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Spring 2019 CCDE Fellows

Azad Azani

Class of 2019

Azad Marcel Azani is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Political Science.  As a student in the California Community College Transfer Pathways Program, Azad is inspired by the program’s influence in creating new opportunities in his own life and has committed himself to developing ways to facilitate greater social mobility to aid others like himself. His role model is his uncle, Gonzalo Artigas, who is a first-generation immigrant from Uruguay who taught him the importance of dedication and hard work during his years as an apprentice carpenter with his uncle’s residential construction business. His favorite constitutional amendment is the Fifth Amendment which fosters the foundational Due Process Clause.  As such, this past summer as a Matsui Center Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow, Azad interned with the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Task Force to aid those who have been negatively affected disproportionately by environmental impact and government planning. Currently, Azad is fascinated with and believes that the concept of open discourse and civility is an essential component to the maintenance and progression of a democratic society.  This concept was inspired by two sources: first, his parents gave him the name Azad Marcel, which means “Free Warrior,” as a reminder of the price of liberty and its necessary preservation and second, George Orwell’s 1984 rocked the foundations of what he understood could be possible within human society. He is currently concerned with the role of data within our society and is taking up the task of creating a stronger constitutional claim for data privacy and data use to impede government and corporate infringement. Azad plans to further these goals by pursuing a Juris Doctorate with a concentration in Constitutional or Privacy Law.  He is working as a Research Apprentice under Berkeley Law and Goldman School Professor of Public Policy, Sean Farhang, who has mentored him and heavily contributed to his understanding of the American legal system.

Azad takes pride in his intention to support the principles of the Center of Civility & Democratic Engagement and is deeply moved by the Center’s support of his own journey.


Angela Nguyen

Cal Class of 2019

Angela Nguyen is a fourth-year, first-generation Cal student pursuing a double major in Political Science and English with a minor in Education. As the daughter of Vietnam War refugees, Angela and her family have faced incredible hardship in the United States such as discrimination from local government offices to financial insecurity and poverty. Being born and raised in a low socio-economic area, Angela witnessed the various educational inequities that she and other peers faced, from inadequate classrooms to dilapidated books and desks. Angela wanted to pursue higher education not only to be an example for her three younger siblings, but also to be able to give back to her community in Riverside, CA, and other communities similar to her hometown. Throughout her time at Cal, Angela has led and participated in numerous programs and projects related to educational issues and advocacy. As a sophomore, she co-coordinated the ShadowNite program, a free 3-day, 2-night overnight host program for over 300 low-income, refugee, and/or immigrant Asian and/or Pacific Islander high school students from all over Northern and Central California. She developed workshops focused on community engagement, political advocacy, and the different ways in which one can attain a higher education. She also led discussions on how to make college more accessible and affordable for students like herself. In addition to her program work, Angela currently serves as one of the Peer Academic Counselors for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). As a peer counselor, she works closely with historically underrepresented, low-income, and/or first-generation college students at Cal. She offers free academic, financial, and personal counseling services to students and actively works to make sure that her fellow students feel well-supported.

Angela is participating in the UCDC program for the spring 2019 semester and looks forward to the multitude of experiences, friends, and mentors that she will make while on the East Coast. After the UCDC program, she will be studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, interning for a non-profit educational advocacy organization. She sincerely thanks the Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement for selecting her as a fellow and for supporting her work and education in Washington, D.C.


Natalie Zapoteco

Class of 2019


Natalie Zapoteco is a graduating senior at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Social Welfare. Throughout her time at Berkeley, Natalie was involved in Cal Habitat for Humanity, Peer Health Exchange, and Kappa Gamma Delta, a pre-health sorority. Through these experiences, Natalie has only furthered her desire to serve others whether it is through building homes, teaching health education, or empowering young women to pursue a career in the health field. Natalie solidified her true passion of advocating and empowering underserved and underrepresented communities when she became a social welfare major. She hopes to continue this passion by applying to the Peace Corps to better understand how to be a champion of change for communities around the globe. Her goal is to one day work on an international level with the hopes of creating a more united and cohesive global community, placing a greater emphasis on maternal and child health. She also hopes to one day pursue a master’s in either public policy or public health so that she can help influence maternal and child health policy amongst underserved communities. She is a firm believer that if mothers and children are given the necessary support and resources, all children will have the ability to succeed, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Natalie is grateful for the opportunity to intern at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute this spring through the UCDC program where she will gain firsthand experience on how to influence adoption and foster care policy on a domestic and international level. Natalie intends to research adoption policy on an international level and hopes to better understand how to make the process more streamlined, keeping the well-being of the child as a priority.  She is extremely grateful for the scholarship from the Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement which has helped to make her participation in the program financially possible. Natalie is also thankful for all the support she has had from mentors, friends, and especially family.