Three Pieces

Dontaye Henderson
AKA Preacher

Can I Celebrate Me?

Many things have tried to destroy me and all have failed.
Can I celebrate me for surviving?
I failed at being my own worst enemy.
Can I celebrate me for believing in myself?
I was born rich in love but poor in self-worth.
Can I celebrate me for loving who I am?
Raised to view black as a sin.
Can I celebrate me for the skin I was born in?
A school system set up for me to fail before I turned nine.
Can I celebrate me for learning the truth?
Visions of jail cells and cemeteries, I dreamed of projected in my mind
Can I celebrate me for waking up?
A government that poisons society with propaganda and lies, fueling wars to fill their pockets with innocent blood.
Can I celebrate me for speaking out?
Countless wasted years of a newfound slavery called incarceration.
Can I celebrate me for being set free?
Never meant to be equal but subservient to another through stagnated labor.
Can I celebrate me for re-writing my narrative?
Designed to be a tool on the assembly line of life.
Can I celebrate me for finding my own path?
I was a sentence on a page that would have never been read in this whisper of existence.
Can I celebrate me for creating my own destiny?
I travel through this maze of life to rediscover my truth and once I found out who I was, I became free.
Can I celebrate me for revealing my soul?
Can I celebrate me for seeing the truth of my reality?

A Son’s Expectations

I remember meeting my father for the first time when I was 15 years old. I rode a grey hound bus for a day and a half. I endured the smells of food, people, overused sanitizers, and two long layovers in towns I’ve never heard of before. When I stepped off the bus the next morning in Detroit, Michigan I saw a modestly dressed man who resembled me standing at my gates entrance waiting for someone. He greeted me as if he knew me and his voice matched the one I’ve heard over the years on the phone. He took my second suitcase and we got into his van parked out in front. The trip to his house only took about 15 minutes. We pulled up to a vintage two story home with three vehicles parked in front. The paint on the house was old and faded and there was a long wooden fence that adorned the side of the house. I entered and saw a stack of boxes as if someone was in the process of moving. This man who said his name was Gary asked if I was hungry. I was very hungry at the time but I lied and said that I was fine. I was really overwhelmed with emotions. I finally had a father who I could get to know. I had a million questions I needed answered all at once. I had to calm my racing thoughts. Tomorrow would be another day for more answers. The next morning, we visited an exotic car dealership. There was this red convertible near the exit that stood out from the other cars. My father noticed me eyeing the car and complimented me on my good taste. He told me after we left that he would consider buying me that car after I had finished working for him over the summer. I felt entitled to the car because he was absent most of my life. He owed me this one treasure to make up for all those lost years. It wasn’t entirely by choice on his part. My mother decided for them both, which caused our prolonged separation until now. I was optimistic, expecting him to be a man of his word since we were starting our new relationship. The following day I sat in front of his warehouse in the humid heat daydreaming while tending to the produce he had me selling. I thought of all the places I would go in my new car. I was going to be one of the most popular kids at my school because of this car. I would pick up all the pretty ladies and usher them around town. This Mercedes convertible had custom chrome rims, candy red paint job, all white interior, and a Bose sound system. It was only a few years old so it looked brand new. All I had to do to earn it was work this summer at his old dusty warehouse doing odd jobs when asked. I figured these two months would pass by like a cool breeze. That cool breeze turned into a raging tornado soon after I had arrived. The first week went by normal enough, but by week two we were two male koi fish in the same small glass jar fighting for dominance. With my southern upbringing, I was raised to respect my elders, especially your parents. I was obliged mainly for the grand prize I desired so badly to receive for working. I thought we were breaking ground in our relationship at first. I quickly saw the deep resentment he had towards my mother, which he decided to take out on me. He first questioned our paternity by saying that my mother was seeing another man soon before they started dating. Next he said that if I was his son why didn’t I carry his last name? All this stung me at my core. I just met this man and all I wanted to do was make him proud of me and happy. I would’ve changed my last name for him. I would’ve done almost anything, but most importantly I just wanted to have a dad. I wanted a father to build great memories with together--as my friends I grew up with were able to do. I worked hard those weeks trying to impress my father. My best efforts never seemed good enough. The harder I worked the more he criticized my attempts. I began to rebel in my heart the day I almost died working for my father. He instructed me to do a dangerous task with painting the back garage by using a termite infested looking ladder. I would be some 15 feet off the ground to reach the top. I had to go up to the second to last step to reach this height. Halfway into the project the ladder broke and I fell on the ground landing hard on the concrete with the bucket of paint nearly missing my head as it fell with me. The bucket hit me on my shoulder, which sent a shock of pain to my neck. When my father came out to inspect all the chaos, he did not ask if I was okay, he only reprimanded me for breaking his old ladder. I thought this was heartless for him not to be concerned about my wellbeing. This resentment grew like a cancer from that night forward. The following week we worked together sawing down limbs from trees that fell on power lines at people’s residences. One day we were greeted by a pleasant lady in her mid-sixties. She offered us tea. My father declined for us both and we soon set up for work. My job was to hold the ladder steadily and hand him his tool of choice for each section of the job. It took different steps when cutting down branches on live power lines. We had to be very careful. As he would cut back and forwards with this saw connected to a long pole that had a rope attached to it, the blade would be swung down after each cut flying in the direction of my head every time barely missing me. I asked him to be careful swinging that blade so close to my face. He told me to be quiet and just hold the ladder steady. Sure enough on the next swing the blade veered directly at my head. Instinctually, I lifted my arms up to protect my face and felt the blade bury deep into my skin. When the teeth of the blade came out I could see the white meat of my flesh before the blood started rushing out. The elderly lady saw what happened from her back kitchen window and came running out to help aid me. After she bandaged me up she suggested that my father take me to the hospital. He calmly told her that I would be okay, that the cuts would heal. He may have been accurate about my physical state but emotionally I was damaged from this second failed attempt on my life (as I had begun to think). The last air in the balloon popped the day when two other guys and myself were shoveling wood chips into one of my father’s loading trucks at a job site. I had to use the bathroom so I walked towards the empty house on the property. He saw me leaving and came rushing at me yelling like a rabid bull telling me to go back to work. I told him I wanted to use the bathroom; he barked, saying I needed to ask him first and to return to work. I felt spit hit my cheek as he ordered me back to work, which only aggravated me more. He stood directly in my face where I could see the rage in his eyes. That was all I could bear. I then stood closer in his face in full defiance. I was at my tipping point ready to exchange blows if necessary. This stranger with the title of father at this moment meant nothing to me. He was never in my life before. Who the hell did he think he was? To prevent this situation from escalating I simply walked away. It took me three exhausting hours on foot to find my way back to my father’s house. Over the next two days I planned my escape. The moment came on a cloudy day when my father went to pick up more roofing supplies. I was in front of the warehouse selling fruits and vegetables again. I waited 15 minutes to make sure he did not double back as he had done before. I then grabbed my luggage that I had smuggled the day before and hid in his other truck parked out front. I caught the next bus that stopped at the corner of the warehouse. It took me downtown near the GM building I remember seeing in a Robo Cop movie once. I was lost in this notorious city of crime so I called my uncle who later picked me up in his new white jag and took me to his mansion with his wife and feisty poodle named Misty that scared me as a child when I visited for my other uncle’s funeral nine years before. A week later, I headed back on the Greyhound bus to Atlanta. I had lost all hope and expectations of ever seeing that red convertible or my father ever again.

A River of Life

"You become your worst enemy when you tell yourself you can’t achieve something when in fact you can be and do anything you want in life." My third grade teacher, Mrs. O’Dell, told me that after I told her I couldn’t write. On the first day of school, Mrs. O’Dell presented each student with a black and white hundred-page notebook to write in each morning. I doubted I would ever become a successful writer because I was told that I had ADD and dyslexia. I was the only kid I knew that failed the first grade. So I told myself that I was stupid and dumber than the other students. My penmanship was horrible and my attention span was as unpredictable as how the wind blows. After Christmas break Mrs. O’Dell introduced me to my favorite childhood book, Where the Red Fern Grows, written by W. Rawls. We watched the movie after she read the book to us. It was a story about a poor boy from the Ozarks named Billy who worked hard around town to save up enough money to purchase two hound dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, to go raccoon hunting for furs. Billy was brave, honest, and giving, which were qualities I aspired to have.

After the emotional ending of the movie, every eye in the class was full of tears. Mrs. O’Dell then shared with us how to write poems to express our feelings and thoughts. Her style of teaching encouraged me to connect with education in a way I never knew was possible. The things I was once scared to do, I now looked forward to learning. I was excited because I was motivated to read more and write. Because of Mrs. O’Dell, I stayed up all night in bed writing until my fingers became numb. I needed to prove to myself that I was not a failure. Mrs. O’Dell taught me that I could do anything that I put my mind to. I desired to make Mrs. O’Dell proud of me and prove her right. I also wanted one of those large scratch and sniff fruity stickers she passed out for completed work she deemed excellent. My mother was home cooking one of those hamburger helper box meals that you add meat to. I asked her to help me with the editing of my poem at the dinner table; she said my poem was profound and that I was a talented young writer as she kissed me on my forehead.

The poem only had a few grammatical errors she easily fixed. I wanted this poem to be perfect; it was my first poem and my first glimpse at what true power my words could have on people. I went to school the next day and waited last to read my poem. I cared a lot about my teacher and mentor Mrs. O’Dell who I wrote and dedicated my poem to. I heard poems my classmates wrote about dogs and cats, the sun and the moon and now the class would hear my poem called TEACHERS. It was silent in the class as I walked to the front of the chalkboard to read.

A teacher is a friend someone you can always depend on.
My teacher taught me I could be anything I wanted to be.
To rise higher than the stars and dream beyond my worst fears.
A teacher can teach you to discover who you are when you are lost and don’t believe in yourself.
My teacher gave me hope to never give up on myself,
To shine brighter than the sun and to love me for who I am.
A teacher is a hero we never read about or award any metal to.
My teacher deserves so much more than I could ever offer.
To be remembered for all the love that they give.
A teacher can teach us to do and be our very best.
My teacher never let me quit believing in my dreams,
To be and do anything I wanted to in life.
Thank you.

The silence was finally broken by the sound of Mrs. O’Dell’s gentle cry. She asked me in a soft voice to come to her desk. I was deeply moved, I never knew a poem could affect someone so emotionally. I understood how movies could because there were actors and dramatic scenes, but a simple poem written by me, a nine year old boy. Mrs. O’Dell asked if I had help writing the poem. I promised her that I wrote it all by myself. She told me to never stop writing because I was great at it. I read the poem again at the school’s assembly honoring teachers later that year. That was the last time I read that poem because Mrs. O’Dell framed my poem and hung it on the wall behind her desk. What I discovered through my education was that I could bring happiness to someone through the power of my words. I never again doubted what I could do positively through this river in my life. I will always remember Mrs. O’Dell’s inspiring words, “you become your worse enemy when you tell yourself you can’t achieve something when in fact you can be and do anything you want to in life.”

Alberto Lule

Alberto Lule uses readymades, mixed media installations, video, performance, and
tools used by agencies of authority to examine and critique the prison industrial
complex in the United States, particularly the California carceral state. Using his
own experiences, he aims to tie the prison industrial complex to other American
political issues such as immigration, homelessness, drug addiction, and mental
health. Lule creates artworks that explore institutional roles as gatekeepers of
knowledge, authorities of culture, administrators of discipline, and executors of
punishment. He is the recipient of the Public Impact Fellowship, Claire Trevor
School of the Arts, UC Irvine, 2022-2023. The 2020 Kay Nielsen Memorial
Drawing Award, The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Alberto received a BA in Art
from The University of California Los Angeles, and is currently pursuing his MFA
from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine.

Cassandra Flores

Hello! My name is Cassandra Flores and I was raised in South El Monte after my parents’ immigrated from Nayarit, México to East LA. I spent my summers in high school exploring politics and multicultural literature. This is where I began to dissect my own cultural identity through the works of writers like Gloria Anzaldúa and Oscar Zeta Acosta. I find power in vulnerability and confrontation in all types of writing, including music. The lyricism of artists such as Clairo, Natalia Lafourcade, and Lorde foster an intimacy I hope to capture in my own writing. Things that bring me joy include my cat, Kiwi, dancing, concerts, and crafts that stimulate my creativity! As a student at UC Irvine, I study Social Policy and Public Service and I’ve been dancing with Ballet Folklorico de UCI for two years. My favorite poet at the moment is Yesika Salgado. I resonate with her experiences, the bilingualism in her writing, and aim to one day publish my own poetry book.

Tatyana Hazelwood

Tatyana grew up as a low-income, first-gen, African-American, Panamanian and Mexican student in both Orange County and San Diego, CA. She works as a System-Impacted Peer Mentor and an intern for the LIFTED Program. At UC Irvine, she is a Psychological Science (B.A.) and Criminology, Law & Society (B.A.) double major. Being a system-impacted student herself, she had a difficult upbringing and strives to find healing through success in education to end generational sacrifices. She began writing personal poems in her creative writing course in high school but often felt restricted to the conventional rules of poetry. Her works shared in Issue 4 are her most personal and meaningful poems.

Janellee Hernandez

Hello! My name is Janellee and I am a first-generation college student who was raised in a Guatemalan household. I have always loved how art has been a medium (in any form) that allows people to say something without actually speaking. Whether it’s to communicate a deeper meaning or is just there to simply exist. Photography has been something that I have always enjoyed and found that it is my way of self expression.

John Dayot

John Silvan Dayot is a rising senior at UCI studying English. He recently became an alumni of the award-winning nonprofit program Ghetto Film School (GFS). With a background in film, John wants to grow as a storyteller and develop projects with his community of talented friends. He believes art is always growing and is currently inspired by visual arts and capturing real life/people.

Daniel Le

Daniel Le is a third year student studying psychology with a minor in digital arts. Originally from Cerritos, CA, he enjoys exploring new things with friends, making spotify playlists, getting tattoos, and immersing himself in his Vietnamese culture.

Dontaye Henderson

Dontaye Henderson was raised in Atlanta Georgia and now resides in San Diego, California. He attends UCI studying to earn his BA degree in Sociology. His inspiration comes from his children and loving mother. He desires to use his education to help aid the struggling youth in society as a mentor. He enjoys writing poetry, reading, drawing, and cooking. He is grateful for this opportunity with furthering his education with UCI and plans to be the best version of himself towards everyone he meets.

Victor Lopez

My name is Victor Lopez. I am an incarcerated student at Richard J. Donovan State Prison. Serving a life sentence does not give a father much room to be a positive role model. Educating myself to motivate my daughter Arriana was the best that I could do. My past actions does not define who I am, with or without my freedom, I will contrive to be a better man.

Martha Trujillo

Martha Coral Trujillo is a 28-year-old currently attending Fullerton College to obtain a Paralegal Certificate after having completed a Master's Degree in Criminology, Law and Society. Martha's goal is to become a Criminal Lawyer and to continue to work with supporting youth at risk. Martha continues to write in journals and is currently working on Journal 33. Martha's passion for assisting and serving underrepresented youth has been the motivation for her to continue to reach higher and do more in the Justice System.

Patrick Acuña

Patrick was born in San Gabriel, California but was raised by the carceral system. After three decades of incarceration, he is the first member of UCI’s LIFTED (Leveraging Inspiring Futures Through Educational Degrees) to transition to campus as a first-generation senior with an emphasis in Psychological Science and Criminology, Law, and Society. When Patrick isn’t on campus, he volunteers with Guide Dogs of America where he trains dogs for children on the autism spectrum and veterans managing PTSD and/or overcoming combat related mobility impairment. His other passions include backcountry hiking, working out, and traveling. He’s recently returned from a 30-day cross country road trip where he slept on the sidewalk of New York’s Time Square, a back-alley doorway in DC, and the parking lot of a Las Vegas Cracker Barrel.

Yuzhou Michael Ju

Yuzhou Michael Ju, a second-year Sociology major at UCI, is an international student who was born and raised in Chongqing, China. He completed his entire K-12 education in China before coming to the U.S. for college. Yuzhou is particularly interested in immigration studies, with a focus on Chinese Americans. Whenever he visits a Chinatown, he feels curious about the people there: what motivates them to move to a distant place, and how do they establish new homes in an unfamiliar country? First-generation immigrants, in particular, must have made significant commitments to their entire families in order to support the future of their offspring. In his free time, Yuzhou dedicates most of his time to volunteering as a tour guide at art exhibitions or historical relics museums in Chongqing. He guides visitors through exhibitions showcasing Dunhuang Buddhist murals and shares the history of Chongqing's role as the War Capital of China during WWII.

Feliz Aguilar

Feliz is a disabled, non-binary, first-generation, Latinx creator proudly hailing from the East Side of Salinas, CA. They recently graduated from UC Irvine in June 2023, double majoring in Literary Journalism and International Studies. Their passion for learning and experiences as a first-generation student inspired them to question the accessibility of post-undergraduate higher education, leading to the piece featured in this issue. The people fighting injustice around the world are their greatest inspiration, and they hope to continue standing in solidarity with those resisting oppression globally — whether in writing or on the ground.

Helena San Roque

My name is Helena San Roque. I’m a third year Literary Journalism major at UCI. I wrote my piece “Azat Artsakh, Free Us All'' as a nod to my Armenian heritage. However, it’s more than that— it wasn’t until college that I learned about the broad anti-imperialist struggle across various nations in Latin America, Palestine, Armenia, the Philippines, India, etc… In this piece, I talk about Armenia and Palestine: in 2020 the Artsakh war broke out after a decades long armistice between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Israel, which has committed grave atrocities against Palestine, continued to support Azerbaijan in their unjust war against Armenia, resulting in capturing Armenian territory in a trial of human rights abuses. But when your father’s homeland is attacked, what can I, an “American” college student, do? For me, to truly help emancipate my people, the answer was to get educated and organize.

Guadalupe Parra

Guadalupe is a first-generation student majoring in History with the goal of becoming a teacher. She was born in a tiny town in Jalisco, Mexico, and moved to the US with her parents when she was three. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley, surrounded by Mexican culture, and uses that as inspiration in her poetry.

Mariah Rosario

My name is Mariah Rosario and I am a UCI 2022 graduate and alumni. The following portfolio I submitted is my college senior thesis I submitted for my final. It depicts my story of self-emancipation and finding myself through independence and trauma.

Makyla McLeod

Makyla is a Black, first-generation student born and raised in North Carolina. She is currently entering her 3rd year in undergrad with a double major in International Studies and Literary Journalism. As the author of "I Educate", Makyla looked to voice not only her personal experience as the oldest child in a southern Black household looking to further her education, but to also pay homage and express gratitude to the village that continues to help her get there. In her free time, besides writing, she enjoys listening to music, reading, playing video games, and watching horror movies.

Serenity Thu Ritchey

Serenity is a third-year English major from Garden Grove, CA. She has a soft spot for poetry, among other things, like honeycombs, and the color green. She thinks words are pretty sweet and wants to believe in them. (Sometimes she does).

Josie Bitnes

Originally from Washington, Josie is a second year criminology, law, and society major seeking a literary journalism minor. She plans on attending law school to become a criminal defense attorney. In her free time, she skis with UCI’s Ski and Snowboard club and enjoys playing guitar, reading, and being outside in nature.

Corbin Li

Corbin is a first-generation college student studying Civil Engineering at UC Irvine. Growing up in California, they fell in love alongside Pacific air, late night guitar, and bonfires at the beach. Corbin’s passions lie in the intersection between engineering, art, and society, and they look forward to further exploring these topics in future years.

Erik Perez

First and foremost my name is Erik Perez and I am 20 years young. I am an artistic expressionist and Chicano artist. I’m from Southern California where we dream big and plant seeds for the world to flourish.

Francisco Vazquez

My name is Francisco Vazquez and I am 20 years old from the city of Santa Ana–that’s the place I call home. I’ve been in and out of the Orange County Juvenile Hall since the age of 14. I’m on my way to prison and I’m in a different mindset than the one I had 2 years ago when I first got here. In here I like to read, draw, and work out. I got a hidden talent which is to sing and I would like to pursue that upon release. I attend college here and I try to be a role model for my peers. In the future I hope to give back to my community, which I used to terrorize at some point.

Helen Barahona

Helen Barahona recently graduated from the University of California, Irvine (‘23). She double-majored in Political Science (Honors) & Sociology and over the summer she interned in DC with the Shadow Topics team as a research intern at the Political Violence Lab. Prior to working with the lab she served as a student assistant at the UCI Basic Needs Center, and as the managing editor for LUCID through the Dream Project Fellowship. During her free-time she likes to read, write, paint, rate movies on letterboxd and go bike-riding!

Jaaziel de la Luz

I am from Veracruz, Mexico and currently a second year math PhD student at UCI. I enjoy writing, reading philosophy, skateboarding, learning languages, traveling, hiking, jogging, sketching, and doing research. I am passionate about community building and exploring the world.

Juan Jimenez

My name is juan jimenez. 
I’ve been incarcerated for 
just about 5 yrs. In the 
midst of this quest, I’ve 
developed a hobby!
             I’m a writer 
from the ghetto! Don’t you 
disregard my message . . .
Told them all that made me 
feel like I was less than: 
             Here’s a little bout my story. Not a boy. I know 
             I’m destined

Pablo Ramirez

My name is Pablo. They also call me Pablito. At this moment Im placed in JH. In here I’ve learned many things about myself and my surroundings. I’ve learned how the brain works and how trauma affects your thinking. Right now I’m going to high school at the moment. Ima graduate in December. Im excited because I want to go to college. I used to be wild. I didn’t care about life Itself. All I cared about was putting in work for my hood and shit like that. that was me out there. In here Im more calm kick back. I’m changing. This change Im doing is mostly for my family. They need me out there to support them emotionally and financially. I [used to be] the man of the house. At a young age I would work hard and pay my jefa for rent. [My mom] would struggle and that bummed me out, but there were also times where I shit where I slept. Now Im focused on getting my education and learning new stuff every day. Im more open minded. When I get out me voy a poner las pellas to work hard to buy a house for my lil family. I want to be a welder. I wanna learn the art of welding. Im a hands on person. Im thankful for everything I’ve been through. It taught me a lot.

Samog-J Lemon

I am a current student at Irvine Valley College and I'm majoring in communicative disorders. I was born in Anaheim. I love spending time with family and friends; as I got older I realized how important that was. I am a Christian and go to church with my great grandma every Sunday. I like to write poems on the beach; it’s my new way of clearing my mind. I actually do write now to clear my head, something I would’ve never knew I liked but I find therapeutic.

Allan Plata

Born in City of Orange, Ca., my family and I have moved from room to room. Eventually my mother was able to afford an apartment of her own. I always lived in rural areas in the same city then eventually I would get involved with the people in my environment. Father was in and out the picture due to negative habits and mother was either busy or would put her priorities before her own children. My sister was a second mother and also a friend that would try to guide me to do better things for myself, though I was stubborn and didn’t want to listen to what others had to say.

Rachael Collins

Rachael has been an educator and teacher of writing in the California Community College system and at UCI since 2005. A proud homeschooled student, CCC transfer and UC graduate twice over with a PhD in early modern poetry, Rachael is committed to curriculum design that focuses on providing high quality, innovative, and democratically-centered writing instruction to disadvantaged learners, including those who are limited to online learning environments. Drawing upon the multidisciplinary, multimedia work published in Lucid, Rachael's courses focus on the transformative potential of personal writing in higher education. She thinks that when students are given the space and the tools to express themselves, they write beautifully.

Ryan "Flaco" Rising

Ryan Flaco Rising, West Coast Credible Messengers Director and PhD candidate in Criminology Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine, leverages his personal experience as a formerly incarcerated individual to assist others transitioning into higher education at UCI. His research focuses on creating pathways for formerly incarcerated individuals in higher education and analyzing the evolution of related programs. Ryan's advocacy, including founding the Gaucho Underground Scholars Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has played a pivotal role in expanding similar programs across UC campuses. He has received prestigious awards for his work and authored pieces in various publications, showcasing the power of formerly incarcerated individuals in producing innovative solutions and sustainable pathways for their communities, encapsulated in his 'Organic Leadership' theory.

Lisandra Rising

Lisandra is an Undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine majoring in Social Policy and Public Service with a focus on Education. Lisandra serves as the Recruitment Coordinator for the Underground Scholars program at UCI. She is also part of a blended family and lives with her son and daughter who are both 14.

Mia Voloshin

Mia is a Freshman at University High and plays indoor volleyball. On her free time, she enjoys being with her friends, shopping, and going to the beach. She eventually wants to pursue college courses before and after she graduates high school.

Riley Rising

Riley is originally from Montana and moved to CA last year in eighth grade. He is now a Freshman at University High and is involved with jiu jitsu and wrestling at his high school. Riley enjoys skateboarding and free-styling on his free time. He wants to join the marines after he graduates.

Pedro Nieves

Pedro Nieves is a UCI alumni who graduated with a Bachelor's degree in the Arts. Born in Puebla Mexico, he immigrated to the U.S. at 2 years old. After getting involved with the Dream Center and Underground Scholars Initiative, he’s now passionate about advocating for underrepresented communities by using his photography and video production skills. He hopes to become a skilled photographer and creative and looks forward to applying to graduate school to further hone his artistic abilities and create a name for himself in the art world.