Congrats, Graduating Merritt Scholars!

May 30, 2023

May 30, 2023–OAKLAND, CA

Our 2022-2023 Merritt Scholars cohort had scholars all over California in different colleges and universities and at different stages of their academic careers. 

We want to celebrate our Merritt Scholars who are graduating and congratulate them on their accomplishments!  

Alexis Johnson finished her M.A. in Clinical Menta Health at Midwestern State University.  

Ali Day finished her M.A. in Urban Planning from California State University, Northridge.  

Daniel Valverde Jr finished his M.A. in Public Administration at University of San Francisco. 

Jacob Boesch finished his B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning from San Francisco State University. 

Jonathan Dena finished his B.A. in Urban Studies in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. 

Katherine Caggiano finished her B.A. in Business and Real Estate from University of San Diego. 

Nathaly Borges finished her B.S. in Business Administration, concentration in General Management, and a Minor in Real Estate from California State University, East Bay.  

Obinna Uwakah finished his M.A. in Development and Design at UC Berkeley. 

Olivia LaVecchia finished her M.A. in City Planning at UC Berkeley.  

Venus Meza will finish her M.A. in Geography at California State University, Long Beach Fall 2023. 

We connected with graduating scholars to learn about any post-grad plans or goals and their experience as a Merritt Scholar.  

Alexis will be joining Community Housing Works, a nonprofit that develops, rehabilitates, preserves and operates affordable apartment communities in San Diego and throughout California, once she has finished her clinical requirements for her licensing this summer. 

“Merritt has genuinely changed my life. Merritt has connected me to so many professionals which has contributed to my knowledge surrounding affordable housing. It has also put me in spaces where I could speak about my passion for helping underserved communities while addressing both housing and mental health needs. Merritt assisted me in landing a position with Community Housing Works, which is a nonprofit that not only pours into communities but also pours into their staff.”

Daniel will continue his work at Jamboree Housing Corporation and shared his experience as a Merritt Scholar. 
“The impact that Merritt Scholar Scholarship was profound in my second year in Grad School. I was (and still am) working for an affordable housing developer and the Merritt Scholar program allowed me to grow my network of people in the housing field. I had the opportunity to meet new people in the field from all sides around affordable housing: service, policy, finance, development, and advocacy. I plan to continue working for the developer I am employed with and continue to learn and grow. I encourage anyone who is interested in housing or has lived experience to apply the Merritt Scholar program and learn how to make in impact in a field that is overlooked.” 

Jacob will continue his internship in Real Estate Development with EAH Housing and hopes to carry on his affordable housing career with them.  
“Merritt Community Capital Scholars seamlessly introduced me to the passionate, diverse, and vibrant affordable housing community. The excellent staff at Merritt took the time to understand my background and aspirations and helped me establish relationships with those who could help turn my goals into reality. Merritt truly understands the world of mission-driven non-profit affordable housing and found me the perfect culture fit and opportunity with EAH Housing.” 

Jonathan will start a summer internship with Presidio Bay Ventures in real estate development training before he begins his ten-month fellowship, the John Gardner Fellowship, to work with a venture philanthropist foundation to support donors and client relations. Jonathan plans to use these experiences in both his affordable housing career and for his nonprofit, CRE8innovations.  

“I received an immense support system and facilitated entry into the affordable housing industry. The scholarship funding allowed me to redirect my attention from a necessity to working for financial support with more freedom to learn about the industry and my academic studies. The mentorship allowed me to learn from experienced professionals, and the conference allowed my mentors to introduce me to their expansive networks. I had the opportunity to meet impactful professionals from strong organizations pioneering the work I aspire to do.” 

Katherine is heading to NYC this summer to work for Mazars in their management consulting program to join their real state team in the future. 

“This scholarship had a huge impact on me both financially and with insightful knowledge and experiences on learning about affordable housing. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had in being a Merritt Scholar this past year. I learned a lot tout the affordable housing industry in the state of California, as well as gained valuable experiences.” 

Nathaly heard about Merritt Scholars from her Real Estate Finance Professor and was excited to learn more about affordable housing and how she could be involved in the industry. 

I am a first-generation college graduate and proud to have also been a Merritt Scholar, an opportunity that taught me a lot about affordable housing both through and at conferences. My mentor Polo has been amazing and taught me the value and importance of working in affordable housing through his passion and guidance. I appreciate everything Merritt has done for me and the opportunity to be a Merritt Scholar.”  

Olivia is moving back to Vermont to start a position as a Community Development Underwriter at the Vermont Housing Finance Agency.  

“I’ve learned so much through the Merritt Scholars program. A huge highlight has been all of the people I’ve been able to meet and talk with — from everyone at Merritt, to my mentor, to of course all of the other Merritt Scholars. I’m grateful to Merritt for creating this space for all of us to be able to grow and contribute to the affordable housing field!” 

Venus will be graduating this Fall and has secured a position as a Community Research and Program Evaluation Coordinator at Koreatown Youth Community Center (KYCC). 

“I have always been interested in working with something related to housing justice and through the Merritt Scholar program, I saw the various routes I can take to achieve such a career. I am very grateful the Merritt Scholar program gave us the opportunity to explore the world of housing!” 

Thank you to our graduating Merritt Scholars and good luck on your next steps!

About Merritt Community Capital Corporation

Merritt Community Capital Corporation is a nonprofit dedicated to our mission to provide equity capital for affordable housing exclusively to California. We do this by partnering with mission-aligned affordable housing developers throughout the state to ensure the most critical communities are developed and maintained for low-income residents. Since 1989, Merritt has created and/or preserved 11,000 affordable homes, through investing over $1.2 billion in 26 separate funds, providing housing for over 29,700 people.



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