Meet Our Team

  • Headshot of Maya Gunaseharan

    Maya Gunaseharan


    I am a proud multi-racial, Black and Indian identifying woman who grew up in the suburbs of New York. After studying Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, I worked in human resources, with a focus on giving individuals the tools they need to thrive and support those around them, resulting in organizational structures that create value by enabling people to succeed. With a desire to transform an organization that was close to my heart, I returned to work at my alma mater, the Dwight-Englewood School, serving as the Director of Student Activities. During my time there, I supported much of the work relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion. One of my greatest honors has been to serve as a facilitator for the annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools for a decade, which focuses on identity work and empowering students to become change agents through engaging others in dialogue. As a graduate student at Soka University of America, from 2017-2019, I studied the experiences of Black individuals who attended independent schools, using culturally relevant pedagogy and social justice education frameworks, to explore how their experiences at these schools impacted their racial identity development. I am humbled to have the opportunity to help build out of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Soka centered on our university mission and creating a model for genuine belonging based on respecting the dignity of life. I have a toddler and one more child on the way, and everything I do in this space (including currently pursuing my Ph.D.) is with them in mind—with confidence that consistently centering on the next generation, we can create spaces and systems that honor the dignity of life.

  • Headshot of Jacqueline Cid

    Jacqueline Cid


    I am a first-generation college student born and raised in New Jersey, USA from Dominican immigrants. I experienced the dichotomy of being born in a culture that differed from my family in a multitude of ways, including language, values, and heritage. I lived in Burlington, Vermont for six years to complete my undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Statistics and my graduate degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. I felt so honored to be surrounded by a community of mentors during my college experience who helped me navigate the nuances of campus life, in such a way that helped me thrive. This sparked in me the desire to support others through their own unique journey through the transformative experience college has the potential to be. Before starting at Soka, I worked at the University of Vermont and Cal State Fullerton in residential life coordinating programming and community building. I started my journey at Soka in December 2019 and am honored to work with an incredible team towards increasing our collective engagement towards inclusion. Last year, I started a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Anaheim with the goal of providing communities mental health support through the challenges we continue to face. Personally, I enjoy meditating, reading, and being outdoors while chasing down my energetic preschooler.

  • Headshot of Julia Braga

    Julia Miyawaga Braga


    Class of 2025
    I grew up in São Paulo, Brazil and I identify as half Japanese and half Brazilian. I am 18 years old, and in the process of better understanding the elements of my identity. For now, I can say I love singing, I am a dog person, I was raised by a single mother and grandmother, I studied for 13 years in Brazil Soka School. I have always been passionate about community engagement and inclusion. Through high school, I engaged myself in literary projects related to raising awareness for minority groups in Brazil and developed activities that fostered inclusion. Since Spring 2022, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work as a DEI Student Employee for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Soka. In the office, I mainly work with supporting social media projects, organizing events, and assisting to develop projects such as the new monthly Ally Pack. Working for the office has been one of the most transformative experiences that has allowed me to become more aware of my privileges and identity, and I hope to keep growing to be able to better support Soka and the outside community.

  • Headshot of Maya Klein

    Maya Klein


    Class of 2025
    I am a German and Japanese multiracial Canadian who grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. I attended a French immersion high school where I could learn French and attended Japanese school as an extracurricular outside of school. I am still deciding on my concentration between Social and Behavioral Sciences and environmental studies. I am currently enjoying studying Mandarin as my language of choice. I am passionate about learning new cultures and languages to expand my knowledge and awareness of different world views and ideologies. I was elected as the class senate secretary in my first year at Soka University of America. Through this position, I learned many conflict management and interpersonal communication skills, which I hope to apply to my job at the DEI office. I love listening to stories, asking questions about people’s homes, sharing my own experience, and learning about our similarities and differences.

  • Headshot of Diogo Kenji Kamata Oikawa

    Diogo Kenji Kamata Oikawa


    Class of 2026
    I’m Kenji from Brazil, São Paulo. I love dancing, playing games, and spending time with friends. A curious fact about me is that I have always studied at a Soka institution. Because of this, I have experienced what Soka education is and the values that we can create from it. During high school, I had the opportunity to develop a book that focused on minorities in Brazil. This experience was crucial to foster an understanding of privilege and power. My identity is built on my nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, passions, hobbies, etc. I decided to study Japanese for my language class to become closer to my roots. I am Japanese; however, I do not know the culture and language. Learning Japanese allows me to be closer to my Japanese side and understand the culture. Finally, I am still discovering my identity, but having the opportunity to be here at SUA and work for the DEI Office is an excellent support for my journey.

  • Headshot of Gaelle Pierre-Louis

    Gaelle Pierre-Louis


    Class of 2024
    I am a first-generation Haitian American, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. As a third year at Soka concentrating in Humanities, I have large interests in Latin American/Caribbean history and cultural anthropology. I joined the DEI Office because community organizing and learning about diverse human experiences are two of my greatest passions. My sophomore year I volunteered as a member of the DEI Office’s Student Advisory Board and helped organize events like the DEI Open Forum and the End of the Year Beach Party. I also collaborated with others on campus to plan and organize an event centered on Pan-Africanism for Black/African identifying students, called Soirée d’âme. My organizing skills and activism are things I enjoy, and I pride myself on. For my future at the DEI Office and as a student at SUA, I hope to create more spaces for BIPOC, queer, disabled and other alienated groups to feel safe, supported and appreciated. Community is something we all search for, and I believe our mission at the DEI Office is to make that easier for us all.

Previous Team Members

Linda Mutesi, Class of 2022 (2021-2022)
Hyunseo Chu, Class of 2024 (Summer 2022)
Judy Li, Class of 2024 (Summer 2022)
Aashish Sunar, Class of 2024 (Summer 2022)