Meet the GIC Team
Amy Yang (she/her), Intercultural Graduate Assistant, is a graduate student pursuing an M.S.E.d. in International Educational Development. Her Korean American background has also motivated her to pursue a degree that will help address barriers of marginalization in the pan-Asian community both locally and globally. Amy knows that’s a big issue to tackle so to de-stress she likes to play board games. Additionally, Amy hails from Washington state and so her favorite smell is the mixture of pine and rain. Amy can easily get carried away with new interests and hobbies so you might find her learning a new hobby every month!
Arianna Hill (she/her) works as the GIC’s office coordinator. She began her Penn career as an undergrad in 2016 and has worked within key Black Penn communities including Makuu and the Center for Africana Studies. Now on academic leave, Arianna brings her cultural resource center background and her experiences as a low-income student to the GIC team. She is happy to answer student questions about the ins and outs of adulting (for example: PA state benefits, medical insurance, tax returns) and has compiled tons of information for FGLI students – the kind of information she wishes she’d had a few years back! She has lived all over Philly in her childhood and adulthood and so, has come to love immersing herself in other languages, cultures, and communities. Outside of the university, you can catch her in an online language group or watering her indoor jungle, also known as her house.
Brandy Pineda (she/her/hers), FLASH Program Development Coordinator, oversees retention, analytics, communication, and programming for the Penn FLASH platform, a curated network of FGLI, FGLI- adjacent, and FGLI ally identifying alumni and students. Studying linguistics in the College of Arts & Sciences, her career interests include consulting, software engineering, STEM project/product management, and social good initiatives. On campus, she has been involved in linguistic research, GIC, PennCAP, Penn FLITE (FGLI in Tech and Eng), Istmo y Vos (the central American interest student group), Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, Sappho, and Women in Computer Science. Off-campus in her free time, Brandy enjoys practicing art expression, sticker making, and finding any excuse to interact with animals.
Kia Lor (she/her), Associate Director, was a First-Generation Lower-Income (FGLI) college student who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and raised in snowy St. Paul, Minnesota. Kia can tell you all about how to immerse yourself in intercultural courses for credit, the Intercultural Leadership Program, the United Minorities Council, and the Civil Rights History Spring Break. She is also skilled in social media marketing. Kia is passionate about Hmong women narratives and digital storytelling, and she uses her training in intercultural communication to help students develop their voices. Outside of the GIC, you may find Kia taking pictures or running along the Schuylkill trail.
Mary Ann Kalei Baricuatro (she/her), Natives at Penn Graduate Assistant, is from Wahiawā, Hawaiʻi and is currently in Philly pursuing her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education at Penn GSE. As a Native Hawaiian FGLI student, she loves working with Natives at Penn, finding and creating a supportive community amongst fellow Native and Indigenous students. Outside of Penn during this virtual time, Mary Ann enjoys joining webinars from home about Hawaiian identity/culture, exploring Philly (especially the parks and pockets of nature), and probably like many Penn students, catching up on some much-needed sleep.
Stephanie Tan (she/her/hers), Student Worker, is a First-Generation Lower-Income (FGLI) senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Stephanie is passionate about giving back to the communities that have helped her shape her identity and who she is today. Stephanie has worked with FGLI organizations to help students navigate through college and their careers by hosting workshops and organizing mentorship programs. In her free time, Stephanie loves to travel, bake sweets, and work on her new interest– sewing!
Teji Wang (she/her/hers), Coordinator of FruiTea, is a junior in Nursing with a minor in Nutrition. She is an international student from China who lived in Kuwait (a petite country in the Middle East) for most of her life, and her enthusiasm for facilitating conversations and exploring the converging and diverging identities within the diverse FGLI community is her motivation for coordinating the weekly FruiTea gatherings. Outside of taking and preparing for nursing and Japanese courses, Teji will most likely be enjoying food (either through the art of eating, watching cooking videos, or sparingly cooking dishes) and marathoning through anime series. She is also a person of faith and is always open to praying with/for you!
Tristan Fajardo (he/him), Undergraduate Work-Study, is a freshman in the college originally from Vancouver, BC in Canada. Being a First-Generation Lower-Income (FGLI) student himself, he understands the struggles that many students face at an institution such as Penn. Tristan is passionate about Indigenous Rights. At the GIC, he works with Natives at Penn as well as helps with FGLI initiatives. When not working at the GIC, you can find Tristan out on a run in Philadelphia, playing violin or studying and completing his endless pile of school work.
Toyce Holmes (she/her/hers), FGLI Program Coordinator, is Muscogee Creek and an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. Toyce enjoys utilizing her background in social work and counseling to create spaces and opportunities for FGLI students such as the FGLI Cafe and Penn FLASH events with alumni. She also serves as staff advisor to Natives at Penn where she supports Native and Indigenous students in expanding cultural awareness and experiences. When she’s not at work, Toyce enjoys exploring the Northeast, expanding her Hello Kitty collection, supporting Native artists and watching sci-fi movies/TV shows.
Valerie De Cruz (she/her/hers), Director, oversees the center. She loves building trusting relationships and co-creating community with students and campus partners with the aim of designing enriching intercultural collaborations. Valerie loves using her background in Psychology and Counseling to coach and mentor students and colleagues. In her free time, Valerie enjoys traveling, recommending cool restaurants in town, and reading inspiring fiction and poetry.
Phone: (215) 898-3358
Fax: (215) 573-2597
Hours: Fall and Spring:
Monday & Friday | 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday – Thursday | 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Summer: Monday – Friday | 10:00 am – 5:00 pm