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Planet Mentorship Pilot Program 2022

The Planet Mentorship Pilot Program is a paid opportunity for students with diverse backgrounds to become change makers! This mentorship consists of a cohort of CSUSM students that use the arts and data visualization to illuminate how climate change disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Through this program, students will also have the chance to explore pathways for their futures and learn useful skillsets, such as communicating complex themes and ideas, project development through collaboration, and creative problem-solving.

Meet this year's cohort: 

Photo of CSUSM student Niki Johnson

Niki Johnson (she/they)

Major: Environmental Studies

Expected graduation date: Spring 2023

Why did you want to apply to be in the Planet Mentorship program?:

"I wanted to be a part of the Planet Mentorship program because I am passionate about intersectional environmentalism and climate justice, and wanted to connect with others who are as well."

What gives you hope for the future- in light of climate change and sustainability issues?

"I get so much hope and inspiration from hearing about people who are doing innovative things to help their communities and the planet."

If you could meet 1 person- alive or not, who would it be and why?:

"I would love to have a conversation with the late peace activist, Thich Nhất Hanh." 

 


  

Photo of CSUSM student Mellie Nitunga

Mellie Nitunga (she/her)

Major: Biochemistry 

Expected graduation date: Spring 2023

Why did you want to apply to be in the Planet Mentorship program?:

"I applied for the planet mentorship program because I have always been interested in climate change and the program sounded like a good place to start my journey on helping to save the planet. I also wanted to learn more about how climate change can affect us and the steps necessary to help stop the climate change. Also, the program has given me opportunities to have mentors which can help furthermore my goal, education and gain access to opportunities to meet new people."

What gives you hope for the future- in light of climate change and sustainability issues?

"One thing that gives me hope about the future of climate change is that more people are realizing climate change can increase health issues. I also feel like it's important that we understand how the climate is changing, so that we can prepare for the future."

If you could meet 1 person- alive or not, who would it be and why?:

"One person I would like to meet would have to be Michelle Obama. I like how she advocates for healthy living by planting organic food and encourages young people to stay active and lead a healthier lifestyle."

 


 

Photo of CSUSM student David Ramos

David Ramos (he/him)

Major: Environmental Studies and Art, Media, & Design 

Expected graduation date: 2024

Why did you want to apply to be in the Planet Mentorship program?:

"I applied for this Planet Mentorship program because I wanted to gain a skill set that I could utilize outside of the classwork. Using these skills to learn about the complexities of my environmental studies degree and how I could apply them to the real world. Allowing me a better understanding of how I can utilize my skills. I want to be the person who stands up to the challenge and aims to help people that are less fortunate and unfairly represented in the community. Through this internship, I can bring light to these issues in a way that feels fulfilling to my overall career. I want to stand up for the health of my community and the environment in an ever-changing world."

What gives you hope for the future- in light of climate change and sustainability issues?

"I hold hope for the future of climate change because people are becoming more vocal about the issue. Technology has connected us and made coming together easier. Social media platforms, news outlets, and schools all teach us the damage that climate change has and will continue to affect us for years to come. People nowadays care more about where their products come from and if it's sustainable. Holding companies accountable for their actions and getting policy involved to keep things safer for everyone. The price of renewable energy has gotten more and more cost-effective as technology progresses. Making the switch to renewable seems a lot more possible on a larger scale. Certain countries are already going one hundred percent renewable and more and more are starting to follow in their footsteps. Cars are slowly phasing out into Electric vehicles and alternative transportation methods. Technology has brought us a long way but it's up to us to utilize these resources and continue to make the world a better place."

If you could meet 1 person- alive or not, who would it be and why?:

"I wish I could have met Stephen Hawking because of the great achievements he made throughout his lifetime. He was an incredibly smart person that was able to carry on his work even though his physical limitations. He was passionate about his work and did the best he could to help educate people on the world of physics. Not letting his disability define who he was and making great contributions to the science community. It takes a certain amount of determination to stand to the occasion even when you are pushed down over and over. It's inspiring to see this amount of dedication to your work even when people tell you you can't. He would be a nice person to talk to get a deeper understanding of how he maintained hope throughout his lifetime."  

 


 

Photo of CSUSM student Afomia Abraham

Afomia Abraham (she/they)

Major: Visual Arts

Expected graduation date: Winter 2022

Why did you want to apply to be in the Planet Mentorship program?:

"I applied to be in the Planet Mentorship program because I want to learn about what I can do to create a more sustainable planet."

What gives you hope for the future- in light of climate change and sustainability issues?

"The readiness my generation has to make a difference gives me hope for the future."

If you could meet 1 person- alive or not, who would it be and why?:

"At this moment in time, I can’t think of anyone I would want to meet. I’ve been very luck to already meet most of the people."

 


 

Photo of CSUSM student Daisy Gutierrez

Daisy Gutierrez (she/her)

Major: Art, Media, & Design

Expected graduation date: Fall 2022

Why did you want to apply to be in the Planet Mentorship program?:

"I was initially interested in the Planet Mentorship program because I wanted to combine my background in art and technology to bring awareness to environmental issues.

Being part of Planet Mentorship has also introduced me to new resources and opportunities I was not aware of before." 

What gives you hope for the future- in light of climate change and sustainability issues?

"I've always been curious about the way people interact with the environment but I wasn't sure what to do about the issues. This cohort has helped me better understand our impact and that coming together can make a difference.

It has been motivating to work with other individuals who are passionate about sustainability. We listen to each other's ideas and unique ways of going about different issues. 

It is also motivating to see that different colleges at the university are willing to hear us out and implement changes.

Having this community has not only enhanced my college experience but my overall relationship with the environment as well."

If you could meet 1 person- alive or not, who would it be and why?:

"I would love to have met Alan Watts; writer, speaker, and philosopher. I have to wonder what impact he would make in our world today. His philosophies on life, nature, our minds and the universe are without doubt some of the best I have ever heard. They are logical, wholesome and motivating. I would recommend his work to anyone."

 


 

Photo of CSUSM student Alexis Vaughn

Alexis Vaughn (she/her)

Major: Biology with a Spanish minor

Expected graduation date: Spring 2024

Why did you want to apply to be in the Planet Mentorship program?:

"I applied to the planet mentorship to learn more ways to combat climate change."

What gives you hope for the future- in light of climate change and sustainability issues?

"It gives me hope to see that so many people are passionate and care about the environment and want to find ways to help."

If you could meet 1 person- alive or not, who would it be and why?:

"If I could meet one person it would be Bad Bunny or Beyonce because I am a huge fan of their music."

 


 

Photo of CSUSM student Aidelen Montoya

Aidelen Montoya (she/her)

Major: Museum Studies, Art, & Art History

Expected graduation date: Spring 2023

Why did you want to apply to be in the Planet Mentorship program?:

"I wanted to be in the Planet Mentorship program because I noticed working in museum spaces, there is a lot of waste. Ranging from outdated communiques to transportation of artifacts. I hope to bring more environmentally safe practices and steps toward social justice by way of decolonizing museum spaces."

What gives you hope for the future- in light of climate change and sustainability issues?

"What gives me hope for the future in light of current climate change and sustainability issues is the thought of helping future generations. Spreading awareness in different forms and taking action to hopefully expose people at an early age to these issues can make a difference."

If you could meet 1 person- alive or not, who would it be and why?:

"If I could meet one person it would be Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian Baroque painter, because I believe her Judith Slaying Holofernes surpasses Carravagio's version. I would love to watch her paint."

 


 

Photo of CSUSM student Luis Lopez

Luis F. Lopez (he/him)

Major: Sociology

Expected graduation date: Spring 2023

Why did you want to apply to be in the Planet Mentorship program?:

"I joined the Planet Mentorship program because I wanted to be a part of the solution to further our process of climate justice. My journey began when I turned vegetarian in mid-2018. After learning about the Agri-businesses and their involvement in exploiting and torturing delicate animals, I couldn't have been more discouraged to continue eating factory-farmed meat. Since then I have refused to eat meat and have begun to be more cautious about what I buy as a consumer. I believe this program and my peers will help me gain more knowledge about the changes we can all make because even the small changes go a long way."

What gives you hope for the future- in light of climate change and sustainability issues?

"Programs like this all across the globe have mobilized people of all demographics to listen to the scientist and widen our perspectives on the effects that climate has on the planet and its occupants. My peers and I know that with education comes changes, we are ready to promote and advise our knowledge and help everyone understand that change is possible."

If you could meet 1 person- alive or not, who would it be and why?:

"The one person I would love to meet is Pop star Dua Lipa. Before the release of her second album, Future Nostalgia, had mediocre success, and had been a target of online bullying because of her dancing abilities. Since then, she continues to gain more fame and create spaces for those with small voices. Dua recently launched Service95 which has given a platform to women and marginalized people around the globe. Her podcast, Dua Lipa: At Your Service, features amazing guests such as: Artists Elton John and Meghan the Stallion, Authors Hanya Yanagihara and Lisa Taddeo, and more, who have been given the chance to spread awareness about topics that affect people around the world. Dua had been a long-time advocate of women, LGBTQ identities, and refugees. It is inspiring to see that, as big of a star as she is, Dua is unapologetically giving back to her community. She is an inspiration to me and many more around the world."