Peer Liaisons

La Casa is one of the campus spaces that has Peer Liaisons (PLs), upper-level students at Yale College who help connect first-years to the wealth of support and programming based in our center, as well as in collaboration with other offices. Each PL program is structured a little differently, but all are designed to help first-years feel supported and integrated into the Yale College community. You can learn more about Yale College’s Peer Liaisons program by clicking here.

2021-2022 Team coming soon.

2020-2021 Team:

Dennis Portillo (Pauli Murray ‘22)

Head Peer Liaison

(Pronouns: He/Him/His)

Hola! My name is Dennis Portillo (he/him/his) and I’m a junior in Pauli Murray where I’m studying Political Science and Data Science, with a primary academic interest in wanting to explore intersections of public policy and how businesses played key roles as actors in shaping a lot of the systems that are prevalent today. I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, making me a proud Angelino but I am also a proud Central American, as both of my parents were born and raised in Guatemala. At Yale, not only do I have the privilege of leading the Peer Liaison team this year, but I also have the privilege of leading La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc (yes, it’s a mouthful to say). Outside of Yale, I have a lot of interests but mainly center them around soccer (massive Barcelona fan btw), cooking, photography, coffee (yes, as an interest), skateboarding, cartoons/ anime from the early 2000’s, and video games! Music wise, I’m really into all of artists featured on the “Mellow Bars” and “Lowkey” playlists on Spotify, but wanted to really highlight Omar Apollo, Kota the Friend, Brockhampton, Berhana, etc. Now that you’ve gotten a chance to learn a little bit more about me, I hope to get a chance to get to know each and everyone of you as the year progresses!

Jasselene  (Silliman ‘23)

(Pronouns: She/Her/Ella)

Hola, ¡¿qué tal?! My name is Jasselene and I am a sophomore in Silliman College (a Silliwoman if you will). I am majoring in Ethnicity, Race, & Migration and I am working towards the Certificate of Advanced Language Study in Spanish. I am a Central American woman, specifically Salvadoreña, and I proudly rep Central America all day every day. My roots are in el oriente (the east) of the country and I will talk to you about my culture, our slang, our accent, our food, and how funny my family is upon meeting you. I was born and raised in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area and that has definitely influenced who I am today; there is a huge Salvi diaspora in the DMV! In fact, last semester, alongside my brilliant peers, I founded Yale’s first Central American student organization and we will be working on its onboarding process this year. Sabrosura: Yale’s Premier Latin Dance Team is home for me on campus – last year I choreographed four routines: una bachata, un merengue, un reggaetón y una cumbia – and this year I am on the executive board! I have also been tap dancing since I was three years old and I am a member of Taps at Yale! A bit more about me: I love me a good boy band, specifically CNCO and BTS. I LOVE coffee and you will always catch me with an oat milk dirty chai or an oat milk latte from the Jitterbus in hand. I love the Twilight saga and I will watch the movies with you if you ask me. Finally, I love Korean dramas, so let me know if you want any recs. On campus you can find me napping at La Casa, in the Silliman Acorn, or at Donut Crazy (or any other coffee shop). Let me know if you ever want to grab coffee, watch a television series, chill at La Casa, or hit up a dance studio (all over zoom, for now, unfortunately). I’d be happy to do any of these things! <3

Ivan Mangal (Pauli Murray ‘23)

Pronouns: (He/Him/His)

Hey class of 2024! My name is Ivan Mangal (he/him/él) and I’m a sophomore in Pauli Murray. I’ve lived in Vietnam, the Philippines, and most recently in Houston, TX, but my family is from Puerto Rico, Guyana, and Denmark—in short, Yale is my home. After a year of Directed Studies, I’m thinking about majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics (EP&E), while fulfilling pre-med requirements. On campus I spend my time working with Despierta Boricua (the PR student organization), playing piano with La Orquesta Tertulia, and volunteering with the HAVEN Free Clinic. I’m also involved in the STARS program at Yale. During quarantine, I’ve been taking lessons from my 11-year-old sister on how to cook and I’m on my fourth re-watch of The Office. Fun fact: Dennis (our Head PL) was my PL back in the day. Anyways … I’m super excited to see all of your faces on Zoom, and help y’all survive through this year of *Yoom University™!

Edwin Ruiz (Silliman ‘22)

Pronouns: (He/Him/His)

¡Hola! ¿Qué tal? My name is Edwin (he, him, his), and I’m a junior in Silliman on the premed track majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB). I was born and raised in Houston, Texas (yes, I do own a pair of boots and a cowboy hat, in case you were wondering). Both of my parents are from El Salvador, so my ideal meal consists of beans, tortillas, and Salvadorian hard cheese and sour cream (if I’m feeling fancy I’ll add some avocado) *insert mouthwatering emoji*. I love trying new cuisines, so please share recipes if you have any! At Yale, I am part of the Science, Technology, and Research Scholars (STARS) community for underrepresented minorities in STEM (ask me about STEM opportunities!). I also enjoy volunteering with Y2Y New Haven, a student organization working to open a housing program for youth experiencing homelessness, and at HAVEN Free Clinic as a Spanish interpreter. I love to run, hike, and just be outside. Long conversations about life over a cup of coffee or tea is my favorite way to spend time, so feel free to reach out if you wish to talk!

Paloma Ortega (Silliman ‘21)

Pronouns: (She/Her/Ella)

Hi everyone! My name is Paloma (she/her/hers) and I’m a rising senior in Silliman College, majoring in History. I’m from Albuquerque, New Mexico so… I hadn’t really seen snow until my first winter in New Haven. For other Southwestern folks - when it comes to finding winter clothing I’m here for y’all! Outside of classes, I work as a Communication and Consent Educator, sing Tenor 1 with Doox of Yale, and serve on the Title IX Undergraduate Advisory Board. This upcoming year, I’m super excited to be a part of Whim n’ Rhythm, an all-senior SSAA singing group! Outside of Yale activities, I’m a passionate fan of graphic novels, RuPaul’s Drag Race, vegetarian cooking, and 90s R&B. I’m also trying to get into manga so if you have any suggestions, PLEASE let me know.

Mariana Vargas (Jonathan Edwards ‘23)

Hey! My name is Mariana, but I also go by Mari! I’m a sophomore in JE and at the moment, I am most likely majoring in History, but am also considering ER&M or Political Science. I’m from Peru and Puerto Rico but was raised “like 30 minutes from the city” on Long Island. On campus, I am part of Contigo Peru, Despierta Boricua, and Danceworks. I also tutor kids in a nearby elementary school through Fair Haven tutoring. In my free time, you can catch me either playing guitar and singing, chronically over adding songs to my Spotify playlists, or watching 6 different Netflix shows at the same time. Recently, I started learning to cook (I’m up to three dishes now!) and love learning about and exploring foods from different cultures. If you ever want to talk about about anything on your mind or watch weirdly specific Netflix documentaries, let me know!

Jose Garcia (Pierson ‘22)

Pronouns (He/Him/El)

Hi y’all, KLK!! My name is José Garcia (he/him/él). I’m a junior in Pierson studying Ethnicity, Race, & Migration and Education Studies, with a concentration on Social Movements and (Anti)Capitalism in the Americas! I’m Dominican and grew up in Kissimmee, Florida (Disney?). On campus, I work at Dwight Hall as its Institutional Service Coordinator and virtually mentor two low-income high school students through Matriculate. Off campus, I’m an Urban Fellow at Junta for Progressive Action — New Haven’s oldest Latinx, community-based organization — and involve myself in other service and social justice efforts around New Haven. When it comes to watching television and rating movie soundtracks, I’m especially opinionated: ask me who should have won Total Drama Island and why it’s Leshawna or about how nothing can compare to the Twilight soundtrack. I’m proudly a first-gen, low-income student (ask me about my one (1) viral™ tweet on free lunch), and I’m here to help you navigate and secure every ounce of $$ from this institution! If you want someone to talk to, share playlists with, or hype you up, I’m here for you!

Jeniffer Bañuelos (Berkley ‘21)

Pronouns: (She/Her/Ella)

Hey friends! My name is Jeniffer Banuelos but friends and family call me Jen and Jenny - feel free to call me either. I’m from Gardena, CA - a midsize city in southwest Los Angeles County. My parents moved to LA in the 1980s from Mexico and it’s been home ever since. I am senior in Berkeley College and a double major in Political Science and Sociology with a concentration in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. As my academic interest show, I am a social science nerd with a thirst for exploration and an inability to limit myself. My interest at Yale and New Haven show this. Also, my passions for community empowerment and engagement in low-income communities of color very much inform who I am and what I do on and off campus. On campus, I’ve spent a lot of time working with La Casa student orgs like MEChA, Latina Women at Yale, and De Colores trying to bridge the gap between Yalies and New Haven. I am also a Dwight Hall Urban Fellow which means I volunteer with community organizations in the city. On my free time, I spend a lot of time in New Haven - eating out, taking pictures, hanging out in parks, and finding cool new spaces. Some of my other interest include politics, astrology, reality tv, writing poetry and think pieces, meditation, any LA sports team, anything LGBT+/queer, and twitter. But I am most importantly a talker and I can spend hours in conversation so if you ever want to talk about anything I mentioned or something completely different, I am your person and will gladly take time out of my day to sit and chat.

Daniel Inojosa (Silliman ‘23)

Pronouns: (They/Them/Elle)

My name is Daniel Inojosa (they/them/elle), and I’m a Sophomore in Silliman’s Class of ‘23 looking to major in Cognitive Sciences. As a Venezuelan-American raised in the City of Chicago, I developed a healthy interest in racial, educational, and gender equity. You can find me involved in a number of activist spaces on campus, including the Prison Project and our MEChA chapter. Pre-COVID, I danced with Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Yale and volunteered my time with the Social Robotics Lab. I also completed the Directed Studies program and have since been organizing a ReDirected Studies group that endeavors to critically evaluate the centrality of ‘Western canons’ in academic spaces. Lastly, some of my hobbies include sketching, painting, and the occasional cooking, and I would love to share in those with any interested PLees!

Elena Castro (Branford ‘23)

Pronouns: (She/Her/Hers)

Hey y’all! My name is Elena (she/her/hers) and I’m a Sophomore in Branford college. My hometown is Greenville, SC, but really consider my home to be wherever there are chickens clucking nearby. My family is from a town called Rio Hondo, Guatemala, which is really more desert and cacti than anything. I am an intended Architecture major with an Urbanism concentration, but am also really passionate about East Asian Language study (specifically Japanese). This year (aside from being your PL) I am the Co-Creative Director of WORD: Performance Poetry, the oldest and hypest spoken word group at Yale. Before Yale, I was the Co-managing and Nonfiction editor of Crashtest literary magazine and Co-founder of the FAC Reading Series. I’m also a self-proclaimed Abuelita trapped in a young girl’s body; I love anything having to do with crafts, cooking, and reading books on a sunny porch. During quarantine, I spent most of my time making throwback playlists, crocheting small birds, and tending to my garden. I would love to chat about anything and everything (especially music, poetry, and the outdoors), so please feel free to reach out!