Class of 2011
Adriana Alarcon is originally from Manta, Ecuador. She graduated from the Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manabí, in Manta, with a degree in economics and has since worked with various companies. In recent years she has worked through her church with many impoverished communities surrounding her hometown of Manta. Her experiences with the children and parents of these communities motivated her to pursue her degree in peace and justice studies and then return to Ecuador to work in development.
Jon Conroe, a native of Southern California, is a Lutheran minister and serves as a chaplain in the United States Navy. He received his bachelor's degree in behavioral science with a social work program specialization from Concordia University in Irvine, California. While at Concordia, Conroe interned at St. Anselm's Refugee Center and worked with refugees from Cambodia and Romania. He received master's degrees in divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and global leadership from the University of San Diego, and graduated from the Navy War College's College of Naval Command and Staff. As a Navy chaplain, Conroe has deployed to several countries in the western Pacific and on a combat tour in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. His experiences in Iraq developed his interest in the role of religion and religious leaders in the process of conflict resolution and transformation. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Conroe will concentrate on the role of such leaders in Track II diplomatic efforts toward peace and reconciliation.
Stacey Cooper grew up in Madison, N.J. In 1998 she graduated cum laude from the University of Richmond with a B.S. in business administration and concentrations in marketing and international business. While an undergraduate, she studied abroad in Costa Rica and Spain. After living and working in New York City for years, Cooper quit her job to travel throughout Latin America. She taught English in Mexico, tutored first grade students in Nicaragua and traveled through Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Peru. She then completed a certificate program in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the University of California, San Diego, where she became interested in the use of mapping and analysis in humanitarian affairs and which led her to the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies (KSPS). Cooper speaks Spanish and is a certified teacher of English as a Foreign Language and English as a Second Language. At the KSPS, she will specialize in development and incorporate GIS into her studies.
Tonia Crosby is a native of Colorado. After resigning from her career in business management in 2006, she traveled to Ayacucho, Peru, where she worked for children's educational opportunities in a region healing from civil war. Upon returning to the United States, she completed an individualized degree program at Metropolitan State College of Denver, earning her B.A. in global humanitarian affairs. In 2008, inspired by efforts to end human traficking, Crosby began a small community organization called the Urban Expression Project, aimed at exposing Denver youth to issues of social injustice. In 2009 she participated in an advocacy practicum for the 53rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York, where she was introduced to the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies. Crosby is primarily interested in post-conflict development and intends to examine the role that women can play in building more peaceful futures.
Elika Dadsetan was born in Tehran, Iran. She spent her childhood in varios parts of the United States and France before her family settled in Sherman Oaks, California. She has degrees in sociology and political science from the University of California, San Diego, and graduated from law school at Southwestern University in Los Angeles. Dadsetan taught government at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks and most recently at High Tech High International in San Diego. Through her work in schools, Dadsetan realized the power of education as a means to transform society. Recently, she spent a summer in northern Uganda setting up technology resource centers. After 15 years of working extensively with Sherman Oaks-based nonprofit International Health and Epidemiology Research Center, Dadsetan began the process of starting a nonprofit organization known as Word Play!, which will support young people to develop writing skills. She is also starting a program called Backpacks for the Homeless, supporting the homeless community in San Diego. She is fluent in Farsi and English, conversational in Spanish, and is learning French.
Justine Darling was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and moved to Los Angeles, California, at the age of 10. In 2008 she graduated cum laude from the University of San Diego (USD) with a B.A. in psychology and minors in business and philosophy. While at USD, she traveled to El Salvador and studied abroad in Milan, Italy and Guadalajara, Mexico, raising funds and gathering volunteers to support a local orphanage and cancer hospital for children. Darling joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps after graduation as a legal advocate for homeless youth at the Covenant House in Newark, New Jersey. While there she also created an education program to aid students in acquiring their general education diploma. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Darling will focus on conflict resolution and development as a means to empower individuals and communities to create economically sustainable enterprises in conflict areas of the world.
Esike Ebruke is from Agbarha-Otor Kingdom, Delta State, Niger Delta region in Nigeria. He received his higher national diploma in marketing from the Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti in 1996, and a postgraduate diploma in management from the University of Calabar in 1999. He was the executive director of Global Peace Development, a nongovernmental organization that implements several projects, including infrastructure, capacity building, baseline and diagnostic studies, and which is funded by the U.N. Development Programme, Delegation of the European Commission, Australian High Commission, U.S. Embassy and International Foundation for Education and Self-Help in Arizona. He is pursuing his degree at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies because of his experience in the conflict in the Niger Delta region and in order to learn the necessary skills to help lift the Nigerian people out of conflict and poverty. He will specialize in conflict analysis and resolution. Ebruke is fluent in English and Urhobo.
Brian Estabrook is originally from Columbus, Ohio, and completed his B.A. in early modern European history at Ohio State University in 2007. After studying colonialism and slavery, he was drawn toward understanding marginalized peoples and the structures that formally and informally maintain disenfranchisement. His research interests are therefore in the contextual factors that can lead to violence and injustice, including poverty; income inequality; and lack of education, social safety nets, good governance, civil society, environmental sustainability and human rights. Estabrook embraces social justice and the pursuit of peace as central to the Christian faith. Through the years, he has partnered with the homeless communities in both Columbus and San Diego and spent two years working as a social worker, assisting low-income families through times of crisis, abuse and recovery. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Estabrook will also explore the theory and practice of restorative justice and reconciliation.
Austin Fitch was born in San Diego, California. In 2010, he graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with a B.A. in political science, specializing in international relations and a minor in Middle Eastern studies. During his junior year, he studied abroad in Lugano, Switzerland, and participated in a program titled "International Organizations and Their Role in Today's World." Through this program he traveled to Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark and Luxembourg to visit various international organizations, including the European Union Commission and Parliament, NATO Headquarters, U.N.'s Palais des Nations, World Trade Organization, U.N. High Commission for Refugees, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Fitch will specialize in conflict analysis and resolution and human secruity, particularly as they relate to terrorism, sub-state level conflicts and the current prevailing counter-insurgency strategy of "Clear, Hold, Build."
Wida Irvany is from Jakarta, Indonesia. Her interest in conflict studies began when she conducted research on the conflict between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement, and its subsequent resolution. She has conducted research in eastern Europe and Egypt, and is currently working with the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Indonesia. Irvany will specialize in negotiation and mediation at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.
Aliker David Martin
David Martin Aliker is a 2011 graduate of Joan B. Kroc Institute at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies. David graduated with a Masters in Peace and Justice Studies. Currently, he lives and works in northern Uganda, East Africa. Besides, David has also attained post graduate diplomas in Project Planning and Management and another in Human Resource Management from Gulu University and Uganda Management Institute respectively. Also, he attained a Bachelors of Arts Degree with Education from Makerere University. Today David is the Program Manager of Echo Bravo (Head of Office).Echo Bravo blends the intersection between Livelihood and Education with funding from European Union, Netherland Government through its Embassy and individual donors. David is also a founder of Partners and Volunteers Initiative Uganda-PVI Uganda (www.pviuganda.org) PVI Uganda provides a platform for International and local volunteers to change lives through sharing experiences and offering opportunities for service above self. Previously, David served as Project Coordinator, Education Officer and School teacher at BOSCO Uganda, Invisible Children and St.Lawrence Citizens High School respectively. David is a motivational speaker with the experience of speaking in thirteen States in the US and Canada. David Martin Aliker is a former member of Pearl Harbour Toastmasters, San Diego and a full time active Rotarian with Gulu Rotary Club.
Marisol Martinez was born and raised in Rochelle, Illinois. A first-generation American, she was the first in her family to earn a bachelor's degree. Martinez studied sociology at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and participated in many service-learning trips, most recently as the student coordinator for a trip to east Texas, focused on the history of Mexicans in the United States. Through Students in Free Enterprise at her college, she served in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, translating for student-participants and local famers and artisans. Martinez has also volunteered at Hesed House, a homeless shelter in Aurora, Illinois, while conducting research on the relationship between guests and staff. She has studied in Denmark and at Växjö University in Sweden, in peace and development. She will specialize in conflict resolution or development at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.
Carolina is originally from Los Angeles, California, but spent the last three years in Monterey Bay, where she received her B.A. in human communication with an emphasis in oral history from California State University, Monterey Bay. She was first introduced to human rights issues six years ago, when she collected oral testimonies of survivors of torture from Latin America, as an intern at Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International in Washington, D.C. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Melendrez will specialize in human rights.
Jennifer A. Mills
Jennifer A. Mills was raised in the Comoros Islands off the east coast of Africa, but most recently resided in Mesa, Arizona. Her experience in the Comoros shaped her view on justice, government, culture, identity and conflict. She has a B.A. in political science, with a minor in global studies and a certificate in international studies, from Arizona State University, where she took courses on human security, women and violence, and international law.
Chris Morales grew up in northern California and spent much of his childhood exploring the California coastline and mountains. He has a B.A. in biology with a minor in Spanish from the University of San Diego. After three years working in a biotechnology company manufacturing parenteral medicine, he decided to volunteer in an orphanage in the jungle of eastern Guatemala and witnessed the economic and social injustices inflicted on indigenous peoples. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, he hopes to gain the skills necessary to engage with policies that can lighten the burden of the poor and oppressed and secure peace and justice in the world.
Zachary Nissen grew up in Tampa, Florida, and attended the University of Central Florida, where he received a B.A. in international relations and comparative politics in 2007. During his undergraduate studies, he was active in various groups including Students for a Democratic Society, and was a co-founder of the East Orlando chapter of Food Not Bombs. He has spent time teaching in Ghana and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, where he worked on issues of food security, environmental stewardship, health and nutrition, and gender and development. His main focus is human rights, specficially how participatory and traditional community organizations respond to and recover from human rights violations.
Kiyoko Nonaka was born in Fukuoka, Japan, but spent seven years of her childhood in the United States. She received her bachelor's degree in 2001 in policy management from Keio University in Japan. During that time, she worked for a nongovernmental organization focused on children's international friendships. As project coordinator, she had the opportunity to visit various countries and regions, including India, Nepal, Israel, Palestine, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Russia. After graduation Nonaka worked as a television reporter and interviewer while she continued workign on children's international projects. She also expanded her experience in experimental international projects, using the Internet to integrate environmental and cultural experiences in interactive digitial media. After her time at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, she wants to work with groups and countries in conflict by empowering communities and bridging and building trust among them.
Alex Okello Ouma
Alex holds a Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies from the University of San Diego, a Diploma in Leadership and Management of the Civil Society Sector from Strathmore University in Kenya, and a Bachelor’s degree in Development Studies from Gulu University in Uganda. His motivation to work in the development field stems from experiences and working in war-torn and now post-conflict Northern Uganda - which allowed him to intimately understand the importance of peace and cooperation towards development. Working with partners in Northern and North-Eastern parts of Uganda for over 7 years has allowed Alex to explore negotiation, conflict transformation, peacebuilding, networking, and strategy development through skill transfers to staff and community based civil society organizations. Alex has led multi-cultural and multi-functional teams in policy, advocacy, community capacity building, conflict transformation and human rights. Before joining the Search for Common Ground, where he now works as Conflict and Reconciliation Officer in Uganda, Alex worked with Diakonia as a Program Officer where he strengthened the monitoring, evaluation, and reporting skills of partners. Alex also managed the education project with the Norwegian Refugee Council in Uganda. This project in particular helped increase access to primary and vocational education for girls and child mothers, former child soldiers, and facilitated reconstruction of schools and training of teachers. Alex is very passionate about access to justice, peacebuilding, governance, conflict transformation, and human rights work.
Father Michael K. Paul
Father Michael K. Paul was born in Kajokeji County, southern Sudan. At a young age, he and his family escaped the war and relocated to Uganda, eventually moving to Kenya. He received his B.A. in theology and Bible at Pan Africa University in Nairobi, worked for Save the Children Fund as a consultant, and was a primary school teacher trainer in the liberated areas of southern Sudan. Father Paul earned a master's degree in theology from the Graduate School of World Mission and Theological Seminary in Seoul, South Korea, and became a lecturer at Carlile School of Theology and Business Studies in Kenya. In 2000 he graduated with a master's degree in theological studies from Virginia Theological Seminary and then worked as a case manager for Tressler, a Lutheran refugee resettlement program, an affiliate director for the Episcopal Migration Minitries and as a case manager for the Ethiopian Community Development Council, all in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2006, he became rector for St. Luke's Episcopal Church in San Diego, where he serves refugees from southern Sudan and other African countries. He also has an M.A. in pastoral care and counseling from the University of San Diego. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Paul will specialize in Human Security.
Lars Stairs-Almquist is a native of San Diego. He graduated from the University of California, San Diego, in 2005 with a B.A. in political science and minors in international studies and history, where he concentrated on globalization and African studies. He has traveled to and worked in Mexico, Belize, Argentina, El Salvador, India, Ethiopia, Thailand, and Karen refugee camps on the Burmese border. In addition to his interests in North American migration issues and community-based economic development in sub-Saharan Africa, Stairs-Almquist is passionate about transforming static faith communities into active agents of social change. While at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Stairs-Almquist will study creative, community-based development with a focus on integrating access to health care, food justice and the empowerment of indigenous communities. He and his wife Bethany, a licensed family nurse practitioner, plan on establishing free health clinics and localized community resource centers both in San Diego and in marginalized communities abroad.
Ann Thomas is a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah in 2008 with a B.A. in political science. Her interest in peace and conflict studies began with her visit to Bosnia, where she witnessed the effects of the war on the civilian population. Her interest in the field continued to grow as she worked for nonprofit organizations in both Guatemala and El Salvador, helping to raise money for schools and medical clinics. As an undergraduate, Thomas interned with the U.S. State Department, where she assisted with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. More recently, Thomas has been working as a research assistant conducting analysis on interpretive methodologies in political science at the University of Utah. Her areas of specialization at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies are mediation, conflict prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding.
Lauren B. Wade
Lauren B. Wade is from Newport Beach, California. She graduated from the University of San Diego with a bachelor's degree in accountancy in 2005, and has worked as a certified public accountant in San Diego since then. Her work with nonprofit organization clients led to her interest in the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies. She is an active member of the San Diego community and volunteers with organizations focused on assisting children and practicing yoga. Wade is an active member of All Hallows Catholic Church in La Jolla. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, she will specialize in conflict analysis and resolution and is particularly interested in the resolution of religious conflicts.
Meghan Walsh is from the central valley of California. She attended Vanguard University of Southern California and graduated in 2010 with a B.A. in psychology. While attending Vanguard, she traveled to Costa Rica and Nicaragua and visited local communities. During the sumers of 2009 and 2010, Walsh traveled to Israel and Palestine. In the West Bank she lived and worked in a refugee camp, learning firsthand about the situation of Palestinians and meeting with various Israeli and Palestinian organizations engaged in non-violent resistance and conflict resolution.
Roosevelt Z. Willie
Roosevelt Z. Willie is originally from Liberia in West Africa. He holds a B.S. in secondary education and an L.L.B. from the University of Liberia. He currently works as a magistrate judge, responsible for training magistrates, judges and judicial officers at the Jamess A.A. Pierre Judicial Institute in Liberia. Prior to the civil war in 1990, he worked as a classroom teacher and school administrator and also volunteered with the Red Cross of Liberia, later becoming its youth director in 1995. From 1998 to 2000, he served as secretary general responsible for the day-to-day activities and coordination of relief, water, sanitation and health, and the dissemination of Red Cross messages. The experience of working in war zones with international partners of the Red Cross and his current assignment within the judiciary are the driving forces behind his desire to enter the peace and justice studies program. He will specialize in human security.
Shabnaz Yousefia was born in Iran, but lived in Sweden for most of her childhood. Yousefia earned her B.A. in global studies and international relations from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2004. As an undergraduate, she interned with Amnesty International, researching country-specific human rights abuses and recruiting human rights specialists. She also volunteered for PAX 2100, teaching peacebuilding activities to elementary school children. In 2003, Yousefia studied abroad in India and conducted research on Mahatma Gandhi's satyagraba (non-violent resistance) movement. Motivated by the resilience and courage of women in India, she later organized a fundraiser for the Global Fund for Women. Most recently, Yousefia served as constituent representative for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, assisting California residents with pending immigrant visa applications and obtaining emergency visas for individuals needing urgent medical care in the United States. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Yousefia will specialize in conflict analysis and resolution and study gender-specific human rights abuses.