Facebook pixel Loqui Student Award Recipients | Pepperdine University | Seaver College Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Seaver College

Loqui Student Award Recipients


  Kimberly Banda

Kimberly Banda, a graduating senior from Edinburg, Texas, has always been passionate about community engagement; this, coupled with her vision for social justice and equity, influenced her to create new clubs and resources for her and her fellow students. She served in several leadership roles on campus, including as president of the First-Generation Club and Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Incorporated, and as vice president of administration for the Student Government Association. Guided by a foundational scripture, Micah 7:8, and personal motto, "Si se puede" (Yes you can), she embodies resilience and determination in all that she does. Banda will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in both Hispanic studies and political science and intends to pursue a career in immigration law, raising awareness of available resources and advocating for underrepresented communities.

  Alex Córdova

Alex was raised in Elk Grove, California, and is a member of the Elk Grove Church of Christ. Service and social justice are important to Córdova, and accordingly, she has held executive positions in the Black Student Association. As the former service chair and current co-president, she has worked to cultivate a sense of belonging for Black students at Pepperdine through programming and advocacy. Córdova will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with minors in ethnic studies and social work. After graduation, she plans to pursue her PhD to further her education and deepen her understanding of structural barriers for marginalized communities, aiming to educate others to move toward a more compassionate society.



  Sahej Bhasin

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

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 Calderon

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

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

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

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

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 Robinson

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.

  Payton Skillet

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

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

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

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

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.



 Omari Allen

Omari Allen received two bachelors degrees from Pepperdine, one in Political Science and the other in French. He hails from the Atlanta, GA area by way of Pennsylvania. Omari's work on campus began in the first semester of his freshman year. Since then, he served in the Student Government Association (SGA) for 3 years and as the Community Service / Spiritual Life Chair of the Black Student Association. Omari was one of the leading student voices in chartering a chapter of the first Black collegiate fraternity on campus, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. Over the past two years, Omari has been a large contributor to student-led demonstrations and he acted as the main author for the Nov. 13th recommendations and the Columbus 2016 recommendations. In the Fall of 2016, Omari partnered with his dear friend, Isabella Ordaz to co-found the Beloved Community Initiative, a student-led organization that seeks to teach Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s concept of "beloved community." Following graduation, Omari joined the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence as a community organizer.

 Rahje Branch

Rahje Branch is pursuing an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management at The Harvard Graduate School of Education. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Rahje graduated from Pepperdine University cum laude with a B.A in Political Science and a minor in Rhetoric and Leadership. During her time at Pepperdine, she served as a member of the Pepperdine Ambassadors Council and a resident advisor. For two years, she led Pepperdine's Black Student Association as the Vice President of Membership (2015-2016) and President (2016-2017). With fierce precision and tenacity, Rahje worked with others in a grassroots collective action movement, charging Pepperdine to strengthen its commitment to diversity and inclusion. In addition to her work at Pepperdine, Rahje's commitment to serving others is evidenced in her previous work at Hope4Families: A Special Education Law Firm. While interning in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Education and the White House, Rahje further developed her passion for social justice and education. She is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of race and income, receive a quality education. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with friends and family.


 Anaka Jacqueline Osborne

Anaka Osborne came to Pepperdine in 2012 as a Posse Foundation scholar from Washington, D.C. for her outstanding leadership in high school. Since her time at Pepperdine, Anaka continues to be an exemplary leader through her involvement and commitment to creating an inclusive and beloved community on campus. On a mission to build community on campus, Anaka served as a student leader as student facilitator of Project Lead: Civil Rights tour, Resident Advisor, and member of the Social Action and Justice colloquium, teaching assistant for a First Year Seminar and Special Events board member. However, it was her three year commitment as an executive member for the Black Student Association that grew her into a dynamic leader with a heart to inspire change. She looks forward to continuing her social justice and inclusion work during her time with Teach for American as a special education instructor.

 David John Hylton

David attended Pepperdine University on the Posse Foundation Scholarship, a scholarship given to young leaders from diverse backgrounds. He quickly became an advocate for fellow marginalized students, serving on Seaver's Student Government Association for three years. While on SGA, David pushed for initiatives for multiple cultural communities on campus - most notably the LGBTQ+ community. One of David's biggest accomplishments while attending Pepperdine has been serving as the Co-Founder and Co-President of Crossroads, the University's very first officially recognized LGBTQ+ student organization. He is beyond humbled to have been a part of very important conversations about race, gender, sexual identity and interfaith relations while at Pepperdine and is honored to receive this award.


 George Maxwell Masayoshi Mukai

G. Maxwell "Max" Mukai has been a part of the Pepperdine community since 2010. He has just recently completed the Five-Year Business Administration and MBA program. He came to Pepperdine with the motivation to return to his home of Hawaii with the knowledge and skills that could make him a competent leader and be a force for positive change for his community. Aside from his academics he had the privilege of studying abroad visiting many places and increasing his appreciation for diversity. He served as a Resident Advisor in the Heidelberg Music Summer Program of 2013. He was also involved with the professional business fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi. During his career at Pepperdine, Max was heavily involved with the Hawaii Club and its efforts of educating and creating community. He served as the Luau Chairman and played other supporting roles. This summer he will begin his internship with the Kamehameha Schools Sustainability Division, as their Sustainable Punaluu Business Project Manager, where he hopes to find a model that optimizes natural resources to benefit future generations.

 Winona Gabrielle Garcia

Winona "Winnie" Gabrielle Garcia was born in San Jose, California but grew up in Cebu, Philippines. Having resided in a third world country, she developed a desire to help others less fortunate than her. At sixteen, she moved back to California to study International Studies with an emphasis in Intercultural Communications at Pepperdine. It was here where her faith grew in her two year term as the President for the Filipino American Student Association as she led club convocations focused on Christian disciplines. As an educator of Filipino Culture, she created the first multicultural talent show at Seaver College, which featured a cross section of the vast diversity of Pepperdine University. Aside from creating spaces for ethnic diversity on campus, Winnie has impacted the greater community as a bible lessons teacher for Mexican orphans during her Spring Break, helping new students as a First Year Seminar Mentor, and playing her ukulele for senior citizens with Alzheimer's. Currently interning at a nonprofit organization who works to rebuild typhoon-devastated schools in the Philippines, Winnie looks forward to pursuing a master's degree in Social Work to continue her passion for social justice.


 Alex Booker

Alex Booker was born and raised in Southern California and has always been passionate about making a positive difference in the world. As a political science and sociology major, Alex has used his appetite for knowledge of the social sciences to understand and impact real world concerns. He has served as a member of the Student Government Association for the past two years, first as a Junior Class Senator and then as the Vice President of Administration, and has used this opportunity to advocate for policies that would make a positive impact on the student body. These have included creating a resolution recommending new cultural educational policies for Seaver faculty and helping to start the campus-wide conversation regarding the high rate of loneliness among Seaver College students. In the future, he hopes to work in the area of public policy and government to improve the lives of as many individuals as possible.

 Demi S. McCoy

Demi S. McCoy is a Posse Scholar from the Washington DC Tri-State Area. Through her gift of spoken word poetry, Demi has captivated many from coast to coast. Her poetical topics are inspired by the Christian message and give primary emphasis to diversity and self-esteem. Aside from poetry, Demi has spent much of her time serving as a Spiritual Life Advisor for first-year female students at Pepperdine. Additionally, she has served in leadership positions for Women of Color, the Black Student Association, Project Serve, Genesis Gospel Choir, and the Volunteer Center. Her close work with the Intercultural Affairs office has also led her to create an annual Poetry Slam event on campus that gives students the chance to share their voice through spoken word art. Demi has received a prestigious fellowship to attend Wake Forest University School of Divinity and will begin her graduate studies there in the fall.


 Nduka Nwankwo

Nduka Nwankwo was born in San Francisco, California, and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. As an Economics major and creative writing minor, Nduka began taking classes in financial markets and mathematics, encouraging his vision of one day serving as a finance liaison between Nigeria and the rest of the world. Nduka has worked in the Housing and Residence Life community as a spiritual life advisor and a resident advisor. As a student leader, he has worked in a variety of departments at Pepperdine including: the Career Center, Student Employment, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Inter-Club Council, Special Programs, the Office of Community Standards, and Church Relations. He has also served on the executive board for the Black Student Association for two years in the role of vice president, finance. In this role, Nduka created a funding strategy that both maximized the club's financial resources and established new funding partnerships. Nduka has accepted a full-time position with Goldman Sachs as a credit analyst in their Credit Risk Management and Advisory Division. His long-term goal is to bring more sophisticated financial products to emerging markets and developing countries.

 Sarah Poblete

Sarah Poblete was born and raised in Southern California and has had a heart for serving others since childhood. At a young age, she volunteered in community clinics and shelters with her local church, which influenced her to pursue a career where she could merge her passion for nutrition and serving the underserved. As a nutritional science major, she has completed the first steps in becoming a registered dietitian and hopes to become an advocate for alleviating food insecurity and health disparities among minorities. Aside from her academics, Sarah has actively served as a spiritual life advisor for Housing and Residence Life and has used this opportunity to mentor and educate first-year students. As cofounder and president of the Pepperdine Filipino Club for four years, Sarah has strived to promote Filipino culture through entertainment, education, and service on campus. In the fall, she will be attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo to complete a dietetic internship and in the future, she hopes to work in the area of public health nutrition.


 Adrian Aurrecoechea

Adrian Aurrecoechea was born and raised in South Florida where he learned about his American culture, his mother's Dominican culture, and his father's Cuban culture. Adrian has volunteered in Miami and Santo Domingo as a medical technician, and interned in a low-income suburb of Philadelphia to research predictors of infection progress. He has also majored in International Studies with an emphasis in Intercultural communication, taught English to Malibu migrant workers and children in rural Dominican Republic, encouraged conversation and action related to the Middle East at Pepperdine, wrote his senior thesis on the Future of Medical Travel between the US and Cuba, and spread awareness of HIV prevention and support to the Los Angeles Native American community. Next year he will be attending University of California in San Francisco in pursuit of a combined MD degree with a Masters in Public Health. He hopes to teach as a physician in an emergency room and make a positive impact on public health nationally and internationally.

 Oloruntobi Ibukun "Ibk" Jaiyeloa

Oloruntobi "IBK" Jaiyeola was born and raised in the city of Lagos, Nigeria where she began her journey of faith and diversity. As an Integrated Marketing Communication major, IBK began taking classes in media and communications, encouraging her vision of using media to understand and influence cultures. IBK has worked in the Housing and Residence Life community as a Spiritual Life Advisor and a Residence Advisor. She has had the opportunity to study abroad in India, where she learned about the five major religions of the nation; Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Islam. In her capacity as the group's President, IBK rebranded the organization and created the conceptual definition of "connect, educate, and celebrate." Next year, she will be attending American University to pursue a Masters in International Media. She hopes to continue to travel and impact the world, especially the African continent. Her long-term goal is to establish a media marketing company in West Africa, and create effective integrated marketing communication strategies for businesses and organizations in the region.