McGrath Graduate Fellows

overview photo of USF campus

 


Interested in Mcgrath fellows? Join our Interest list!


The McGrath Graduate Fellowship Program will allow participants to engage and grapple with a diversity of experiences and questions that challenge humanity and the earth we live on. Topics including gender, education, sustainability, pandemics, connectivity/technology access, equity and inclusion will provide a framework for USF graduate students to explore, investigate and develop skills and new ways of thinking toward the future. An experiential Summer immersion component will culminate the program.

The second edition of the program in the 2021-22 academic year will introduce participants to the vision and work of Jesuit Refugee Services and their commitment to accompaniment, service and advocacy. Learning alongside the international Jesuit Network and other agencies with core commitments to humanity, evidence-based data, social analysis, reflection and long-term solutions to global issues, participants of the program will interrogate the big questions of the global community in alignment with USF’s strategic values focusing on environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, global focus and responsibility. Coupling the immersion experience with the mission of USF to “change the world from here,” participants will engage an interdisciplinary lens to inform their leadership vision and practice in order to create a more humane future for all.

For questions, please contact mcgrathinstitute@usfca.edu

Who Should Apply:

Graduate students in any USF graduate program interested in working in collaboration with faculty to engage and grapple with a diversity of experiences and questions that challenge humanity and the earth we live on.

Applications are now closed for the 2021-22 year. We look forward to announcing this year's cohort soon!

Additional details:

  • McGrath Graduate fellowship program will meet every month and will require students to work independently between meetings.
  • Monthly meeting dates and times will be determined once the group is selected.
  • Dates and location of international immersion components will be determined according to USF Travel safety protocols.

Proposed Learning outcomes:

Objectives of the program are to provide graduate students an opportunity to:

  • Develop and nurture a sense of reflection and contemplation to assist in a deeper understanding of the human reality.
  • Engage with the pressing questions facing humanity and our planet.
  • Develop their inclusive leadership skills and their abilities to integrate difference.
  • Refine their abilities to synthesize complex ideas and divergent viewpoints.
  • Encourage innovation and nurture creative problem-solving skills.
  • Enhance their adaptability and nimbleness and their capacities to navigate ambiguity, uncertainty, and unfamiliar circumstances.
  • Distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace of graduate students seeking employment opportunities.

Spring 2022 Cohort:

Leandro Gonzales is a first-year student at the College of Arts and Science, MA Public Leadership program. Leandro is a community leader and community organizer in San Francisco, working with our most marginalized communities. He volunteers with Project Open Hand/Meals on Wheels/Burrito Project/Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinner/Mama G's Thanksgiving Street Dinner in Civic Center and Castro Community on Patrol on weekends keeping people safe at night. He has made a difference for many communities: immigrants, those in recovery, seniors, youth, transgender community, breast cancer patients, people living with HIV, Homeless, Veterans, Northern California Fire Relief and Latinx/Asian Pacific Island communities, LGBTQ communities in Ukraine, as well as standing with the Black Lives Matter movement and has raised over $300,000 for charities helping communities in the US, Mexico, Ukraine, and Puerto Rico. Keep an eye on his annual Tamale Fundraiser, in which he plans to use a teamwork approach with students and faculty at the University of San Francisco. He wants to learn and grow from this exceptional McGrath cohort of leaders and intends to complete his Capstone Project on Adaptive Leadership and  Public Narrative to create our “Change the World from Here” motto.

Civil Rights Advocate Elle Fersan is in her first-year of the USF Master’s of Arts in Public Leadership program. She is the Executive Vice President for Resource Development and Communications at the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC). She is also the founder and CEO of Global Nexus Solutions, LLC a consulting firm specializing in global public affairs and social impact.
Over a 20-year career in government, nonprofit, and academia, Elle has dedicated herself to improving policy and changing lives through research, international development, policy advocacy, campaigning, and fundraising. Elle’s advocacy work, expertise, and thought leadership are focused on immigration issues, women, and global LGBTQ rights. She holds a Master’s degree in History, from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, and is fluent in French, Arabic, and English.
Elle is a Truman National Security Fellow (2020) and the Communications Chair at the National Women’s Political Caucus, LA Metro Chapter.
She won numerous awards from the U.S. Department of State, UNESCO, Mayor of Los Angeles, LA County Supervisor, and the Eisenhower Fellowship. Follow her on Twitter @ellefersan

Adrian is a first year student in the Masters of International Studies program, with a focus in Culture, Power and Social Movements. Originally from New York, Adrian attended The University of Scranton, where she majored in Counseling and Human Services, concentrated in Human Development, and minored in Italian and Theology/Religious Studies. After college, she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Atlanta, GA, serving as a caseworker in the Refugee Resettlement department at Catholic Charities Atlanta. In this role, Adrian assisted newly resettled refugees with general transitional support upon their arrival to the US. Later, Adrian returned to her parents’ home country of Italy to work for a Jesuit study abroad program. Here, she coordinated cultural immersions and social justice programming within Italy and Europe, focusing on the greater roles that migration plays. Now at USF, Adrian works as a Resident Minister coordinating and leading immersion opportunities for students on campus. This year, she has assisted with two trips focused on the rights of refugees and migrants in Rome, Italy and at the US/Mexico border. Adrian serves as a Program Ambassador for her MAIS cohort. She is looking forward to the opportunity to be a McGrath fellow and learn from others while reflecting on her own experiences in Jesuit Higher Education.

Linda is a Colombian sociologist, with a Masters’ degree in education from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá. She has worked with various underserved and internally displaced populations on research, community engagement, and teaching. She led an award-winning pedagogical project to promote peaceful relationships among school students. Later, she led another pedagogical project to boost youth’s community engagement and access to postsecondary education. Recently, she has been volunteering as an immigrant advocate, tutor, and as a community outreach assistant. Linda is currently a first-year student at the Master in Migration Studies program, where her research focuses on an analysis of unaccompanied minors’ rights, with a special focus on girls and LGBTQ+ minors, and how they have been constructed as dehumanized and invisible in Colombia and the US. She loves working with kids and youth, and she firmly believes that when people are provided with fair conditions and respect, they will certainly flourish.

Valentina is a first year student at the EdD program in International and Multicultural Education, with a concentration in Human Rights Education. Originally from Florence, Italy, Valentina pursued her JD at the University of Florence School of Law, and published a dissertation Public Policy and Best Interests of the Child, focused on national and international public policy doctrine with respect to child welfare law. While in Italy, she worked for the Florence Public Prosecutor’s Office as a legal linguistic mediator. Such a job sparked her interest in immigration law. In 2017, Valentina moved to the United States, and pursued her LLM master’s degree at the University of San Francisco School of Law, concentrating on International, Comparative, and Immigration Law. She later worked as a legal fellow for the San Francisco-based non-profit, Open Door Legal in the Housing and Immigration Law Departments. Valentina is a recipient of the Global Grant Rotary Scholarship for the “conflict resolution and peacebuilding” area of interest, awarded by The Rotary International in 2017. She is a native Italian, and fluent in English, Spanish and French and she currently serves as legal writer for an immigration law firm in San Francisco. Her research interests include discrimination faced by immigrants while looking foe housing in the United States. 
 

Vanessa is a first-year student pursuing her M.A in International Studies, with an emphasis on Governance and Global Justice. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended Lycoming College in Pennsylvania for undergrad and received her B.A in Political Science and Religion. Vanessa is a human rights advocate and has worked with non-profits and human rights organizations to bring about awareness, advocacy, and fundraisers geared towards human rights. Throughout her time at Lycoming, she worked with UNICEF to establish a charter on her campus. She is dedicated to using her ability to lead, work collaboratively, and speak publicly to help amplify the voices of her community and those marginalized.

Gaby was born in Lima, Peru and grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science - International Relations and a minor in Spanish. She received her certified lactation educator counselor certificate from the University of California San Diego and is pursuing her International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certification. Gaby currently serves as the Board Chair for the California Breastfeeding Coalition, and supports Breastfeeding in Combat Boots through her expertise as a Navy veteran and spouse. She specializes in supporting families through the prenatal and postpartum periods with education and information on birth, breastfeeding, and maternal mental health resources through her social media awareness campaign - Latched. In the Navy, Gaby served as a Surface Warfare Officer in San Diego, California. She had her first son while serving, which brought to light the need for more support for military families navigating the journey into and through parenthood. She continues to be a sought-after mentor and advocate for breastfeeding service members who need policy support. Gaby is an equity advocate and is actively involved with a variety of non-profit organizations and has also taught numerous breastfeeding classes in both English and Spanish within the community and to military families participating in centering pregnancy. Her goal is to close the gap on access to breastfeeding and birth support within racially diverse communities.

Nicole Buchanan is a first year graduate student pursuing her M.A. in Migration Studies in the hope that the knowledge and experiences she will gain will allow her to actively practice her passion for community-oriented research, activism, and social justice work. Nicole is originally from Maine and attended Stonehill College in Massachusetts, where she majored in Poltical Science and International Studies. Through a collaborative research project, she hopes to highlight intergenerational healing, truthtelling and resileince among migrant communities. 

 

Glendy Alvarez is a recent graduate at Stonehill College where she studied Political Science & International relations with a double minor in Criminology and Latin American & Caribbean Studies. Glendy hopes to be a bridge between the mental health profession and her community, to deconstruct the stigmas of mental health. She is in her first year of the USF Masters of Migration Studies where through her research she hopes to highlight intergenerational healing, truthtelling, and resilience among immigrant communities. Glendy is passionate about examining a deeper insight into multilayered perspectives on human rights issues and learning in ways that affirm human dignity, uproot oppression, and advance collective struggles for rights and justice. Her legacy is to continue to weave healing into the future generation and to challenge the negative narratives of mental health, by highlighting that mental health is healing and that care is justice. 

Dulce is a second-year graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Masters program and a Graduate Student Coordinator at the Cultural Centers at USF. Before attending USF, Dulce attended College of San Mateo and got her A.A. in Psychology then soon after transferred to UC Riverside allowing her to get a B.A. in Public Policy with a minor in Education. Being a first-generation undocumented Latina has influenced Dulce and motivated her to work in higher education and student affairs to create a safe and inclusive environment for all students and community members. Dulce’s work has allowed her to raise awareness for the undocumented student population as well as work closely with students who come from marginalized identities from K-12 to higher education. As a rising Student Affairs professional, she hopes to further continue to support students and be a voice for students in spaces who have been historically underrepresented. 

Chad Baron is a second-year master’s student in the International Studies program with a concentration in environmental justice and sustainable development. He has worked professionally in high school networks advocating for providing for the educational needs of families and communities with limited economic resources in San José and Orange County, CA. Additionally, he worked with and supported houseless communities in the Bay Area and migrants in transit with Casa de Clara, San José. His current research explores post-growth sustainable socio-economic transitions and the intersections of social and environmental justice. His writing has appeared in the Times of San Diego, and he has written for GLOBUS and the Ignatian Solidarity Network, exploring themes of climate action, justice, biodiversity, and beauty.

Martin is a graduate student in the School of Management, Masters of Nonprofit Administration program. His research interests include social enterprise models and program evaluation methods of humanitarian aid NGOs.

Martin’s professional experience has been primarily in public policy—developing and implementing sustainable land use, housing, and transportation policies and programs. He has also worked for nonprofit organizations in the fields of environmental conservation, job training, and adult education and literacy. He is a former US Peace Corps Volunteer, where he worked in rural community development in Papua New Guinea.

Martin has an MA in Urban and Regional Planning, and has completed several executive public leadership programs. He is grateful for the spirit and solidarity of his McGrath cohorts, and is looking forward to our collaboration. 
 

Originally from Spain, Jesús de la Torre is currently a first-year graduate student of the MA in Migration Studies under a Fulbright scholarship. He holds a MA in European Union Studies by UNED and a BA in International Relations by Universidad Loyola Andalucía, and participated in programs in Japan and Brazil. Jesús aspires to advance a migration system where no one is discriminated by their place of origin, sex, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. For that, he is researching on border externalization practices from a comparative perspective, while advocating alongside migrant and youth communities through writing reports and proposals, and providing services like Spanish classes. Passionate about networks for the global common good, he is now working for the IAJU Working Group on Migrants and Refugees to advocate for Jesuit universities to work for migrants and refugees. He hopes to help societies become aware of the impacts of our migration policies and demand changes in allyship with migrant communities.

Jorge is a first-year student in the Masters of International Studies program, with an emphasis on Governance and Global Justice. Originally from México City, México, Jorge has navigated the higher education system as a DACA student. Living with the constant feeling of uncertainty and fear of possible deportation has only increased his motivation to support the undocumented community advocate for change. 

Jorge currently works with Newcomer students at the Oakland Unified school district. He supports students with pending immigration matters, attends court hearings with students and provides mental health counseling. Jorge has advocated for advance parole permits for undergraduates who intend to travel for education purposes abroad, through outreach with Congress representatives from the Los Angeles region. With the goal of explaining the necessity for a path towards immigration, Jorge has done live interviews on national television, and internationally, with the Mexican Electoral System and Telemundo. Jorge's long term goals include increasing access to legal aid for low-income immigrants and to continue actively supporting organizations that have an immigrant's well-being in mind.
 

Syed, Khundmeer Fahad came to the U.S. when he was 13 from Hyderabad, India. Since in the U.S. Khundmeer has been a passionate advocate for undocumented students and issues of access to education in general. Khundmeer’s post-secondary journey began with the Jesuits at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago and Georgetown University where he studies Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Computer Science respectively. A vocal leader, Khundmeer had created and led organizations to support undocumented students in high schools and on the campuses. He is currently a second year graduate student in the School of Education studying Educational Technology. In the light of the pandemic, he is currently researching humanistic approaches to developing community in online learning environments. He also works as an Instructional Coach at the UM Tutoring Program, developing CS curriculum for schools that do not have CS/STEM programs. For leisure, he likes playing football (soccer), singing, and loves having meaningful authentic conversations. An educational visionary and an overall passionate person, Khundmeer seeks to leave a place better than he has found it. 
 

Casey Ticsay is a Filipino-American writer and filmmaker whose work focuses on immigration and human rights. She is the founder of Mahalaya, a community newspaper that centers Filipinx narratives and experiences in and beyond the Bay Area through solidarity journalism. She earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast communications from San Francisco State University and a certificate in TV foreign reporting from the Danish School of Media and Journalism. She is currently a graduate student in the Migration Studies program at the University of San Francisco. Her work has appeared in El Tecolote and Globus.

Spring 2021 Cohort:

ana karen barragan

 

Ana Karen Barragán is an international student from Puebla, Mexico. Currently, she is studying for a Master's degree in International Studies (MAIS) with a concentration in culture, power, and social movements. In 2020 she was elected as a student representative for the MAIS program. At the local level, Ana Karen works in the Arrupe Initiatives office, and at the international level, she collaborates in the International Association of Jesuit Universities. Previously, she worked as the secretary/executive assistant to the President of the Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla, who was also president of the Latin American Network of Jesuit Universities (AUSJAL). Ana Karen's topics of interest are social justice, community engagement, and leadership in Jesuit education.

lacy jeffreys

 

Writer Lacy Jeffreys is in her second year of the USF Master’s of Arts in Public Leadership program where her research centers on equipping leaders to thrive within institutions not designed with them in mind. A military spouse with a background in communications, Lacy has worked for a variety of organizations from Capitol Hill to public radio. She is a passionate problem-solver focused on helping individuals and businesses think critically about building for the future. She currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her family, but is trying to find a way to move back to Asia.

victoria juarez

 

Victoria is a second year Organization & Leadership master's student about to finish her thesis on multicultural Latinx/a/o student identity. She currently resides in San Francisco but is originally from Los Angeles and as an avid LA sports fan and foodie. When she's not working on her thesis you can find her hanging out in Golden Gate Park or on the hunt for the best pastry in San Francisco!

hamida dahir ahmed

 

Hamida Dahir is a mental health activist, human rights advocate, and poet. She has lived and worked in Somalia, Kenya, and the United States. Her most recent research centers on the effects of trauma, violence, and displacement on the mental health of Somali refugees in the diaspora. Her project particularly focused on the use of resistance tools such as indigenous knowledge production through creative writing and storytelling as well as women-led community advocacy networks that champion the de-construction of mental health stigma. She previously worked with NGOs in the provision of medical and livelihood training for repatriated Somali refugees from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. At the moment, she is a graduate student at USF’s Master in Migration Studies (MIMS) program. Her research interests lie in the intersection of migration, gender identity, refugee rights, and policy advocacy.

vanesa vasquez

 

Vanesa “Vane” Vazquez is a 6th semester MSN student in the Entry-level MSN program at USF. An LA native, she received her bachelor’s in Health Science with a focus on Global Health from CSU Fullerton. Vanesa has since relocated to the Bay Area and currently resides in Oakland, CA (Ohlone Land). Her work history includes birth work, patient education, and administrative work. She is currently a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a hospital in San Francisco. Vanesa is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels, and especially in the clinical setting. In the future, she hopes to work towards a system that closes the gap on health disparities for vulnerable and misrepresented communities.

janise powell

 

Janise Powell is a first year graduate student in the International and Multicultural Education Ed.D. program. Janise is social justice advocate, experienced event planner/programmer, and education professional focusing on training and development in the areas of cultural competence, leadership, and career development. Utilizing skills in personal development, public speaking, spoken word, storytelling, and advising, she empowers individuals to share their stories through various platforms (art, resumes, fundraisers, etc.), to learn from others, to grow together, and to generate solutions from within various communities. Janise aims to place power back in the hands of people and communities.

john schilder

 

John served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Honduras collaborating with local government and youth, earned a master's degree in Dispute Resolution as a Trinity Fellow with a focus on Urban Leadership from Marquette University while assisting first generation students achieve their dream of attending college, and cycled from Ohio to California to raise awareness and funds for the Saint Luke Foundation for Haiti. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 he worked at Hostelling International USA, a non-profit organization with the mission to create a more tolerant and understanding world through travel and volunteered as a youth soccer coach and event manager with Street Soccer USA. Since mid-March he has been volunteering with La Voz Latina to ensure that basic needs of Spanish-speaking families within the Tenderloin community are being met and assisted as a Spanish translator at the Latino Task Force COVID testing and vaccination sites. He also works as Building Manager (Section-8 Senior Living apartments) for Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation. John will graduate from the University of San Francisco’s Executive MBA program in the Spring of 2022 and for the duration of his studies will continue to volunteer and support his neighbors in the Tenderloin neighborhood. Upon graduation he will apply the management and leadership skills to further support San Francisco's most underserved residents in a Social Service or Corporate Social Responsibility leadership position.

fian sullivan sweeney

 

Currently, I am pursuing an MA in International Studies with a Global Governance focus. Within this current master's program, I seek to focus on: sustainability, environment-community relations and resilience, climate change, deforestation, land-rights & ownership, and media engagement and representation of these issues and people, groups, and cultures, which subsequently affect local-global political outcomes. Finding direction in appreciating civil society's multidimensional aspects that shape national and international issues, I completed an undergraduate degree composed of: a Flexible Combined Honors program at the University of Exeter, UK, with majors in Middle Eastern Studies, Philosophy, International Studies, and Sustainability, and an International Studies major with a thematic focus in Social Justice at Boston College, MA. I am an NCAA Division 1 athlete, national representative, and international medalist in cross country and track & field. I am driven by a passion for engaging with challenging subject content and thought-provoking critical inquiry in the advancement of seeking meaningful long-term hope, liberty, and justice. I am inspired academically, professionally, and personally to approach social justice issues with openness, passion, and curiosity. Thrilled to be a life-long learner and committed to embodying the USF motto, I endeavor to positively influence and motivate all to seek avenues that encourage justice. I hope in my future to create environments in which all participants are welcome, heard, and genuinely valued as they endeavor to meet or exceed expectations in the face of challenges.