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Meet Our Team

Tanika Gardner Headshot

Tanika Gardner


I am Tanika Gardner, Director of the Educational Talent Search Program at CSUSB. I have worked with students in the area of education for 13 years. I completed a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in Marketing and then went on to earn my MBA one year later. As a first generation graduate myself, I know the challenges of support and guidance throughout secondary education. I am eager to help bridge the gap for underrepresented youth in our communities and provide them with the tools to take control of their destiny now.

Cherica Bell-Silvera Headshot

Cherica Bell
Assistant Director

I am Cherica Silvera, Educational Counselor for Rialto USD high schools, and Training Coordinator for ETS. I participated in Educational Talent Search when I was in high school so this is my chance to inspire students and introduce students to opportunities beyond high school, like someone once did for me. I went on to college, and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from CSUSB in 2012, and later earned my Master’s Degree from California Baptist University in 2019. My passions are mentoring youth, developing students personally and academically, and helping students go to college. My hope is that, regardless of their circumstance, students will see that possibilities are endless and life has no limits. This is only the beginning!

Cherica Bell Silvera

Lisette Alvarez Headshot

Lisette Alvarez
Program Administrative Coordinator

I am Lisette Alvarez, Program Administrative Coordinator for Educational Talent Search at CSUSB.  I received my undergraduate degree from UC Santa Barbara and my Master’s degree from Claremont Graduate University.  During my undergraduate studies I became aware of the small percentage of students from underrepresented groups who complete higher education, the inequalities that exist in education and was introduced to the principle of Social Justice. It was this knowledge and my own experience as a first generation college student that helped me decide to pursue a career in education. My passion is to help increase the number of students who pursue and complete higher education, especially those from underrepresented groups.  This is why I am so proud to be a part of the Educational Talent Search team, which strives to achieve exactly that! I am excited to see all the great things our ETS scholars will accomplish!


Leticia Herrera Mendez

Leticia Herrera Mendez
Academic Advisor (San Bernardino City USD)


Leticia Herrera graduated from California State University, San Bernardino in 2019, and she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and two certificates: one in Spanish Public Services and another in Social Services. She is a person committed to help and spread awareness about the Latinx community.

Leticia is a person who believes education is the key to success and understands the struggle of going into higher education while being a first-generation student. Her passion for education, political change, and advocacy have been recognized by the 40th, 26th and 31st  California Congressional Districts.

Leticia is an Academic Advisor for the San Bernardino City Unified School District. She is committed to continuing to help her community and provide resources to help others achieve a higher education.

Leticia Herrera Mendez

David Chavez Headshot

David Chavez
Academic Advisor (Rialto USD)

My name is David Chavez, I am the Academic Advisor for the middle school population for the Rialto Unified School District. I graduated from UC Riverside in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. I am currently pursuing my Master’s in Higher Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs at the University of Redlands. I have over five years of experience working in the education field. As a first-generation student myself, I understand the struggles that first-generation students encounter when pursuing post-secondary education. My goal is to provide support and resources for students that will assist them in their educational journey. As someone who was born and raised in the Inland Empire, I look forward to giving back to the community that I grew up in.

Ruby Samayoa-Velasquez Headshot

Ruby Samayoa-Velasquez
Academic Advisor (Colton Joint USD)

My name is Ruby Samayoa-Velasquez, I am the Academic Advisor for the Colton Joint Unified School District. I graduated from University of California, Riverside and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and English. My volunteer and work experiences are in education and youth development programs. I am passionate of student academic success and youth personal growth. As a first generation college graduate and San Bernardino County resident myself, I have experienced the value and empowerment education brings. Through our program, I will work diligently with our students to equip their own academic and personal pursuits. ETS Scholar, I am excited to work with you soon and see the change you will bring to our community!