Loqui Student Award Recipients
Sahej Bhasin was born in Los Angeles, California. As a first-generation college student raised in a Punjabi household, Bhasin is devoted to uplifting diverse communities. He has held executive positions in the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, Pepperdine Graphic Media, the Pepperdine Ambassadors Council, and the Indian Student Association; he also held roles in Pepperdine’s Office of Advancement and Office of Intercultural Affairs. These experiences provided him with the interrelational and professional acumen to succeed as a student and businessperson in Los Angeles. Helping further the leadership skills of minoritized individuals so they may have a profound impact on the world has been the most rewarding aspects of his college experiences. Bhasin plans to work in financial services after graduation, and his dream is to open a global nonprofit organization that provides extensive resources for children who lack access to quality education. He is grateful for the mentorship and resilience provided by the entire Pepperdine community and is excited to see further initiatives that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion among all individuals.
Naya Simone Edwards was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Growing up in a melting pot like Houston, Edwards was taught to respect the various cultures around her. She has always been involved in the community, thereby forging bonds with school, church, and local groups. These formative experiences motivated her to pursue leadership positions at Pepperdine, where she has advocated for underrepresented community members. She currently serves as president of the Black Student Association, financial secretary and historian for the Tau Lambda chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and as a resident advisor for first-year students. As an intern for the Office of Intercultural Affairs, she launched many social media campaigns such as Women of Color in STEM and What’s Hair Got to Do With It? These platforms allowed her to advocate for different cultural groups, educate the Pepperdine community about social injustices, and promote small businesses. Edwards will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in both sports medicine and Hispanic studies, and she intends to use her education to serve underserved communities as a physician assistant. Edwards is joined by her loved ones, both present and departed, and is eternally grateful for her “village” of family and friends who have shaped her into the woman she is today.
Jerry N. Calderon was raised in the San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys. Growing up in a low-socioeconomic Indigenous and Latinx household, Jerry was made aware of institutional barriers affecting many low-income people of color that create hurdles for students' achievement. This knowledge informed Jerry's campus involvement, which has included the Black Student Association, Crossroads Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Feminist club, First Gen club, Indigenous People's club, and the Latinx Student Alliance. Jerry has served as a First Wave ambassador, Inter-Club Council president, inaugural Seaver Equity and Social Justice fellow for the Seaver Dean's Office, and Senior Class senator for the Student Government Association. These opportunities have given him a platform to advocate for significant changes at Pepperdine in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, particularly those affecting Native people, especially his ancestral nation, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, on whose lands Pepperdine is located. Jerry is joined by his loved ones, both present and departed, and is eternally grateful for the giants upon whose shoulders he stands.
Antoinette (Arielle) Rachelle Leviste was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. A middle child and only daughter, she is grateful for the character-building guidance she and her siblings received, and has always been proactive, determined, and driven by passion. While at Pepperdine, she has focused on growth and service, and with courage and hard work, has demonstrated leadership in the Pilipino American Student Association (PASA) and Gamma Phi Beta sorority. As former vice president of culture and current president of PASA, her efforts and advocacy for diversity and inclusivity have fostered social connections, expanded awareness of Filipino culture through education and experience, and impacted the University community. As a servant leader, Arielle focuses on instilling hope, unity, and purpose in others, and is determined to create her own path in a life of service while remaining committed to advancing diversity and inclusivity in her future workplaces.
Sierra Monet Bell spent her early years in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Pasadena, California, in the middle of fourth grade. Though Sierra spent her high school years living in Toronto, Montreal, New York, and Chicago, Los Angeles is the place she considers home. As a result of being exposed to the diversity of so many cities and being born into a large, multicultural family, Sierra's understanding of difference and her ability to bridge relationships between others in spite of them is heightened. After earning associate's degrees in psychology and human and behavioral sciences, IMDb credit as a writer and director, experience as a model for Vogue Italia, and a license from the TED organization, Sierra transferred to Seaver College in the fall of 2019. In her time at Pepperdine, Sierra has served as co-director of the Student Government Association's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, a delegate for the University's Model United Nations team, a peer-facilitator with the Body Project, a transfer mentor, and a Club Convocation leader. Now, as Sierra approaches the completion of her psychology degree at Pepperdine, she works as an intern for the International Rescue Committee, the world's largest refugee resettlement agency. Upon graduation, Sierra will pursue a law degree to further develop her commitment to human rights and international relations. She hopes that one day you'll recognize her as one of the country's top diplomats at the United Nations.
Juan Carlos Hughes was born in David, Panamá, and at the age of five, he moved with his family to Spartanburg, South Carolina. Juan Carlos chose to attend Pepperdine University because of its faith heritage, academic excellence, and the Swiss-French International Program. During his four years, Juan Carlos has been a part of the Latinx Student Association and the First Gen Club and served as president of Crossroads Gender and Sexuality Alliance. In connection with the latter, Juan Carlos created initiatives to raise money for HIV/AIDS research in Los Angeles, as well as held student-led dialogues on the intersectionality of queerness, race, and ethnicity. He has also been a part of the Waves Debate team, and as chair of the On-Campus Debate Program, Juan Carlos helped organize "Creating a World Without Bullying" a collaboration between Pepperdine and PACER's National Anti-Bullying Prevention Center chapter in Los Angeles. Most recently Juan Carlos served as a member of President Gash's Presidential Action Advisory Team to devise ways to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion at Pepperdine. With his bachelor's degrees in psychology and religion and French minor, Juan Carlos plans to study abroad and investigate ways to help make the LGBTQ+ community feel more loved and included in society through a ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship.
Allison Lee has been a crucial voice across the PGM newsroom to consider diverse topics – ensuring the voices of minoritized students were heard, and promoting broader cultural visions for each edition of Currents. She has written stories about color and art found in cultures, feminism around the world, LGBTQ advocacy, the social justice organization Sojourners, food in different cities, worship from diverse perspectives, and many more. In all her pieces, Allison considered intersectionality and raised critical inclusive questions. While she was an SLA, she survived the Borderline shooting and sheltered in place with her residents during the Woolsey fire, all while her own family members were displaced from their home in Westlake Village. Her senior capstone projects focused on the kinds of discrimination Asian Americans are facing during the Coronavirus pandemic and water scarcity for Jordanians and Syrian refugees. Since her freshman year, Allison Lee has been a consistent champion for diversity and inclusion at Pepperdine.
Olivia exudes love and creativity. She is vocal, open, and willing to create spaces for people to learn. She has revitalized Table Talks, built bridges with other cultural clubs, and worked with the administration to improve diverse relations in conversation across campus. She co-founded Ubuntu for the support of black freshmen on campus. She has been one of the strongest and most consistent voices to speak with administrators, professors, and students to make Pepperdine a more inclusive place, bringing diverse voices to the front of discussion. She has spoken in chapel in front of more than 500 of her peers. She created an event to highlight the experiences of women experiencing sexual assault on college campuses, and why Christian schools should be advocates for survivors, and more. Olivia is an excellent stand out leader for diversity and inclusive excellence at Pepperdine.
Since first stepping foot on this campus, Payton has committed his time at Pepperdine to creating community and embracing diversity. Within all of his roles, he has zealously pursued excellence and truth in restorative justice. As the co-president of BSA, Payton has expanded alliances between the black community and other minorities on campus. He also co-founded Ubuntu, and worked with the admission office to develop a chaperone system where prospective black students could spend the day with a current student/member of BSA. He has been a champion of marginalized students, and worked hard to build bridges with the administration – initiating a dinner with the president for student leaders as well as advocating for the flags in the cafeteria to better represent the student body. As an RA, Payton was a constant source of inspiration, humor, and service. Payton is mature beyond his peers. His faith informs his decisions and actions. Payton always has a positive attitude and is willing to listen to different opinions and engage in respectful dialogue. He cares for everyone he encounters and is constantly trying to better himself, others, and all communities around him.
Asa Bailey, the middle child of five and daughter of Frederick and Janice Bailey, was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Having been a part of the Pepperdine Summer Preview program for first-generation college students, Bailey has been deeply committed to mentoring other first-generation students. She has been an event planner for the Student Programming Board, a career ambassador, Student Employment Office assistant, and two-time resident advisor. Bailey has served on the executive board of the Black Student Association for three years and is currently the group's president. Through each of the leadership roles that she has occupied, she has actively galvanized peers to be more involved in diversity and inclusion efforts on and off campus. In addition, she has continually advocated for historically marginalized voices through her academics, event programming, and conversations with campus administrative leaders. After graduating with her BA in psychology, Bailey hopes to go forward and make an impact on the world by living out God's love, honoring her mother's memory, and working in medicine and education.
Lauren Chu has been an advocate for disabilities throughout her time at Pepperdine. As the first service-dog handler on campus, she has had a unique experience that has connected her with many students struggling with invisible disabilities. As a sophomore, Chu founded the Invisible Illness Support Group, which has been a much-needed resource for students with differing abilities to find community. She has had the opportunity to speak about disability on many panels, write an article for Currents, help students advocate for better dietary accommodations, and challenge the Student Government Association to add benches to all shuttle stops. Chu also advocates for inclusion in her academic work. Recently, she presented her capstone research on ageism at California State University, Channel Islands. Additionally, she has been studying the redemptive nature of coming out stories for adults in the LGBTQIA+ community in her work with professor Steve Rouse.
Wesley-Martin Cristan Ervin is a queer, third generation Latinx who graduated with a major in Psychology and a minor in Hispanic studies. He is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Counseling at CSU Fresno. Born and raised in a Central California farming community, Wesley always knew that the world had more to offer than his small, conservative hometown. While at Pepperdine, he discovered that the world was truly his oyster and decided to live a life of Pride and happiness, to never be afraid or disgraced by who he was and to embrace all life has to offer. He has an intense passion for psychology, books, board games, and food. He is fiercely devoted to his family, his baby brother, his boyfriend, and his pets. Wesley's mission in life is to change the world for LGBTQ kids and their families everywhere and to help build a bigger table...peace, love, and rainbows always!
Salina Miranda Perez is a first-generation college student and second-generation Mexican-American from Camarillo, CA. She transferred from Ventura Community College and started at Pepperdine in Fall 2015. While a student at Pepperdine Salina was an advocate and ally for a variety of communities on Pepperdine's campus. Salina served as President of the Latino Student Association and VP of Finance for Crossroads, the LGBTQ club on campus. She was a recipient of the Vinci and Ellsworth Scholarship, which is awarded to students who have demonstrated their commitment to the betterment of the LGBTQ community. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and a minor in Hispanic Studies. In the midst of taking GEs and major classes, Salina enrolled in Seaver's Teacher Education Program for a Single-Subject Credential in Social Sciences. She completed her teaching credential in Spring 2019. Salina continues to prove her commitment to diversity and inclusion by serving different communities through her vocation as a public-school teacher.