Staff & Interns


    Caz Salamanca

  • Caz Salamanca

    Director of the Asian American/Pacific Islander Resource Center

    Caz Salamanca (he/him/siya) is an educator with over 10 years of experience in Higher Education. Raised in the Bay Area, Caz received his bachelor's degree in Cognitive Science from UC San Diego, where he was heavily involved in the Filipino American interest student organization. Since then, his professional and personal engagement in social justice work in higher education carried him through earning his Master's degree in Education from San Diego State University, and his previous experience as the Assistant Director of the MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center at San José State University. 

    Caz is excited to return to California, the UC system and multicultural affairs, from his most recent experience as an Adviser and Diversity Programs Coordinator for the School of Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. Caz's interests include student identity and leadership development, hip hop education, and exploring social justice issues of pop culture. He also loves cooking, doing puzzle/escape rooms, and boba!


  • Benedicto Llave

  • photo of Benedicto Llave, AA/PIRC's program coordinator. Walking towards the camera, landscape background.

    Program Coordinator

    Benedicto Borja Llave (name/he/they) is a proud queer Filipino/x American child of immigrants, and the first in his family to earn a graduate degree, a Master’s of Education in Higher Ed and Student Affairs from University of Vermont. Benedicto is a proud alum of Napa Valley College and UC Berkeley, and roots himself in his experiences as a student activist in the Pilipinx Academic Student Services, the Asian Pacific American Student Development Office, as well as the teachings of transformative justice leaders adrienne maree brown, and Mia Mingus.
    Benedicto's values and passions within and expansive of higher education include: healing, self-determination, and wholeness especially for and with queer and trans Black, Indigenous and People of Color (QTBIPOC) communities, (re)aligning with our inherent body-mind-soul wisdom, sleeping a minimum of 8 hours a night, playing tennis, reading, laughing with friends, and decluttering! 

  • Gina Waneis

  • Gina Waneis, AA/PIRC's SWANA Retention Specialist, headshot photo.

    SWANA Retention Specialist

    Gina Waneis (she/her/hers) is a proud first-generation Syrian-American. Gina attended UC Riverside where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Education. During her undergrad, she was involved in the Middle Eastern Student Center where she became a founding sister of Epsilon Alpha Sigma, also known as the Empowered Arab Sisterhood. Gina graduated with a master of science in higher education from California State University, Fullerton. She has been passionate about serving the SouthWest Asian North African (SWANA) community and helped start the SWANA organization and also co-wrote the SWANA Resolution during her time in graduate school.

    Gina is excited to serve the AA/PIRC community as the inaugural SWANA Retention Specialist. In her free time, you can catch Gina spending time with her family, traveling with her friends, or trying new recipes she finds on TikTok. She is looking forward to moving to the Santa Cruz area and is patiently waiting for suggestions for coffee shops, restaurants, hikes, and more!


  • Kate Jara

  • Kate

    Graphic Design Intern

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    College: Nine

    Major: MCD Biology 

    My name is Jillian Kate Jara (but everyone just calls me Kate) and I am a third year MCD Biology major from College Nine. I am also affiliated with Bayanihan (KAMP, PHD) and I'm really looking forward to becoming more involved in the AAPI community on campus. I am a first-generation Filipino-American, a plant mom to 13 (and counting) plants, and a lover of water. I'm from Rocklin which is outside of Sacramento and in my free time I like to cook with friends, walk my dogs, and browse at my local plant nurseries. 


  • Kaitlin Kealoha

  • Kaitlin

    Tech/Media Intern

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    College: Nine

    Major: Chemistry

    Hello, my name is Kaitlin Kealoha and I am a third-year chemistry major affiliated with college nine. I am interested in a career in forensic science with a focus on toxicology. I call Long Beach and enjoy the warm weather SoCal offers. I am Hawaiian, Persian, and French Canadian. In my free time, I love baking, going to the beach, and reading. Also, I have a slight obsession with formula one racing.  I am excited to become more a part of the AA/PI community at UCSC.


  • Jeff Aquino

  • Jeff

    Tech and Media Intern

    Pronouns: He/ Him/ His

    College: Merrill

    Major: Film and Digital Media

    Hi I’m Jeff and I’m a 4th year Film and Digital Arts major. I’m a first generation Filipino immigrant and I lived in Los Angeles before coming up to Santa Cruz to pursue my degree. I wanted to be a part of AA/ PIRC because I hope to be a part of something bigger than myself that helps out anyone who may be struggling as they pursue higher education. I also believe that being more active within the AA/PI community would aid me in my goal to give more realistic and positive representation for people within those communities in the film and digital media industry. In my free time I enjoy creative writing, playing video games, and watching movies, shows and YouTube videos.


  • Genevieve Wiley

  • Genevieve

    Outreach Intern

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    College: Stevenson

    Major: Politics and Legal Studies

    Hello everyone! My name is Genevieve Wiley and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am a fourth year Politics and Legal Studies double major and I hope to apply to Law School and to work in the environmental law and policy field. I am half Filipino and white and grew up in a multi ethnic family. I am interested in making the outdoor industry more inclusive to minority groups and dismantle the white supremacist narrative surrounding the industry. I also hope to help get rid of practices and policies that have disparate impacts on minority groups through lobbying and being a part of local social justice organizations. I love doing anything outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, and petting any cat I see out on the street.


  • Destiny Sarmiento

  • Destiny

    Outreach Intern

    Pronouns: None

    College: Rachel Carson College

    Major: Sociology and Legal Studies

    Hi! My name is Destiny Sarmiento and I am a fourth year sociology and legal studies double major. I am from San Diego, California where the sun stays shining and amazing food is not hard to find. As a female identifying Pilipinx and Latinx student, friend, and peer, I am dedicated to giving back to my community. I am passionate towards creating equitable, accessible, and inclusive spaces. In addition to understanding, dissecting, and breaking down systems of oppression. When I am not being a student, I love to spend my time outdoors, making good food, or traveling. I love a good challenge and learning new skills! Therefore, I am thrilled to be apart of this space at the Asian American/ Pacific Islander resource center and continue learning from you all! 


  • Jesse Kapukui

  • Jesse

    Programs Intern

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

    College: Kresge

    Major: Literature

    Jesse Kapukui (he/him/his) is a fourth-year transfer student, passionate about exploring the intersection of language and power as a Literature major (Creative Writing Concentration). In his undergraduate work, he’s strived to transform theoretical frameworks like abolition, queer theory, and intersectional anti-capitalism into a praxis that transforms himself and how he shows up to his meaningful relationships. As a programming intern this year, Jesse's excited to become part of a support system for other AAPIRC students, and contribute to the mutual aid work of meeting students’ immediate needs and building a world beyond the oppressive structures we navigate at an academic and communal level.


  • Hana Yamamoto

  • Hana

    Programs Intern

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    College: Ten

    Major: History

    Hana is a third year History major who views her studies as a tool for anti-racist work. She is Japanese and Czech, and was raised in Ventura, California. She values friendship, unity, and education, and she's excited to help AA/PIRC foster these values within the AA/PI community on campus. She runs for the UCSC cross country and track team. She enjoys the forest, astrology, reading and writing, and nectarines.


  • Laura Galanos

  • Laura

    Programs Intern

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    College: Merrill 

    Major: Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

    My name is Laura and I am a third year majoring in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. I am from the San Luis Obispo, CA and have worked on numerous racial and environmental justice projects in my community. After college my goal is to work abroad so I can learn from a diverse range of cultures and communities. I love to go on outdoor adventures, play guitar, and cook in my free time. I look forward to making a meaningful impact at UC Santa Cruz through AA/PIRC!

  • Dominic Ho

  • Dom

    Admin/ Business Intern

    Pronouns: They/ Them

    College: Crown

    Major: Computational Mathematics and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

    My names Dominic Ho. I am double majoring in Computational Mathematics and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. I was born in Victoria BC Canada, but I consider myself a Vietnamese American since I was raised in California most my life. My hobbies include growing medicinal and gourmet mushrooms, dancing, and spending time with those close to me.

  • Benjamin Nguyen

  • Ben

    Admin/ Business Intern

    Pronouns: He/ Him

    College: John R. Lewis

    Major: Psychology and Theater Arts

    Benjamin Nguyen is a third year student studying Psychology and Theater Arts. Born and raised in the Bay Area by Vietnamese parents, he was often involved in Vietnamese cultural performances. As a classically trained singer, Ben then participated choirs and school musical productions. Soon his interest in media expanded as he desired to see more representation of multidimensional Asian stories. He looks forward to performing and attending shows again as businesses reopen. You can also find him at the gym (especially at Opers for their Group Exercise classes!) and/or exploring other Asian eateries around Santa Cruz.

  • Dorsa Heydar

  • Dorsa

    SWANA Intern

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    College: Nine

    Major: Politics

    My name is Dorsa Heydar and I'm from the Bay Area and I consider Vancouver, Canada home as well. I grew up in a multilingual household so I have a passion for learning languages. I speak French and Farsi fluently and Turkish, Spanish and German at an intermediate level. I also love to travel and cook in my spare time.


  • Sophia Syed

  • Sophia

    SWANA Intern

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    College: Crown

    Major:  Cognitive Science 

    My name is Sophia and I am a third year at UCSC! I am a first-generation Pakistani-American and I grew up speaking Urdu/Hindi and Spanish. I'm from the Bay Area but I'm a huge Lakers fan! In my spare time I enjoy drawing, reading, making Spotify playlists, and spending time with my Shiba Loki! On campus, I am an active member of Students For Justice in Palestine and I am very passionate about promoting social justice for SWANA countries. I can't wait to cultivate a sense of community,  equity and compassion within the SWANA community here at UCSC!


  • John Wang

  • John

    Graduate Student Intern

    John is a PhD Candidate in the Politics Department. His work moves between critical race studies, 20th century French philosophy, political theory, and queer theory to examine the biopolitics and embodiment of chronic illness. John completed his undergraduate studies at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota before beginning his graduate work at UCSC. As a graduate student intern, he is invested in helping create community-based healing, working and learning spaces for AAPI identifying graduate students and allies. In addition to this work, John's passions include exploring the outdoors, brazilian jiu-jitsu, and organic gardening.