SOMeCA Staff

    Sayo Fujioka - Director

  • Sayo Fujioka


    Sayo Fujioka has deep roots in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas as well as the UCSC community, graduating with a degree in Sociology. Sayo works with a dedicated team to foster organizational leadership and serves as an instructor for three courses: Mindful Collaboration, Transformative Leadership, and Agency, Dialogue, Action. Prior to serving as Director, Sayo managed and organized successful electoral campaigns and citywide cultural festivals in Watsonville. She was recruited to UCSC to design leadership trainings then served as a student organization advisor. Sayo attributes her love of collaborative, fast-paced environments to her ten years in the Bay Area restaurant industry, including her work as a Field Representative for the hotel and restaurant employees union.

    (831) 459-2934  - 

  • Katherine Canales - Associate Director

  • Katherine Canales


    Katherine grew up in Hollywood, California. As an undergraduate, she helped organize statewide conferences and film festivals while earning her B.A. in International Politics at UCSC. In 2002, Katherine was caught in a devastating earthquake while visiting El Salvador. She put her organizing talent to work and developed effective community-based disaster relief programs. Katherine returned home to serve as a mentor for low-income, first generation college students for the Upward Bound/TRIO Program at the University of Southern California.

    (831) 459-5645  - 

  • Alex Santana Jr. - Associate Director

  • Alex Santana Jr.

    Student Media

    Alex Santana Jr. was born and raised in Watsonville California. During his undergraduate career at UCSC, he was an active Student Media member where he participated in FPC, OTS, and as the first SCTV Broadcast Coordinator. After graduating, Alex pursued careers focused on youth advocacy and skill development. He has worked closely with queer youth in the Santa Cruz County, and supported building a video production-based on-the-job training program in Watsonville. Alex joins the SOMeCA team eager to continue empowering students and supporting them in realizing their potential.

    (831) 459-5360  -

  • Griffin Smith - Associate Director

  • Griffin Smith


    Griffin Smith graduated from UCSC in the spring of 2017 with a B.A. in Film & Digital Media. Before joining SOAR, he worked as both an equipment manager & a business assistant for Student Media. He is also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Griffin was born & raised in Anaheim, California but has also lived in north-central Massachusetts & Sunnyvale, California before coming to Santa Cruz.

    (831) 459-3488  - 

  • Arlan Mendiola - Senior Program Manager

  • Arlan Mendiola


    Arlan Mendiola joined SOMeCA in June 2015 as a Program Manager. He is a first generation college graduate, having earned an M.Ed. in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the USC Rossier School of Education as well as a B.S. in Molecular Biology from UCSC. Before returning to UCSC, Arlan worked in various aspects of education including college preparatory programs, career services, academic advising, and alumni engagement. His passion to serve in higher education stems from his undergraduate involvement with the Filipino and Asian/Pacific Islander communities.

    (831) 459-4526  - 

  • Nelson Ramirez - Program Manager

  • SOAR

    Nelson Ramirez was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. During his undergraduate career he studied Cognitive Science at UCSC with an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence. 

    While studying, he was also involved in Engaging Education’s (E2) ChALE retention program for 4 years where he learned about student organizing and what it means to be a student leader. He was a writing tutor for the Writing Center and used those skills in E2’s summer program, JUSTICE, as a writing mentor for 2 summers. As a fourth year he became a leader in ChALE and also helped revitalize MEChA. As a MEChA leader, he served as a Student Union Governance Board representative to support decision making for student governed spaces on campus. He volunteered for many different events for E2 and SOMeCA throughout his time as a student.

    Some of his favorite pastimes include going on walks, thrifting, video game collecting and photography.

    (831) 459-3960 -

  • Rebecca Hall - Program Manager

  • Cultural Arts & Diversity

    Rebecca Hall graduated from UCSC in June 2023 with a B.A. in Intensive Psychology and a minor in Theater Arts. She was a member of the Cultural Arts and Diversity community for all four years of her undergraduate career, where she had the opportunity to act, write poetry, direct, and produce. She is also a part of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, and has experience with academic advising and residential assistance. She is a first-generation college graduate who is proud to be working with CAD in their mission to foster representation in the arts and create community spaces for diverse groups across campus.

    (831) 459-1861 -

  • Jeremiah Joson - Program Organizer

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    SOAR and Engaging Education

    Jeremiah Joson was born and raised in Sacramento, California. Moving to Santa Cruz in Fall 2019, Jeremiah graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2023 with a B.A. in Sociology. 

    During his time as a student, he was involved in the Asian/Pacific Islander Student Alliance - otherwise known as APISA. From his involvement with APISA, he was introduced to the engaging education space through the Community Unified Student Network (CUSN), serving as the lead Retention Coordinator. In his 4th year, he served as the Motivation Conference coordinator for Student-Initiated Outreach (SIO), dedicated to serving Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander students inside and outside of the University! 

    As Program Organizer, he aims to uphold e2’s legacy and aid in the growth of e2 as a space for students, by students. Some of his favorite pastimes include playing basketball, skating, and video games!

  • Jhordy Gongora - Program Organizer

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    SOAR and Engaging Education

    As the Program Organizer Jhordy advises and support the e2 community. Through the student agency model he works in partnership with the e2 community to maintain the functions and operations of the center. Some of his favorite pastimes include cooking, going on hikes, watching anime, and listening to hip-hop, jazz, and music in general. 

    (831) 459-1743  - 

  • Cindy Hernandez-Rivas - Operations Coordinator

  • Cindy Hernandez-Rivas


    Cindy Hernandez-Rivas is a College Track Scholar who grew up in Redwood City, CA. She moved to Santa Cruz to attend UCSC where she received a B.A. in Environmental and Spanish Studies. During her time at UCSC, she dove into student organizations where she learned through collaborative learning experiences about the importance of community to strive towards representation and community goals.

    (831) 459-5391 - 

  • Susan Watrous – Program Manager

  • Susan Watrous

    Student Media

    Susan Watrous is both a UCSC lecturer and a SOMeCA Program Manager, advising Student Media's print organizations. She has a degree in American Studies and over 20 years of experience as an editor, writer, and project manager for magazine, book, academic, and multimedia projects, including companies that produce hardware and software to power the high-tech world. Susan is passionate about teaching and about empowering the next generation of media makers. She is a recipient of a UCSC Excellence in Teaching Award. 

    (831) 459-5817  -