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Meet Leadership Brainery's

Second Ambassador Cohort!

March 8, 2021

Diversity in workforce leadership is achievable only if education equity is a priority. Leadership Brainery is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt pipeline organization closing opportunity and wealth gaps by increasing the number of BIPOC and first-generation college students being accepted and enrolled in postgraduate education programs and recruited into high-wage careers.

In 2019, Leadership Brainery admitted its first cohort of 12 college sophomores from around the nation to join our intensive three-year cohort-based Ambassador Program. The Leadership Brainery Ambassador (LBA) Program equips diverse student leaders with the skills and resources to access postgraduate education through personal and professional development, community building, test-preparation and admissions coaching, and direct recruitment.

Although the pandemic raised many challenges, we are very excited to present our second cohort of 26 Ambassadors--we call them LBA2! As with our first cohort, every Ambassador displays academic merit, resilience, and a commitment to servicing their communities. Because of our intentional effort to foster a diverse and inclusive community of hope, belonging, and action, the LBA application process allowed students to bring their most authentic selves to the table. Through personal statements and individual and group interviews, applicants began fostering community right away.

"Just merely having an interview with this amazing organization was an honor in itself, and I cannot wait to spend the next three years under their guidance!," says MJ Ibrahim, LBA2 and sophomore at Brandeis University.

The diverse makeup of LBA2 includes students from public and private schools, including HBCUs and Ivy Leagues. There is an urgent need for postgraduate programs to increase the number of diverse students they admit and enroll to expand the pipeline of employees prepared for specialized and leadership roles. We are proud to have a group of students eager to gain postgraduate degrees while also committed to making equitable change within their communities as they embark on their careers.

Please join us in welcoming our second cohort of Leadership Brainery Ambassadors! 

DeAndre Alexander

Marquette University

DeAndre is a sophomore at Marquette University on the premed track, double majoring in Biological Sciences and Psychology. He actively volunteers at Aurora Sinai Medical Hospital in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) and at his local nursing home, where he serves alongside certified nursing assistants. DeAndre currently works as a medical scribe at Cancer Treatment of America, where he is able to build authentic and personal bonds with both physicians and patients. His end goals are to graduate with his bachelor's degree from Marquette, attend and graduate from medical school, complete residency, and lastly, become a certified neurosurgeon.

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Epiphemia Ariri

Brandeis University

Epiphemia a sophomore at Brandeis University studying International Relations and Sociology. Through recognition that global issues are not a matter of individual happenstance, she is dedicated to being a part of the solution to education inequity. Epiphemia's intent is to reform global education policy, specifically in the United States and Nigeria. Her road to doing so employs a deep contextualization of history and working closely with like-minded individuals.

Saray Bedoya

Stanford University

Saray is a sophomore at Stanford University studying International Relations with a minor in Human Rights. As an Afro Latinx and first-generation/low-income student, she is passionate about Immigrant Rights, Black Rights with a specialization in Latin America, and Education Equity in low-income communities of color. Saray is interested in management consulting, specifically within the nonprofit sector, and desires to create her own tri-non profit in Brazil, Haiti, and Panama that financially supports Black students pursuing education. She is passionate about problem-solving, working with others, and creating meaningful change.

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Ana Blanco

Princeton University

Ana is a Gates Scholar and sophomore at Princeton University who is passionate about social activism, human rights, and gun sense reform. Her primary academic interest lies in the study of International Relations, specifically in the relationship between international organizations and human welfare. She is pursuing a concentration in Public Policy and International Affairs with certificates in French Language and Culture and Latin American Studies. At Princeton, Ana serves as the President of Princeton Against Gun Violence and as a Vote100 cohort leader. She seeks to actively promote civic engagement at all levels of government.

Valeria Brown

Tougaloo College

Valeria is a sophomore majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry at Tougaloo College. She aspires to pursue an MD-PHD, conduct interdisciplinary, innovative research, and utilize such developments to treat future patients. Currently, she is a Research Assistant in cancer biology, has presented at various conferences, and has given a Flash talk at the 2019 Southeastern IDeA Conference in the Cancer Research session. Among her many achievements, Valeria is also a Jackson Heart Study Scholar, a 2019 MS INBRE Scholar, a Tougaloo College Presidential Scholar, and was awarded the 2019 Clinton Chamber Youth Leadership Scholarship sponsored by Merit Health. 

Darryl Ervin

Michigan State University

Darryl is a junior at Michigan State University (MSU) majoring in Business Marketing. He is a first-generation student from Detroit, MI, and is most passionate about creating a prosperous future for students of color from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2018, Darryl founded an organization called SLS Detroit and has used mentorship and community engagement to positively impact hundreds of students' lives. Darryl is also interested in law and policy and has served on multiple governing bodies at MSU and the City of East Lansing, MI. He hopes to attend law school after graduating from MSU and use his knowledge and experiences to grow his organization's impact within the City of Detroit.

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Julia Braeunig

Brandeis University

Julia is a sophomore at Brandeis University triple majoring in International and Global Studies, Sociology, and Health: Science, Society, Policy. She is a first-generation, low-income student from Germany and identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. After receiving her International Baccalaureate during her gap year in Brazil, she was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in the U.S. At Brandeis, Julia is an Orientation Leader, a Research Assistant, an Admissions Operations Assistant, and an Undergraduate Departmental Representative for International and Global Studies. Julia aspires to work in the field of international relations or health-related politics and hopes to work on improving healthcare access in low-income communities. 

Andre Ferreira

Harvard University

Andre Ferreira, a sophomore at Harvard University concentrating in Government with a secondary in History. He currently serves as the Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for the Deaf Awareness Club and as a Student Academic Integrity Fellow for the Honor Council. Andre hopes to one day attend law school and study international law so that he may work as a human rights activist to tackle the many issues our globe faces. He is also pursuing a citation in American Sign Language. Andre is passionate about human rights and seeks to dedicate his career towards combatting issues of immigration, socioeconomic inequalities, and racism. With the experience of juggling various activities, he has been able to develop an innate ability to communicate, organize, multi-task, and prioritize responsibilities in a professional manner. 

Emmanuel Fonseca

University of California, Davis

Emmanuel Fonseca is a social leader fighting for the inequalities that underrepresented minorities face in America. As an aspiring journalist, he is motivated to use the power of words to create, advocate, and champion his vision for a better future. Emmanuel is pursuing his BA in Communications and Sociology (Socials Services Emphasis) and minoring in Professional Writing at the University of California, Davis. He hopes to continue his graduate school education, narrowing his focus to a school of journalism. Writing has become a form of advocacy for Emmanuel, a kind of protest where he can speak on the real issues in this country and promote change for the better.​

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Miracle Garrett

Fisk University

Miracle C. Garrett is a student leader at Fisk University pursuing her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Business Administration. She is a firm believer in giving back, helping others, and excelling at every task she undertakes. Miracle is a member of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club. By working with the organization, she continues to lead numerous volunteer opportunities for the university’s students across a wide field of disciplines. She works and believes in the concept of having fun with everything she partakes in. Miracle’s enthusiasm, coupled with her personal development skills, leads to a unique networking opportunity that excites positive change to those around her. 

Tyra Gravesande

Spelman College

Tyra Gravesande is a first-generation Guyanese-American from Edison, New Jersey. She attends Spelman College, where she majors in Comparative Women’s Studies. Tyra is an avidly involved student leader. She serves as the Co-Community Service Chair for National Council of Negro Women, the Ethel Waddell Githii Honors Program E-Board, a Spelman College Social Justice Fellow, and the Membership Development Chair of Gifted Girls of Grace, Inc. Her mission as a student advocate, activist and leader is to bring awareness to the systems of oppression and genocide that are infesting our society, particularly in our marginalized communities, and to hold accountable those who are oblivious to the injustices within our world.

Olusegun Green

Long Island University Post

Olusegun (also known as Segun) is a sophomore at Long Island University pursuing a major in Business Administration and Finance. He aspires to work in sports finance as a financial analyst or advisor. His passion for sports and finance stems from his experiences playing high school varsity basketball and football, and working as the Chief Financial Officer for the Virtual Enterprise Program. Segun believes that it is important for people, especially African Americans, to not only attain but maintain wealth. Although he aims to work in the finance and sports industries, his main goal is to educate people of color and those in low-income communities on how to build generational wealth and make smart financial decisions.

Mohammed Ibrahim

Brandeis University

Mohammed (MJ) is a sophomore at Brandeis University studying Biology and Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP) with a minor in Arabic on the pre-medicine track. He is a dual citizen of Iraq and Russia, born in Libya, raised in Malaysia, and immigrated to the United States just over five years ago. Based on his experiences as a pending-status asylee, he is very interested in the intersecting identities and social constructs that run our world. MJ interested in attending an allopathic medical school with aspirations to become an Emergency Physician, hopefully working with high-need communities that have been affected by racial and socioeconomic disparities. Forming meaningful connections that lead to change is what MJ holds dear to his heart. He intends on carrying this passion throughout his academic and professional pursuits.

Lee'Shae Lawson

Stanford University

Lee’Shae is a sophomore at Stanford University, majoring in Communications and minoring in American Studies. On-campus, she serves as a mentor for the Stanford University Lil Sib-Big Sib program, a member of Stanford Women in Politics, and is frequently in musical theater productions. Lee’Shae hopes to use her degree to attend law school and improve the United States’ data privacy legislation. She is interested in working in performing arts, legal compliance, and the non-profit sector. In addition to data privacy, Lee’ Shae is also interested in racial equality, education advocacy, and criminal justice.

Tiana Mudzimurema

Northeastern University

Tiana is a sophomore from South Bend, IN. She is currently studying Communications with a minor in Health Humanities & Societies at Northeastern University. Tiana is the Co-founder and Social Media Specialist of Northeastern's first Black Pre-Law group and is performing in this year's production of Shakespeare's As You Like It. She see's herself combining her passions for health care and law to create resources that empower low-income families in the US. During her free time, she loves to paint, draw, dance, and garden.

Obiamaka Nnadika

Hamilton College

Obi is a sophomore at Hamilton College planning to major in Government and minor in Sociology. On-campus, He is involved in groups such as the Brothers Organization and the American Prison Writing Archive. He is interested in pursuing a career in finance, specifically in the financial services industry. Obi hope's to use my knowledge to help low-income families make informed financial decisions and create opportunities for students to effectively navigate the internship process.

Lily Ting

UMass Boston

Lily is a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Boston, majoring in Biochemistry. She is on the pre-med track and hopes to one day become a doctor. Lily is currently involved in many groups on campus, including the premedical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon. Her passion for medicine and science has lead her to hold jobs at a primary care facility and CVS, where she gets to interact with patients and help people on their journey to better health. Lily is extremely passionate about having all voices heard in medicine, including those often discounted, such as women and BIPOC. Her goal is to advocate for those who do not trust or feel seen in the healthcare system.

Ayreanna Pettijohn

Bowie State University

Ayreanna is a sophomore Biology major at Bowie State University with a Public Policy minor from Newark, NJ. She comes from a family of nurses and has earned a full academic scholarship to her HBCU through the Honors Student Organization (HSO). Ayreanna is very passionate about health disparities in her community, more specifically Diabetes within the Black community. She is interested in becoming an endocrinologist and aspires to open many doctor offices and other medical facilities in low-income areas throughout the United States — starting with her hometown in Newark. Ayreanna is also passionate about helping other Black students, such as herself, pursue higher education. This may lead to creating her own nonprofit or joining other great organizations such as the LB. 

Avery Robinson III

Harvard University

Avery Robinson is a sophomore at Harvard College studying Sociology with a secondary in Educational Studies. He is from Tampa, Florida, and has also spent a lot of time living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Avery is very passionate about education equity and hopes to pursue a Masters in Education in addition to obtaining a law degree. He currently serves as the Public Service Chair of the Harvard Black Men's Forum, the co-chair of a first-gen low-income pre-orientation program called FYRE. He also sits on board of the Phillips' Brooks House Association, a student-run nonprofit dedicated to community service and social justice. In his free time, Avery enjoys playing sports, trying new foods, and dancing.​

Morolake Okanlawon

Mississippi Valley State

Morolake is a sophomore majoring in Biology at Mississippi Valley State University (MSVSU). She currently serves as a Research Intern for the MSVSU Natural Science and Environmental Health Department and the HBCU Project Manager Intern for UNITE Inc. Morolake is interested in solving health problems as a future physician and has a drive for entrepreneurship. She is learning, from successful entrepreneurs, how to grow a low-risk, low-cost eCommerce Business Team and develop additional income and eventual financial independence. She envisions where she can combine her passions and demonstrate excellence in business in the Global Marketplace.​

Marielis Rosa

Boston University

Marielis is a sophomore at Boston University (BU) pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Sociology. At BU, she serves as a Student Manager for the Center for Antiracist Research, as a Student Ambassador for FLIP (First-Generation Low-Income Partnership), and as a loyal member of countless cultural and professional organizations. Marielis is an emerging social justice advocate with aspirations to join the legal field. In her free time she enjoys watching sunsets from different parts of the city and upcycling clothing (especially jeans).

Travis Waters

Florida State University

Travis is a second-year student at Florida State University, double-majoring in Political Science and Environment & Society with a minor in Spanish. During his time at Florida State University, he has taken an active role in immersing himself in experiences that he can grow from, including being involved in the Student Government Student Senate, serving the Tallahassee community as a Service Scholar, and serving his campus as a Presidential Ambassador. Travis is very passionate about environmental justice and combating environmental racism. He aspires to attend law school and become an environmental lawyer to serve BIPOC communities. He is also an avid reader and tennis player.

Tina Li

Brandeis University

Tina is a sophomore at Brandeis University majoring in Business and East Asian Studies. As a student leader on her campus, she serves as the Social Media Chair for Club Cantonese Waltham, the Marketing and Public Relations Digital Media Chair of the Asian American Student Association, and the Marketing and Public Relations Volunteer Citizenship Tutor for the Chinese Planning Council. Tina believes that if there is no diversity, inclusion, and belonging in a workforce, there will only be single-point perspectives. She is passionate about diversity impact and seeks to pursue a career in human resources or marketing to create inclusive spaces of inclusivity and belonging. 

Michael Massey

Stanford University

Michael is a sophomore at Stanford University majoring in Management Science and Engineering. He is an active student leader and serves as the Co-Founder/VP of Programs for the Stanford Branch of the Scholars of Finance, a Hustle Committee Member for Blackprint: Building Black Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs, a Financial Officer for the Black Men's Forum, and an Analyst for BLK Capital Management. In his free time, you can find him playing Ultimate Frisbee or Basketball, or dancing Bachata and Salsa.

Rashana Weerasinghe

University of Connecticut

Rashana is a sophomore studying Business Data Analytics at the University of Connecticut. On-campus, she serves as the Vice President of the Data Analytics Club and the Financial Management Club. She also serves as an Academic Mentor and Teaching Assistant for the Business Connections Learning Community (BCLC). Rashana is also part of the newly founded UConn Student Managed Venture Fund. She has a diverse background with experiences in healthcare, finance, investment banking, education technology, biotechnology, and telecommunications. Presently, she is involved in user acquisition at GetSetUp and metrics and reporting at Spectrum, Charter Communications. 

Yaxsarie Velazquez

Northeastern University

Yaxsaire is a sophomore at Northeastern University majoring in Psychology and Criminal Justice. She is determined to make a difference by using her leadership skills to advocate for her community. Yaxsaire sits on the League of Women Voters board and their executive board, the Plymouth Public Schools Diversity Committee, and the YMCA board, where she has organized student networking luncheons and other events to advocate for change in her community. Yaxsaire is also passionate about volunteering through the Healthy Plymouth where she helps manage the community garden and job fairs.