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Competitive Edge

Competitive Edge is a summer transition interdisciplinary program for incoming Ph.D. and MFA students. This year the program will expand to officially offer support to students throughout their first full year as a graduate student in the form of peer mentoring, periodic 1:1 check-ins with the coordinators, and community-building events. 

This year's program dates are August 1 through September 10, 2022.

CE-Cohort 2021


  • Advanced introduction to UC San Diego faculty
  • Advanced introduction to key UC San Diego campus resources
  • Early move-in to graduate campus housing
  • Acquisition of critical writing, teaching, and communication skills through workshops and lectures
  • Early mentorship from UC San Diego faculty and peer mentors
  • A community-like experience with support from a peer cohort and the UC San Diego Graduate Division
  • Summer stipend of $4,000

Program Content

In addition to the research experience, participants are required to attend workshops to acclimate them to the campus environment. Workshop facilitators are members of the UC San Diego community and serve as faculty, staff or continuing graduate students in various academic fields. In addition to the workshops, participants are expected to attend an orientation at the beginning and a luncheon at the conclusion of the program.

Summer Faculty Mentorship

Each Competitive Edge student is expected to work with a summer faculty mentor from their respective departments. The faculty mentor will provide guidance on a research project, new or existing. The project does not have to be completed during the 6-week program, which allows the scope of the project to span the entirety of the summer quarter, through the Fall quarter, or beyond.

At minimum, meetings between Competitive Edge Fellows and their respective mentors should occur every other week. Ultimately, this depends on the nature of the project, the amount of oversight each student requires, and the level of mentorship the faculty member is able to provide.

In addition to research, the faculty mentor can provide an introduction and guidance to the department, as well as any tips on how to make the most of the summer, first quarter, and first year of their graduate experience.

2020 Fellows

Michael Hillyer

PhD Student, Anthropology

Christopher-Michael Rojas Moreno

PhD Student, Anthropology

Daniella Vo

PhD Student, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Ugbad Farah

PhD Student, Biology

Grant Norton

PhD Student, Biomedical Sciences

Consuelo Sauceda

PhD Student, Biomedical Sciences

Christian Pascual

PhD Student, Biostatistics (Family Medicine and Public Health)

Alexis Day

PhD Student, Chemistry

Julianna Follmar

PhD Student, Chemistry

Cristian Garcia Alcaraz

Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology

Amber Keller

Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology

Elizabeth Rangel

Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology

Matthew Fain

PhD Student, Cognitive Science

Marwa Abdalla

PhD Student, Communication

Keven Hernandez

PhD Student, Communication

Paul Ngo-Pham

PhD Student, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Ashley Batchelor

PhD Student, Education

Wendy Cheung

PhD Student, Education

Benjamin Kennedy

PhD Student, Education

Miguel Sanchez Morquecho

PhD Student, History

Trent Simmons

Doctoral Student, Language and Communicative Disorders

Michelle Gonzalez de la Cruz

MA Student, Latin American Studies

Kelsey Wardlaw

MA Student, Latin American Studies

Claudia Duarte Borquez

PhD Student, Linguistics

Milad Mayel

PhD Student, Linguistics

Jessica Lizarraga

PhD Student, Literature

Emma Hopkins

PhD Student, Materials Science and Engineering

Jackelin Amorin Cotrina

PhD Student, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Nicolas Herard

PhD Student, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Stephanie Ortega

PhD Student, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Napoleon Touafek

MFA Student, Literature

Raymundo Miranda

PhD Student, Neuroscience

Emily LaRosa

PhD Student, Philosophy

Mayia Vranas

PhD Student, Physics

Jesus Rojas Venzor

PhD Student, Political Science

Devin Wright

PhD Student, Political Science

Katie Christman

PhD Student, Psychology

Patricia Dionicio

Doctoral Student, Public Health

Victoria Telles

Doctoral Student, Public Health

Michael Allen

PhD Student, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Nicole Clizzie

PhD Student, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Briana Pessanha

PhD Student, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Taiwo Sokan

MFA Student, Theatre - Acting

Cambria Herrera

MFA Student, Theatre - Directing

Noah Keyishian

MFA Student, Theatre

Arlene Mejorado

MFA Student, Visual Arts

Lorena Ochoa

MFA Student, Visual Arts

Amir Saadiq

MFA Student, Visual Arts

2019 Fellows

 Kelechi Agwuncha

Kelechi Agwuncha                                                            MFA Student, Visual Arts

 Sara Almalla

Sara Almalla                                                                      PhD Student, Ethnic Studies

 Anthony Anderson

Anthony Anderson                                                            PhD Student, Political Science

 Mia Borzello

Mia Borzello                                                                      PhD Student, Cognitive Science

 Marvic Carrillo Terrazas

Marvic Carrillo Terrazas                                                    PhD Student, Biomedical Sciences

 Matthew Carter

Matthew Carter                                                                  PhD Student, Linguistics

 Ashley Cronk

Ashley Cronk                                                                      PhD Student, Materials Science

 Nathaniel James

Nathaniel James                                                                PhD Student, Anthropology

 Reed Kendall

Reed Kendall                                                                      PhD Student, Education

 Shai Nielson

Shai Nielson                                                                      PhD Student, Linguistics

 Joseph Riley

Joseph Riley                                                                      MFA Student, Art History

 Chiaki Santiago

Chiaki Santiago                                                                  PhD Student, Neuroscience

Melonie Vaughn

Melonie Vaughn                                                                PhD Student, Neuroscience

 Hannah White

Hannah White                                                                    PhD Student, Education

2018 Fellows

 David Cadena

David Ochoa Cadena                                                   PhD Student, Bioengineering

 Thien Hoang Doan

Thien Hoang Doan                                                      MFA Student, Visual Arts

 Jose Armando Fernandez Guerrero

Jose Armando Fernandez Guerrero                           PhD Student, Linguistics

 Jennifer Ellen Fromm

Jennifer Ellen Fromm                                                  PhD Student, Mechanical Engineering

 Incamu Ray Huaute

Incamu Ray Huaute                                                     PhD Student, Linguistics

 Sanaa Sameena Khan

Sanaa Sameena Khan                                                 PhD Student, Education

 Julian Gonzalo Kosacki

Julian Gonzalo Kosacki                                               PhD Student, Bioengineering

 Rochelle Alexia McFee

Rochelle Alexia McFee                                                PhD Student, Ethnic Studies

 Taylor Sherisse McKie

Taylor Sherisse McKie                                                 PhD Student, Oceanography

 Monica Newton Molgaard

Monica Newton Molgaard                                           PhD Student, Education

 Lauren Ann-Ru Oey

Lauren Ann-Ru Oey                                                      PhD Student, Psychology

 Angel Payan

Angel Payan                                                                  PhD Student, Chemistry

 Meghan J Rossi

Meghan J Rossi                                                            PhD Student, Neuroscience

 Carlos Anthony Vasquez

Carlos Anthony Vasquez                                            PhD Student, Chemistry

Please direct inquiries about this program to: