2018-2019 Diversity Fellows

Alyssa Hernandez

I am the proud daughter of Mexican parents and grew up in the city of Camarillo, CA. Even though I had actually never been on a plane until I was in high school, I decided to venture to the East Coast for college. I then spent four years at Cornell University where I received a degree in Natural Resources and Applied Ecology. After graduation, I accepted an AmeriCorps position in Northern California that focused on science outreach. Although I loved teaching the public about science, I missed doing research and eventually worked for another three years in various research positions at the University of California, Berkeley. It was my time at UC Berkeley that reinforced my love for research and pushed me to seek a graduate degree. I am now pursuing my PhD in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. I am interested in biomechanics and using insects as models for understanding adaptive functional morphologies related to attachment. When I am not working, one of my favorite activities is hiking with my partner and our dog.

Why I Am a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

Alyssa Hernandez

Alyssa Hernandez

I have been in an academic setting for the past ten years, and I have been lucky enough to participate in multiple research, outreach and teaching opportunities. While these professional experiences have been helpful, it is actually my personal experiences in academia as a LGBT woman of Mexican American descent that drive me to pursue the responsibilities of the Diversity and Inclusion Fellow position. Since my first year at Harvard, I have been able to attend a variety of events aimed at tackling issues for different underrepresented groups, such as women in the sciences, minorities in the Ivy League, and LGBTQ graduate students. This motivated me to join the board of the Harvard chapter of SACNAS, which represents Chicano and Native American students in STEM fields. I have also served as a graduate mentor for the Harvard’s WiSTEM program, which supports undergraduate women interested in STEM careers. While attending various events, I had the opportunity to speak with professionals and fellow graduate students who could truly empathize with the “imposter syndrome” that has plagued me since my first day as an undergraduate. By interacting with others who shared similar circumstances and stories, I realized that my unique background afforded me the chance to assist other individuals who may be experiencing the very same crises of confidence.


Freddy Valencia

Upon immigrating to the United States from Mexico, my parents sought out a predominantly Latinx community, Santa Ana, CA, where I was born and raised. As the first in my family to pursue a bachelor’s degree, I did not move too far from home for my undergraduate studies. While attending Pitzer College, in Claremont, CA, I developed a strong interest in the natural sciences and participated in academic programs including the McNair Scholars Program and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Participating in these programs catalyzed my desire to pursue graduate studies and ultimately a career in higher education. Currently, I am a fifth-year PhD student in the Chemical Biology Program, studying chromatin regulation and epigenetics in the lab of Cigall Kadoch, PhD. Outside of lab, I enjoy participating as a mentor for outreach programs at Harvard, as well as playing pick-up soccer.

Why I am a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

Freddy Valencia

Freddy Valencia

Informed by my identity as a first-generation college student and son of Mexican immigrants, I am dedicated to advocating for issues of diversity and equity in higher education. Almost immediately after starting graduate school, I found a strong sense of community and support with members of the W.E.B. Du Bois Society situated on Harvard’s Cambridge campus. Since starting my research in lab on the Longwood Medical Campus, I have found a similar community through the Minority Biomedical Scientists of Harvard student organization. Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of serving as a leader for MBSH through which the group has aimed to foster community among underrepresented students at Harvard. As a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow I hope to work toward strengthening the network between underrepresented student groups to empower one another, and to help foster a community of unity and acceptance among students and the administration.


Meet the Diversity & Inclusion Fellows

Any GSAS student who is currently a G-2 or above, in good standing, and registered in the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for the 2018-2019 academic year is eligible to apply for one of these new positions. This year, GSAS is adding a third Diversity and Inclusion Fellow who will...Read more