Meet the Team (2020-21)

Program Coordinators

photo of anya batra smiling

Anya Batra (she/her/hers)
Cowell College | Psychology Major

Anya Batra is a second-year undergraduate student at UCSC pursuing a degree in Psychology. She is an intern for the First Generation Initiative and the Student Success Equity Research Center. The goal of this internship is to support both the FGI and SSERC by working on outreach as well as planning events in order to provide support and build a community for students at UCSC. Anya is very passionate about educational equity and hopes to be able to have a positive impact in making first-generation students at UCSC feel supported. In the future, Anya would like to use the knowledge she gains from this internship in order to eventually have a career where she can have a positive impact on the world.

Fun FactAnya has visited Peru and has walked up part of Macchu Picchu.

photo of erick martinez in front of leaves

Erick Martinez (he/him/his)
Porter College | Psychology & Economics Double Major

Erick is a fourth-year undergraduate student who is pursuing a Psychology and Economics double major. He is an undergraduate research intern for the First Generation Initiative in the Student Success Educational Equity Research Center. He is particularly interested as an economics student in seeing how marginalized, first-generation students are widely impacted by economic and social inequity when seeking a higher education. As a psychology student, he knows the impact that mental health can have on the performance of first-generation students and hopes to utilize this program to be able to conduct research on the factors that can impact mental health. Erick hopes to harness his own experiences in the university to be able to assist the First-Generation initiative in establishing educational equity and a positive learning environment for all students.

Fun Fact: Erick took a 2-week roadtrip with his family to travel down Baja California to Los Cabos, and is planning on travelling to Spain as soon as its safe to do so!


photo of jarvis phelps smiling

Jarvis Phelps (he/him/his)
College Ten | Politics & History Double Major

Jarvis is a first year undergraduate student double majoring in Politics and History with plans of becoming a lawyer. He is an intern with the First Generation Initiative and Student Success Equity Research Center. He looks forward to assisting with the success of the program by creating a supportive and accepting learning environment for first generation students. He hopes his previous experience in community service and student leadership will be of value to the continued success of the program and will assist first generation students in achieving their higher education goals.

Fun Fact: Jarvis loves to cook with emphasis in Cuban and French cuisine.

photo of michael sim smiling

Michael Sim (he/him/his)
Crown College | Computer Science: Computer Game Design Major

Michael is a fourth-year student majoring in Computer Science: Computer Game Design. He is a Communications & Events Assistant for the Student Success Equity Research Center (SSERC) and the First Generation Initiative (FGI). Michael is interested in connecting students with the services available to them through UCSC, as well as foster a community for first-generation students and supporters. He hopes to use his experiences as a previous Media & Communications Intern for the Division of Student Affairs and Success (DSAS) to continue to raise awareness and support for mental health and wellbeing services on campus, such as the launch of the Radical Resilience Initiative and the Remote Learning Tips video series on social media.

Fun Fact: Michael performed for 3 years in Bayanihan at UCSC's annual Pilipino Cultural Celebration (PCC) through ballroom dance, traditional Filipino dance, spoken word, and acting.

photo of laura stroud standing with flowers

Laura Stroud (she/her/hers)
Kresge College | Legal Studies and Politics Double Major

Laura is a third-year student pursuing a double major in Legal Studies and Politics. She is an undergraduate intern for the Student Success Equity Research Center and the First Generation Student Initiative. Laura is particularly interested in the intersectional barriers to success for students in navigating the secondary-education system. She hopes to use her experiences to expand intentional mindfulness around supporting students and families new to the University system while building solidarity within student communities. Laura hopes to pursue a career in law centered around social justice and outreach that aims to remedy disadvantages that stem from systemic inequities.

Fun Fact: Prior to UCSC, Laura was a member of the Women’s Basketball Program at Whittier College and hopes to coach someday.

photo of amaris trujillo in front of orange leaves

Amaris Trujillo (she/her/hers)
Cowell College | Psychology & Legal Studies Double Major

Amaris is a third year Psychology and Legal Studies major with a minor in Latin American and Latino Studies.  As a first generation student, she is interested in supporting first generation students in navigating through higher education and professional workspaces. She is also dedicated in establishing a sense of community amongst student groups that are often underrepresented on college campuses. Amaris is an intern for the First Generation Initiative and the Student Success Equity Research Center. Amaris’ role is to facilitate projects and engage in outreach that focuses on promoting educational equity and on fostering a positive environment in which students of diverse backgrounds can receive the resources and support needed to achieve academic and personal goals.

Fun Fact: Amaris has hiked over 70 miles in Yosemite during a summer backpacking trip.

photo of sai tummala sitting next to ocean

Sai Tummala (he/him/his)
College Ten | MCD Biology Major

Sai is a third-year student working as a Research Intern at the First Generation Initiative and Student Success Equity Research Center. Sai is an advocate for community outreach and strives to support student involvement at UCSC. Sai hopes to use experiences ranging from volunteering, assisting at his high school with college applications, and personal life encounters to facilitate a positive and diverse learning environment for first-generation college students at UCSC. He understands the importance of forming a student community for marginalized students and hopes to raise awareness and further prepare our first-generation students to succeed and thrive.

Fun Fact: Sai is a trained EMT!

Fall 2020 - Interns

photo of samantha chacon sifuentes in front of flowers

Samantha Chacon Sifuentes (she/her/hers)
Kresge College | Psychology Major

Samantha is a fourth-year Psychology major and a first-generation college student. She is a Professional Career Development Intern for the First Generation Initiative. Her project focuses on conducting events and research for the Student Success Educational Equity Participatory Action Research pilot project. This project aims to identify issues of educational equity and work towards social and healing justice; as well as to strategize how to promote a supportive learning environment for first-generation students. As a first-generation student, Samantha wishes to be a support system for other students, using the tools she’s received from departments, including EOP, Kresge College, and CITL. She greatly values advocating for college students’ well-being and wants to help create an environment that fosters student resilience.

Fun fact: she went on her first backpacking trip this summer and unknowingly went during the hunting season.

photo of yesenia de alba sitting in front of cactusYesenia De Alba (she/her/hers)
Merill College | Latin American Latino Studies Major 

Yesenia is a Senior, studying Latin American Latino Studies and a First Generation student. She is a student intern for the First Generation Initiative team and her main roles are managing and planning events and performing outreach as well as participating in our new PAR project. As a first-generation student, she has found many struggles getting around campus but has found multiple ways to make her life on campus easier which she shares with everyone around her. She has had a lot of help from Merrill College as well as friends she has met along the way and wishes to do the same thing with other students. She has a passion for Hispanic Culture and children.

Fun Fact: She really enjoys having adventures with her friends every day as well as making threaded bracelets!

Faculty Lead

photo of Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias smiling

Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias, FGI Co-lead, Associate Professor of Psychology, Faculty Director of the Student Success Equity Research Center (SSERC)
Pronouns: She/her/hers

Rebecca is the faculty lead for the UC Santa Cruz First Generation Initiative. In this role, she provides consultation support and on First Gen Initiative events, messaging, and programming; conducts research to contribute to program evaluation and to strengthen our understanding of the first-gen experience and of the effectiveness of student programs; and provides opportunities for students to connect with community and to engage in first-gen work on campus. As a first-generation faculty, she is committed to ensuring that students from diverse and minoritized backgrounds thrive at UC Santa Cruz. Her favorite part of this work is being able to collaborate with students, faculty, and staff on all of these efforts! 

Fun fact: She LOVES watching and talking about movies!

Staff Lead

photo of Gwynn Benner smiling

Gwynn Benner, FGI Co-lead and Director, Student Success Equity Research Center (SSERC)
Pronouns: She/her/hers

Gwynn is the staff lead for the First Generation Initiative, supporting our brilliant scholars who work tirelessly to engage our campus in this work. Gwynn oversees the fundraising and administration of the program, which is working to support a population of students, faculty, and staff on our campus who have not had the same advantages as our continuing generation students. The FGi scholars are amazing, resilient, hardworking, and fun to work with.

Fun fact: Gwynn loves to garden and has been creating a monarch butterfly sanctuary in her backyard that is thriving.