top of page
Onaketa word logo-02.png



Onaketa provides free online tutoring to underserved black and brown youth. We specialize in science and math, and we serve students in middle school, high school, and college.

At Onaketa, our vision is for all historically underserved youth to receive the resources and help they need to succeed in school and reach their academic goals, and to receive the support, protection, guidance, and love necessary to grow into their full potential.



Onaketa was founded in 2020 by Dr. Nia Imara.




Director of Onaketa

Astrophysicist and artist Nia Imara founded Onaketa as an outgrowth of her commitment to create more educational opportunities for black and brown youth.  Nia is a graduate of Kenyon College and UC Berkeley and was a prize postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.  A passionate advocate for students of color, Nia founded the Equity and Inclusion Journal Club at Harvard and has participated in many initiatives to create access in science.


Director of Onaketa

Astrophysicist and artist Nia Imara founded Onaketa as an outgrowth of her commitment to create more educational opportunities for black and brown youth. Nia is a graduate of Kenyon College and UC Berkeley and was a prize postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. A passionate advocate for black and brown students, Nia has led and participated in many initiatives to create access in science.


"Knowledge is like a garden; if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested."

~Guinea proverb


Dr. Pierce-Jenkins is an accomplished executive with in-depth knowledge and experience in both private and public sector. She has over 10 years of effective leadership in non-profit organizations, and K-12 education. Her work includes traditional schools and charter schools. In September 2008, she founded Hollis Pierce & Associates, which focused on the professional development of leaders in any organizational setting. She is a leadership coach who focuses on empowering individuals to reach their highest potential. Hollis believes that it is imperative the community rally around its youth in efforts to create global citizens equipped with the 21st Century job skills required to compete in a global economy.


Dr. Pierce-Jenkins holds a BA in Political Science from University of California, Berkeley, MEd in Curriculum Development from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, an EdD in Education (Organization and Leadership) at University of San Francisco. She is a published author: Personal Perceptions of Leadership Styles and Behaviors of Elementary School Principals in Urban Setting (2010, VDM Publishing).  


Social Media and Outreach Coordinator

Oakland native currently living in NYC, Adia has dedicated her career to both leading creative strategy at top marketing agencies and serving her community through non-profit consulting. She brings that experience to Onaketa through vibrant storytelling of black and brown communities.

Within her adventure through the working world, her constant delight has been crafting!


Community Partnerships

Nehanda Imara is a dedicated activist, organizer, environmentalist, and educator.  She created the first Environmental Racism/Justice course at the Peralta Community College District. In her role as an organizer with Communities for a Better Environment (2007 – 2017), she engaged residents and youth in fighting environmental racism and for clean more sustainable environmental policies and programs. In 2009, she organized the first CBE “Love Yo Mama Earth Day” event, in collaboration with community partners in deep East Oakland, a community suffering deeply from the global ecological crisis. Nehanda was part of the leadership team at the inception of East Oakland Building Healthy Communities in 2009 and served on the interim steering committee. After leaving EOBHC in 2021, she joined the Black Cultural Zone as the Community Engagement Lead.


Board Member

LaNell A. Williams is a PhD Candidate and NSF GRFP Fellow at Harvard University studying soft condensed matter physics/biophysics. Her research focuses on understanding the self assembly of RNA-Viruses, in particular, the Bacteriophage MS2. She graduated from Wesleyan University with her BA in physics, and she went on to receive her MA in physics from Fisk University before coming to Harvard. LaNell has also been heavily involved in programming with the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP). As of January, she serves on the American Physical Society Council of Representatives representing the Forum on Graduate Students & the Forum on Early Careers. She's the founder of the Women+ of Color Project and hopes to encourage more BIWOC to pursue academic careers.


Tutor Coordinator & Administrative Assistant

Ian earned his PhD in Astrophysics from Harvard University, where he used some of the world’s largest telescopes to investigate new worlds around other stars. As an undergraduate, he was an an active tutor for the Academic Excellence Program (ACE), which is dedicated to increasing the diversity of students earning their bachelors degrees in STEM. During grad school, he helped start and lead the Harvard chapter of the science outreach organization,, a graduate-run group dedicated to providing bite-size TED-style talks to the community about active areas of research.


His interests include STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) outreach, promoting citizen science, and hosting star parties at different national parks with SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). In his free time, he enjoys going to see live music, playing beach volleyball, and getting lost on bike rides.

Reza Barghi_edited.jpg

Science and Math Tutor

Majid Reza Barghi, who prefers to go by "Reza", is currently the lead Physics, Computer Science, and Mechanical/Electrical Engineering Technician at Ohlone Community College, where he runs a makerspace for students. He earned his bachelor's degree in astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. A self-professed "nerd," in his spare time, when not working on robots or maintaining the lab, Reza loves to read manga and watch all sorts of anime. (Ask him what he is reading!)


When he is not sitting under a tree reading a book, you can find him at the rock-climbing gym getting ready for his next backpacking adventure.

Haley Carrasco_edited.jpg

Science and Math Tutor

Haley Carrasco is a medical student at Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine. She is particularly interested in foot and ankle surgery. In 2022, Haley graduated with a BS in biology with a bioethics minor. Her undergraduate research was with RCN-UBE: Yeast ORFan Gene Project which focused on identifying the function of unknown genes in the model organism S. cerevisiae (baker's yeast).


Chemistry and Biology Tutor

Filipe Cerqueira graduated from the University of Michigan with his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology. His research focuses on the biochemistry of starch-active proteins expressed by the human gut bacterium Ruminococcus bromii.


When he isn’t crystallizing proteins in the lab, he studies the social justice-guided art that is effective facilitation. He practices his facilitation skills in his work with the DEI Taskforce, an organization for which he is a co-founder and whose mission is to foster inclusion in the biomedical research environment at UMich.


He is proud of his Brazilian nationality and his Texan upbringing. 

Gregory Cunningham_edited.jpg

Science and Math Tutor

Gregory Cunningham is a GEM PhD fellow and applied physics PhD student at Harvard University as well as a graduate student researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses on control and readout schemes for superconducting quantum computing, in an effort to increase robustness and scalability to large numbers of qubits.


He enjoys playing/ listening to music, indoor/sand volleyball, and movies/theatre.

Gianni Sims profile - Gianni Sims_edited.jpg

Science and Math Tutor

Gianni is currently a second-year graduate student at Florida Atlantic University. Her research currently consists of studying the variability properties of the Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) to understand supermassive black hole growth. She enjoys not only tutoring physics and math, but she enjoys mentoring others to encourage their paths to success.


In her free time, she loves creative writing and singing.


Physics Tutor

Pheona Williams is a 2021-2023 IBM PhD fellow and an applied physics PhD student at Harvard University, and graduate student researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has a keen interest in solid-state physics and quantum materials, and her current work focuses on the growth and characterization of topological insulators and superlattice systems. She enjoys math and science and loves the way the marriage of the two can be used to explain and improve the world around us.


In her spare time, she works out and enjoys rock climbing (bouldering specifically), West African dancing, and Salsa dancing.



bottom of page