Rita Yuriel Carbajal
Rita graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Politics on June 2019. During her three years in college, Rita Yuriel volunteered with her college events crew, with the student union food pantry, and with Cal-YMCA's youth programs where she also interned for three years. She not only co-founded and funded her university's chapter of Engineers Without Borders during her freshman year, but she also embarked on a six-month, one-person campaign to successfully establish a student legal clinic at UCSC during her last year.
In 2018 she was awarded the Koret Scholarship, and just before her graduation, she presented her original research on alternative housing solutions at her university. In 2019 she was chosen to be a part of the Okinawa Memory Initiative’s research team that travels to Japan to study Okinawan-American dialogues.
While interning for LCLAA, Rita Yuriel worked on latina equal pay, environmental and transportation justice, and environment-labor policy issues.
In the future Rita Yuriel hopes to explore careers in public policy. For now you might find her writing short stories and screenplays while she plans a tour of Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.
Maria is a third-year student at the University of California, Santa Barbara majoring in Communication. Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, Maria and her family moved to the San Fernando Valley when she was 5 years old. During her first two years of undergraduate studies, she worked forJunior High, which is a non-profit community art space in Los Angeles that showcases the artistic pursuits of marginalized voices. Her time there made her realize the importance of providing resources for her community in order to help them thrive.
Maria chose to intern at LCLAA in Washington D.C. because labor issues are a cause that are dear to her heart. Like many Latin American immigrants, she saw her mom doing back-breaking work in order to provide for her and her family. “Farmworkers, construction workers, newspaper delivery workers, and our labor force, are made up of Latinxs who produce life-sustaining work, yet their health and work benefits lack any recognition for their sacrifices.” At LCLAA Maria was able to further her passion for her community by working in the Communications Department, where she played a key role in helping produce video and social media content aimed at highlighting the important work LCLAA does for Latinos, immigrants and workers. Her favorite project while working for LCLAA was coordinating with Justice for Migrant Women, which advocates in Congress for the protection of women who are vulnerable to sexual assault in the fields.
Maria hopes to bring further attention to issues like these by pursuing a career in public service after graduation. When she is not in school or working, Maria enjoys painting and making handmade jewelry.
Kenia is a Bachelor's candidate for Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles with minors in both Philosophy and Urban & Regional Studies. She has shaped her education around studying how structural racism and discriminatory practices have worked together to formulate the different neighborhoods we call home. As an intern at LCLAA, she has also learned about the importance of political participation to defend the rights and dignity of our communities. Going forward, she hopes to get a Master in Urban and Regional Planning so that she can continue to serve her community.
Kenia is 23 years old. Mexican. Undocumented. And likes to think of herself as a scholar because she’s been in school for the past 19 years of her life. She came to the United States when she was 6 years old, and says has no traumatic story about crossing the border because she had the privilege of being from a border town. She explains that her journey consisted of just sitting down during a beautiful summer morning when her mom gathered her three kids and took them on a 20-hour drive 1000 miles away.
“Some people say they never knew they were undocumented until college applications but I’ll never understand that because it literally shapes every aspect of your life. But anyway, I applied to many schools, I had good grades, I had a decent personal statement. I got into a few schools and I was really excited about a private school in London, then I realized it cost 30k and they only offered me a 8k scholarship so I just cried because I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t wanna follow my brother’s or my sister’s path and I was too broke to make my own. During that time, DACA had just passed so my friend and I decided we’d work in the fields to make enough money for the application, then we’d move to San Francisco and once we were there, we’d be able to afford community college and work.”
Kenia believes that knowledge is power, and that such power must be used for the benefit of our communities.
“I think academia gives you authority, it allows you to be someone in life, and if you’re ‘someone’ then you can help someone. So with that logic, I want to go back home and be a resource for my community I don’t know exactly what yet, but I want to do something. I think it’s important to gentrify your own community because you shouldn’t have to leave to get a better future so we’ll see.”