We are honored to have a fantastic committee who span across campus and provide multiple perspectives. Our diverse team provides the opportunity to have deep, meaningful conversations about creating a welcoming and affirming environment. It also assists with developing robust ways of addressing campus climate issues. We have undergraduate, graduate students, faculty and staff. We are honored and privileged to have the unique individuals on our committee!
Ren Liu (co-chair)
Connor Scott-Calaway (co-chair)
Kris Troy (co-chair)
Ph.D. Candidate, Quantitative and Systems Biology
In Heather's role she supports five campus departments, coordinates the Student Response Team, and works to provide students with resources, advocacy and support. Heather and her wife Angela moved to Merced in summer 2022 with their two cats, Muffin and Fanda and their senior Yorkie pup, Lady. They are happy to be nearer to their adult son, Simon, who lives in Oakland. Heather has worked throughout California in various student affairs roles and prior to coming to UC Merced she worked for four years in St. Louis, MO as Vice President for Student Affairs at two small colleges. She is originally from New England and considers herself bicoastal with her roots in Maine and her heart in California.
Maria-Elena De Trinidad Young
Maria-Elena De Trinidad Young is an Assistant Professor in the Public Health Department at UC Merced. She does research on the health impact of the US immigration system.
Marcillino Abdelmalak (He/them/هو) is Arab queer. They are a fourth-year undergraduate student whose majors are biology and public health. He has worked in CARE office at UC-Merced for almost three years. He identifies as queer and has dedicated their life to advocate for queer rights and diversity.
Samantha (Sam) Ocena
Samantha Tetangco Ocena (she/her/hers) is a Filipino-American writer and teacher. She received her MFA from the University of New Mexico and is currently Associate Director of the Writing Program at the University of California Merced. Tetangco’s short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared and are forthcoming in dozens of literary magazines and anthologies, most notably The Sun, Zone 3, Arc Poetry, Puerto del Sol, Phoebe, Foglifter, and others.
Past relevant work includes three years as President and Social Media Coordinator for the LGBTQ Writer’s Caucus, an international group that functions as a part of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in order to ensure and advocate for representation of LGBTQ writers, guest editor for As/Us Magazine’s Queer issue, and contest judge and consultant for the Martha’s Vineyard Fellowships (The Voices of Color Fellowship & The Queer Writer’s Fellowship).
Sam grew up here in Merced and is excited to be a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Queer Initiatives because she wants LGBTQ people who come to UC Merced to feel like they can also call this place home.