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  • Jose Lumbreras

    Jose Lumbreras

    Founder of Triton Underground Scholars - UCSD

    Jose continues to be involved on anti-carceral projects and documenting how people continue to resist and create better spaces for people that experience incarceration despite the atrocious conditions that the carceral regime creates. Check out his interdisciplinary and collaborative mapping project with his colleague.

  • Aiden Tojino

    Aiden Tojino

    Student Retention Coordinator

    Major: Sociology: Literature/Writing

    Aidan Tojino is a San Diego native. As a student retention coordinator, he is committed to building and strengthening support systems for system impacted and formerly incarcerated students, to not only get people into college, but to keep them here. Aidan likes hot sauce, cold udon noodles and tacos de pescado

  • Melanie Hernandez

    Melanie Hernandez

    Second-Year Transfer (Senior)/Political Science


    Decided on adding a minor my senior year, doing the UCDC program, and joining Triton Underground Scholars and being the treasurer.

    Being Part of TUS

    I am part of the Triton Underground Scholars because I believe in their mission to support formerly incarcerated and system impacted students. The work TUS is doing is helping increase visibility and presence of a group of students that are at time in the margins or do no exist in conversations regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. TUS is a reminder that we, formerly incarcerated and system impacted students, are here on-campus and are doing excellent work.

    Fun Fact

    A fun fact about me is that I like to work out; it is my safe space.

  • Jennifer Gomez

    Jennifer Gomez

    Senior/Political Science - Race, Ethnicity & Politics


    In addition to working with USI at UCSD, I am also President of the Political Science Student Association which allows me to remain active in my area of focus and help me support my fellow students. Outside of UCSD, I have been a Rising Scholars Mentor since the inception of the program at Southwestern College in Fall of 2020. As a mentor I provide guidance and support for formerly incarcerated and/or justice impacted students at Southwestern College that are working on their associates degrees, as well as currently incarcerated students serving terms at Donovan State Prison who are working on their degrees as well. I also volunteer as a program assistant at Sharia's Closet non-profit organization. Sharia's Closet provides new and gently-used clothing to individuals and families in crisis or suffering hardship. Each organization I participate in provides something that my education cannot: Experience, the experience of those priceless moments you feel when you give yourself to helping others. I wouldn't give any of those moments away and I believe they are just as valuable as my education.

    Career Goal

    I want to work in policy and government or health program planning and development. I'd like to help develop programs that aim to "rehabilitate" or "reintegrate" formerly incarcerated and system impacted folx back into society.

    Being Part of USI

    USI is important for many reasons but I am grateful to USI for providing a safe space for students like myself who feel like they don't fit in with the typical cohort of UCSD students. As a returning student after a 20 year hiatus due to alcohol and drug abuse, coming back to college is an exciting thing but also a little intimidating. I mean I'm twice the age as most students in my classes. But USI shows me that's ok. I am so impressed by our grad students and all the undergrads that are out there showing the world that it's possible to do and get what you want if you never give up and just put your mind to it! It's that type of community and support that helps me succeed. We have eachothers backs in a way that people who haven't suffered like we have could understand. Keeps me motivated, grateful and grounded.

  • Alessandra Torres-Rojas

    Alessandra Torres-Rojas

    Junior/Global Health Major & Social Issues in Healthcare Minor


    My first accomplishment was getting accepted and attending UCSD to begin with. As a first generation college student, this is something that I will always pride myself in. In my time here, I have been involved in several orgs such as Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI), Underground Scholars Initiative (USI), and GlamourGals, among others. GlamourGals, for example, is an org that strives to combat senior depression by providing companionship, manicures, and makeovers to folks in senior homes. I built so many connections with the community I interacted with and hope to return to our in-person events soon! SAMI has allowed me to educate myself, and others, on issues surrounding the prison industrial complex through reading, research, presentations, and conversations with different folks. In addition to my org involvement, I participated in Health Frontiers in Tijuana (HFiT) which is a program where students volunteer at an absolutely free medical clinic in Tijuana to serve the population. Anyone is welcome to come in for a consultation, treatment, prescription, or any other needs they may have. Through this experience, I was also able to connect with folks I never would’ve imagined. Those who came into the clinic were always in such high spirits when speaking and interacting with students. All in all, it was an extremely rewarding experience that I will be participating in again soon!

    Career Goal

     My career goal is to become a physician assistant. I want to pursue this path because I want to give back to the community I grew up in. With so many cases of intentional medical neglect, institutional racism, and unevenly distributed resources among marginalized communities, I want to be the positive change for my people. Having grown up between National City and City Heights, I have seen and experienced the medical injustices first hand. We need healthcare providers that can relate to their patients, overcome language barriers, and genuinely cares about their community - that’s what I plan to do. 

    Being Part of USI

    USI has become a community much like family for me on campus. It’s difficult to try to fit in to an unfamiliar environment and USI has provided me with the support system that I need to be successful in my college career and beyond. Before finding out about USI, I felt misunderstood, thinking that “people like me” just weren’t on campus. Now, knowing that I have folks that I can relate to has made this college process a bit easier to deal with, for that I’m grateful!

  • Kerry Keith

    Kerry Keith

    PhD Stundent/Communication & Crital Gender Studies


    At UCSD, I am working with others to develop a robust Underground Scholars Initiative. This year, I am also the coordinator of the annual community speaker series organized through Critical Gender Studies, in collaboration with the Digital Gym. This year's theme is "Materializing Abolition: Queer and Feminist Strategies," which focuses the practicality of transformative justice initiatives.

    Career Goal

    I want to begin, labor at, and grow a free and open university.

    Being Part of USI

    USI has been instrumental in working to make the ivory tower less vertical and more horizontal. While USI reinforces the neoliberal university in many ways, it also works to disrupt, take up space in, and shift the production of so-called Knowledge. The community of Underground Scholars at UCSD has been a vital refuge for me; it offers a space to think critically about the university from embodied, experiential, and emergent perspectives. The university and the prison are not poles, but are interlocked in important ways, and those who know both systems are able to see their relationality with a different clarity than those who do not.