Graduate Fellows

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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.


Vicky Gomez, Public Health

Vicky Gomez is a Dr.P.H. candidate in the School of Public Health. She was born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District and received her M.P.H. in Community Health Education from San Francisco State University in 2009. For the last decade, Vicky has worked as a project coordinator and researcher on various cancer-related studies. Her commitment to addressing cancer disparities in the Latino community served as the driving force to return to UC Berkeley for her doctorate degree. Her current research interests include exploring methods to reduce barriers to screening and the community-based development of culturally sensitive cancer interventions. The overall goal of her dissertation research is to determine if digital storytelling is a feasible intervention for increasing colorectal cancer screening intention among Latinos who attend church in Alameda County.

René Espinoza Kissell, Education

René Espinoza Kissell is a Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy specializing in the political economy of urban education, community engagement in school district reform, and the racial politics of educational privatization. Her dissertation examines the race and class politics surrounding public-private partnerships in Oakland’s public schools, focusing on how community stakeholders and policy elites navigate changing district governance through coalition building. A proud product of Milwaukee Public Schools, René received her B.A. in Latin American Studies and Spanish Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her M.A. in Education Policy from UC Berkeley.

Eunice Lee, Anthropology

Eunice Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology; her research focuses on citizenship, migration, urban social movements, and law. During her ISSI fellowship, she will complete a project on urban citizenship and local refugee policy in San Francisco. Her interdisciplinary research draws upon training in anthropology and law to explore how attorneys advance the citizenship claims of refugee families via city-based initiatives. Eunice also helps direct the legal program at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law. She previously worked as a litigator at the Immigrants' Rights Project of the national American Civil Liberties Union and practiced and taught refugee law as the Albert M. Sacks Clinical Teaching and Advocacy Fellow at Harvard Law School. Eunice received her B.A. from Stanford University with honors and distinction and her J.D. from Yale Law School. 

Renee Mack, Social Welfare

Renee Mack is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Welfare specializing in the provision of mental health services within the criminal justice system. Her dissertation uses a mixed-methods approach to understand how legal requirements shape clinical care for individuals with serious mental illness.  Specifically, Renee will analyze the ethical commitments, institutional constraints, and differences in treatment that are perceived and encountered by clinical staff and patients at a state psychiatric hospital. Renee holds a B.A. in Economics-Philosophy from Columbia University, an M.A. in Psychology in Education from Teachers College, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and an M.S.W from U.C. Berkeley. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Renee worked as a research assistant at the New York State Psychiatric Institute; she is currently working on her state licensure in clinical social work while she completes her doctorate.

Ryan Rhadigan, Rhetoric

Ryan Rhadigan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Rhetoric with a concentration in Critical Theory. He has a Master’s degree in American Indian Studies from UCLA. Ryan’s dissertation research historicizes and contextualizes ongoing Native American rhetorical engagements with legal and technoscientific discourses by examining how language-based notions of cultural “worldview” have shaped the conditions of legibility for Native American ontological and epistemological claims and impacted indigenous communities’ collective efforts to challenge, transform, and democratize scientific practices.

Michael Singh, Education

Michael Singh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Education and a member of the Designated Emphasis program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. His work looks at the cultural production of the image of the Latino male mentor in high school after-school programs and the way this image functions within a larger cultural political economy of urban schooling. More specifically his dissertation research is an ethnographic case study of one school district’s Latino male mentorship program and the way the program envisions the problems of Latino boys and the embodied solutions of Latino male mentors. His work brings an intersectional approach to the cultural politics of Latino male mentorship and explores the way the image of the male mentor is implicated in the distribution of educational resources as well as the reproduction of hetero-patriarchy in schools. Michael was born and raised in Woodland, California, near Sacramento.  

Anthony Wright, Medical Anthropology

Anthony Wright is a Ph.D. candidate in Medical Anthropology at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. His research interests include biomedical practice (particularly the fields of oncology and psychiatry); children and childhood; the family and kinship; education and learning; and homelessness and mental illness. His regional interests are the United States and Mexico. His dissertation research focuses on pediatric and adolescent cancer treatment in Oakland, California. He is investigating how various forms of structural violence impinge upon the treatment process, as well as how morally charged discourses of parenthood, childhood, and adolescence structure the experience of treatment. How do specific experiences that take place in the context of cancer treatment precipitate the (re)formation of social identities and relationships across networks of patients, family members, and professionals? He will explore these issues through ethnographic research at Children’s Hospital Oakland and at cancer-related events throughout the Bay Area. 


Esther Cho, Sociology

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, Ethnic Studies

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, Sociology

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 Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Ethnic Studies. In her dissertation, she investigates the critical histories of racialization, space, and indigeneity in the Arctic and how they inform contemporary politics. Jen argues that the geographical imagination of Alaska as oriented to the Pacific and the Arctic facilitated a cultural, legal, and scientific production of the Alaska Native subject as racially ambiguous. This status has shaped the political trajectory of Alaska Native peoples, as well as the material and legal landscapes of Alaska. Jen 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. She is a recipient of the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Fellowship, an awardee of the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, and a Graduate Fellow with the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues.

Melody Tulier, Public Health

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, Public Health

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. 

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