Dr. Christopher Lester

Dr. Christopher Lester is a motivational speaker, presenter, mediation conflict resolution specialist, and consultant on human development, multicultural organizational development, cross cultural competencies, oppression theory, diversity transformation and youth empowerment issues.

Dr. Lester’s lectures and workshops address important social issues related to race, gender, ability, class and religion. His research interests include looking at issues of equity in education, the roles of diversity and oppression in organizations and school settings, and the impact of race on educational outcomes.

Dr. Lester has traveled extensively throughout the United States and works with a variety of organizations and educational institutions on issues of personal and diversity transformation, cross cultural competencies, youth leadership and empowerment, multicultural organizational development and human development. Dr. Lester is the Director of the Office of Multi-ethnic Student Education, at the University of Maryland and President, CEO and founder of the National Educational Empowerment Summit, Inc. He has committed his life to helping others realize their fullest potential and recognize the ability to create empowering environments for all individuals.

Mr. Tunji Sawyer, MBA
Assistant Director

Mr. Tunji Sawyer, MBA, is an award-winning critically-conscious educator and leader who is passionate educational equity, student success, and the advancement of anti-racism practices. As an Assistant Director in the Office of Multi-ethnic Student Education, Mr. Sawyer oversees OMSE’s outreach and communications programs, advising strategies, and community building/strategic partnerships in support of the office’s mission of recruitment, retention, and graduation for more than 13,000 underrepresented students. Mr. Sawyer also coordinates the OMSE Check-Up – a student executive coaching program intended to build capacity for identity development, cultural competence, and academic excellence.

Mr. Sawyer serves as the lead point person to provide strategic direction, planning, counsel and outreach for OMSE’s fundraising and development activities in support of diversity programs and services.

Mr. Sawyer brings more than 20 years of experience in diversity & inclusion, education, and communications experience to OMSE. An expert in intercultural communications, Mr. Sawyer’s research interests and teaching experience are focused on the role communication plays in building an inclusive culture in educational and community settings with a focus on the impact of language, narratives, and counter-narratives.

Mr. Sawyer has facilitated university-wide diversity workshops for students, staff and faculty addressing topics such as intersectionality, racial microaggressions and implicit bias, and delivered addresses and lectures on a wide range of subject matter including but not limited to student success and goal formation. Mr. Sawyer has served on numerous university committees including Latino Heritage Month, Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, CommUMDiversity Expo, Rise Above-isms Week.

For over a decade, he has served as the chairperson for the university’s largest diversity welcome event, the Unity Welcome as well as chairperson for the Academic Excellence Awards which recognizes over 4000 underrepresented students with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher as well as members of the university community who have helped to advance inclusive excellence.

An exemplary role model and advocate for equality and social justice, Mr. Sawyer has advised and advocated for thousands of students with intersecting identities of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, age, socioeconomic status and ability during the course of his career. He has acquired a number of community service awards and accolades for his work as a diversity practitioner. Among the most notable is the Office of Multicultural and Community Advocacy MVP Award for his outstanding personal and professional contributions to diversity and inclusion at the University of Maryland.

Mr. Sawyer has been a featured panelist for organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS).

An IDI Qualified Administrator (QA), Mr. Sawyer holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree, is certified in Mental Health FirstAid and has received Rainbow Terrapin training at the University of Maryland. Additionally, Mr. Sawyer is pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. 

Dustin Chin
Business Manager

Dustin Chin is the Business Services Specialist at OMSE. He has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Maryland. During his undergraduate studies, he combined his interests in economic development and sustainability in business as a Smith Research Fellow. He has professional experience working in investment management responsible for portfolio analysis, accounting and trading systems, and environmental, social and governance research. He is pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Clinical Psychological Science at the University of Maryland. In his free time you can find him playing sports, volunteering with high school students, and gathering outdoor enthusiasts for backpacking trips.

Rachel Downs
Administrative Assistant

Rachel Downs is the Administrative Assistant to the Director for the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education (OMSE).

Ms. Downs has over 17 years of experience in IT Security at the Department of the Interior (DOI) where she worked with the Chief Information Officer to meet requirements of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Prior to working at the Interior, Ms. Downs worked on the Privacy and Security Program for the Health Resources and Services Agency at the Department of Health & Human Services.

Rachel is a first-generation, US born Afro-Latina with roots in Central America. Beyond her federal career, she is an experienced event planner with a passion for creating memorable occasions. During her down time, she focuses on personal growth and her love for music, travel, and cooking.

Contact: rdown@umd.edu or 301-405-5615

Harita Patel

Harita Patel is serving as coordinator for the Office for Multi-ethnic Student Education (OMSE). She is currently leading the OMSE team to complete their End-of-Year assessment project, and lending support to senior staff in program development. Harita has over 8 years of experience in student development, teaching, and academia at the post-secondary level. She has worked in a variety of positions in higher education including with undergraduate advising, instruction, and administration. She is passionate about supporting underserved populations and facilitating dialogue between students and administration to foster diverse and inclusive educational environments for today’s students.

She has completed two graduate degrees in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is currently ABD. Her graduate research is on critical approaches to international development and research methodologies, emphasizing interdisciplinarity. She has prior publications on the subjects of identity-based conflict resolution and theories of democratization. When she is not working at OMSE, Harita is an artist that specializes in large-scale watercolor paintings which focus on themes in nature and the reconceptualizing the meaning of ‘failure.’ She has traveled extensively throughout the world and loves spending time in nature.

Contact: hpatel17@umd.edu or 301-405-5358

Jovany Jovany
Program Coordinator for CSS

Jovany Joya is a program coordinator for the College Success Scholars Program.

Vivian Tung
Coordinator for OAES, UPP and SLAC

Vivian Tung is the Coordinator for the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education (OMSE). She is responsible for coordinating the OMSE Academic Excellence Society (OAES), OMSE Student Leader Advisory Council (SLAC), and University Partners Program (UPP). She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Criminology and Psychology with a minor in Law and Society from the University of Maryland, College Park. During her undergraduate years, she was the President of UPP as well as a member of OAES. During her free time, Vivian loves spending time with her dog, listening to crime podcasts, and traveling the world.

Moaqing Wang
Graduate Assistant for Tutoring

Maoqing Wang is a first-year Ph.D. student in the International Education Policy program. She currently works as a Graduate Assistant for the Tutoring Program in the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education. She received her M.Ed. in International Education Policy and Management from Vanderbilt University and her B.A. in History Education from Capital Normal University in Beijing, China. Maoqing is graduate assistant for the Tutoring program.

Contact: mwang110@terpmail.umd.edu

Zam Mozumder
Graduate Assistant

Zam Mozumder is a Graduate Assistant for the OMSE Tutorial program pursuing an M.S. degree in Information Systems at UMD Smith School of Business. He was selected as a Plus 1 Smith Scholar, which allowed him to combine his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. His future goal is to be a Project manager for a tech company and also work for non-profits to empower and educate students from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

Zam found the value of education from a very young age. Throughout the years, he has been putting a lot of effort into empowering high school students with resources and tutoring services. For this initiative, he founded UnitedTutoring, a non-profit tutoring center for low-income immigrant students in Brooklyn, New York. Zam’s goal is to help students reach their full potential, as well as to motivate students to pursue further education!

Winston Broadbell
Graduate Assistant for CSS

Winston Broadbell is an incoming 1st year graduate assistant for the College Success Scholars (CSS) Program. He is pursuing a master's in supply chain at the Robert H Smith School of Business for the next few semesters. He has been in OMSE and the CSS program as an undergraduate and is happy to be able to continue contributing to the program post undergrad.

Saul Flores
Graduate Assistant for La Familia

Saul Flores is a Graduate Assistant for OMSE La Familia and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Maryland as a Ronald E. McNair Fellow. His current research at the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) focuses on structurally characterizing proteins implicated in multi-drug resistance, mitochondrial translocation, and cytotoxic stress using biochemical, biophysical, and computational techniques. Saul completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland where he studied Biochemistry and Physiology & Neurobiology. During undergrad, he served as a mentee, mentor, Treasurer, and President of La Familia. His previous research includes computational metal-catalyzed organic synthesis, blood storage in microgravity environments, and pediatric brain tumor chemotherapeutics. He is happy to be back at OMSE and UMD.

Nhaya Vaidya
Graduate Assistant for OAES

Nhaya Vaidya is a Graduate Assistant for the OAES Honor Society and is pursing a M.A. in International Relations as part of the 4+1 program. She graduated from UMD with a B.A. in Government and Politics International Relations and a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in German Studies. She has participated in OAES since her Sophomore year and has served on the executive board as President and VP of Academic Affairs. 

Leticia Adriana Ramirez Granados
Graduate Assistant for La Familia

Leticia Adriana Ramirez Granados is a graduate assistant for La Familia. She is a Salvadoran DACA Recipient who strives to become a licensed architect. From a young age, she developed a deep passion for art, math, and the built environment, which fueled her pursuit of a career in architecture. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Maryland. Leticia plans to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree in architecture, with a particular focus on affordable housing and sustainable practices. Her goal is to become a socially and environmentally conscious designer, using her knowledge and skills to serve underrepresented communities. She also aims to contribute her expertise to her home country, El Salvador. Leticia firmly believes that architecture has the power to go beyond shaping physical spaces and can bring about positive change in society for a better future.

Emmanuel Wanjala
Graduate Assistant for CSS

Emmanuel Wanjala is a PhD student in the International Education Policy program at the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds an M.A. in Higher Education, Student Affairs and International Education Policy (HESI) from the University of Maryland College and a Bachelor of Arts in Education majoring in Linguistics and Literature with a minor in International Studies from the University of Nairobi. He is a former Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) at the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include internationalization of higher education, youth empowerment, sustainability and international development.

Maxwell Morris
Graduate Assistant for CSS

Maxwell Morris is a Graduate Assistant for the College Success Scholars program. He is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master's degree in Human-Computer Interaction in the iSchool. Prior to his graduate studies, he earned a Bachelor's degree in Information Science and a minor in Japanese. He also served as a Team Leader and Program Coordinator for the CSS program.
Maxwell loves computers and technology, and upon completion of his Master's program he aspires to pursue a career in UX/UI design.

Sarahi Villasenor Hernandez
Graduate Assistant for Sister to Sister

Sarahi Villasenor Hernandez is a Graduate assistant for Sisters to Sisters and a first year Master’s student in the School Counseling Psychology program. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and minors in Event management and Human Development family studies at Iowa State University. Sarahi is also a three-time Trio alum of upward bound, SSP, and McNair. As a first-generation college student, she understands the many effects of counseling on young students and hopes to motivate and help students in any way she can. Sarahi enjoys reading, baking, and trying new things!

Anthony DeNeal Jones
Graduate Assistant for CSS
Imani Mayo
Graduate Assistant for Sister to Sister

Imani Mayo is a Graduate Assistant for the Sister to Sister Program. Imani is a second-year graduate student pursuing her Masters in Public Policy specializing in Social Policy. Imani also received her B.A. in Public Policy at the university and hopes to use her experience gained from the university to successfully oversee Sister to Sister.

Xin Chen
Graduate Assistant for Tutoring

Xin Chen is a master's student specializing in Human-Computer Interaction in the College of Information Studies. Currently, she serves as a Graduate Assistant for the OMSE Tutoring program. Prior to her graduate studies, Xin earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Statistics. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, trying diverse foods, and listening to music. She is passionate about inclusive design and social impact, and her goal as a Graduate Assistant is to empower and support students in their pursuit of education.