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At UCLA, generations of Latinx students pursue higher education, build a cultural identity and create a legacy for future Bruins.
 
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15–October 15), UCLA Anderson celebrates the contributions our students, alumni, faculty and staff have made to the university, to business leadership and to the community.
Latinx en Anderson

When I applied to UCLA Anderson, I was made to feel welcome by the members of the school’s Latin American community. As a woman, an international student, a Latina from Brazil, I wanted access to a career center that would be extremely supportive during the recruitment process, and the Parker Career Management Center came through. Los Angeles is a really welcoming city and that’s a big part of the experience at Anderson, a huge community supports me. As co-president of LABA, I enjoy meeting American students whose parents come from Latin American countries.

Gabriella Eliezer (’23),
Co-President, Latin American Business Association
President, Marketing Association
latinx in business

People at Anderson want to give back within their community and to students interested in getting an MBA. When I was looking at business schools, I really benefited from attending the Latin American Business Conference as a UCLA undergraduate. Members of ALMA — the student organization I now help lead — went above and beyond to review my essay and make sure that I was having a good experience during the application and interview process. They reached out to me during the pandemic, and I think it spoke well of the culture. The Latinx culture is strong here, we can rely on our network to support us. Every one of our members is also part of some other organization, and they will invite you to different events that you’re not as familiar with. That’s what makes Anderson great. You have that familiar space, but also those connections across the broader community.

Yitsac Sandoval (B.A. ’18, ’23)
Co-President, Alliance for Latinx Management at Anderson

Alumni Spotlight

 
Alejandra Perez (’22)

Alejandra Perez (’22)

Founder, IMA Blends

Alumna, Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson

Entrepreneur Alejandra Perez (’22) holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Universidad Simon Bolivar, Venezuela’s No. 1 engineering school. She represented her school at Harvard’s Model United Nations conferences in Singapore and Vancouver. At UCLA Anderson, she served as president of the Entrepreneur Association and mentored high school and college students in the Riordan Programs, which provide a pathway for young people in underrepresented groups to excel in business education and leadership.

With this broad, international reach, Perez is certain of one thing: nursing mothers the world over face exhaustion and flagging nutrition. “Motherhood is a bumpy ride,” she says. “I could not keep up with my baby’s appetite and felt guilty. I was desperate for a solution.” So she pioneered IMA Blends, a line of healthy “lactation snacks” for moms at every stage, including preconception, pregnancy, postpartum, nursing and beyond.

Alejandra Perez: 2022 Rising Latinx Founder to Watch

“I immigrated from Venezuela in 2014 with no guarantees and meager life savings. Even though I had no contacts, I networked incessantly and found my first engineering job that later turned into sales and marketing, jump-starting my future business career. My story is one of resilience, constant evolution and success. My Latinx background and overcoming adversity made me realize that I could achieve anything I set my mind to, as long as I did it with love and purpose. And as I become successful, I intend to help as many others as possible along the way.”

Our Stories
 
Featured Entrepreneur
 

Michael Vilardo (’21)

President and Co-Founder, Subject

LATAM Gold Medalist, Colombian National Hockey Team

Alumnus, Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson

Serial entrepreneur Michael Vilardo (’21) took the pulse of the TikTok generation to launch EdTech startup Subject (formerly Emile Learning), which has earned more than $5 million in seed funding. Vilardo and his Latinx co-founders, Felix Ruano and Jon Quiros, made headlines for changing e-learning’s status quo.

EdTech Startup Takes the Pulse of the TikTok Generation

Entrepreneur and founder Michael Vilardo (’21) changes e-learning’s status quo
Michael Vilardo (’21)

Latinx-Founded Edtech Platform Raises $5.3M in Seed Funding

The investment was led by Kleiner Perkins, which contributed $4 million to the raise
Emile Learning bets it can make high school students study, not scroll

EdTech Emile Learning Bets It Can Make High School Students Study, Not Scroll

Founded in 2020, Emile was built by a trio of Latino founders

Research Spotlight

 

Fernanda Bravo

Assistant Professor of Decisions, Operations and Technology Management

“The management of health care delivery systems, health organizations and policy-focused institutions affects everybody, not just providers.”

From timely research that demystifies the complicated FDA approval process to collaborations that improve hospital efficiency and patient outcomes, Fernanda Bravo’s goal is to inform health care policy and decision making to help ensure that good business is also good medicine.

In Their Words

 

“Many young people in our community don’t have someone in their lives who knows how to help them get on the road to success.”

Katelyn Bowyer (’22) was fortunate that her school teacher father was aware of early testing to qualify her, at the age of 4, for enrollment at a Houston magnet school. Katelyn, now a brand manager and marketer, is conscious of how rare that formative opportunity might be for other LatinX youth. As a volunteer mentor at Minds Matter Los Angeles, she embraces Anderson’s ethos of sharing success and feels a responsibility as a future business leader to help track high-achieving students from low-income families on a successful education path.

“Even a small modification can have huge impacts on your bottom line.”

UCLA Anderson’s senior manager of academic services and operations Patty Gonzalez Johnson (B.A. ’99, Riordan Scholar ’02, CERT ’21) pursued Anderson’s Executive Certificate in Leadership and Management as part of her decades-long commitment to the MBA students she serves. “I knew that I would gain so much from the content of the course,” she says. “What surprised me was how much I learned about myself and my leadership style.”

“Think about the destination, but do not forget about the journey.”

Luis Alcazar’s (’23) journey to becoming auditor in charge at the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General entailed his service in the U.S. Army as well as work for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Born in Long Beach and fluent in Spanish, Luis chose Anderson for his MBA experience because he wanted to become part of UCLA’s vast international network of highly driven professionals.

Title
Rosa Segura (’21) video

“The nuances of my culture can make it feel like I’m not ‘American’ enough.”

For Rosa Segura (’21), the expression “ni de aquí, ni de allá” (neither here nor there) sums up her cultural experience as an American with Mexican roots. As a b-school applicant, Rosa was invigorated to meet a critical mass of other Latinx students during UCLA Anderson’s Embracing Diversity Week and, when she became a UCLA Anderson student, she in turn helped orient prospective MBAs who straddle national identities like she does. In her second year, she served as president of the student-run Alliance for Latinx Management at Anderson.

Liz Cercado (’19)

“How great would it be if we unlocked each person’s potential?”

At the close of her UCLA Anderson executive MBA, mechanical engineering professional Liz Cercado (’19) observed that, in hindsight, some of the experience looked different than she had expected, and some looked better than she’d ever dreamed possible. Recognized by Profiles in Diversity Journal as a Woman Worth Watching, Liz said, “Thinking about societal expectations of who we should be, what careers we should pursue and what success looks like is exhausting. Good people doing great things deserve to be celebrated and reminded of how amazing they are.”

“Here at Anderson, we really are an ecosystem and we all support each other in different ways.”

Coming from the creative side of public relations, communications professional Marcella Thompkins (’23) enrolled in UCLA Anderson’s Fully Employed MBA program to fill in gaps in her knowledge about the business side. She is building a solid foundation in finance and strategy, but finds that Anderson’s challenging curriculum offers so much more, and she looks forward to continuing to take classes that are outside her comfort zone. “No matter how difficult the course is,” she says, “I have so many incredible resources surrounding me and so many brilliant classmates to learn from.” Now manager of fine wines at Constellation Brands, Marcella says, “I can honestly say this program has impacted my career immeasurably. This program is the very reason I have the job that I have today.”

“I always wanted to start a business ... Brewing is an alternative career in chemistry.”

What’s it like to come to the United States with no undergraduate degree, earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech, publish more than 45 peer-reviewed articles, pivot to brewing beer and then embark on your MBA? With credit for contributing to prize-winning research by two Nobel laureates, alumnus Diego Benitez (’19) founded Progress Brewing in South El Monte, California, in 2012. The former academic, now a successful full-time businessman, said as an Anderson student, “FEMBA is one of the best decisions of my life.”

Faculty Spotlight
 
Miguel M. Unzueta
Award-winning instruction in diversity and organizational behavior
“It is often said that perception is reality. My research explores the psychological motivations that underlie people’s perceptions of diversity-related phenomena in the present day.”
Unzueta
Miguel M. Unzueta
Senior Associate Dean of MBA Programs and Professor of Management and Organizations

Organizations Have Committed to Better Representation, But Really?

Entrepreneurship Thrives
 
The Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson helps launch a promising future for these founders and startups
Riders Share

Founder: Guillermo Cornejo ('19)
Riders Share is the Airbnb of motorcycle rental, connecting unused motorcycles to licensed riders. Riders Share has the only insurance policy that works for both renters and owners of motorcycles in the sharing economy. 

Elenita

Founders: Jordan Dil ('19), Mikel Noriega ('19)
Elenita is America's first mezcal ready-to-drink cocktail in a can, giving consumers an entry point into the world of mezcal. The company won the 2019 Knapp Venture Competition, taking home the $50,000 grand prize. 

ClearClub

Founders: Pablo Osorio Martini ('19), Joe Upchurch ('19)
Another Venture Accelerator success story, ClearClub provides teeth-grinders with custom night guards for 90% lower prices than dentists through its direct to consumer subscription service. 

Welcome to the Club
 

Latin American Business Association (LABA)

Through a broad offering of professional and social events, the Latin American Business Association (LABA) aims to showcasing the region’s diverse cultures and business opportunities for the mutual benefit of our members and the broader Anderson community.

Alma logo

The Alliance for Latinx Management at Anderson (ALMA)

ALMA is committed to building a diverse, inclusive and collaborative space to promote fellowship and professional development while celebrating American Latinx culture.

UCLA Anderson Review
 
A window into the cutting-edge research of expert faculty who are drawn to the school from around the globe
Riordan Programs
 

Providing a pathway for underrepresented students to excel in business and leadership

Tomorrow's leaders emerge from a transformational experience with Riordan mentors, educational workshops and community service. The Riordan Scholars Program, College to Career Program and MBA Fellows Program provide leadership and management training to diverse individuals all over the country.

Riordan podcast episodes
Episode 27

Christian Duncan
Riordan Scholars Alum Class of 2007

Topic: Graduation Day

Play Episode

Learn About the Organizations That Advance Our
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Mission
 
Other Resources
 

Diversity at UCLA

Graduate education at UCLA couldn’t have reached the heights it has without a full commitment to welcoming and fostering the diverse population that today thrives on our campus.

Toigo Foundation

Toigo’s mission is to foster the career advancement and increased leadership of underrepresented talent by creating mechanisms for greater inclusion, from the classroom to the boardroom.

UCLA LGBTQ Resource Center

Fostering unity and wellness, UCLA’s LGBTQ Resource Center provides education and advocacy services to support intersectional identity development in an open, safe, inclusive environment.