The Hispanic Health Opportunity Learning Alliance (H2OLA) is an effort led by the Center in collaboration with CSULB’s Colleges of Natural Sciences & Math and Health & Human Services, with support from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Graduate Mentor Fellows are trained to support first generation college-educated Latino undergraduate students to enhance readiness for graduate or professional-level degrees. Graduate mentors also help undergraduate students to find research opportunities that address health disparities. In support of the H2OLA efforts, The Center also hosts the annual CSULB Latino Health Equity conference.

Latino Health Equity Conference

The Latino Health Equity Conference at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) aims to raise awareness and engage CSULB faculty, staff, students, and the larger community in health equity research focused on Latinos – our nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority population. Please visit the official Latino Health Equity Conference website.

Leadership & Staff

  • Mara Bird, PhD
  • Principal Investigator
  • mara.bird@csulb.edu
  • Eric Marinez, PhD
  • Principal Investigator
  • eric.marinez@csulb.edu
  • Dustin Thoman, PhD
  • Research Evaluator
  • dustin.thoman@csulb.edu
  • Mayra Rascon, MPH
  • Doctoral Fellow
  • mayra.rascon@csulb.edu
  • Angel Torres, MS
  • Project Coordinator
  • angel.torres@csulb.edu

Graduate Mentor Fellows


  • Vanessa Cervantes
  • Janett Padilla
  • Bryant Salinas
  • Erick Castillo
  • Angelina Majeno
  • Priscilla Bravo
  • Jazmin Martinez
  • Ariel Halstead


  • George Lacuesta
  • Eugenia Maravilla
  • Erika Escobar
  • Priscilla Bravo
  • Thomas Mota
  • Kaylee Rivera
  • Vanessa Cervantes
  • Melynda Jaramillo


Mentoring & Networking

  1. Improvement in academics through tutoring
  2. Links with other students and faculty
  3. Links to campus resources
  4. Sense of belonging through mentors and cohort


  1. Interviewing skills, complete resume, curriculum vitae, and cover letter
  2. IRB Certification
  3. Quantitative and qualitative analysis skills
  4. Database management skills


  1. Knowledgeable in Healthy People 2020 objectives
  2. Exposure and awareness of health disparities affecting the Latino community


  1. Practice in abstract and poster development
  2. Experience in public speaking and poster presentation
  3. Networking opportunities

This grant and the Latino Health Equity Conference is made possible with funding from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities: Grant # IR25MD006851-01.


Graduate Fellow Mentorship

The Hispanic Health Opportunity Learning Alliance (H2OLA).  is currently seeking 6 graduate students to fill the positions as Graduate Mentor Fellows (GMFs) for the Hispanic Health Opportunity Learning Alliance (H2OLA).  GMFs will receive:

  • Partial scholarships for their graduate program,
  • Travel opportunities for local and national conferences, and mentorship from CSULB HSC/CNSM faculty.
  • Hourly wage between $12-15/hr. GMFs must be available to work at least 10 hours per week.

The H2OLA project aims to increase the number of highly qualified first generation-educated Latino graduates prepared to engage in health disparities research in both biomedical and health science-related disciplines.

H2OLA provides health disparities research training and tutoring in science and public health disciplines to first generation-educated Latino undergraduate students at CSULB to widen the pool of minority applicants with the academic potential to compete for admission to advanced degrees.

The GMFs will be trained to mentor first generation-educated Latino undergraduate students to enhance undergraduate readiness for graduate or professional level degrees and research opportunities addressing health disparities. H2OLA will also provide GMFs with career development opportunities designed to facilitate careers in health disparities research through the delivery of: health disparities seminars highlighting population-specific issues; and an annual health disparities conference.

Prospective GMFs must be: 1) enrolled in, or admitted to, a graduate program within either the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM) or the Department of Health Sciences (HSC) at CSULB; 2) bilingual, bicultural in Spanish and English (written and oral); AND/OR, 3) the first generation in your family to attend college in the U.S.

[Download: H2OLA Graduate Mentor Fellowship Application]

Undergrad Mentee Opportunities

Mentee Description: 

As a first generation-educated Latino undergraduate student, mentees will be assigned to a graduate mentor fellow in order to develop a mutual partnership to enhance their readiness for graduate or professional level degrees and research opportunities addressing health disparities.

Mentee Benefits: 

  • 10 hrs/week of one-on-one mentoring & tutoring for undergraduate courses specific to major
  • Monthly health disparities research seminars and training
  • Support for abstract submission and graduate admissions
  • Participation in annual CSULB “Latino Health Equity” conference
  • Semester stipend (contingent on active participation)

download H2OLA Mentee application is available for download or at the Foundation Building 125, or by emailing Angel Torres at: angel.torres@csulb.edu