Meet Our Peer Mentors and Enrichment Specialists

Miya Walker

Miya Walker (she/her/they) is excited to be working with you all as a peer mentor. She was part of BUILD EXITO’s first scholar cohort and loves this program so much! As a Queer Black Woman, they look forward to challenging systems of oppression and advancing equity for students. This is part of her larger goals of making college campuses and work spaces more accessible and changing the notions that research is only done by and for the benefit of white people. Miya approaches this work through a community organizing framework. These experiences mirror her dedication to building long-term partnerships and sustaining healthy relationships in the world. Miya is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Health Equity at the University of Maryland. In the past, Miya did research with Dr. Raina Croff at OHSU to prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease and Dementia in older Black people. She has also held the role of a case manager for various non-profits working with people experiencing homelessness. In her free time, Miya loves to watch home renovation shows and tend to her plants. She is looking forward to connecting with you all and invites you to reach out freely.

Miya is particularly interested in working with Black students, students studying public health, students wanting LGBTQIA+ support, and students interested in equity research.

Motutama Sipelii

Greetings & Talofa! My name is Motutama Sipelii, and I'm a pre-med Health Science major entering my senior year at PSU. I transferred from the American Samoa Community College in fall 2017 and graduated from the Exito program in Winter 2019. I was placed in the Podrabsky Lab advised by Dr. Jaon Podrabsky where I worked on an independent research project that accessed how fluctuating temperature patterns affect sex ratios of developing A. limnaeus killifish species. Fun fact I'm currently the ASPSU Student Body President and so if any folks had any specific concerns regarding your student experience here at PSU let me know! I'm also involved with SHAC as a Student Health Advisory Board member and other student groups on campus. Feel free to email me if you need anything!

Motu is particularly interested in working with first generation college students, transfer students, students from American Samoa, and students needing advice on scholarships and the financial aid process.

Phuc Nguyen

Phuc is a BUILD EXITO and Portland State University alumnus. He has a B.S. in Psychology and Community Health Education. Currently, his primary interest is in environmental health, health determinants, and learning different statistical analyses of data. Phuc is also passionate about providing support and mentoring to others. In his free time, he enjoys dancing, hiking, and learning random historical events.

Phuc is particularly interested in working with first generation college students, students studying public health, and students interested in equity research.

Sara Herrejon Chavez

During her undergrad Sara Herrejon majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Biology and Sustainability at Portland State University. Sara was introduced to research as a freshman, and has since then gained many years of experience exploring the field of research. She has worked with Dr. Daniel Ballhorn, Dr.Todd Rosenstiel, and Dr. Sarah Eppley at Portland State University. She has also participated in multiple REU programs in her time as an undergrad. She was a CCAR REU scholar at Portland State, and a REU scholar at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York City. Sara is an alumni for the Build Exito program, she was part of Exito’s cohort 2 scholars. She has also participated as an LSAMP scholar and Ronald E McNair scholar. Outside of research, Sara has spent plenty of time volunteering and mentoring within the STEM community. She has volunteered with On-Track and was a mentor for Exito during the 2019/2020 academic year. Sara has many interests within STEM, but some of her favorites include environmental science, and ecology. As of now Sara is currently in the process of applying for graduate programs across the country. Outside of science, Sara is an artist who works with a variety of mediums, her favorites include pen illustrations and painting. If you visit the LSAMP center at Portland State, you will see an original piece of hers presented as a mural that hangs in the center

Sara is particularly interested in working with first generation college students, students from Oregon, students needing advice on scholarships or the financial aid process, students wanting LGBTQIA+ support, and students wanting advice on finding shadowing opportunities and internships.


Chanel Ison (she/her) is a queer, Pinay from San Francisco, California but calls many places within and surrounding the Bay Area home. She received her BA in Sociology from Portland State University and is the first of her name to obtain a college degree! Chanel is an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist grassroots organizer fighting for National Democracy in the Philippines with a socialist perspective with Anakbayan Portland and Anakbayan Portland’s Environmental Justice Desk. Her work and passion projects center land and people’s justice.