Founded in 1976, the Graduate Fellows Program (GFP) provides an interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and inclusive environment for research and training at the Berkeley campus. The GFP plays an integral part in training scholars to address the pressing challenges that face California, the nation, and the world. Read more here.
Esther Cho is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology specializing in immigration and race/ethnicity. For her master's research, she interviewed Korean and Mexican undocumented young adults and found that the availability of non-profit and for-profit ethnic niches has a significant role in differentially shaping their work trajectories. For her dissertation, she continues to examine the intersection of race/ethnicity and legal status by exploring how Asian undocumented young adults - a group at the nexus of two dissonant racial tropes of the 'model minority' and the 'illegal alien' - navigate diverse social institutions and understand their sense of belonging. Before coming to Berkeley, she worked at the Social Science Research Council and received a B.A. in International Comparative Studies from Duke University and M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Cynthia Ledesma is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies. Cynthia’s dissertation maps the spatial constructions of race central to the making of the city of Chicago, where she grew up on the southwest side. Her primary emphasis is on the enduring legacy of structured racism and the socio-historical makings of the city that have affected policy and resulted in the concentration of poverty along racial lines. A first generation doctoral student, she received her B.A. in Latina/Latino Studies and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her M.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley.
Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology specializing in the study of race, class, and space. Her dissertation analyzes media portrayals of gentrification in San Francisco, Oakland, and Baltimore between 1990 and 2014 to understand how gentrification is represented in the media and how that varies over time and place. Zawadi holds a M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from New York University and a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Zawadi worked in evaluation research at MDRC and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College.
Jennifer Smith, Ethnic Studies
Jen Smith is a PhD student in Ethnic Studies. She completed her undergraduate degree in English with an emphasis in Literature and the Environment at the University of Alaska Southeast and received her master's degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. In her dissertation work, she brings attention to the coterminous construction of Nature and Native in Northern spaces, and how these categories inform land claims settlements. Specifically, Jen is interested in how indigenous communities of Alaska evolve and operate in the context of national desire for fossil fuels, environmental desire to experience the "last frontier", as well as a burgeoning global understanding of the Arctic as a barometer for climate change. Jen is a recipient of the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Fellowship and the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship.
Melody Tulier is a DrPH candidate in the School of Public Health. Her training has concentrated on theory and research design using mixed methods approaches in the fields of social epidemiology - the social distribution and social determinants of states of health in populations - and urban health inequities. Her interdisciplinary dissertation research uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the relationship between gentrification and health in Oakland, California. Melody has more than ten years of hands-on experience in evaluation planning and implementation, mixed methods research and analysis, training and capacity building across sectors such as housing, HIV/AIDS, community health policy, community development, and economic security. Melody holds an AB from Bryn Mawr College, a MPH from UC Berkeley and a MCP from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kelechi Uwaezuoke is a Dr.P.H. candidate in the School of Public Health. Her current research interests include exploring the lived experiences of Under-represented Minority (URM) premed students in the UC system and the role of pipeline programs in increasing health workforce diversity. After receiving her BA from Berkeley in Social Welfare and Ethnic Studies and serving as a middle school teacher in Richmond, Kelechi went on to receive her MPH from Drexel University. As Health Education Program Manager for the Solano Coalition for Better Health, African American Health Disparities Elimination Project, she worked for three years developing, implementing and managing programs aimed towards increasing access to healthcare and reducing health inequities in Solano County. Kelechi spent three years as Manager for the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) and undergraduate career/graduate education advisor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.