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STEM Alumni


Edna Llanes (Biologist)

  • Calexico High School 

    Calexico High School 

    My name is Edna Noelia Llanes. I was born in Mexicali, Mexico, and brought to the United States at the early age of 7 months old. As a senior in high school, I was enrolled in a program called IVROP (Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program) Nursing. I received my CNA license after I graduated from high school, but I decided that nursing was not something I would pursue. After high school, I enrolled at my local community college and majored in life sciences. I transferred to UCSD and graduated with a B.S in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. I started working as a technical operator at Grifols and have gradually moved my way up to a product support scientist where I ensure that our products produce results for pathogens such as HIV- 1, HCV, Dengue, and others. 

    A piece of advice that I would like to share with you is that there are many organizations on campus that will help you if you need to talk about college life or if you need help with tutoring. Take advantage of these; you are paying for them.

Karina Ornelas (Zoologist)

  • Montgomery High School

    Montgomery High School

    My name is Karina Ornelas. I was born in Chula Vista, but until I was 13 years old, I lived in Tijuana, Mexico. When I came to the US, I did not know any English. It was hard to learn a new language and try to adapt to a new school. I graduated with Honors from Montgomery High School in 2013. I currently work for the San Diego Audubon Society as a planting coordinator at Otay Valley Regional Park which is very close to Montgomery High School. I restore habitats, plant native plants, and collect data about the plants and birds that live in the area. A piece of advice that I would like to share is that you should try to not be shy because that will sometimes close many opportunities. Trust yourself and if you really want to follow your dream just follow it, and don’t let anyone tell you that you cant. Just follow the journey.

Yvonne Roca (Medical Student)

  • UCLA Medical Education-Leadership and Advocacy Program

    UCLA Medical Education-Leadership and Advocacy Program

    Yvonne Roca is a rising second-year medical school student in the UCLA Medical Education-Leadership and Advocacy Program. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2016 with a B.S in Human Biology and took 3 gap years before going to medical school. She was born in Long Beach, CA, and raised in Tijuana, B.C. She graduated from Lincoln High School and attended San Diego City College before transferring to UCSD. As a medical student, Yvonne is the co-coordinator for the First Gen @ DGSOM group and the Surgery Interest Group. Yvonne is passionate about mentoring students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and she aspires to address inequalities faced by underserved communities.

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