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2023 Project STRIDE Cohort 

Jevan Dorbor

Jevan Dorbor is a senior student athlete who attends Redondo Union High School. Over the 2023 summer, the STRIDE program provided Jevan with opportunities to do clinical research.


This young scientist studied the genes behind our circadian rhythm such as BMAL1 via the Western Blot method. His research was aimed at answering the question of how nicotine and high fat diets impact our circadian rhythm.


Jevan plans to attend a 4-year university where he can specialize in studying genetics and neuroscience.

Ritushree Ganguli

Ritu Ganguli is a rising senior at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science. During her time in the STRIDE program, she studied the effect of E-cigarettes on myogenesis. Using the muscle tissue of mice exposed to Saline, E-cigarettes (2.4% Nicotine), E-cigarettes (2.4% Nicotine) plus Nicotinamide Riboside, E-cigarettes (2.4% Nicotine) plus Acipimox, and Juul (5% Nicotine), she performed Western Blot analyses for the transcription factor Pax7. By examining the levels of Pax7, she was able to determine how E-cigarettes affect skeletal muscle.


The STRIDE program has allowed Ritu to gain new skills, learn more, and work toward her career goals. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in the medical field as a Doctor.

Camila Gonzalez

Camila Gonzalez is an incoming senior who attends King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. Throughout her 10-week experience in Project Stride, Camila has completed her first research project at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.


The focal point of her research is how behavioral interventions can benefit high-risk Latinas from contracting HIV. Camila and her mentor, Senait Teklehaimnot MPH, conducted a literature review.


Camila is determined to continue her future in the neuroscience field. Project Stride has helped her decide the path she wants to take in the medical and research area.

Alyssa Hernandez

Alyssa Hernandez is a rising senior attending King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. Throughout her summer opportunity with Project STRIDE she has expanded her knowledge regarding how experiencing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) at a young age leads to childhood obesity.


Through her days of working with her Mentor Dr. Venegas-Murillo she has gotten Psychological First Aid Training, Impacts of ACEs on health, and FOCUS for Families approach and tools training. For her project, she studied how children with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in low income communities of color have a higher chance of becoming obese during childhood.


As time progresses Alyssa would like to focus her time and studies on animal science striving to become a Veterinarian. Throughout all of her years of learning she has made it her biggest priority carefully choosing classes that would help her later on in College. Project STRIDE has helped Alyssa many times by giving her opportunities and lessons talking about courses and Colleges that could help her career wise.

Julius Hernandez

Julius Hernandez is a rising senior attending King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. He is researching the topic of Air Pollution with his mentor Dr. Juanita Booker-Vaughns. He is focusing on Wilmington which is located in Service Planning area 8 (SPA 8) and wants to find solutions on reducing particulate matter 2.5.

Project STRIDE has helped him understand the fundamentals of research and the process it takes. Julius has high goals and wants to attend UCLA to further expand his research and work towards becoming an anesthesiologist. He has worked in UCLA hospitals and dreams of being in the medical field one day.


Katherine Juarez

Katherine Juarez is a rising senior at King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. She has always been medically inclined, a passion that her high school has only nurtured. This led her to be a part of programs at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.


Her research project during her time in Project Stride is about peer education and advocacy. Katherine conducted a literature review with her mentor’s help and learned a lot about the community throughout the experience.


Prior to participating in Project Stride, Katherine was a part of the Medical Careers program during the school year in which she also made and presented a research project. The influence of Charles R. Drew University has opened her mind to new, exciting career paths and opportunities in the medical field.


Ariel Mancilla

Ariel Mancilla is a dedicated public health researcher who actively participated in Project STRIDE, investigating the impact of e-cigarettes on hypertension.


For his project, Ariel conducted western blots and constructed standard curves to understand the impacts e-cigarettes have on hypertension. With a background in health sciences and a passion for epidemiology, Ariel contributed significantly to the research team through data analysis and literature reviews.


Alongside academic pursuits, Ariel enriched his experience by engaging in a Journal Club, fostering critical appraisal of scientific literature. Inspired by their experiences in the program and driven by a love for animals, Ariel's future direction is to become a veterinarian. The research program and college experiences have prepared Ariel for a fulfilling career, combining their expertise in public health with a commitment to improving the well-being of both humans and animals.


Valeria Oliver

Valeria Oliver is an upcoming senior attending King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. During her 10 weeks at Project Stride, Valeria completed her second research project at Charles Drew University focusing on mental health and trauma while fostering her passion for research and psychology.


Valeria’s project focuses on the sociological factors influencing mental health and service use among Mexican immigrant adults in the United States. Alongside her mentor, Hafifa Siddiq R.N, Ph.D., she conducted a literature review using various databases and compiled over 25 articles that met her inclusion criteria where she found that Mexican immigrants experience inequitable access to mental health care.


Factors such as unfavorable immigration policies, absence of health insurance, poverty, and language barriers, contribute to mental health disparities among Mexican immigrants. Project Stride helped me realize that there are various ways to help underserved communities and that you don’t need numerous amounts of people to make a change. In the future, Valeria hopes to become a psychologist to help those in her community and low-income communities in need of mental health services.


Davian Quezada

Davian Quezada is a rising senior, Class of 2024. His research topic is focused on the health effects waterborne toxins have on SPA 6 residents. SPA 6 is located to the south of Los Angeles. More commonly known SPA 6 areas are Watts, Lynwood, and Compton.


To understand these SPAs better and understand the potential health effects these toxins can have on SPA 6 communities, he researched known and unknown disparities SPA 6 citizens experience as well as analyzed data on how many SPA 6 residents report these disparities.


To gather information on these health effects Davian has done multiple literature reviews on the health effects of chromium, Arsenic, and Lead. Understanding these toxins' potential health risks and determining how these toxins’ health risks might further risk SPA 6 communities.


Davian’s hope for this summer's research was to narrow down what career he wanted to pursue. As will gain experience in research and enjoy learning and researching.


Ximena Zuniga

Ximena G. Zuniga-Hernandez is a rising senior at Lynwood High School. During her time at Project STRIDE, she was paired with Dr. Lejeune Lockett, through which she was introduced to many affluent figures, not only from CDU but from all around the world while gaining many practical skills useful in academic and work settings.


Previously, Ximena learned about environmental racism in Los Angeles during her Ethnic Studies class. However, she delved deeper into this subject while at Charles R. Drew University; she researched the health effects of redlining on Black and Latinos living in Los Angeles, combining her interests in social justice, science/medicine, and history.


The surplus of Physician specialties and subspecialties are all new and exciting to her as she is still determining what she will specialize in the future. Ximena hopes to find a career that incorporates both her interests in social justice and science/medicine.

2023 Project STRIDE II Cohort 

Cynthia Rojas

Cynthia Rojas is an upcoming third-year undergraduate student at the University of California, San Diego where she is majoring in Human Biology. She is an undergraduate student intern for Project STRIDE II, which is a continuation of Project STRIDE I.


Her review study explores the role of religiosity/spirituality on improving the burden of mental health in Latino informal caregivers of Alzheimer’s Disease patients. In the future, she hopes to attend graduate school to continue her studies in biology. Ultimately, she plans to pursue a career in research, which will give her the opportunity to contribute meaningful research towards those affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.

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