California Students Selected for Citi® University Partnerships in Innovation & Discovery (CUPID) Program

Citi is collaborating with the Business & Entrepreneurship Sector, California Community Colleges and NexusEdge Education to connect students with real-world, real-time capstone projects through the Citi University Partnerships in Innovation & Discovery (CUPID) program. This is the first Citi® University Partnerships in Innovation & Discovery (CUPID) program within a community college system.

Now in its third cohort, this “capstone to career” program presents students with the challenge of solving problems and creating new opportunities for this global organization, by pushing them to come up with solutions that can be used, not something theoretical. Students work in diverse teams and must operate collaboratively to leverage their unique talents and showcase their capabilities. It’s a deep-dive into experiential learning where critical thinking, ideation, and the application of specialized skillsets culminate in something real and useful. In fact, this experience has been credited with some huge wins by our CUPID alumni that include internship opportunities with JPMorgan Investment Banking in New York City, CPA firms, venture capital firms, and government agencies.

The program offers a series of digital badges with subjects including capital market fundamentals, securities, and advanced topics on securities. The digital badges are often used to replace and modernize curriculum to make it more relevant to the workforce needs. They are assigned to as part of coursework, as an extra project, or as a group club/organizational challenge. Those who wish to be part of a CUPID cohort must compete for a spot. To qualify for this year’s interview phase of CUPID, students had to (1) pass three Citi-badge exams, (2) complete an essay on leadership, (3) develop a slide deck on investment opportunities they see for Citi, and (4) provide a resume. After select students were interviewed the final cohort members were announced.

Many students across California completed all three Citi-badge exams and hoped for a spot on a CUPID team. Ten were ultimately selected. These students have been divided into two teams and each is assigned a Citi mentor to work with them on projects which reflect current business challenges at Citi. The program concludes with team presentations to Citi leadership.

We are thrilled to announce the following California community college students who comprise the Spring 2022 cohort of the Citi University Partnerships in Innovation & Discovery (CUPID) program, and wish each of them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

Jaein Kim

Jaein is currently studying business administration at Irvine Valley College and will be transferring to the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2022. She is grateful for the insight and experience the Citi CUPID program offers to its students and hopes to bring a spark of creativity whilst collaborating alongside her brilliant team members. Professionally, Jaein plans to pursue a career in marketing and creative direction, with a foundation in entrepreneurship and management. No matter the role in which she lands, you can count on her to stay curious and innovative. Jaein’s other interests lie in street and sports photography, graphic design, travel, and trying to keep her plants alive.



Brenda Bales

Brenda Bales is a first-year student at College of the Canyons studying Business Administration with the goal of attaining a bachelor’s degree. She also holds an associate’s degree concentrated on architectural photography. She loves the CUPID program because students at the Community College level are given the amazing opportunity to gain valuable mentorship from industry experts to develop important business skills that can be built upon while working in a team environment. For future goals, Brenda really wants to learn more about the mortgage industry to make a solid impact with REIT’s while gaining this hands-on experience in a business environment. Besides being an avid believer of life-long learning, she loves to travel, has lived in France for four years independently, and enjoys learning new languages, and paddleboarding.




Allan-Noe Ortiz

Allan-Noe Ortiz is currently studying Business Administration at Foothill Community College. He is incredibly honored to be a part of the CUPID program because he believes the experiences of going through the data and innovation ideation process with an experienced mentor and diverse team will truly help prepare him to excel in future, professional experiences. He appreciates this opportunity is offered to CA community college students because it allows students with great potential to propel their trajectory toward a rewarding career. Allan feels that after completing this internship, his peers and himself will have built a strong foundation for their future careers. After transferring to a university, Allan sees himself pursuing a career in investment banking. He enjoys learning about investments, the crypto world, and blockchain technology. Besides Allan’s passion for finance and technology, he is also a bookworm and loves to go hiking.




Alex Zhang

Alex Zhang is a first-year student at Irvine Valley College studying Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. He is excited to be a part of the CUPID program and looking forward to working with other ambitious students under Citi’s innovative and community-centered projects. Alex is grateful for the opportunity to learn from experienced Citi professionals, and under their mentorship he hopes to put his experience in business management and stock trading to work by thinking up out-of-the-box solutions to existing problems. From leading his high school’s first Virtual Enterprise CTE business class to regularly teaching students personal finance, he is always happy to get to know others. In the future, he hopes to explore and pursue careers in the fields of investment banking, venture capital, and big tech. Aside from waiting for the newest smartphone releases and making stock market predictions, Alex also plans to pursue real estate and a side hobby as a Youtube creator, focusing on the less hectic sides of everyday life!




Derek Oyama

Derek Oyama is currently a Computer Science student at Fullerton College who is an entrepreneur at heart and has a passion for innovating technology. He looks forward to working with an amazing group of team members in the CUPID program to better his local community. Derek’s passions include trading and performing technical analysis on small cap stocks, becoming a better investor, coaching and playing Esports, restoring classic cars, piloting drones, and designing and coding video games. Derek enjoys organizing and leading academic Esports organizations and coaches teams that play Overwatch, which is the 2016 game of the year. He led the Yorba Linda High School team to win a national tournament in 2021. He also coached the University of Massachusetts team and other international Esports teams in Europe and North America. As an Eagle Scout, Derek’s mission is to follow the Scouts of America slogan: “do a good deed daily” in order to help others and bring communities closer to each other.



Ellis Kim

Ellis Kim studies Business Administration as a first-year student at College of the Canyons. She is incredibly thrilled to be a part of the CUPID program. To be able to take part in projects that solve real challenges for Citi, as well as receive mentorship and insight from brilliant Citi professionals as a student, energizes Ellis and she is thankful for this meaningful opportunity. Ellis hopes to work in finance or consulting upon graduation. She enjoys spending quality time with her family, stretching, baking, and hiking in her free time.






Janmesh Kalra

Janmesh Kalra is currently studying Mathematics and Data Science at Cypress College, and will be transferring to University of California, Berkeley for Fall 2022. He intends to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Math & and Data Science and pursue graduate school for a Master’s/PhD. He is passionate about the fields of data science, AI, and machine learning. He is appreciative of this opportunity for community college students, and is excited to innovate technology with the Citi Ventures division. As an aspiring data scientist, he is glad to work with Citi industry professionals in preparation for future career opportunities. Janmesh enjoys trading stocks, following the Lakers, and learning how to apply data to different domains.



Jonathan Wang

Jonathan Wang is a second-year student at Folsom Lake College studying Computer Science with plans to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree. He is excited about the CUPID program because it allows students to explore the intersection between finance and technology while collaborating with like-minded enthusiasts. Jonathan is interested in a career as a quantitative developer, where he can use statistics and computer science to handle investment management. He is data-driven, always looking for trends and connections to convert raw data to useful information. Jonathan also enjoys hiking, swimming, and video editing.




Yaseen El-Helaly

Yaseen El-Helaly is currently studying Quantitative Economics at Irvine Valley College with the intention of transferring to University of California, Berkeley to study Economics / University of California, Irvine to study Quantitative Economics. He also intends to pursue his master’s degree in Mathematics and Quantitative Finance. He is passionate about the stock market, probability/statistics and business development. Yaseen is interested in a career as a Quantitative Trader/Researcher where he can use his current equity trading skills with data and probability models that their team develops to properly navigate the capital markets. He’s grateful and excited about Citi Works because it combines the aspect of business development in a way where they can integrate new technologies from different firms and sectors, as well as the investment side of it as well; towards building up and bettering high-need communities. Yaseen’s other interests include basketball and biking, traveling abroad, and coming up with inventions that vary from safety equipment to magnetic cars.



Edward Wang

Edward is a ­year student at De Anza College studying Business Administration and is extremely excited to be a part of the CUPID program. Edward looks forward to working on Citi projects with a group full of talented and innovative members. Being able to also learn and receive mentorship directly from Citi professionals provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Edward is extremely grateful for. After college, Edward has hopes of working in management consulting or analytics with the goal of helping underprivileged communities and the homeless. In his free time, Edward enjoys getting boba with friends, playing spikeball, and playing with his dog Simba.