Meet our interns

Every season we welcome a group of wonderful, dedicated interns who help fuel our work with their commitment to our students, amplifying their voices in a multitude of ways—whether editing a podcast or tutoring in schools, their talents never go unnoticed throughout our programs. This fall, we’re fortunate to have 21 interns devoting their time to our mission. Read on to get to know some of them better and learn what this diverse crew has in common—hint: a great passion for education.

Educational Programming interns:

Monica Bonilla 200x250

Monica Bonilla was raised in small-town Pleasanton, where she has grown a love for all things slow and quaint. However, her favorite places are San Francisco (where her parents met at one of the many hip disco joints of the ’70s) and Brooklyn, New York. Monica was born into a Salvadoran-Mexican family of five and has an immense love for her caring parents and nurturing sisters. She recently graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts and is using her emphasis in sound design to help the students of 826 Valencia amplify their voices. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and podcasts, hiking, video games, and aquarium upkeep.

Nikki Reynolds

Nicole Reynolds was never a kid who watched Saturday morning cartoons. From an early age, she preferred to be in the company of a good book rather than staring at the tv screen. She has, what she likes to call, “an unmatched love of words.” Seeking to further her literary knowledge, she left her home in Long Beach to study English in the Bay Area. Now a senior, Nicole is concluding her chapter in San Francisco with two majors—English Education and Linguistics. In a few months, she will journey back to her homeland with aspirations of teaching middle-school students. Before she settles down, she plans on spending the next year exploring the world.

Shelby Urbina

Shelby Urbina is a recent graduate of SFSU, where she majored in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism. She is a certified archery instructor and has worked with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks since she was 14 years old. Shelby has been surrounded by books for as long as she can remember, with Harry Potter being her favorite series. Shelby also enjoys cooking simple, delicious vegan meals for friends to show them how awesome vegan food can be. She is thinking about becoming an elementary school teacher and dreams of being a published author, writing books that can change lives.

Cecilia Ponce

Cecilia Ponce attended the University of San Francisco and majored in Sociology with a focus on Education. She is a firm believer in the power of a culturally relevant pedagogy, which is why she aspires to be a bilingual primary school teacher. She is the daughter of two hard-working Mexican immigrants who reside in her hometown of Castroville, California—which is the Artichoke Capital of the World! She is a die-hard fan of The Strokes but also considers Mariachi music one of her favorites. Cecilia grew up speaking only Spanish at home and thanks her bilingual education for her fluent Spanish. She cites Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee as her favorite book, loves listening to music on MUNI, and taking photographs.

Jaelynn Wilson

Jaelynn Wilson was born and raised in Los Angeles and is now a senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she presides over the Gamma Phi chapter on campus. With a passion for reading, writing, and social justice, Jaelynn is pursuing her B.A. in Community Studies with a major dedicated to studying patterns of oppression and their impacts on vulnerable communities. She hopes of becoming a high-school English teacher to create a classroom environment where students can go beyond typical academia to reflect on their identities and experiences. In her free time, Jaelynn can be found writing in her journal, adding to her collection of self-portraits, or binge-watching Naruto on Netflix.

David Ochmanek

David Ochmanek was born in Los Angeles and raised in Malibu, California. He grew up surfing, skating, playing lacrosse and soccer, and making short movies with friends. With both parents in the entertainment industry, he naturally took an interest in film. He fell in love with still photography in eighth grade and is currently a Media/Film student at the University of San Francisco. In his free time, he likes to explore new places with his friends and his camera. He moved to San Francisco this year and lives in the Richmond with friends from school. Fun fact: he has been stung by a scorpion.

Edda Marcos

Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, Edda Marcos moved to San Francisco two and a half years ago with her husband. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychopedagogy from Universidad de Monterrey in 2014. She loves teaching, but her favorite things are tutoring and developing curriculum. Back in Mexico, Edda was a preschool teacher working with language development. She is now an intern in 826 Valencia’s After-School Tutoring program. Before 826, Edda volunteered in other organizations around San Francisco and is excited to continue working with educational nonprofits. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and dancing. Edda was a dancer for more than 15 years and still loves it today.

Sophia Somarriba

Sophia Somarriba is a San Francisco native who was born and raised in the Excelsior District. She spent her freshman year of college at The University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, but her love for San Francisco encouraged her to come back. Before coming to 826 Valencia, she worked as a teacher assistant at Live Oak School and Destination Science Summer Camp. Sophia is passionate about writing and helping children and young adults develop their writing skills. She enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and spending time with friends and family.

Danielle Shi

Danielle Shi grew up in Irvine California and is now in her final semester as an English major at UC Berkeley. Film photography is her pastime of choice, and she is always carrying a compact camera in her backpack to snap pictures of her friends and family. She also loves writing, especially creative nonfiction. Her favorite book is Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, a coming-of-age love story. Most of her family resides in China, where she hopes to study someday. She began tutoring in the after-school program at the Anaheim Salvation Army when in high school, but has since found her place at 826 Valencia.

Kate Brock

Kate Brock is an Indiana native and Ireland enthusiast recently transplanted to the Bay Area. She just graduated from University College Cork in the Republic of Ireland and is working on a body of poetry about contemporary mythic women. She enjoys watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show and admiring the autumn leaves. Kate joined 826 Valencia for the opportunity to commune with her fellow writers and enjoys hearing and reading the voices of so many excited students three days a week.

Aleesha LangeAleesha Lange was born and raised in Ventura, California. Currently living in San Francisco, she’s getting to know the Bay Area’s Mediterranean climate as she attends San Francisco State University. Double majoring in English Education and Creative Writing isn’t easy, so when she isn’t buried in a pile of homework, Aleesha is crafting up a storm by either making a necklace, painting a canvas, or rocking out to some new punk band. Her long-term goals include teaching college-level grammar and craft courses, but attending graduate school is also on the horizon for her. If you’re curious to learn more about Aleesha you can visit her website

Kidanemariam Sebhat earned his bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and Business Management from the University of Asmara in 1984 and 1997, respectively. His master’s degree is in Educational Management, Administration, and Policy from the University of Western Cape in South Africa. He also holds a doctorate in Educational Administration and Planning. He has a wide experience in teaching, curriculum development, administration, and project management. He taught Mathematics for over 15 years and worked as a senior lecturer at Eritrea Institute of Technology and the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Above all, he is a researcher and educator who strives to keep learning without an age limit. Currently settled in San Francisco, he joined 826 Valencia as an Educational Programming intern.

Design interns:

Kat Yao

Born and raised in sunny San Gabriel Valley, California, to Taiwanese parents, Katherine Yao decided she wanted to be an illustrator after being mesmerized by the colorful cartoons on her small tv screen. Her obsession with animation resulted in a lifetime of doodling and a double major in Media Studies and Art Practice. She is currently finishing up her last semester at UC Berkeley with interests in design thinking education and visual storytelling. Kat is a child at heart and spends much of her time indulging in cartoons and film, reading comics, and drawing characters. She loves all things X-men-related, dystopian novels (especially Orwell’s 1984), and hopes to get involved with teaching high school youth and publish graphic novels.


Jitpanan Jaturuntawanichya—you can call her Ming—was born in Bangkok, Thailand, but has lived in San Francisco for the past four years. She just graduated from the California College of the Arts with an MFA in Interaction Design. She has multidisciplinary design skills including Illustration, Visual Communication, UX/UI, Animation, and Motion Graphic Design. She believes in the power of moving images to trigger meaningful messages and experiences. Her design work is based on “Sanook,” which in Thai words means “fun.” In her free time, she loves cooking Thai food and dreams of being an illustrator. She can be found on social media as Supertinycommander.

Mary MitchellMary Mitchell is a Bay Area native currently pursuing a degree in Design at the University of San Francisco. She has a passion for visual storytelling and illustration and dreams of one day illustrating her own children’s book. In addition to her celebrity crush on Dave Eggers, Mary was originally drawn to 826 Valencia for its mission of inspiring wonder and promoting creativity. Her work is influenced by her love of poetry, botanicals, and whimsy. In her free time, she enjoys swing dancing in the park and being near the ocean. Check out her work on Instagram.
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