Academic Counseling Support

S-1Meng L. So, M.A., Director, Undocumented Student Program

Meng So is a first generation college student from UC Berkeley. As a Cambodian refugee, he’s always felt a deep commitment towards issues of immigration, political identity, and educational equity. He is the founding director of the Undocumented Student Program at UC Berkeley, coordinating efforts to initiate and enact a comprehensive agenda that responds to the needs of first-generation, low-income, undocumented students. The program has quickly emerged as embodying best practices of support that are now being replicated at other universities in California and nationwide. Today, Meng serves on the University of California Presidential Task Force on Undocumented Students, and the Leadership Board of Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC). He is a Rockwood Immigrant Rights Fellow for a New California and lends his voice to national efforts to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. He believes in the power community coalition building through radical love, storytelling, soul-hugging.

Fun Fact: Meng loves to play basketball and invites others to join him on the courts. He speaks Khmer and loves to learn and laugh.

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Liliana Iglesias, M.Ed, Counselor

Liliana graduated from UC Berkeley as a first generation college student and earned her Master’s degree in Educational Counseling from the University of Southern California. Born and raised in the Los Angeles county, Liliana quickly became aware of the injustices and inequalities that are prevalent in society. She is passionate about increasing college access and retention amongst first generation and low income students and students from underserved/marginalized communities. Liliana comes from a mixed status family and has always held immigration issues close to her heart. As the Academic Counselor for USP, Liliana is excited about providing academic, financial, and holistic support to students so that they excel in college and beyond.

Fun Fact: Liliana danced Mexican folklorico for four years, she enjoys playing different musical instruments, and she is a big fan of Chai tea.


Mental Health Support

Diana Peña, PhD., Licensed Psychologist

Diana graduated as a first-generation college student from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, which is where she was born and raised. She then received her M.S. in Counseling, Family and Human Services, as well as her PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Oregon. Her professional experiences have been shaped by her interests in immigrant and undocumented student mental health, LGBTQ-affirmative therapy, resilience among queer and trans people of color, spirituality, grief/loss, career counseling, mindfulness, and cultural adjustment.

Her passion for serving underrepresented students is rooted in her own experience as a queer Chicana from an immigrant family, and is integral to her approach as a mental health professional. She is thrilled to join the USP team to support the holistic well-being of undocumented students at UC Berkeley.

Fun Fact: Diana is a bilingual English/Spanish therapist, and is very comfortable with the use of ‘Spanglish’ in therapy.

Germán A. Cadenas, Post-Doctoral Fellow 

Germán A. Cadenas is an immigrant and formerly undocumented. He holds a B.A. in psychology, B.S. in business administration, and a PhD in counseling psychology, all from Arizona State University. He was a Doctoral Psychology Intern at UC Berkeley and is now a Postdoctoral Psychology Fellow with USP. Germán also has a background as an activist and community organizer. He is a founding member of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, was involved in the resistance against “show me your papers” legislation, and was a student government leader.

Germán’s approach to counseling integrates social justice, mindfulness, positive psychology, and cognitive-behavioral frameworks. He is interested in immigrant mental health, multicultural counseling, identity development, educational and career development, student leadership, and healing from trauma. He is passionate about supporting immigrants overcome systemic and internal barriers in order to thrive.

Fun Fact: Germán’s first language is Spanish, which he can speak in counseling. He is also a major fan of everything Harry Potter and superhero movies.


Immigration Legal Support

(Provided in collaboration with the East Bay Community Law Center)

The East Bay Community Law Center, a clinic of Berkeley School of Law and the Undocumented Student Program have partnered to provide free legal support and resources about immigration law to undocumented students and undocumented family members at Cal.

Through the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), the USP Legal Support provides general consultations, and full legal representation on a wide range of immigration matters that are available to current UC Berkeley students, family members, and members of the East Bay community.

Our legal team has expertise in a wide range of immigration legal matters, including, but not limited to, family-based immigration, FOIA/criminal background checks, immigration consequences of criminal convictions, asylum, U/T visas, Special Immigrant Juvenile visas, DACA, advance parole, naturalization, and regularly represents clients in matters before USCIS, BIA, and the Immigration Courts.

Clients will be provided with legal information, a general consultation to create a pathway to legal status, and in many cases, full legal representation with regards to their immigration matters. In some cases, matters will be referred to other units at EBCLC, and if EBCLC cannot take the case, the students and their family members may be matched with pro-bono attorneys who will represent them in their cases at no charge.

You can make an appointment for an initial consult online. If there are no available appointments, please feel free to email usplegal@ebclc.org