Gulf Coast Cohort
Corey Alan (he/they)
Corey Alan is a 24-year-old Memphis native who moved to San Marcos in November 2020. In San Marcos, he discovered his passion for serving underserved minorities and youth in BIPOC LGBTQIA+ communities. Corey values creating events and programs that promote diverse, equitable, and inclusive opportunities for youth across Central Texas. Corey obtained mentorship from Austin’s most influential community leaders in just a few years. Surrounding himself with changemakers quickly helped him realize the hard work, commitment, and ability to lead he would need in order to create change effectively. In 2022 he saw the needs, took everything he’d learned, and got to work. In just a little under a year, Corey has held positions as a Youth Ambassador for Queer & Trans Wellness Forum: Tobacco Use & Health Empowerment, An Ultrapreneur Fellow, Community and Youth Engagement Consult for OutYouth, 3 Day Startup Program Associate, and Co-collaborator and coordinator of 3 youth health and wellness events. Lastly, Corey has been recently nominated for a Champions of Change Award as Young Leader Of The Year! When he’s not working, he enjoys providing safe spaces for himself and friends, long walks in nature, trying new cuisines, and yoga.
Hayden Cohen (they/them)
Hayden Cohen was born and raised in Houstonian. They attend Houston Community College with the end goal of earning a Masters in social work. Hayden has an extensive history of advocating for LGBT+ youth, especially when it comes to their rights in schools and cultivating intentionally safe and inclusive youth spaces. In their free time, Hayden can often be found in a local coffee shop embroidering or reading about transformative justice and gender theory. In the future, they hope to be able to implement transformative justice practices in politics, specifically aiming to give a voice to those who don’t often have one.
Carson Essett (he/him)
Carson Essett is a sophomore attending Prairie View A&M University. As a Political Science major, Carson focuses on important social issues, especially those related to health care. When he is not working, Carson helps educate fellow students about the importance of safe sex and other available health resources at the university’s health services department. Carson loves to exercise, play video games, and sleep whenever he has free time.
Nmesomachukwu Ukachi-Nwata (she/her)
Nmeso Nwata is a student at the University of Houston, where she is studying psychology on the pre-med track, with the hopes to become a pediatrician. Nmeso strives to become a more active member of her community by learning more about policies that directly affect education and health care.
Maryam Mohy (she/her)
Maryam Mohy is studying Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Houston. She is minoring in Biology, and currently working as a pharmacy technician. Her experiences in the healthcare field have made her an advocate for universal healthcare.
Estevan Villagrana-Ocasio (he/they)
Estevan Villagrana-Ocasio is a 19-year-old student at the University of Houston pursuing a degree in computer information systems with a minor in computer science. Estevan has an extensive background in health sciences and is a certified pharmacy technician. He hopes to merge both fields, using databases and his experiences in the health science field to create resources for those in need. These resources would be capable of explaining health insurance and providing resources or even providing more knowledge on any list of medications the user may be taking. When Estevan is not learning new programming languages, he is often reading a book or working on personal programming projects.
Juan Sergio Longoria
From concerts to volunteering in his local community, Juan Sergio Longoria loves engaging with all parts of Houston. He enjoys his time off at local nature reserves, and enjoy exploring the underground tunnels with friends downtown. Juan loves going to concerts and shows and eating amazing food that can only be found in Houston. He is passionate about improving health policy, both locally, and in the state of Texas.
Central Texas Cohort
Yelena Serrato (she/her)
Yelena Serrato is a first-generation college student at the University of Texas at Austin studying Political Communication and Government. As a third-year undergraduate student at UT, Yelena dedicates her time to various student organizations such as the Moody College Communication Council, Minority Women Pursuing Law, and B.B.A.M., the Black and Brown Academic Mentorship Program. This spring semester, Yelena will be serving as a research assistant for a project analyzing communicative support to underserved immigrant populations. As a child of Mexican immigrant parents, she is passionate about advocating for immigrant rights and using her skills and resources to serve underrepresented communities of all backgrounds.
Previously, Yelena worked with the Equal Justice Center where she served as an Immigration Intake Intern aiding clients seeking assistance with their DACA and Naturalization applications. During her time at the EJC, she learned of the systemic barriers immigrants face that can limit their access to health care, employment, and education.
Yelena is a proud native of Floydada, Texas, where she and her sisters founded “The Serrato Sisters.” Their sister duo business offers scholarship opportunities to high school students of their community and provides the sisters with a platform to share their Mexican culture by annually hosting a community-wide celebration commemorating Mexico’s Independence Day at their downtown location. They also organize a monthly corner market where locals can shop, sell, and eat locally. Yelena and her sisters, along with their family, enjoy giving back to their community which gave them the opportunity to be successful when they arrived in their new home in the late 90s.
Liliana Garcia (she/her)
Lily is from the RGV area of South Texas. She grew up in a small town with a huge family. After graduating from UTPA, she moved to Austin where she would find a passion for helping the community in Central Texas. Lily wants to continue to help all Texas residents and inspire others to do the same. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends, going to karaoke, and cosplaying some of my favorite characters & antiheroes.
Luella Benkert (she/her)
Luella Benkert is currently enrolled in the Capped Program at UTSA. This upcoming Fall Semester she will be attending the University of Texas at Austin with a major in Sustainability Studies. She hopes to utilize this education in sustainability to become an ecologist and research how to preserve our environment better and mitigate the effects of global warming. She is excited to be a part of the Young Advocates Program, not only because it aligns with her passion for sustainability, but also allows her to advocate for equally important issues such as health care, civic engagement, and higher education. Luella is excited to take her next step in becoming an active and informed change-maker in her community.
Detlerpawsay Htoo (she/her)
Detlerpawsay Htoo is a third-year student at the Univerity of Texas at Austin, studying Government and minoring in law, justice, and society. She is Karen, which is an ethnicity in Burma. Detlerpawsay is from Dallas, Texas, and is an outgoing and driven person. She is excited to embark on this journey with the YI Texas team.
Clarke Benson (she/her)
Clarke Benson is a senior at The University of Texas at Austin, where she is pursuing a degree in Communication and Leadership as well as a certificate in the Business of Healthcare. On campus, Clarke is a part of the Moody College of Communication Council, where she serves on the DEI and Community Engagement committees. She is also a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity. Clarke is passionate about increasing upstream services such as education and policy change to help provide people with greater health outcomes in the United States. She is also passionate about amplifying the voices of those around her to create positive change and can’t wait to learn more about how to do so with the help of the Young Advocates program.
Alexiea Feaster (she/her)
Alexiea is a recent graduate of Jackson State University. While she was a student at Jackson State, Alexiea worked with Chicago Public Schools as a Youth ambassador/ Transitional Leader, where she was a liaison for college enrollment and awareness. She is now a retention associate for the Dell Scholarship program run by the Michael & Susan Dell foundation. She believes in creating equitable and equal opportunities for low-income populations. She is incredibly excited about joining the dynamic YA team here and helping to support the other teams’ amazing work.
East Texas Cohort
Kenyatta Berry (she/they)
Kenyatta Berry is a recent graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. In December, she will graduate from Prairie View A&M University with a Masters in Juvenile Justice. Kenyatta hopes to attend law school for Civil Rights/Racial Justice. She plans to begin her career working for a non-profit organization. Kenyatta admires activists Huey Newton, Malcolm X, and Angela Davis. Her interest in politics began after reading the book, “The Hate you give,” in high school.
Luke Morrison (he/him)
Luke is a Sports Business major at Stephen F. Austin State University graduating in spring 2023.
Braxton Robinson (he/him)
Braxton Robinson is a fun and outgoing person who loves to experience new things. He is passionate about modeling, dancing, and singing. Braxton is currently in college, majoring in Social Work and minoring in Mass Communication.
Dalaya Briggs (she/her)
Dalaya Briggs is a junior at Stephen F. Austin State University, studying Business Communications and Corporate Education. She wants to manage a business or corporation one day. In her free time, Dalaya loves to make digital art drawings.
Gerani Lewis (she/her)
Gerani Lewis is a junior at Stephen F. Austin State University, majoring in Psychology. Gerani grew up in Houston and wishes to use her degree and experience during the Young Advocates Program to fight against the social stigma surrounding mental health issues. She also loves meeting new people.