Meet the Team

Meet the Team

 

Denise Vivar, Interim Immigrant Student Success Center Specialist
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Denise Vivar has devoted her career to serving the immigrant community in New York. She strongly believes in building supportive networks and advocating for immigrant rights that will establish a life of dignity and respect. Throughout her career, Denise has fought to ensure vulnerable populations of the community are protected and have access to the resources they need. During her undergraduate career, she was an active member and later President of the Lehman Dream Team, a student group that supported and advocated for undocumented students. Through her work at the Lehman Dream Team, she collaborated and was a Core Member of the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the first undocumented youth-led organization in New York State with the mission to empower and provide professional development for immigrant youth. Denise has made it her mission to create spaces that support the immigrant community. As an immigrant herself, she empathizes and understands the needs of this population. Denise migrated to New York when she was seven years old and remained undocumented until qualifying for a U-Visa, and then becoming a permanent resident five years later. She was the Special Assistant to the New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera, liaising between internal communications and community affairs. She is pursuing a Master’s of Public Administration with a concentration in Policy Analysis and Evaluation from Baruch College Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Sociology from Lehman College.

Erika Castaneda, Peer Advocate Graduate Fellow 

Erika Castaneda is a current graduate student at Hunter College pursuing a Master’s in School Counseling. She was born in Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, California where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Honors Psychology at California State University, Northridge. Having navigated the educational system as an undocumented immigrant, Erika finds power in sharing her life experiences with her students and values vulnerability when supporting undocumented students access higher education. Since migrating from Los Angeles to New York City, Erika has worked as a College Access Counselor in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn where she supported high school students and families navigate the college application process. Being directly impacted by migration as a DACAmented immigrant, Erika hopes to use her experiences to shape college access to be more inclusive and attainable for the undocumented immigrant community.