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30 Under 30

This article was first published on August 27, 2019 by City News Group.

by Daniel Peeden on 2019-08-27

Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes continues the legacy of former Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter by hosting the 3rd Annual 30 Under 30 event. The goal of the 30 Under 30 Award Ceremony & Art Showcase is to honor the accomplishments of young adults 30 or younger who live or work in the 47th Assembly District. In addition to this year’s award, former Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter will be joining with Assemblymember Reyes to honor a past 30 Under 30 recipient with the Inaugural Wilmer Amina Carter Award for Continued Service.

“The 30 Under 30 event is very special for the 47th Assembly District. This event honors young adults in our district who continue to break down barriers for themselves and others,” said Assemblymember Reyes. “It is an honor to recognize such service driven young adults who work hard every day to give back to their community, whether it is through, entrepreneurship or community activism or the arts. Congratulations to this year’s 30 Under 30 honorees.”

Over 100 nominations were received. “The process to select the final 30 was difficult because there were so many extremely well qualified nominees that reflect the spirit and capabilities of the communities of the 47th Assembly District,” said Assemblymember Reyes.

30 Under 30 Awardees:

John Hernández:

John Hernandez graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Civil Engineering. Since graduation, he has become a licensed civil engineer, licensed land surveyor, certified storm water specialist, and a licensed remote aircraft pilot. John is the future leader and next generation of Hernandez, Kroone & Associates, a civil engineering and land surveying firm which has been located in San Bernardino for more than 30 years. In addition to being a valuable asset at Hernandez, Kroone & Associates, John has made significant contributions to the community. 

Ariana Lamb:

Ariana Lamb is the Site Coordinator for San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services, working with high-risk clients and their families. After spending much of her early career focused on suicide intervention and education, Ariana began focusing on youth intervention for a number of trauma-related problems such as sexual assault, bullying, suicidal ideations and attempts.

During the course of her work with agencies like the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, St. Francis Hospital, and Southern California Crossroads, Ariana began cultivating an understanding of the problem young men and women encounter during this transitional age in life: a lack of young, non-judgmental, professionals who can connect youth with proper services and education. Ariana has used her passion for helping young adults to study topics such as trauma and its relation to negative emotions, behaviors and suicidal tendencies.

Erika Gomez:

Erika Gomez is an impactful leader who is committed to causes that enhance the welfare of children and their families. Currently, she is the Director of Programs for the region’s first Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Empire serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Erika plays a critical role in connecting underserved youth with volunteer mentors in our community. As the Director of programs, Erika has created systems to help with the 16-20% growth that the agency experiences every year.

Erika currently holds a Bachelors of Art in Psychology from the University of California Riverside. Being the first in her family to graduate college has fueled her passion to bring systematic change that will help break barriers for children facing adversity. In her free time, Erika is a mentor in the program and has been matched with her Little Nataya for almost four years. She is a dog mom, cross fitter, traveler and values spending time with her family and friends.

Maria Barragan:

María Barragan is the coordinator at the Undocumented Student Success Center at California State University, San Bernardino. She is a Latinx woman and a formerly undocumented individual. She has been an active participant in the current and ongoing immigrant rights movement. As the coordinator at the USSC, María continues her advocacy efforts for her students in order to ensure they receive all the information and resources available as well as the support and encouragement they need. María’s goals are to bring awareness about all the different identities that intersect with the undocumented status.  

Mary Hebert:

Mary Hebert is the first Outpatient Medical Social Worker overseeing the needs of over 15 specialty clinics at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Hebert received her Master’s Degree from California State University Northridge in 2016 with a focus in urban families and communities. She started working for ARMC in January 2017 where she took to the role of Social Services Practitioner immediately. She stepped into a position never held before and stepped up to the challenge. She worked with administration to fundraise the creation of ARMC’s first Cancer Care Packages. The contents of each Cancer Care Package were strategically added to combat the negative symptoms of cancer treatment. Items such as beanies, socks, journals, Chap Stick, hypoallergenic lotion, numbing mouthwash and more are included in each tote. To date over a hundred chemo therapy receiving patients at ARMC have received these Cancer Care packages.

Jessica Baker:

Jessica Akane Baker is the Youth Program Coordinator for Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance and a Community Health Worker at Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc. They are an incoming graduate student at UCLA’s Master’s of Education and Teacher Credential program; she intends to become a public school, English and/or Ethnic Studies teacher after their graduate program. Their work with LGBTQ+ youth in San Bernardino and Riverside counties has solidified their belief that a culturally relevant pedagogy is necessary to an empowering and supportive school environment — “culturally relevant” meaning students are not only learning about their communities in the classroom, but are directly connected to people working within their communities. It’s never too soon for youth to work within their communities. They are grateful to have been mentored and supported by Benita Ramsey, Gustavo Hurtado, Jacqueline Jones, Angie Balderas, and Abigail Rosales-Medina and many more.

Jessica Bruny:

Over the course of her young adult career, Jessica has developed a compassionate, professional background in human development that began at the age of 18. She began her career tutoring for local families in the Inland Empire communities during high school. While continuing her educational dreams she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the prestigious California State University, San Bernardino. After graduating, she impacted youth as a Transitional Kindergarten Teacher. Currently, she holds the title of Program Director for the non-profit organization Music Changing Lives (MCL). This organization addresses the increasing issues leading to high drop-out rates by providing access to music and art after-school programs in the San Bernardino & Riverside Counties. She wishes to inspire individuals by giving back to the community where she was born. This current position has allowed her to collaborate with like-minded individuals to develop solutions targeting our youth today such as financial literacy, civic engagement, empowerment to policy, and encouraging a love for the arts. In her leisure time, Jessica is working to establish solutions for individuals lacking self-development. Her goal is to bring unity within each community and discover leaders who will bring change that they would like to see.

Alfredo Jesus Barcenas:

Alfredo Jesus Barcenas serves as the Policies and Legislative Specialist for the Associated Students, Inc. at Cal State San Bernardino. He is responsible for the corporation’s legislative affairs portfolio that includes policy analysis, civic engagement, internal and external affairs. During his collegiate career, Barcenas served as the Vice President of University Affairs for the California State Student Association and President for the Associated Students, Inc. at CSUSB where he focused on higher education issues related to social justice, equity and affordability. In 2019, Alfredo was named the Outstanding Employee within the Division of Student Affairs at CSUSB for his work in ASI and in 2015 was named Undergraduate Student of the Year by the Association for Student Conduct Administration for projects on Title IX and the national “Its On Us” campaign. Barcenas now serves as Chair of the CSUSB Staff Council, is a member of the Latino Alumni Chapter Board of Directors, and is an alumnus of the Sidley Austin LLP Pre-Law Program and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. As a first-generation Latino, he holds a B.A. in Political Science from CSUSB and will be a Masters Candidate in the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside beginning Fall 2019.

Vanessa Torquato:

Vanessa Torquato is the Finance Manager at Chaffey FCU.  Her career in credit unions began at the age of 17 as an Intern for San Bernardino School Employees FCU.  There she caught the “People Helping People” bug.  Over the last nine years she has made it her mission to help her community by living the credit union philosophy both personally and professionally.

Vanessa earned her Bachelor’s degree in Finance from California State University, San Bernardino in March of 2018.  While both working and studying as a full-time student at CSUSB, she was also attending Western CUNA Management School.  She graduated, with the Pi Class in July of 2018, where she was the youngest student in her class earning the nickname “Baby Pi.” She is also passionate about serving and mentoring her community’s under-privileged girls. Growing up in San Bernardino, she understands how hard it can be to find the right resources or guidance.  She engages in the community by volunteering the last three years with Women United of Arrowhead United Way and serving as the Treasurer and Chair of the Financial Stability Committee. In her free time, Vanessa enjoys finding adventures through traveling and immersing herself in the world’s cultures.

Royal Johnson:

Royal Johnson and her mother started her business after her father was murdered in November of 2018 in San Bernardino County. Royal and her family make handmade gummy bear soap as a way to cope, practice self-care, and give back. Royal’s Soap represents mending broken hearts from tragedy through uniting with children alike to provide comfort, hope and healing. No words spoken could help Royal grasp the fact that a very important part of her life would never return. Royal once received a teddy bear from her school librarian that contained a message. That message stated that no matter what happens, a soft, fluffy friend would be there for her to hold, cuddle, cry, and most importantly, would not leave her side. For every two soaps sold, a teddy bear is donated to a child affected by gun violence. Royal plans to continue her efforts on the fight against gun violence by starting a nonprofit that will build a support system and give children a platform to have their voices heard. You can follow Royal’s Soap on Instagram @royals_soap.

Levi Deatherage:14

Levi Deatherage is a formerly homeless youth who grew up in the Inland Empire. He was put on the streets at 15 and found himself in a youth shelter run by the Family Assistance Program, known as Our House, where he stayed off and on until he was 18. While still in the shelter, Levi began traveling to Sacramento to advocate and work with elected officials on policies to benefit Homeless and Runaway Youth with the California Coalition for Youth. Since then, Levi was elected as the Youth Advisory Board Chair for CCY and was recently re-elected to the same position this past April. While he enjoys his time in Sacramento, the true joy of Levi’s work is working as the Outreach Coordinator for the Family Assistance Program which allows him to be a role model for the young people who are now in the same position and program that saved Levi’s life. At 22, Levi is beyond content with all the opportunities he has been given. However, he is most grateful to the Family Assistance Program for taking a chance on a young man others did not believe in.

Mahbuba Hammad:

Dr. Mahbuba Hammad grew up in the Inland Empire and serves under many capacities as instructor and director of multiple projects and initiatives in public educational and non-profit organizations. As an educator, she has integrated contemporary issues of Arab culture, such as healthcare, environment, human rights, media, and film into the classroom. She has extensive experience in grant development, instruction, teacher training, assessment, and program administration and has worked with students in K-16. She was recently named by the International Literacy Association (2019) as one of 30 Under 30 literacy leaders and visionaries creating positive change in the global literacy landscape. Dr. Hammad is actively involved in community-based programs that focus on educational, environmental, health, social and interfaith issues as part of her work with two non-profit organizations in the state: Sahaba Initiative in San Bernardino and Human Assistance and Development International in Culver City. As an Arab Latina, Dr. Hammad is fluent in four languages: Arabic, Spanish, English, and French. She holds interdisciplinary research interests, and her work is guided by her desire to close the gaps in the lack of positive narratives representing the Latino, Arab, and Muslim communities.

Felicia Garcia:

Felicia dedicates the majority of her time serving the community. Her passion is to find and support sustainable solutions for underprivileged youth and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.  

Felicia graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in International Relations with a concentration in human rights from San Francisco State University.  Felicia wrote her thesis paper on “the ‘Nordic Model’ and its Effects on Sex Trafficking.” Her philanthropy efforts began abroad when she took a mission trip to Moshi, Tanzania where she served at an orphanage and a home for survivors of sex trafficking.  In August of 2018, Felicia authored a published article on recent trends in online trafficking. She is a strong advocate for human rights and attended congressional hearings and briefings issues in the US and Europe.  Felicia is the Child Care Facilitator at the shelter.  Felicia created a comprehensive children’s program called “Bright Minds” where the children will learn academics and social skills.

Prince Ogidikpe:

Prince Ogidikpe is a recent graduate of California State University San Bernardino earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Psychology and a minor in Communication Studies. Prince moved to the United States from Nigeria in 2010. He is a native of Bayelsa State in Nigeria. Prince was also a member of the Student African American Brotherhood, University Honors Program, Black Student Union, and the award-winning Model United Nations Program. His new goal is to attend law school one day.

Mario Vasquez:

Mario Vasquez is a native of Imperial Valley in Southern California. Mario worked in education and was a labor journalist prior to joining the 14,000 member strong Teamsters Local 1932 of San Bernardino in 2017. Since then, Mario has worked to elevate the voices of working people fighting to raise standards across the Inland Empire. More recently, he has helped organize a campaign for good jobs and clean air in communities affected by the San Bernardino International Airport.

Manny Sandoval:

Manny Sandoval is a public relations associate for San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and a freelance writer for the Inland Empire Community News. Sandoval holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, from California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) and an Associate of Arts Degree in Radio Broadcasting from San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC).

In 2019, Sandoval participated in the Black and Brown Conference, Communication Studies Symposium, served as professor for a day at CSUSB, and visited Lankershim Elementary as guest speaker during career week. Sandoval currently serves on the Communication Alumni Council at CSUSB; the Radio, Television, & Film Advisory Board at SBVC; and on California State Assemblymember Eloise Reyes’ Education Committee where he is generating a plan to teach high school students about financial literacy, in hopes of decreasing poverty in San Bernardino and beyond.

Fernando Vazquez:

Fernando Xavier Vazquez is an immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico whose constant thirst for knowledge has become his compass into finding his way into the Stanford University class of 2023. His efforts have earned him the titles of the Valedictorian of Colton High School, Gates Scholar, and proud community member of Colton. Fernando has shown his desire to become the pillar of the 47th district by taking part in the Dinner Hour Ministry at the Immaculate Conception Church feeding those in need, by interning at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center shadowing nurses and doctors in an attempt to save any life possible with the knowledge he possesses, and by interning for Assemblymember Eloise Reyes where he learned the true power of a confident public speaker and wishes to not only mimic, but become the best possible leader he can be.

In Stanford, Fernando desires to pursue Engineering with a hidden interest in attending Law School to become a Patent Lawyer with genuine understanding about the structure of different technological innovations. Although Fernando couldn’t be here tonight, he wishes for everyone to understand the value of education and the opportunity it possesses to allow someone to ascend new heights and explore new depths.

Wesley Kohar:

Wesley Kohar has been a Registered Nurse at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for eight years. In the past four years he has worked as a Nurse Case Manager. Wesley collaborates with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals for a safe and effective plan of care.  At the same time, he also reviews the utilization of hospital resources to increase efficiency in delivery of quality health care services.  He also arranges any post-hospitalization needs such as medical equipment and outpatient rehabilitation to promote patients’ wellness and autonomy.

Wesley is driven by an unrelenting quest of a patient-driven focus and excellent patient experience, and considers it an absolute privilege to continue serving the community of San Bernardino.

Sophia Castillo:

Sophia began getting involved in the community 4 years ago. Alongside her brother, she helped put grocery boxes together during thanksgiving for families in the Coachella Valley through a project called Jornalero. Since then she went on to volunteer doing cleanups in San Bernardino with We are the Change San Bernardino, where she brings awareness for littering and eventually empowered classmates to hold their own cleanup. During 2018 campaign season, she phone banked for Ana Gonzalez. She participated in Poetry is Power and published her first poem. She is currently helping her mother with the San Bernardino Food Festival.

During her time at Ruth Grimes Elementary, she was elected and served as the Vice President and President of the Associated Student Body. For the 2019 leadership project, she and her classmates collected and donated over 200 teddy bears to the Rialto Police Department to give out to kids in need. She helped to fundraise with proceeds going towards building wells in Africa, so that people could have clean drinking water. She is undecided on what she will do in the future, but one thing she knows for sure is that she will always be involved in her community.

Miguel Limon:

Mr. Limon is a young, smart, positive, talented, funny, hardworking, uplifting, humble, dancer, choreographer and teacher who dedicates his life to teach children to dance. He spends most of his time to help and teach children to be their better version of themselves. Mr. Limon gives everything and does everything for the children in his classes. He is a friend to everyone and always has time to share with those who need his support. Mr. Limon is as talented as a teacher and as he is a dancer. He pours his heart into every performance, every interaction, and every moment of his life. The impact that he has on those around him is truly inspiring.

Adán Chávez:

Mr. Chávez is originally from Moreno Valley, California and received his degrees in Political Science and Spanish Literature from the University of California, San Diego. As the Regional Census Campaign Manager, Adán brings his background in advocacy, issue-based campaigns, and civic engagement, to lead the “Hagase Contar” Make Census 2020 Count campaign in the Inland Empire for the NALEO Educational Fund. He works with senior leadership, elected officials, and non-profit executives to ensure a full and accurate count of Latinos, notably very young Latino children ages 0-5, across Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Prior to the NALEO Educational Fund, he supported the development and implementation of strategies to advance the statewide public policy agenda for the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. He is an alum of the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship and the UCLA Law Fellows Program and currently a Young People 4 Fellow.

As the proud son and grandson of Mexican immigrants and a Bracero guest worker, Adán exemplifies the immeasurable positive impact that immigration has had in our region.

David Friedman:

David Friedman has been contributing to the San Bernardino community long before opening Viva La Boba. A recent Entrepreneur of the Year Nominee, David has been consistently committed to positively impacting the community through art and small business. His passion is unmatched!

Emily Miranda:

Emily Miranda is an Academic Mentor to youth at Akoma Unity Center, Non-Profit Organization in San Bernardino West. She was born in Pomona and raised in the Inland Empire by her migrant parents and grandmother from Mexico. She joined Akoma in the summer of 2018 and immediately felt at home with this space that is committed to nurturing and caring for Black and Brown youth, when there are very few places that do so. She has also been a volunteer with the Inland Empire-Immigrant Youth collective since 2016 and has served on the board for the past year. She has an Associate’s Degree in Sociology and Social Studies from Chaffey College and recently earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Cal State, Los Angeles.

Mariana Lopez:

Mariana Lopez is part of the solution to increasing college-attainment rates in the Inland Empire, primarily among Spanish-speaking families. As a representative of the San Bernardino Community College District, she is the lead coordinator of a new binational partnership between SBCCD and the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino. Mariana provides them personalized free information, and organizes community workshops and conferences on all things education through the “Ventanilla de Orientacion Educativa” housed at the consulate. In just one year, Mariana has empowered about 8,000 students and families throughout San Bernardino and Riverside counties to reach their educational goals.

Prior to joining SBCCD, Mariana worked with Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice and volunteered at St. John’s Catholic Church, supporting a weekly food pantry program. She also volunteered with the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, where she mobilized local residents in support of clean air and green neighborhood initiatives. She built a reputation for collecting more than twice the number of voter signatures than volunteers were asked to obtain. At 24-years-old, Mariana’s civic impact shows that age is not factor in leadership potential.

Deseree Del Real:

This young woman has recently lived through an unforeseen tragedy. Deseree was a mother of one, age 6, a loving step mother to 3 children ages 12, and two 8-year-old twin boys, pregnant with her second child and just married to her husband, as he started a career with the Ironworkers Local 433. Their new baby, Ezekiel was welcomed into this world and the future looked bright. Now some of us may have had either family members or friends that have dealt with mental illness, it can be a silent disease at times, either way when it hits it causes severe sorrow and for a young newly married, mother of 2, Deseree’s foundation just took a major hit. No words can describe all the sorrow and mixed emotions that Deseree then took on. From a mother having to explain to children and also display strength to keep them comforted with security. The list of responsibilities just doubled for this young woman along with coping with the loss of her husband, her love, her protector, her partner, her friend. Over the months Deseree leaned on her Father in heaven and creator for direction and strength and has found the purpose to move forward in life, in the community, and be a light for others. Deseree has also volunteered her time as an assistant coach for North Rialto Little League.

Marisol Garcia:

Marisol Garcia began as a probationary Explorer in May of 2016. Since Mary joined the post, we have watched her grow and develop into a hardworking leader, whom the post looks to for advice and direction. Mary dedicates her time to not only giving back to the community of Fontana but to her fellow Explorers. Mary currently holds the rank of Lieutenant. Mary is tasked with running the day to day operations making sure all new explorers are trained and assigned to explorer mentors. She also oversees the handling all of the administrative paperwork that comes with a new Explorer joining the post. Mary is a member of the Color Guard who is often tasked with presenting colors at many city functions. Mary also dedicates her Thursday afternoons to mentoring explorers with everything from homework to Friday nights and Saturdays to assisting the Jr. Flip program, as well as other ROP programs hosted by schools in surrounding cities. Over the past year, Mary volunteered 758 hours of community service. Because of Mary’s dedication to this post and her dedication to serving her community, she was selected as the 2018 Explorer of the Year. 

Abraham Valles:

Officer Abraham Valles joined the Fontana Police Department three years ago at the age of 26. During Officer Valles’ three years serving the community of Fontana, he always strives to provide the citizens of the city with the highest quality of service. On August 26, 2018, officers responded to the 17800 block of Vine for a report of an overdose. Upon arrival, Officer Valles found the 18-year-old subject sitting in a vehicle unresponsive and not breathing. Officer Valles arrested 28 different suspects for various types of crimes, such as possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a firearm, and confiscation of firearms. Officer Valles was awarded the Life-Saving Award, Fontana Police Department Employee of the Month September 2018, Fontana Police Department Employee of the Month November 2018, and the Fontana Police Department Employee of the Year 2018.

Miguel Rivera:

Miguel has been born and raised in Muscoy California, is proud to be from the Inland Empire. He is involved in providing a safe space with LGBTQ rights with the help of organizations like ICUC and Sierra club. He is launching a queer youth collective, the first of its kind in the community. Besides representing and fighting for queer rights he believes in working for better air quality, green jobs, and, a better environment for all. Miguel is an active member for the Steering committee to reduce air pollution from AB 617, representing Muscoy. He is an active leader with the Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign towards solutions in his communities.

Marc Galvan:

Marc Galvan graduated from Eisenhower High School with honors in May 2019. In his junior year he was in the Public Safety Internship Academy located at the San Bernardino Sheriff Academy. In this internship Academy he learned discipline and sheriffs/police cadences. After he graduated from the Public Safety Internship Academy, he applied to be a Student Utilities Commissioner in the City of Rialto. Marc is currently serving as a Student Utilities Commissioner in the City of Rialto and continues to serve his community in this capacity.

Wilmer Amina Carter Award

Dr. Angie Denisse Otiniano Verissimo:

Dr. Verissimo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Science at CSUSB. She is also one of the co-chairs and founders of Women of Color in Academia at CSUSB, whose primary mission is to converge teaching, research, and social action. She was a 30 Under 30 Awardee in 2008 presented by the Honorable Wilmer Amina Carter. She earned her PhD and MPH at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA funded by the National Institutes of Health. Her research examines how discrimination and other social determinants of health contribute to health disparities, particularly among Latinx. She has published her research in the American Journal of Public Health and coauthored a chapter in “The Cost of Racism for People of Color: Contextualizing Experiences of Discrimination” published through the American Psychological Association. Dr. Verissimo’s work also considers the health and social advantages of engaging community members in research and intervention processes, such as through the Promotor Model. Dr. Verissimo was born in Lima, Peru and grew up in Muscoy and Rialto. She currently resides in Ontario with her husband Mr. Carlos Verissimo and their three children, Micaela, Mateo and Maceo.

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