November 14, 2020


November 14, 2020

Time Session
10:00am – 10:10am Welcome
10:10am – 10:35am Keynote: Nico Slate & Nicholas Casey
10:40am – 11:05am Keynote: David Simas
11:10am – 11:55am Breakouts
11:55am – 12:00pm Closing

In addition to the keynotes and breakout sessions, we will also provide opportunities for Scholars and Alumni to engage in different ways, including community art projects, community-specific events, and smaller group conversations.

Breakout Sessions

Continuing the Conversation: Q&A with Keynote Speaker

Speaker: David Simas
Join keynote speaker David Simas as he continues his conversation from the main stage. This is a great opportunity to ask questions in a smaller group setting.

Continuing the Conversation: Q&A with Keynote Speakers

Speakers: Nico Slate, Nicholas Casey
Join keynote speakers Nico Slate and Nicholas Casey as they continue their conversation from the main stage. This is a great opportunity to ask questions in a smaller group setting.

Reclaiming Our Resilience

Speaker: Amy Paulson
Resilience has become a buzzword lately – with everyone from wellness gurus to corporate America offering advice on how to get through difficult times. But, what does Resilience really mean? And who gets to define it? This interactive workshop invites us to examine old myths about Resilience that we’ve inherited from our families, communities, and cultures – and to reimagine and redefine Resilience as the transformative medicine we need for our own healing and liberation.

Real Talk: Coping Through COVID and Making It Work

Speakers: Natalia Delery, Rachel Fishbein, Linnea Paseiro, Maria Taha
In this session, three QuestBridge Alumnae will discuss their own experiences on how life has changed since the pandemic began. Acknowledging the difficulties finding a job, moving to a new location, and supporting family, our panelists will share what strategies they used to stay positive, and when they needed to take a step back and ask for help.

Federal Immigration Law and Its Impacts on Immigrant Students and Their Families

Speaker: Erin Schutte Wadzinski
This breakout is led by an advocate lawyer and focuses on how federal immigration law impacts immigrant students and their families. Topics covered will include an overview of legal support resources for undocumented immigrant college students, a discussion on the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) under a new presidential administration, and an introduction to the process for family-based immigration petitions if you are a US citizen and have an undocumented parent.

Family Values: Reflections on How Your Childhood Can Impact Your Parenting

Speakers: Mike Murillo, Teresa Sesera Murillo, Isabel Cesanto Safie, Omar Safie
Join QuestLeadership Alumni for a conversation on the topic of raising a family, and how our children’s experiences may or may not be different from the ones we had growing up. They will share honest reflections and lessons learned, as well as advice for those thinking of starting or growing their families in the future.

Taking Off the MASK: Showing Up as Your Authentic Self

Speaker: Ashanti Branch
This session models a safe, virtual space for individuals and small groups to engage in an uncommonly open, honest dialogue.  Each person has a set of shared human needs – for support, expression, recognition, meaning, and connection.  By closing the gap between who we are on the inside and who we show up as at work, school, online or onsite, we create more meaningful connections, healthier communication, deeper engagement – and ultimately more powerful results. You will leave this session with a simple, straightforward tool to help start courageous conversations about the social-emotional well-being of yourself and your community.

Map of Participants

Nicholas Casey Quest Leadership Alum National Politics Reporter, New York Times

Nicholas Casey is a staff writer for The New York Times whose wanderings have taken him from Easter Island to the Gaza Strip. This year he is working as a political correspondent for the newspaper writing long narratives about the difficult decisions Americans face under President Trump and Covid-19. Before 2020, Nicholas worked as a foreign correspondent in Mexico, Israel, Venezuela and Colombia, spending eight years at The Wall Street Journal. He attended the Quest Scholars Program in 2000. He graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a degree in anthropology – a field whose adventures abroad would eventually lead him to become a foreign correspondent.

Ashanti Branch Founder & Executive Director, The Ever Forward Club

Ashanti Branch, raised by a single mother on welfare in Oakland, went on to study engineering at California Polytechnic – San Luis Obispo. A Civil Engineer in his first career, Ashanti found his passion for teaching while tutoring struggling students. In 2004, as a first-year teacher, Ashanti started The Ever Forward Club to provide a support group for African American and Latino males, who were not achieving to the level of their potential. The Ever Forward Club has helped 100% of its members graduate high school. Branch is on a mission to change the way that students interact with their education and the way schools interact with students.

After being featured in The Mask You Live In the documentary, and Fellowships at the Stanford, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, and The Gratitude Network, Ashanti and The Ever Forward Club has launched the #MillionMaskMovement to collect 1 Million masks from people all over the world in a self-reflective experience that helps people visualize and realize, “I am not alone.”

Amy Elizabeth Paulson Co-Founder & CEO, Gratitude Alliance

Amy Elizabeth Paulson is a mental health advocate, writer, speaker, facilitator, trauma survivor, and the co-founder and CEO of Gratitude Alliance, a non-profit that works at the intersection of healing and social justice – helping to break generational cycles of trauma and harm, build individual and collective resilience, and democratize access to mental health resources in the Bay Area, Asia, and Africa. As an orphan and survivor of gender-based child abandonment, Amy is passionate about de-stigmatizing and de-pathologizing trauma as a mental health issue, and advocates for survivor-centered, community-led approaches to trauma-informed, healing-centered

Based in Oakland, California, Amy left a corporate finance career in 2011 to co-found Gratitude Alliance after working for over a decade in the U.S. and Europe for Deloitte, SAP, and eBay. She holds a MS in Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Global Studies from Northeastern University, certifications in Trauma-Informed Interventions (UC Berkeley) and Global Mental Health (Harvard Medical School), and is a facilitator for Stanford GSB’s legendary Interpersonal Dynamics Course.

Amy’s #MeToo story was published in The Anatomy of Silence: 26 Stories About All The Sh*t That Gets In The Way Of Speaking About Sexual Violence. Her memoir, The Wound Myth (working title) chronicles her journey as a survivor of generational, gender based violence, child sexual abuse, and transnational adoption – through the lens of trauma – and explores what it means to embrace gratitude as a powerful catalyst for transformation, from the inside out.

Isabel Cesanto Safie QuestBridge Board of Directors, Quest Leadership Alum Partner, Best Best & Krieger LLP

Isabel Safie is an attorney and equity partner in the Employee Benefits Practice Group of Best Best & Krieger LLP. She works with public and private sector clients on the design, interpretation and operation of employee benefit programs and issues related to those programs, including pension and health benefits. Isabel graduated from UCLA School of Law in 2005 and received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Human Biology from Stanford University in 2002. She is an alumna of Stanford Youth Environmental Science Program, the predecessor to Quest Scholars, Inc. Isabel has been involved with Quest Scholars, Inc. in various forms over more than two decades, including as a member of the Board of Directors. She’s married to her high school sweetheart (Omar) and has three children: Mateo Ali (12), Gabriel Esmael (10) and Olivia Nazanin (4). She enjoys cooking, running/cycling and hiking.

Omar Safie Director of Evaluation & Assessment, University of California, Riverside

Omar Safie, Ph.D. is the Director of Evaluation and Assessment at the University of California, Riverside where he guides programs on using the assessment process for continuous improvement. His approach is based on nearly 15 years of experience in assessment and evaluation in K-12 and higher education where he utilized mixed-methods, including observational methodology to evaluate schools and school programs. He strongly believes that such a triangulated approach allows for more voices to be heard, leading to a fuller picture of a program’s strengths and areas for growth. Omar Safie received his B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of California, Riverside, his M.A. from California State University, San Bernardino, and his Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate University. His dissertation focused on identifying the factors that contribute to effective schools in high crime, high poverty, and high minority communities.

Mike Murillo Quest Leadership Alum Principal Mechanical Engineer, Carbon

Mike is a QuestLeadership scholar from 1996 (back when it was called SYESP). It was the major catalyst to his attendance at Stanford University, from where he graduated in 2001 with a degree in Product Design. Mike has worked over a dozen different jobs since then but settled on a career in Mechanical Engineering. He now leads the mechanical engineering team at Carbon, a company specializing in 3D printing in Redwood City. 

Erin Schutte Wadzinski QuestBridge Alum, Yale '12 Attorney, Kivu Immigration Law PLLC

Erin is an immigration attorney and a 2007 QuestBridge College Prep Scholar. In 2019, Erin won the Initiators Fellowship to launch Kivu Immigration Law as a social enterprise to provide immigrants access to legal resources. Erin previously worked as a staff attorney at Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota and as the Director of the Yale Young Global Scholars Program. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Yale University and her JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Linnea Paseiro QuestBridge Alum, Princeton '14 Alumni Relations Manager, Girls Who Invest

Originally from Northern Arizona, Linnea has worn a number of hats since graduating from Princeton with a degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures in 2014. She has taught writing to business students at a university in Kazakhstan, recruited students for State Department scholarships in Ukraine, engaged in public health advocacy in Vietnam, and worked in Talent Development at a quantitative hedge fund in New York City. Currently, Linnea works as the Alumni Relations Manager at Girls Who Invest, where she gets to support and encourage young women as they strive towards their career goals and gender parity in the finance industry. Outside of work, Linnea is an avid traveler, especially if there are foreign weddings involved. She is also actively engaged with the Princeton Alumni Schools Committee, the QuestBridge Alumni Association, and the Princeton in Asia Alumni Network.

Natalia Delery QuestBridge Alum, UChicago '17 Admissions Ambassador, Columbia University School of Social Work

Natalia Delery (she/her/hers) is a Licensed Master Social Worker and Queens native, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. She is a proud first-generation college graduate and QuestBridge alum, and was a member of the UChicago QSN board for all 4 years. You may have seen or attended her “Designing Your Life” workshop or QSN Leaders affinity group at QB25! 

After receiving her B.A. in Human Development from the University of Chicago in 2017, Natalia served as a College Advising Corps Member and Postsecondary Coach on the Southside of Chicago, helping students apply to their dream schools. To further build on her passions for social impact and innovation, she later pursued her M.S. in Social Work with a specialization in Social Enterprise Administration at Columbia University, and recently graduated during the pandemic. She has a diverse range of work experience, from doing school social work for the NYC Department of Education’s Pathways to Graduation program, to shaping programming for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and most recently was a Public-Private Partnerships Fellow at NYC Service, a division of the Mayor’s Office. In both her professional and personal life, Natalia is committed to uplifting individual voices and stories, advocating for marginalized communities, promoting educational opportunities for youth of color, and fighting for racial and economic justice. In her free time, she dances, writes poetry, and practices her guitar. 

Maria Taha QuestBridge Alum, Wellesley '12 Assistant Program Manager, The Diverse Future

Maria is a QB alumni with roots in Ethiopia and Minnesota. She attended Wellesley College and majored in Peace & Justice Studies. After graduating college in 2014, Maria went on to become a Princeton in Asia fellow where she taught at a university on a tropical island in Malaysia. She then moved from the tropics back to the Northeast to pursue a master’s degree in International Education Development at Teachers College, Columbia University. Maria has worked in international development, improving education accessibility and gender parity in Asia and Africa, and most recently at a mentoring program designed to help professionals of color break through the glass ceiling and help shape American national news through a more multicultural lens.

Attendees: Describe QB Convene in Three Words

Keynotes: Nico Slate and Nicholas Casey

Nico Slate
Professor of History, Carnegie Mellon University

Nicholas Casey
National Politics Reporter, New York Times

Keynote: David Simas

David Simas
CEO, Obama Foundation