Nicola Graves, Ph.D.
Professor of Yoga
Professor Graves holds an MA and Ph.D. in Women’s Studies from Emory University, and a BA and MA in English from Auburn University. Nikki, who has 15 years of college-level teaching experience and course development, teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in writing, presentation skills, and corporate communication at Emory University. Nikki is also an active yoga practitioner who is committed to empowering undocumented youth with self-care techniques to improve their mental health, physical well-being, and happiness.
Assistant Professor in the Practice of Management Communication
Emory University Goizueta Business School
Ryan Maltese, M.A., J.D.
Professor of Political Science
Professor Maltese received his juris doctor degree at North Carolina Central University, and became a member of the Georgia Bar in 1999. Ryan spent much of his career in higher education administration, serving as Executive Director of Student Activities at North Carolina A&T State University, where he also served as a professor in the Political Science Department, where he taught American Government, State Government, and African-American Politics. Ryan holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict and Peace Studies from UNC Greensboro. He served as a Graduate Fellow for the Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights. His current research explores access to postsecondary education for undocumented students.
PhD Candidate, Educational Policy Studies, Georgia State University
Laura Emiko Soltis, Ph.D.
Professor of Human Rights and Social Movements
Professor Soltis received her bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia, where she was awarded the Foundation Fellowship. Emiko received her PhD from Emory University and wrote her dissertation on the role of global human rights strategies and local music practices in the mobilization of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an interracial farmworker organization in South Florida. Her research and teaching interests include social movement theory, global studies, music and social movements, U.S. immigration history, and racial formation theory. Having served as a longtime student activist, Emiko is committed to mentoring undocumented youth and providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to be effective leaders in their own freedom struggle.
Executive Director, Freedom University
Lauren Johnson, Ph.D.
Professor of College Preparation
Professor Johnson received her BA and MA degrees from Columbia University, and her PhD in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida. Her research and teaching interests include ethnic, class, and gender relations, migration, tourism, and diversity in education. Lauren has taught and conducted research in Jamaica, Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, China, New Zealand, and at various institutions in the United States.
Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Diversity & Recruitment Initiatives, University of North Georgia
Brii Rivera, B.A.
Professor of College Preparation
Professor Rivera currently serves as the Lead Clinical Implementation Specialist with DeKalb Medical and is a Certified Diabetes Educator. She works daily to leverage technology to improve health disparities in underserved populations. Brii was a first generation college student and attributes much of her success in higher education to the preparation she received from Fordham University’s Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP). As a tutor and counselor at STEP, Brii prepared and encouraged low-income and minority students to attend college and pursue careers in the sciences. Brii is committed to reproductive justice, homeless rights, immigrant rights, and LGBT rights movements in the greater Atlanta Community. Brii attended Emory University received her Bachelors of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
Benito Thompson, M.S.
Professor of Mathematics
Professor Thompson earned his bachelor's degrees in Physics and Violin Performance from Emory University, and his master's degree in Medical Physics from Georgia Institute of Technology. Benito is an accomplished classical violinist, vocalist, and dancer, and performs regularly in Atlanta. Raised in the Bahamas by Jamaican parents, Benito is a first generation immigrant in the United States, and is committed to empowering immigrant youth through both STEM and arts education.
Laura Emiko Soltis, Ph.D.
Emiko joined Freedom University's faculty in Fall 2013, teaching classes in social movement history. Emiko was appointed the organization's first Executive Director in August 2014, and works to advance the undocumented student movement in the South by building bridges between undocumented and documented student groups, advocating for fair admissions policies in higher education, and cultivating intergenerational relationships between undocumented students and veterans of the Black Freedom Movement. As an active public scholar and national speaker, she writes and lectures frequently on topics such as human rights advocacy, undocumented student activism, workers' rights and economic justice, music and mobilization, and student movements. Emiko is also an accomplished documentary photographer and violinist, and sings in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus.
Contact Dr. Laura Emiko Soltis
Intern, Ride Coordinator and Classroom Assistant
Miriam is a first generation college student, and currently a senior at Georgia State University. She is actively involved with Freedom at GSU, working in solidarity with undocumented students to repeal Policies 4.1.6 and 4.3.4. Miriam will graduate this December with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Linguistics.
Summer SAT Program Coordinator
Osvaldo Flores Luna is a 2014 graduate of Freedom University and is currently an undocumented student pursing a Political Science and Peace and Social Justice double major at Berea College. Osvaldo is the first Mexican, Undocumented, and Queer Executive Student Body President at Berea.
Osvaldo has participated as a member of Freedom University, the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Unite Here Local 23, and many others. Osvaldo is deeply committed to advancing the immigrants rights movement and helping other undocumented youth find opportunities beyond the barriers of exclusion erected by the state of Georgia. No matter where he goes, Osvaldo is proud to exclaim that he is "Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic."