Students of Color Alliance (SOCA)

Our Mission

The mission of the Students of Color Alliance (SOCA) is to:

  1. Promote solidarity and fellowship by providing a safe, welcoming, and supportive space for the BIPOC community at GSPIA.
  2. Strengthen community and influence change by working with leadership to address concerns related to diversity, social justice, equity, and inclusiveness.
  3. Provide a safe environment to engage with our allies in honest dialogue about the daily challenges faced by BIPOC students in academic and professional settings.
Our Vision

The vision of SOCA is to create a decolonized school environment where all students feel respected, heard, and supported in school curriculum and programming.


We seek to collaborate with Pitt student organizations, GSPIA staff, faculty, and school leadership to create programming that includes speakers, workshops, and events that helps enrich the campus by fostering multicultural perspectives.

Students sitting on sidewalk

Our goal is to create a space where all GSPIA students of color are able to come together to support one another, have a sense of belonging and be their most authentic self.

Student on computer

We work to achieve measurable, and sustained impact in GSPIA school policy ensuring that BIPOC voices are amplified throughout the school system.


Community Building

SOCA received the inaugural Inclusion Award for Community Building from the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA). This inaugural award celebrates programs and efforts that deepen a sense of connection within the community, particularly those that bridged different groups.


Founding Executive Members – Caelan Hidalgo Schick (MPIA); Adriana Bowman (MPA);  Rhea Henry (MPA); I Younan An (MID); and Yeraldyn Pacheco (MPIA).

Current Student of Color Alliance's Executive Leadership Board:

  • Matt McKenzie
  • Samiksha Raikar
  • Ehryn Ortega
  • Essifash Glah
  • Devisha Bisaria

Meet the Student of Color Alliance's Executive Leadership Board

Matt McKenzie

Matt (he/him) is a Master’s in Public and International affairs candidate with a concentration in Human Securities and a minor in Energy and the Environment. He comes to GSPIA with a diverse background as a community organizer and storyteller. Some of his hobbies include reading, being outside and trying out new food places. He is very excited for the year and all of the amazing memories we will make and programs we will have.

Samiksha Raikar

Samiksha (she/her) is doing her Master’s in Public and International Affairs with a concentration in Human Security. She was born in India, raised in Singapore. She can speak 4 languages and is currently learning Spanish in grad school. She joined SOCA because she aims to create a safe space for the BIPOC students and their allies with collaborative efforts from the GSPIA administration. She believes this platform will allow the community to embrace diversity.

Ehryn Ortega

Ehryn (she/her/ella) is currently pursuing her Master’s in International Development with a concentration in Human Security and a Master’s in Public Health. In undergrad, she was an active member of her college’s BSU, Latinx Student Union and worked for three years at its Multicultural Resource Center. Ehryn hopes to support SOCA in planning and putting on events that foster a sense of community and belonging amongst GSPIA’s BIPOC student population. In her free time, Ehryn loves to read, bake and enjoys spending time in nature.

Essifash Glah

Essifash (she/her) is in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, studying International Development. A goal of hers and SOCA’s is to strengthen community and influence change by working with leadership to address concerns related to diversity, social justice, equity, and inclusiveness. She'd like to use her skills as Data Analyst to support SOCA in collaborating with the larger Pittsburgh community as well as the students of the University of Pittsburgh. Some of her biggest hobbies are reading, photography and traveling; recently she did a solo trip to Costa Rica!

Devisha Bisaria

Devisha (she/her) is pursuing a Master of Public and International Affairs with a major in Human Security. She is a member of the working group GEPA and is a participate in The Hesselbein Forum Leadership Program. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Loyola University Chicago and has worked with the non-profit City Year as a Team Leader. She strives to work in the non-profit sector on an international level and has joined SOCA to improve the diversity and inclusivity efforts of GSPIA and to help students from all backgrounds feel as though GSPIA is a place of growth and success.

Connect with Us

Instagram: @soca_gspia
Facebook: SOCA: GSPIA Students of Color Alliance