Draper Center Staff
A So Cal native, who grew up in South Gate and La Mirada, Jessica currently resides in Claremont with her spouse, Wal, and her dog, Keeper. She has her B.A. in Women’s Studies and Communications and her M.A. in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton. She loves blogs, board games, movie/TV show marathons, and reading.
Jose Luis Ramirez
Assistant Director, Community Based Research & Learning
Jose Luis Ramirez, Jr. grew up in Long Beach to immigrant parents from Mexico & Peru, as the eldest of three and a first-generation college student. Jose developed his passion for social justice work as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, working alongside community partners through Stiles Hall and the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program. His professional experience includes the Berkeley Unified School District, the LULAC National Educational Services Center, and leadership development with college students over the past decade at UC Berkeley & UC Irvine. Jose is currently working towards completion of his master’s degree in Education at Claremont Graduate University. He is committed to creating supportive spaces for praxis.
Maria Tucker, PhD
Director/Associate Dean of Students
Maria Tucker developed her expertise working with youth and college students through her two decades of work at Pomona College, the University of Michigan, Cornell University, Cal Poly Pomona and Citrus Community College. In 1994, she began brokering community partnerships during early work with K-12 schools through a state funded educational outreach program and has continued this work through collaborating with community based organizations. Maria earned her PhD from the University of Michigan and a masters degree in Public Policy from the Claremont Graduate University. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of California, Riverside. Her life and work interests focus on justice, education and the natural environment. Dr. Tucker grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and was a first generation college student. She attended high school at one of the PAYS partner schools. Maria serves as a board member of the Pomona Community Health Center and for the Los-Angeles based theater company About Productions.
Post Baccalaureate Fellow, Educational Outreach
Priscila Garcia was born and raised in the Inland Empire, and she is one of twelve siblings. She graduated from Montclair High School; at Pomona College, she majored in English and minored in Sociology. Her earliest memories consist of hearing her parents tell her that she needed to do well in school to make their sacrifices worthwhile. As a result, the work she does is rooted in the knowledge that what she accomplishes is not only for herself but also for those that came before her and for those to come. Her passion for social justice within the education system drives her work, and she hopes to continue inspiring young people to pursue higher education. Prior to working at Pomona College, Priscila worked at Chaffey Community College, where she tutored and mentored students. As the Post Baccalaureate Fellow for Educational Outreach at the Draper Center, she strives to inspire the Pomona College community to continue forging partnerships that support the academic achievements of K-12 students.
Assistant Director, Educational Outreach
Sergio Marin was born and lived most of his life in Los Angeles. He is the oldest son of immigrant parents and a first generation college student. It is this experience that has shaped his work in education, leadership, and youth development. Sergio has served youth as a program manager with Public Allies-Los Angeles, a program specialist with the National Conference for Community and Justice Education Department, and as an educator at the intermediate level. He has also designed and implemented programs for various “youth-serving” organizations in the public and private sector, including Cal Poly Pomona, the Museum of Tolerance, and numerous high schools. Program topics have included communication, gender, race, age, and leadership. Sergio maintains a strong commitment to education, dialogue, and community.
Professor Gilda Ochoa
As the daughter of first generation college students, who taught public school in Los Angeles County for over sixty years, Gilda Ochoa focuses her research and teaching locally. Since the 1990s, she has integrated community-based learning into her courses, first as a graduate student at UCLA and now as a professor of Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies and sociology. She has co-authored articles on these collaborations and written books on Latinas/os, education, and race/ethnicity. Her newest book -- "Academic Profiling: Latinos, Asian Americans, and the Achievement Gap" -- has received awards for its focus on eradicating racism and was named one of 35 books all educators of African American and Latina/o students must read. In her free time, she enjoys running in her La Puente neighborhood.