GIC Hours and Contact
Phone: (215) 898-3358
Fax: (215) 573-2597
Our Fall 2021 hours are:
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday | 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday | 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Meet the GIC Team
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.
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.
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.
Meet the GIC Graduate Assistants and Work Study Students
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!
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.
Nyair Locklear (she/her), Undergraduate Assistant, is a Junior in the College studying Health & Societies, concentrating in Health Policy and Law. She is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of NC, “People of the Dark Water,” and originally from Raeford, North Carolina. She is a FGLI student and works mostly with Natives at Penn as the Communications Chair and with FGLI orgs here at the GIC. In the future, she hopes to travel and work with sovereign tribal nations on their health and social policy efforts. Outside work and school, Nyair enjoys talking about Wellness, cooking/ baking, reading, and watching copious amounts of reality TV.
Sophie Tannenbaum (she/her) is a graduate student pursuing her Master of Social Work at the School of Social Policy and Practice. Her Jewish community has given her a strong sense of “tikkun olam” which directly translates to “world repair” or social action and the pursuit of social justice. Sophie is hoping to use her education to learn how to create systemic change and to advocate for groups who need help having their voices heard. She is a strong believer in experiential learning and loves to travel all over the world to learn about different cultures, conflicts, and health systems. When she isn’t traveling, Sophie enjoys reading, canoeing, bullet journaling, and drinking tea.
Teji Wang (she/her/hers), Coordinator of FruiTea, is a senior in Nursing with a minor in Nutrition and Japanese. 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 sophomore 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.