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Male Leads

F.U.E.RZA is a program developed within the PASO HSI grant designed to meet the needs of the Latino male students in their second year with resources and support that are not currently available to them.

For more information on this program or to see if you qualify contact PASO at or to learn more about the mentoring program contact F.U.E.RZA at

Meet our Leads

Leo Melena (Faculty Lead)

Leo Melena is a first-generation college graduate who is proud of his immigrant roots. Mr. Melena earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego after transferring from Palomar Community College and he received his Master of Arts degree in Postsecondary Education Leadership from San Diego State University. With over 10 years of service in higher education, Mr. Melena's goal is to assist students in the attainment of their collegiate aspirations. He currently serves as the Director of Student Success for the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral, and Social Sciences. Mr. Melena welcomes contact from prospective, current, or past students who have any questions regarding their higher education experience. 

Leo Melena
Director of Student Success
College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral, and Social Sciences
(760) 750-4275 ~ SBSB 4115

Leo Melena

Leandro Galaz (Faculty Mentor) 

Leandro Galaz earned his MSW degree from San Diego State University, his administrative credential in educational leadership from Cal State University San Marcos, his B.S. in psychology from UC San Diego and is currently a PhD student at Baylor University. He is a credentialed school counselor, and has spent the majority of his career working in the secondary school setting. He started his career in social work supporting people with developmental disabilities, both as a behavior therapist and a case manager. Due to his work in education and his own background as a first generation college student, Mr. Galaz focuses on closing the achievement gap in education through changing community culture. Mr. Galaz’s current research interests include defining and supporting school social work in the region, supporting foster youth and developing mentorship opportunities for Latino students. 

Leandro Galaz, MSW, PPS
Department of Social Work
(760) 750-7372 ~ UH 323

Leandro Galaz



Rafael Hernández (Faculty Mentor) 

Rafael Hernández earned his B.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University and his Ph.D. in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara. As an Assistant Professor in the Human Development Department, Dr. Hernández draws from his counseling training in diverse settings and his upbringing as a Chicano student, educator and mentor. His research interests include: the psychological impacts of racial microaggressions, critical race theory (CRT), ethnic identity development, and building culturally affirming communities that empower students to overcome adversity, achieve their educational goals, and develop into agents of social change.

Rafael J. Hernández, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development
College of Education, Health and Human Services
(760) 750-8252 ~ UNIV 300

Rafael Hernandez