RSP Peer Mentors 2021-2022


    Alexis Adolpho

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    PMP Co-Lead

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Major: Art and Design: Games and Playable Media and CS Minor

    Favorite hobby or thing to do for fun: Some of my favorite hobbies are basketball, video games, and anime.

    Brief Introduction/where did you grow up/what do you value most, etc: 

    Although I was born in Colorado Springs, I am a first generation student and woman of color who grew up in Sacramento, California. I could not stand the weather being extremely hot during the summer, but I enjoy the summer weather in Santa Cruz where it’s not too hot and the ocean breeze feels super nice! I’ve always had an interest in video games because there are unlimited amounts of creativity to look forward to when combining both art and programming to make a masterpiece. I would like to create more games that spread awareness of important social issues because society tends to normalize these issues and are overlooked in today’s society. 


    What does education mean to you?

    My grandparents have always pushed me to pursue a higher education because they believe I will be able to live a more comfortable lifestyle without any financial burden. All my life, I’ve worked hard in my academics to receive the highest grades possible, be able to get into a good school, and achieve my dreams and aspirations. However, after attending my first year of college at UCSC, I realize that education means more than just getting a good grade in a course. What education means to me is to be able to learn, understand, and to be able to apply this new knowledge to strengthen our communities and to be able to create a better place for everyone. 


    Anything else you would like to share with the Renaissance Scholars community and campus-wide community:

    The Renaissance Scholars community is like a second family to me. I would advise students to not be afraid to reach out to the RSP community if they ever need anything. This community deeply cares for their students and will do whatever it takes to support them


  • James Retana

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    PMP Co-Lead

    Pronouns: they/them/theirs

    Major: Film & Digital Media, Latin American & Latinx Studies

    Year: 4th Year

    Favorite hobby or thing to do for fun: Playing on my xbox or switch, OR sitting outside in my rocking chair (:

    Brief Introduction/where did you grow up/what do you value most, etc: I am first-gen, Salvadoreñe, born and raised in Los Angeles. Westlake and Downtown are my hometowns, but I do find myself more at home within myself when I’m in the redwood forest. I am constantly seeking to criticize and unlearn the ways which we inherently support the white supremacist ideologies which are deeply ingrained into the systems and society around us. In turn, I hope to decolonize myself and live as someone who unconditionally supports our Black, Indigenous, queer, and/or undocumented peers. This naturally extends to those in other marginalized communities, however within the context of the U.S. at this time these are the communities which I wish to highlight. 

    What does education mean to you? Though I believe that the value we hold in institutions such as UCSC may be rooted in racism, elitism, and capitalism, I still believe that it is a privilege and blessing to be the first college student in my entire family. My mother loved learning in her youth and was a stellar student. However, circumstances and those around her eventually prohibited her from finishing her education, stopping her at age 16. Education is everything she couldn’t have, and all that she can give to me. It’s because of this that it’s a big deal for me to be here, and I am trying to take advantage of every second I spend here. I am constantly seeking to unlearn lifelong/generational habits and behaviors, for example by prioritizing my boundaries and individuality, however I do look forward to the day that I am able to finally hand her what I consider our degree. 

    Anything else you would like to share with the Renaissance Scholars community and campus-wide community: Working with the community has always been something that I highly value, and I deeply believe that the community knows what its needs are best. In the past, many of our students have asked for ways to give back to the community and for Liz’s workload to be minimized so her ability to assist students could be increased. I am so excited to be in the position that I’m in as the Peer Mentor Program Co-Lead. I worked closely and intensively with our former STARS Student Affairs Specialist, Sandra Ramirez, all throughout the 2020-2021 term to restructure the Peer Mentor Program and bring it back to life. I hope that this initiative will work to better support our students and lead to a higher quality of assistance between RSP and our community members. I will always offer my assistance in any way that I can. I hope that all students feel welcome to reach out, regardless of their affiliation with Renaissance Scholars. 


  • Fernando Martinez

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    CUIP

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

    Major: Cognitive Science B.S. & CS Minor

    Year: 4th Year

    Favorite hobby or thing to do for fun: I like to workout, play soccer/futbol and basketball, play video games on the Switch or Xbox, go out on adventures/hikes and blast latin music.

    Brief Introduction/where did you grow up/what do you value most, etc:

    I’m a Salvadoran first gen student interested in technology and the science behind psychology. I grew up in San Francisco and seeing the drastic changes in the last couple of years has made me realize the difference between those with money/power and those who are constantly being taken advantage of and kicked out of their homes. I’ve grown to value the importance of strengthening and supporting communities instead of using them. I wish to support and strengthen those around me more and more.

    What does education mean to you?

    Being the first college student in my family, education means new opportunities and a privilege. There are tons of countries and places all over the world that look down on education or wish to have the opportunities many take for granted, so everyday becomes a blessing. An expensive opportunity that I hope to one day use to help others get the same opportunities I did and have the availability to take the opportunities I was never granted. I hope to work hard and be able to create funds, programs, and scholarships so that underprivileged students can have the same opportunities as everyone else. Additionally, I hope to end my career as a teacher at a lower ranked high school and help my future students achieve their dreams on a much more personal level.

    Anything else you would like to share with the Renaissance Scholars community and campus-wide community:

    Being a part of this community and supporting it is not only a privilege, but a learning experience. I hope to support this community and stand with anyone who needs someone by their side. 


  • Yasi Elie

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    PMP Mentor

    Pronouns: they/them

    Major: Linguistics

    Year: 4th

    Favorite hobby or thing to do for fun: In my free time I’m usually drawing, sewing, or crocheting. Does running in circles and picking up heavy things count as hobbies? 

    Brief Introduction/where did you grow up/what do you value most, etc: 

    Creative oddball with a passion for science, language, and obscure handcrafts. Before transferring to UCSC, I worked as an independent artist for around a decade, specializing in illustration, costume design, and special effects. Like any artist, I’ve amassed an eclectic collection of day jobs spanning from retail, to food service, hospitality, and administration.

    I was raised in Los Angeles by a cacophony of Iranian Jews, themselves artists and language-obsessed nerds. My folks are based out of NJ these days, but I live here in Santa Cruz with my husband and our collection of Pusheens.


    What does education mean to you?

    Education is about granting every person equal access to all the information they need to be a healthy, empowered member of society. It’s about making sure that every person is fully equipped to navigate both their own individual circumstances, as well the multitude of complex networks that we make up as communities. Education is about agency; the opportunity to make our own choices, while also supporting others in making theirs, without either party infringing on or interfering with the rights of others. In a nutshell, education is about people.

    Anything else you would like to share with the Renaissance Scholars community and campus-wide community:

    Mentorship is extremely important to me, as someone who’s had to navigate most of their life without one. My greatest hope is that by sharing some of my hodge-podge skills and knowledge, I can help others find their own way a little easier.


  • Ignacio "Iggy" Munoz

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    PMP Mentor

    Pronouns: He/Him

    Major: Film and Digital Media

    Year: 4th

    Favorite hobby or thing to do for fun: 

    I really love to write! I’m usually jotting down ideas I have or fleshing out ideas that I’ve had throughout the years so my hard drive is filled with a bunch of short stories and scripts both finished and unfinished. I also really love to watch movies and get really geeky about that most of the time.

    Brief Introduction/where did you grow up/what do you value most, etc:

    I’m just a dorky dude who grew up down in the Imperial Valley in a small town called Calipatria. I love to learn and self improvement is a big deal for me. I’m the type of person who is always open to doing things differently or listening to every possible perspective. To me, open-mindedness is a path towards growth both professionally and personally and I greatly value all the different points of view I learn from both the environments and people that I come across. 

    What does education mean to you?

    Education is one of many paths towards a future. I do not necessarily see it as the only way to be successful, but to those who commit themselves to it I believe that it can be a very fruitful and rewarding experience. For many of us, education is crucial to obtaining the goals we set out to achieve and therefore should be provided with all the help and resources necessary to accomplish said goals. For me personally, it is a challenge that I use to both improve and discover aspects of myself in preparation for the goals I wish to achieve. 


    Anything else you would like to share with the Renaissance Scholars community and campus-wide community:

    I am super stoked to work with y’all and meet so many new people. I take great pleasure in being a part of and fulfilling a role within a community. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this community and family here. Whatever it may be, I will always be here for y’all!


  • Elliot Kumar

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    PMP Mentor

    Pronouns: She/Her

    Major: Cognitive Science and Politics

    Year: 2nd year

    Favorite hobby or thing to do for fun: Dancing, painting, or just hanging with my dog and cat!

    Brief Introduction/where did you grow up/what do you value most, etc: I am a first gen Indian born in Stockton, Ca. Through my experience of moving from the most uneducated city in America to the cultural hub that the city of Santa Cruz is I have shifted many of my values. I value happiness most and value the challenge of spreading that happiness to those around you.

    What does education mean to you? For me education means freedom. Coming from my background the only way to take control of my future was to gain an education so I can support myself and my family. I think an education also means pushing myself to grow infinitely and to constantly be curious. 

    Anything else you would like to share with the Renaissance Scholars community and campus-wide community: I look forward to learning more about you and growing alongside you! If you ever have any questions or concerns or would just like to chat please reach out! I hope you have a wonderful year.

  • Samantha Olivares-Ramirez

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    PMP Mentor

    Pronouns: she/they;ella/elle

    Major: Spanish Studies and Language Studies with a concentration in Mandarin

    Year: 4th year

    Favorite hobby or thing to do for fun: 

    I love listening to music while doing hands-on activities like crocheting and making things for my friends and family. I also love to bake, go thrifting, shop for plants, and play Animal Crossing with my friends.

    Brief Introduction/where did you grow up/what do you value most, etc: 

    I’m a first-gen Mexican-American born and raised in San Jose, California. I’ve witnessed the sacrifices marginalized communities have had to endure in the high-paced, ever-changing environment that is Silicon Valley. Considered to be one of the wealthiest areas in the country, the low-income communities that have built their lives here have been facing increasing prices for years now, many seeing no other option but to leave the area in order to be able to provide for their families. Helping repair the disparity between the elite and the marginal populations in my community is something I’m very passionate about. Educating myself on how to most effectively do so not only within my own local community, but also on a broader global scale is something that I strive to continue doing throughout my life. 

    What does education mean to you? 

    Education is everything for myself and my family. This doesn’t mean, however, that education has to come in the form of elitist, profit-making institutions, education is anything where people can learn and benefit from new information which they can put in practice in their lives and spread amongst others. To me education is not held within the confines of a lecture hall, textbook, or school board policy, it spreads far and wide beyond what we have been taught to consider as a “proper” education. My parents have always told me that education is the most valuable thing that they could give me, and with that in mind I have made the most of the opportunities I’ve been privileged enough to have. In an effort to make the transition into this world of elitist education easier for those who don’t fit the target demographic, I feel very passionate about helping those who choose this educational path in any way possible to skew the odds to their favor. 

    Anything else you would like to share with the Renaissance Scholars community and campus-wide community: 

    I’m so excited and honored to be a part of this amazing community that has done so much to help students throughout the years. I can’t wait to get to know more of you and get together as a community as much as we can this year!