Puentes was established to help create an equitable space that centers the experiences and needs of Latinx graduate students across schools and disciplines at the University of Michigan.

Puentes was founded in the Summer of 2019 with the goal of creating a Latinx graduate welcome program for all newly admitted Latinx graduate students across all schools and departments at the University of Michigan. Puentes has since expanded to include socials, professional development, and networking opportunities, as well as wellness events for current Latinx graduate students.

Meet our 2023 - 2024 Executive Board

Victoria Vezaldenos, Co-President

Program: Ph.D. Student in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology

Hometown: Manteca, CA

Victoria is a doctoral student in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan. She is a first-generation college student and is excited to serve as the President of Puentes so that she can contribute to building a strong sense of community on campus among Latinx students. Outside of school, Victoria enjoys hanging out with her cat, weightlifting, dancing salsa and bachata, and cooking with her husband! 

Twitter: @VVezaldenos| LinkedIn

Ariana Bueno, Co-President

Program: Ph.D. Student in Applied Physics working in the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Department (CLaSP) department. Graduate Certificate in Latino/a Studies.

Hometown: Miami, FL

Ariana was born in Ecuador to Peruvian and Bolivian parents. She grew up very interested in math, science and the arts and pursued her bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering and Physics. She found her passion for space through research and internships and now is getting her PhD to study lunar surface science with NASA and hopes to become an astronaut in the future. Ariana is also very passionate about latinx community outreach and is very excited to plan events this year for the Puentes community! 

Instagram: @arianabueno | LinkedIn

Ivette Gonzalez, Vice President

Program: Ph.D. Student in Biopsychology

Hometown: Torrance, CA

Ivette is a doctoral student in the biopsychology program, currently researching how social housing conditions have an effect of motivation for methamphetamine. She did her undergraduate in Psychology & Spanish at San Diego State University. She joined Puentes because she liked how they made her feel welcomed and gave her a good sense of community. In her free time she likes to explore different hiking spots and try new restaurants.

Twitter: @ivettegl_01 | LinkedIn

Jessica Flores, Historian

Program: Ph.D. Student in Romance Languages and Literature, Spanish

Hometown: Southern California, feat. Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley 

Jessica is a doctoral candidate in Spanish Literature at the University of Michigan. She has a BA in English and Comparative Literature from Cal State Fullerton, sparking her current research on intergenerational narratives and Latinx identity. As a first-generation student, she is excited to connect with other Latinx students and take part in building a stronger BIPOC community on campus. Jessica loves to channel her creative energy (and hyperfocus) through cooking, baking, and cross-stitching when she's not reading, doing puzzles, or playing video games.

Flor Azul Lorenzo, Treasurer

Program: Master of Public Policy at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

Hometown: San Bernardino, CA

Flor Azul Lorenzo is a dedicated public policy professional with a passion for social justice and equity. Prior to pursuing an MPP from the Ford School, Flor Azul worked with foundations, nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and political organizations to serve underrepresented groups. Flor Azul developed her knack for numbers at the age of 10 managing her mother's tamale business account. Now, as Puentes Treasurer, she hopes to use her passion for budgeting, record-keeping, and financial planning.

Missy Fuentes, Co-chair of Community Engagement and Partnerships 

Hometown: Elkin, NC  

Missy is the Lab Manager for the Contexts of Academic + Socialemotional Adjustment (CASA) Lab. She has a BA in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and Minors in Psychology and Symbolic Systems from Stanford University. With Puentes, she hopes to connect and grow academically and alongside the Latinx community at UMich. Outside of work, she loves to spend time sewing, drinking coffee, and being in nature.

Gabriela Maica, Events and Logistics Co-chair

Program: M.D./MBA Candidate at the University of Michigan Medical School and Ross School of Business

Hometown: Staten Island, New York


Gabriela is a 4th year medical student at UMMS and is hoping to obtain a dual degree in medicine and business. She is currently enrolled as an MBA1 at the Ross School of Business. She hopes to apply to General Surgery for residency. As the current LANAMA president, she hopes to continue to expand the Latinx community at the graduate level here at Michigan. She aspires to focus her career on improving surgical outcomes for individuals in minoritized communities. She is excited to join the Puentes board this year and is looking forward to contributing to this great community at U of M.


Viviana Velez, Events and Logistics Co-chair


Hometown: Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico

Viviana is passionate about teaching and community outreach. She has a bachelor’s in Special Education with an emphasis in Deaf Education and a master’s in Early Childhood and Special Education. Her research interests are bilingualism, heritage language acquisition, and language and literacy development in linguistically-diverse learners. Outside of work, Viviana enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, exploring Michigan with her husband, and collaborating in diverse community initiatives. 

Andrea Marquez, Special Projects  

Program: Master's in Educational Studies with a concentration in Educational Equity, Justice, and Social Transformation

Hometown: El Paso, Texas

Andrea (she/ella) is currently pursuing her MA in Educational Studies with a concentration in Educational Equity, Justice, and Social Transformation. She graduated from Occidental College with a BA in Latinx and Latin American Studies and minors in Education and History in May 2022. Andrea’s educational aspirations lie in increasing college access for marginalized students of color and developing stronger family-school-community relationships in schools. At U-M, Andrea works at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) and is a recipient of the Rackham Merit Fellowship - Masters Award. Andrea is a Consultant with CADCA Youth Leadership, where she has facilitated trainings across Latin America and the U.S. on youth leadership, advocacy and policy, and health equity. 

Instagram: @andreamrqz5 | LinkedIn 

Gisel Arriaga Barrios, Communications Chair  

Program: Master's in Social Work in the Community Change Pathway 

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Bio: Gisel is pursuing her Master's in Social Work at the University of Michigan. She obtained her Bachelor's in Social Work at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and her Associate of Arts at the College of Southern Nevada. She is passionate in improving the ways in which policies affect communities and fostering a relationship within these communities. She is a first generation student, proudly comes from a Mexican-Salvadorian family, and hopes to use her background to help advocate for the Latinx communities. Something Gisel enjoys doing is making coffee, she has been a barista for three+ years and you can find her at your local Sweetwaters continuing her hobby!