School of Peace Studies

Contact: Don Trinh
Phone: (619) 260-7795
Fax: (619) 849-8109

Location: KIPJ Room 113
Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110

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Students and Alumni

2007 Alumni

Zacharia Akol

Zacharia Diing Akol (Kongor, Sudan) - Zacharia earned a B.A. in public policy and public administration and a B.A. in policy and applied economics from Michigan State University. Born and raissed in Sudan, Zacharia was forced to flee during the country's north-south civil war. He lived in Ethiopia and Kenya as a refugee until he resettled in Tucson, Arizona in 2001. Shaped by his refugee life experiences, Zacharia developed a profound interest in the nature and dynamics of human conflicts, mechanisms of conflict management and resolution, as well as the acquisition and sustainability for global peace. As an undergraduate student, Zacharia formed the Sudan Awareness and Support Group and continues working to raise awareness about Sudan's issues of war and peace with other organizations through public speaking engagements. Upon graduating from the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Zacharia enrolled in the Master of D ivinity program at the Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT. (updated 4/09) Email:

Benjamin De Los Reyes

Benjamin De Los Reyes (Long Beach, California) – B.A. in history from the University of California, San Diego. De Los Reyes’ interest in the field of peace and justice was sparked during his undergraduate education as he studied history’s tragedies. His experience witnessing the hardships endured by his undocumented migrant co-workers, coupled with his Catholic value in social justice inspired him to pursue a degree in peace and justice. De Los Reyes is interested in the negative effects of globalization on people and the environment, the role of religion as the possible cause and solution to conflict, and the possibilities of peace education for school age youth. De Los Reyes has served as a mentor to youth in the San Diego region through programs such as the Students Plus Program with the International Rescue Committee.

Yusuf Gawany

Yusuf Gawany (Tanzania) – ADCM from the Moshi University of Cooperative and Business Studies, Kilimanjaro. Gawany has extensive experience with the plight of the refugee where he is especially focused on refugee women and girls facing sexual and gender-based violence as well as sexual exploitation. Gawany’s professional experience includes working for the Tanzanian government as a Cooperative Officer in the Dodoma Region, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, lately in Lugufu Congolese refugee camp in Kigoma region, Tanzania. His decision to continue his graduate education stems from a commitment to contribute towards peace building, justice and human rights.

Martha Garcia

Martha D. Garcia (Yucaipa, California) – B.A. in human development and a minor in Latin American studies from the University of California, San Diego. As an undergraduate Garcia participated with the Catholic Community at UCSD’s student ministry leadership training program in community service, which she credits with shaping her commitment to social justice. Following graduation she served as a Pastoral Associate Intern co-directing the student ministry program where she mentored ten student leaders a year in cultivating effective interpersonal skills, active listening skills, social responsibility and personal accountability. Additional professional experience includes eight years in the social services and mental health fields as a case manager for children with developmental disabilities where she designed and implemented individualized educational and behavioral treatment plans. Garcia’s special interests include domestic social policy, human and civil rights advocacy, conflict resolution and mediation.

Jessica Howell

Jessica Howell (Milawukee, Wisconsin) –B.S. in environmental science and anthropology from the University of Notre Dame. As an undergraduate, Howell’s studies catered to a diversity of interests, allowing both biological research and a semester of study in India and South East Asia. Following graduation, she spent a year with a volunteer program working with high-risk youth and low-income families. She then joined the Catholic Worker community in Dubuque, IA, and lived for two years at a house of hospitality for women and children, where her work included education, crisis intervention, community organizing and many other activities that fostered the Catholic Worker movement’s commitment to peace and social justice. She also served as a member of several community-based task forces that addressed issues of housing, homelessness, and poverty. Howell’s current interests within the master’s program include the intersection of health and human rights, women’s issues and nonviolent resistance movements.

Monya Kian

Monya Kian (United States) received her B.A. in International Studies with Distinction and a Minor in Human Rights from the University of Washington and also holds a Diplôme from L’Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris in France.  Monya has lived in five countries, and her experiences abroad have ignited her passion for diplomacy and conflict resolution.  Since receiving the M.A. from the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, she has served as a consultant for various companies.  Monya currently teaches “International Negotiations and Conflict Resolution” courses and works with various energy stakeholders as Vice President of Silo Energy LLC. (updated 4/09). Email:

Marieta Giannico de Coppio Siqueira Nobile

Marieta Siqueira (Brazil) holds a J.D. from the State University of Londrina, School of Law (Brazil, 2004) and an M.A from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Translation Studies (Brazil, 2008). Currently employed by the Labor Court of the State of Paraná, Brazil, Marieta is the Special Assistant to the Conciliation Court, a new department that she helped establish. She was a member of the Organizing Committee responsible for putting together a week-long-round of over 2000 hearings for mediating labor conflicts in December 2008. This event involved all the law schools in the capital city of the Brazilian State of Paraná and provided practical legal experience for over 300 law students. Marieta also teaches Negotiation and Labor Conflict Mediation courses at Dom Bosco Law School, in addition to mentoring law students writing their graduate theses. While studying for her M.A. in Peace Studies, Marieta completed a capstone project on healthcare delivery at the Lugufu Refugee Camps in northwest Tanzania. She has also been instrumental in securing a Rotary Foundation grant to her hometown of Paraguaçu Paulista that promotes educational workshops on STD⁄AIDS prevention while improving the lives of AIDS/HIV positive persons and their family members, through social reinsertion and income generating activities. Marieta also continues her studies in the field of the Economics of Labor, with an objective of furthering her knowledge of issues regarding Security and Development in the underdeveloped world.(updated 4/09).  Email:

Lee Sorensen

Lee Sorensen (Carlsbad, California) – B.A. in psychology from the University of Utah. Lee is an entrepreneur and a 2007 graduate of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies. Lee applied to the Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies program in 2007 with primary interests in human security, poverty and the effect on access to healthcare services. Lee also holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Utah.

During Lee’s career as an entrepreneur he created and developed three separate healthcare companies and most recently an education company. The first provided mental health and residential care services to at-risk youth. The next two were providers of geriatric rehabilitation, long-term care/skilled nursing and ancillary services. The most recent is a provider of supplemental education in locations in Orange County and North San Diego County under the Sylvan Learning Brand.

In 2007 – 2008, Lee joined US Doctors for Africa (USDFA) as Strategic Development Director. USDFA is an NGO that provides volunteer medical services in various African states. In 2009, Lee provided founding support and became a Board Member of the RAND – African First Ladies Initiative. This initiative partners with Africa's first ladies, supporting their efforts to become champions of change for the health and education of millions of women and children across the continent.

In 2012, Lee joined the Institute for Economics and Peace as Director of US Outreach. The Institute for Economics and Peace develops new conceptual frameworks to define peacefulness; provides metrics for measurement; uncovers the relationship between peace, business, and prosperity; and promotes a better understanding of the social, economic, and political factors that drive peacefulness. IEP is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human wellbeing and progress.

Kelsey Wiedenhoefer

Kelsey Wiedenhoefer (Hanford, California) – B.A. in political science and a minor in ethnic studies from the University of California, San Diego. During her undergraduate studies, Widenhoefer spent a quarter interning in Washington, D.C. for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights studying the effects of Brown v. Board of Education on California’s educational system. Upon graduating from UCSD Wiedenhoefer was selected to travel to India as a part of the Agricultural Learning Tour organized by the Mennonite Central Committee in conjunction with the Central American Study and Service Program in Guatemala. These travel experiences impacted Wiedenhoefer’s decision to enroll in the peace and justice masters program to better suit her interests and personal goals. She hopes to focus her studies in mediation, conflict management, international relations, and cultural and gender based issues.

Maiyia Yang

Maiyia (Maplewood, Minnesota) holds a B.I.S. in global studies, cultural studies and comparative literature, and linguistics from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Born in Thailand, Maiyia is a first generation Hmong immigrant. During her undergraduate studies, she studied abroad for a semester in South Korea while volunteering at the local community center delivering lunch boxes to children. Her experience in South Korea inspired her to seek alternative ways of learning through travel. Maiyia credits attending a global seminar entitled “Understanding Southeast Asia,” for bring to her attention the issues of peace, justice and equality for immigrants, refugees and minorities. After graduating from the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, she volunteered for the Minnesota Literacy Council as an English teacher and a tutor for immigrants and refugees.  Maiyia is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Comparative and International Development Education at the University of Minnesota where she focuses her research on peace education and policy, both nationally and internationally.  (updated 4/09). Email: