Student Fellowship

Opportunity for Students


How It Works

Cal State LA student Fellows with strong community roots develop career skills and build high-value networks rooted in emerging visions of economic justice. Developing skills and networks for career success, each Fellow pairs with a business leader for 7 months, acting as an intrapreneur to drive growth. Alumni support programs help recent graduates integrate into LEEAF's ever-expanding network of economic leaders.


Who Is Eligible

  • Capacity to attend training sessions and invest the required program time commitment for 10 months. 
  • Balance of ambition and humility: individual drive to succeed but also being ready to help someone else succeed - e.g. another fellow or program participant 
  • Connection and motivation to support the growth of underserved communities including South and East LA 
  • Understanding and/or willingness to learn wealth-building as a social justice intervention
  • Willingness to learn skills and methods that support the growth of small businesses in the community.
  • Potential for being a fellow matched with a business leader based on organizational needs, skill sets, and interests

Additional key characteristics we’re looking for can be found on the LEEAF Student Fellowship FAQ.

Special Announcement: Cohort updates

Students! LEEAF Cohort 2024 is coming soon! Check back on our website to keep an eye out for new updates!

International Students: The Global Equity Scholarship Program

For international students committed to advancing economic equity, LEEAF offers the Global Equity Scholarship Program. This program connects students to the resources and opportunities of the LEEAF Fellowship while opening reflection on strategies to fight economic inequality and support inclusive entrepreneurship in global context. For more information on eligibility and structure of this opportunity, please see here

Meet Some of Our Fellow Alumni!


Velma Jones

Velma Jones is a LEEAF Fellow and a business graduate student at Cal State LA determined to prove business success is possible for those who start without an elaborate social network. Velma started this program with a compelling story and passion for creating diverse working spaces using AI technology and she has become a leader with creative flair. 

As a black woman completing an MBA, Velma says that hearing brilliant guest speakers share their vulnerabilities has made her feel not alone. She shared that, “LEEAF has provided a safe space to discuss challenging issues, laugh, create, and listen. I feel like I am worthy, my frustrations are valid, and I am thrilled to be building connections with other like-minded individuals. As we continue through the program and work with our business leaders, I feel such growth will serve my community and myself well in the future.”

Velma is expected to graduate with her MBA in 2021. After graduation and with support from LEEAF's network of entrepreneurs, alumni, and supporters, she hopes to use her transformative operational strategies to support start-ups and businesses. She is passionate about making a difference in her community and is committed to using her talents to inspire positive change.

Potential collaborators who share Velma's vision can connect with Velma on LinkedIn.


Cheyne Yu Hernandez

Cheyne Yu Hernandez is in her second year at Cal State LA studying Natural Sciences with an emphasis in applied clinical science and is expecting to graduate in 2024! She holds great pride in being an advocate for marginalized communities as she has worked with local advocacy groups in San Francisco protesting for social justice, social equality, and economic support and recovery of marginalized communities in the bay area. These experiences have given her professional skills in coordinating and fundraising that she will help her community thrive. Cheyne’s care and compassion for people is admirable, and the LEEAF family is excited to see her future accomplishments.



Brandon Yueng

With great interest in social impact, Brandon Yueng spends his time volunteering at Clinton Global Initiative University to promote mental health awareness on their campus. From this past year, his greatest lesson has been the importance of understanding mental well-being, and was brave enough to start a dialogue about mental health within his community. He states, “I want people to feel unique, understand themselves, and change the course of mental health and other taboos associated with it.” Brandon also has dreams of opening a farmer’s market at Cal State LA to help students have better nutrition and reduce plastic waste. Brandon is striving for greatness, and we are happy to have him aboard!    


Alex Xicay

Alex Xicay is a first-generation college student expecting to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2022! He is incredibly passionate about social impact and has the drive and tenacity to learn more. Previously, he has worked with the organization Community Coalition to make a difference in his community. If he has learned anything from this past year it is that one shouldn’t stay put and wait for things to happen. He expresses that if you need assistance, you must go find it. He is motivated to help people overcome their challenges and dreams of creating a space of accessible resources for those in his community and by doing so strengthen the lives of those around him. LEEAF is proud to have him and hopes the work he is putting in proves him successful!


Josieline Hernandez

Josieline Hernandez is a first-generation college student expecting to receive a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies in 2022! For the last 5 years, she has dedicated her time to curating artists and local community members to resources. Through this work, she has produced creative opportunities for marginalized communities and proved that community empowerment is essential to helping those around her thrive. Josieline wants to prove that true character comes from within. “I am trying to show by example that degrees don't make the person, it’s the work behind that rises from the struggle.”


Miguel Arana

Miguel Arana is a graduate student at Cal State LA expecting to receive a Master’s degree in Psychology this spring semester! If he has learned anything from this last year, it is that he is much more resilient than he gives himself credit for. Not only did he receive a Bachelor’s degree from CSUCI, but he has given a great deal back to his community by putting together events for undocumented youth, conferences for BIPOC youth, and taken part in community outreach by meeting with first -generation students to give assistance with college admission and advice. He has a drive to support his community and states, “I am very passionate about social impact and my ability to help give back to my community.” We see his resilience and are ecstatic about the work he is putting in with the LEEAF program!
If you'd like to connect with Miguel, you can connect with him through LinkedIn.


Jimmy Can Headshot

Jimmy Can

Jimmy Can, a Cal State LA business student, shows great initiative and drive. His strong interests in fundraising, capital, operations, and logistics, motivate him to learn how organizations function and are properly funded. He volunteers 20 hours a week with a non-profit organization, and this effort will only add to his skillset as he plans to one day start his own non-profit organization.

Over the past year, he has come to notice the wide technological divide amongst communities. As our society has become accustomed to online living, he has raised awareness on the necessity of technological devices. In low-income communities, it is harder to attain such devices and keep up with the expectations of our society. He believes technology should be made accessible to everyone to create an equal chance for success. Jimmy shows great care for his community by supporting the street vendors in his neighborhood. He recognizes the hard workers they are and urges that they are supported.

Jimmy has an intuitive mind that pairs greatly with his determination to make a difference. His ideas, hard work, and dedication prove that he is a capable individual that will accomplish great things in our program. We are excited to see what he will do!


Elizabeth Cruz Garcia

Elizabeth Cruz Garcia is a Mass Communications major at Cal State LA with a strong drive and willingness to learn. She is a proud member of her community, and over the past year has recognized the importance of bringing communities together. She has a dream of supporting marginalized groups by creating community-first projects or coalitions.

She has a strong interest in marketing, which derives from her recognition that we are now living in a digitized world. She believes that understanding sales, market analysis, and customer discovery will help her to increase connectedness with people in her community. She also recognizes the misogynistic ideals of women in traditional cultures, which limit women’s roles in society. Using her marketing skills, she envisions having a showcase by women to support and empower women. Elizabeth has a deep care for those who are not always given a voice, and we are excited to see her put that care into action during her time with LEEAF.


Natalie Miller

Natalie Miller, a Business Economics major at Cal State LA, is a self-determined individual with dreams of making her environment a better place than she has found it. She has recognized the importance of family values and community bonding. It is important that we have relationships and support one another. Natalie approaches life with a highly competitive and positive attitude. She says, “a positive attitude has allowed me to develop strength and character.” Her work with a small t-shirt company in Downtown Los Angeles has helped her understand the operation of small businesses and how they affect the community. Her business law classes have also allowed her to build skills in investing, pitching, and grant writing techniques along with organizing financial documents. With this current and growing knowledge, Natalie has a goal of one day owning her own company. She has made great strides to reach this goal, and we cannot wait to see the skills she will further develop to make it come true.


Destiny Rodriguez

Destiny Rodriguez is a Cal State LA senior majoring in social work and has great compassion for her community. She works to be an advocate for the disabled community and a voice for those who can’t be heard. She has dreams of helping communities that have experienced trauma and injustices, and her own experiences with different internships have allowed her to gain hands-on experience of how to maintain a balance between social advancement and cultural preservation. She believes practices of cultural humility and self-awareness are important practices to implement in community repair and maintenance.

Destiny holds an interest in strategy, design, and social impact. She has spent a year at America’s Job Center workforce development program helping put together and oversee various job fairs for both teens and adults. Aside from business work, she has taken the initiative to go out and feed houseless people every Christmas season. From these experiences, there are hopes of putting together projects and programs geared toward helping these groups of people and further benefitting the community. Destiny has shown great promise in her accomplishments and experience, and we are excited for the further achievements she will receive.