dr. Nakae’s previous roles have included a broad scope of admissions, recruitment, student life, diversity, education, outreach and pipeline programs at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and the University of Utah. Dr. Nakae completed a BS and MSW at the University of Utah, and a PhD in Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago. She is the author of Premed Prep: Advice from a Medical School Admissions Dean, from Rutgers University Press.


11:30 am - 12:15 pm

WORKSHOP SESSION 2 - OPTION C:Breakout by Residency Specialty

This breakout session will include various residents or attendings with DACA. Attendees can choose which specialty they're interested in learning more about and connect with panelists in a small group. Attendees will gain exposure to doctors from different residency programs and connect in an informal manner.

***Medical Student Track: This track is aimed for current medical students with DACA to receive mentorship and understand how to be competitive applicants for residency programs.***

Isha Marina Di Bartolo MD - web

Isha Marina Di Bartolo | Yale School of Medicine, IM UPENN

I was born in Venezuela and immigrated to Brooklyn, where I was raised. Due to my background, I became interested in immigrant health. I attended medical school at Yale University School of Medicine where I developed this passion into a calling. I did residency in Philadelphia in the field of Internal Medicine, Primary Care at the University of Pennsylvania and now work in Camden, NJ serving primarily Latinx patients and working on diversity initiatives at the medical school level. I am honored to be here and to meet all of you!



Oscar Carillo | Mt. Sinai, Mt. Sinai EM

I was born in Colima, Mexico and raised in Memphis, Tennessee up until the end of high school. Afterwards, I attended college at Brown University in Rhode Island where I studied Neuroscience. I took a gap-year between college and medical school to do research in a basic neuroscience lab at Brown. I began medical school at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2017 and I am graduating very soon after matching in Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai Morningside-West. My hobbies include playing the piano, playing soccer, and spending quality time with friends and family.


11:30 am - 12:15 pm

WORKSHOP SESSION 2 - OPTION D: DREAM Project Fellowship Panel Presentations

In these sessions you will hear from DREAM Project Fellowship fellows and their year-long projects conducted across the UCI campus.



(select ONE workshop to attend)

1:15 pm - 2:00 pm

WORKSHOP SESSION 3 - OPTION A: Taking Our Power Back: Self and Community Empowerment

Systems of oppression have consistently had a hand in constructing widespread and harmful narratives. As undocumented folks, it is important to deconstruct those narratives and formulate our own by recognizing the power and agency we hold both as individuals and community members.

Join alum and current members of Students Advocating For Immigrant Rights & Equity (SAFIRE) for a Q&A session on how they’ve taken back their power and how you can too.

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Students Advocating For Immigrant Rights & Equity (S.A.F.I.R.E.)

Students Advocating For Immigrant Rights and Equity (SAFIRE) is the only undocumented-student led organization at UC Irvine that seeks to expand resources for all undocumented/immigrant students on-campus. SAFIRE's vision is to raise awareness regarding the issues the undocumented community faces and diversify the image of the undocumented student identity through advocacy efforts.


1:15 pm - 2:00 pm

WORKSHOP SESSION 3 - OPTION B: Financing Professional/ Medical School

This 45-minute session provides an overview of strategies to finance graduate school for undocumented students. This will cover institutional and private loans, scholarships and fellowship opportunities as well as how to maximize potential financial aid opportunities during the application cycle.

**Pre-Med/Health Track: This track is aimed for college students, post-bacc students, and others interested in pursuing a career in medicine and health care professions.**


Denisse Rojas | Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai

Denisse Rojas is currently a 4th year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and recently completed her MPP at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is passionate about increasing access to higher education and health care for the undocumented community and is co-founder of Pre-Health Dreamers (www.phdreamers.org), that provides resources and advocacy for individuals pursuing careers in the health care professions.


1:15 pm - 2:00 pm


This 45-minute panel session is aimed for current undocumented/DACAmented medical students. This panel will provide perspectives on pursuing advocacy during medical/graduate school as a DACA recipient. Speakers will speak about the various ways they have engaged in advocacy at the institutional, state and national level.

**Medical Student Track: This track is aimed for current medical students with DACA to receive mentorship and understand how to be competitive applicants for residency programs.**

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Mithi del Rosario, MD | MedDreamers at UCLA

Dr. Mithi del Rosario is a first year Internal Medicine resident at UCSF. She received her BA and her MD from UCLA. Prior to starting medical school, she worked as an advocate with Pre-Health Dreamers and co-founded UndocuMed Students and Allies at UCLA.


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Emmanuel Cordova | Institutional Advocacy

Emmanuel Cordova a fourth-year medical student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), David Geffen School of Medicine. His interest in medicine comes from having lived as an undocumented immigrant and experiencing health inequities for most of his life. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania where he double majored in Health and Societies and Hispanic Studies with a minor in Latin American and Latino studies. Emmanuel is interested in conducting health equity research as a physician and using community-based research to incorporate voices from the community. He is excited to return home to the best city in the world (Chicago), where he will be starting his Emergency Medicine residency at the University of Chicago.


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Krissia Rivera | Writing Your Story

Originally from El Salvador, Krissia grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. Growing up, she witnessed many disparities in access to healthcare in particular for undocumented immigrants. These experiences laid the foundation for her future interest in medicine as an undergraduate at Brown University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology (Cell and Molecular) in 2015. She continued on to work as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins Hospital prior to starting medical school in 2017. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Health in Quantitative Methods at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health between her 3rd and 4th year of medical school where she is in the combined M.D-ScM Population Medicine program. She is interested in the impact of social determinants of health and plastic surgery access and outcomes. Krissia enjoys hiking, running, playing music (drums, guitar, and violin), and gardening.


1:15 pm - 2:00 pm

WORKSHOP SESSION 3 - OPTION D: DREAM Project Fellowship Panel Presentations

In these sessions you will hear from DREAM Project Fellowship fellows and their year-long projects conducted across the UCI campus.


2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

It's time to celebrate and party!

In this closing session, we would like to honor those who made powerful impact on this community. Join this session for our awards ceremony.

Thank you for attending our conference!

Please take the following survey to support us in improving the conference for future years.


We thank you all in advance for your feedback!


This event is sponsored by:

UCI Office for Inclusion and Excellence, UCI Student Life and Leadership, and UCI Student Success Initiative