Transfer Student Scholar Success

Oscar Duran (Palomar Community College)

Major: Social Science, Minor: Counseling & Social Change

Oscar Duran is a first-generation Chicano transfer student and gradudated May 2018 in Social Science. His areas of study included an emphasis in Education, and a minor in Counseling & Social Change. His academic and personal experiences as a non-traditional transfer student guided his research interests in exploring the trajectory and transition of first generation Latino men from the community college into a four-year institution. In particular, he is interested in the role that socio-cultural identities and experiences impacting their journey through higher education.

Over the past two years, Oscar participated in the Aztec Research Fellowship Program under the College of Education, which exposed him to research opportunities on and off campus. Through this fellowship, he serves as a Research Assistant with the Community College Equity Assessment Lab, a research and practice center focused on supporting community colleges increase the success of students of color. In fall 2017, Oscar was selected as a fellow for the 2017-2018 NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program, a national undergraduate professional development program for students interested in a career in student affairs.

Oscar was also recently awarded the prestigious California State University Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholarship, which enabled him to participate in a summer research internship opportunity in the University of Texas at Austin. During this two-month internship, he collaborated on a research project with the Division of Diversity & College Engagement through Project M.A.L.E.S, Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success. The study focused on promising practices to support Latino transfer student access, retention, and success in community colleges. Findings from this study were presented at the 2018 annual convening for the American Educational Research Association in New York City. At San Diego State University, Oscar was the Vice President of the Latin American Studies Student Organization; a Peer Adviser & Community College Outreach Coordinator for the Counseling & Social Change minor; and an EOP SOAR Mentor for transfer students. Oscar also served three years as a tutor for the Migrant Program through the San Diego County Office of Education, working with K-12 English Language Development (ELD) students and their families in various school districts within the community. As an emerging scholar-practitioner, Oscar approaches his work with an asset-based and equity-minded lens. He intends to pursue a career as a community college counselor, working as an advocate for underrepresented and marginalized students. Oscar is now a first year master’s student at CSU Long Beach in Counseling.

Kiedra Taylor

Kiedra Taylor is a first-year graduate student in the College of Arts and Letters at San Diego State University (SDSU) where she is studying English literature with an emphasis in children’s literature. As co-founder of the Transfer Student Outreach Alliance (TSOA) Student Organization, she helps to foster transfer student success through mentorship and service leadership. Her years of experience as a supplemental instruction (SI) tutor at San Diego City College and as a Rhetoric and Writing Fellow at SDSU prepared Kiedra for her work as a Graduate Teaching Associate in both the English and Rhetoric departments as a Master’s student at SDSU. An active member of the English Graduate Student Organization, Kiedra researches how marginal identities manifest in various literatures. She plans to go on to obtain a Ph.D. in English in hopes of becoming a community college and/or university professor who will help students to recognize themselves in various literatures and take what they learn back to their own communities.

Erika Meza (Southwestern College Alumna)

Graduate Student, M.S. in Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy

Erika Meza is first generation Mexican-American immigrant and the first in her family to go to college and to attend graduate school. Growing up in Mexico, she was heavily impacted by transgenerational patterns of domestic violence, sexual violence, and substance abuse in her family, which led her to pursue a career in counseling to help Latinx families and individuals who have endured similar experiences of trauma. As an undergrad, Erika majored in Psychology and minored in Counseling and Social Change and she graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors. Furthermore, she served as the President for PsyMORE, the Vice President for the College of Education Student Council, Psi Chi, and Psi Beta, the Campus Representative for the Counseling and Social Change Club (CSCC), a Peer Mentor for PsyMORE, and a Peer Advisor for the minor in Counseling and Social Change. She was awarded Quest for the Best, a Vice Presidential Award at SDSU during her senior year, and she received the Most Inspirational Award at the Psychology Recognition Ceremony. As a graduate student, Erika now serves as the Secretary and Campus Representative for the Marriage and Family Therapy Association, and she continues her involvement as a Peer Mentor and a Peer Advisor, as well as a Graduate Liaison for the CSCC. She has been volunteering with Generate Hope, a non-profit organization that aims to empower sex trafficking survivors, for over a year now, and she has also volunteered with Volunteers of America co-facilitating a women’s support group who are overcoming substance abuse. She currently works as a Research Assistant examining previously incarnated populations, and she plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in Education upon completing her master’s degree and becoming a licensed therapist.

Savanna Tierney, M.A. (San Diego Mesa College alumna)

Clinical Psychology PhD Student, University of Houston

Savanna Tierney is the first in her family to attend college. Following her service in the U.S. Navy, she attended San Diego Mesa College where she became a Bridges to Baccalaureate Scholar working with the Center for Healthy Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease Research. While at SDSU, Savanna was fortunate to be accepted to the Minority Biomedical Research Support program which provided National Institutes of Health funding to pursue research examining the cognitive deficits associated with various neurodegenerative diseases. Currently, Savanna is a third-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Houston with a focus on Neuropsychology. As a research assistant, she has published 4-first author publications reflecting a common theme of investigating specific effects of aging and neurodegeneration on cognition and everyday functioning. Savanna has worked alongside a number of amazing mentors in the Houston Medical Center, conducting neuropsychological assessment of acute brain injury patients at The Institute for Research and Rehabilitation (TIRR), Veterans with sustained spinal cord injury at the Houston VA, as well as those with suspected epilepsy at the VA’s long-term monitoring unit. On campus, Savanna has served as the representative of the Association of Neuropsychology Students in Training (ANST) for the Houston Division. In the coming year she is looking forward to working as a Graduate Clinician at the Houston Federal Detention Center and as a Neuropsychology Extern at the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center evaluating the cognitive and functional impacts of various cancer treatments among a diverse patient population.