In September, Young Invincibles’ New York office launched its second cohort of the Young Advocates program, our semester-long paid policy, and advocacy fellowship, where young New Yorkers learn how to build campaigns for change on their campuses and across New York.
To learn more about our 2020 Fall New York Young Advocates, scroll below. For more information about our Young Advocates program, including information about applications for our spring 2021 program, please fill out this Google Form.
Freshman, Baruch College, CUNY
Sharon Alam is a freshman at Baruch College, pursuing a major in Political Science and a minor in Film. Ever since Sharon came to America as a child, she felt the hardships of living here through my mom. These experiences have encouraged Sharon to help people through advocacy and policy making. During her sophomore year of high school, Sharon joined Young Women’s Leadership through Womenkind, where she interned at a martial-arts dojo and supported efforts to diversify it, including writing a research paper on why diversity is important in the workplace. In her senior year of high school, Sharon became a Youth Ambassador for Womankind, where she worked on issues of gender-based violence. Throughout high school, she also worked as a secretary in Girl Up United Nations, where she organized events to raise awareness and to fundraise. In her free time, Sharon likes to try new cultural dishes, sew clothes, and watch all the movies she can. She also loves hanging out with her family and reading books.
Sophomore, Hostos Community College, CUNY
Rosmery Arzu is 21 years old, and a sophomore at Hostos Community College. Originally from Honduras, Rosmery came to the United States in 2017. She spent a year at the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP) at Hostos Community College, taking intensive English classes and college-level reading and writing. Today, Rosmery is pursuing an associate’s degree at Hostos Community College. Rosmery plans to transfer to a four-year college, where she will major in pre-medicine and work towards becoming a neurosurgeon. In her spare time, Rosmery does volunteer work and is a member of the math club and the ASAP club at Hostos. Rosmery knows how important education is and believes it’s critical to have a support network.
Junior, Hunter College, CUNY
Diamilatou Barry has been living in New York since 2012 and is of Guinean origin. Concerned about the well-being of all, she is continuing her studies at Hunter College, working towards her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She plans to use her degree to better understand the techniques to help people maintain good mental health. Diamilatou is also passionate about new technologies, and also studies computer sciences, where she will contribute to improving living conditions through science. Diamilatou is committed to improving the lives of young people and adults. She has been fighting from an early age for the defense, recognition, and respect for human rights.
Junior, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Dejanay Burke is a college student currently attending University at Buffalo, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Criminology. She was born in the Bronx, but at the age of two, she went to live in Kingston, Jamaica with her grandmother due to financial hardships. At the age of 14, she returned to the Bronx to begin high school. Throughout her childhood, she witnessed family members struggle with mental health issues with few resources at their disposal. As a result, this drove her to pursue a career in psychology. She aspires to be a forensic psychologist focusing on the interface between the legal system and mental health care services, and advocating for better mental health care — specifically, focusing on mental health of minorities. At University at Buffalo, she is involved in a mentorship program that helps lower classmen deal with college hardships such as financial stress, mental health, and academics.
Sophomore, Barnard College of Columbia University
Arianna is a first-generation college student attending Barnard College where she is majoring in Political Economy. Arianna’s family always pushed her to do well in school and pursue higher education. In her freshman year of high school, she joined SEO Scholars, an eight-year program dedicated to getting low-income students of color to and through college. Arianna spent her summers, Saturdays, and weekdays attending extra classes, tutoring sessions, and SAT prep provided by SEO. She quickly learned about opportunity gaps in the education system and witnessed the lack of resources and preparation low-income students were receiving at school. She is beyond grateful for the opportunity SEO Scholars gave her, but now she hopes to give back to her community, specifically low-income students. Arianna would like to continue her studies in order to identify and evaluate new ways to give disadvantaged students more opportunities and resources. She is excited to be working alongside a passionate team at Young Invincibles.
Senior, Hunter College, CUNY
Anna Compton is a senior at Hunter College. She majors in Political Science and minor in International Relations and Human Rights. She loves CUNY and is excited about the Young Advocates Program because she thinks CUNY students are incredibly resilient and deserve better. Being able to do research about her campus and speaking with other students will allow her to appreciate what Hunter provides while also advocating for more and better accessibility. As a student with a learning disability and growing up in a low-income home with both of her parents struggling from addiction and in and out of jail and rehab, she feels that it has made her a better advocate not only for myself but for others as well. She wants to take these parts of her life and not hold on to the bitterness of feeling like she is constantly trying to escape a stigma and rather uplift others around her experiencing these same things and even worse. She wants to be the person she wishes she had when she was younger. When interning with NYPIRG at Hunter one of her main focuses was combatting food and housing insecurity and pushing for better mental health resources at Hunter as well as across CUNY. She is so grateful and honored to be a Young Advocate with Young Invincibles and for the opportunity to continue to push for more transparency and accessibility for CUNY students across the five boroughs.
Freshman, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, Hailey DelValle is a 19-year-old writing and literature major from the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She is an aspiring writer and activist. Her mission is to use mediums of art and creative writing to advocate for marginalized groups and seek social, economic, and racial justice. Hailey’s creative work spans from poetry to paintings to film and various forms of mixed media. She has done advocacy before as a reporter for the Harlem-based news site City Limits. Most recently, her work has revolved around organizing on behalf of The People’s Forum, political, educational, and cultural space for the working class.
Senior, Lehman College, CUNY
Ashly Huerta is a senior at Lehman College, with a double major in English Professional Writing and Political Science. At Lehman College, she is a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow, where she guides students from underserved backgrounds to submit applications for highly competitive fellowships, scholarships, and internships. As a fellow, she has earned more than $7,000 in funding, some of which helped her study abroad in the Netherlands. This summer, she was an education policy intern at the New York Immigration Coalition where she led research on adult literacy programs.
Ashly is fueled by her growing up in a low-income neighborhood with Mexican immigrant parents in Queens. She was exposed to education inequalities early on, especially in her zone schools which were often overcrowded and underfunded. She looks forward to attaining a degree in education policy or education law and committing to combating education inequity in urban communities. In the future, she hopes to open up her own organization that mentors LatinX students to attain higher education. In her spare time, she likes to travel and try new foods with her friends.
Senior, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
Aileen Luna is a senior, who transferred to John Jay College in 2018. She is currently pursuing a major in Law & Society, and a double minor in English and Philosophy. She is also the Executive Secretary of John Jay College’s Student Council. Aileen was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and hopes to attend law school in the near future. She hopes to expand her experience in immigration services, non-profit organizations, and legal settings. She is bilingual and speaks both English and Spanish, and has learned to play the guitar, piano, and trumpet. Aileen hopes to continue being an advocate for her fellow students and peers around NYC and beyond.
Recent graduate, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Khaled Miah is a dynamic individual who taught himself English at a young age to adapt to his new environment. Living as a Bengali in Brooklyn, New York, who continues to adjust, Khaled realized the importance of education and finance to live well in the city that never sleeps. He put himself through college with drive and persistence while gaining valuable life lessons working in odd jobs. Now Khaled has an Associate of Arts in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Consumer & Organizational Behavior and Finance, with a dual minor in Business Law and Human Resource Leadership & Management. Khaled’s experience falls under the project management of driving agile adoption strategies, building business plans, manipulating data dumps to produce reports, and supporting the management of process, facilitation, and presentation. He is interested in and appreciates work that challenges him to gain new perspectives while gaining knowledge to grow with clients. Khaled brings an aspect of hard work and having fun in the work environment, therefore making a more positive and productive workspace for all.
Junior, Lehman College, CUNY
Elisa Rojano is currently a junior attending Lehman College. She graduated from LaGuardia Community College with an Associate of Science degree which she majored in Business Administration. Now at Lehman College, Elisa majors in Latino Studies, with a minor in Human Resource Management. A Mexican-American, Elisa aspires to advocate for Latinos with immigration issues. Her passion for helping immigrants comes from her parents who came here from Mexico. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York until the age of nine and then moved to East Harlem, Manhattan. Growing up in a neighborhood made up of Latino immigrants made her also realize that she would like to help the people in her community who do not speak English. She strongly believes that undocumented immigrants deserve to have the same rights as any citizen in this country by having their voices heard. Elisa participated in a CUNY Summer Intensive Public Policy program where she learned how to identify issues and work with government officials to implement policy.
Sophomore, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
Abigail Rojas is a Dominican native and a New Yorker at heart. She is currently an upper sophomore and first-generation college student attending her last semester at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), majoring in Psychology. Growing up in culturally diverse environments have influenced Abigail to immerse and learn about the various issues and needs in her community. Being a part of clubs like The Black Male Initiative and Project Impact at her school, she engages in the promotion of education for students who have been impacted by the justice system, the fight for racial equality, and the inclusion of underrepresented students in our communities. A young Latinx, Abigail plans to pursue Psychology BA/MA from City College, focusing on the addiction field to be able to serve the vulnerable in our communities who have so many needs that are often unmet. Abigail has stumbled but that will not stop her — it will only drive her. Pursuing her dreams with unstoppable determination, a growth mindset, and a strong support system, a well-built Abigail is being sculpted.
Junior, City College of New York, CUNY
Natalie Rosales is a junior at City College pursuing a degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing as well as two minors in Asian studies and women and gender studies. Natalie was born and raised in Long Island, New York. In her early years, she volunteered at Huntington Hospital and was a part of many LGBTQIA+ fundraisers and marches. As a woman of color and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, she has experienced the harsh realities of life as a woman, a person of color, and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. She hopes to shed light and bring aid to young people who are marginalized for being seen as different than in the world. Some of her goals are to become a well-known writer and advocate for young people whatever their background. Now, as part of Young Invincibles’ Young Advocates program, she hopes to gain experience in advocacy and bring awareness and voices to, and for, higher education, medical care, and mental wellness.
Sophomore, Purchase College, SUNY
Tristen Tomlin is a sophomore at Purchase College, SUNY, pursuing a degree in Political Science. Tristen’s desire to pursue law began when he participated in policy debates in high school. That experience exposed him to how politics influences people’s lives based on how the intersections of race, class, and gender factor into government policies and organizations. He has pursued his passion by exposing himself to opportunities that helped him gain more insight into his career path. During an internship at the New York District Attorney’s Office, his cohort created initiatives that sought to address problems in criminal justice. Tristen created an initiative that would help address recidivism by finding resources for those who were previously incarcerated. He has continued trying to understand the issues by advocating for students on his campus and throughout the SUNY system with NYPIRG, a group that uses grassroots efforts to seek policy change on an assortment of issues. He hopes to use his experience and career ahead to be a voice for those who go unheard.
Sophomore, Bronx Community College, CUNY
Diana Valenzuela is a first-generation Latina college student attending Bronx Community College. She is majoring in Political Science, a major which she decided on because of her interest and passion for the betterment of her community. During her time at BCC, she has focused on advocating for community college students, minorities, and other underrepresented groups. This includes work and involvement in CUNY Start, the BCC Daycare Center, NYPIRG, the Student Government Association, CUNY Model Senate, CUNY Leads, and beyond. Within these roles, she focused on expanding her knowledge in policy making, advocacy, and representation of her different constituencies. Diana also tutors and gives back in other forms such as running drives for BCC students’ children in the childcare center. She plans on continuing to help those in need in the future through a nonprofit organization that serves the homeless population.
Junior, New York City College of Technology, CUNY
Claudia Wallen was born and raised in Queens, New York. She attends CUNY’s New York City College of Technology and is majoring in Legal Assistant Studies. From a young age, Claudia knew she wanted to be an attorney. She aspires to become a criminal justice lawyer or a civil rights attorney. As she witnessed and experienced hardships and injustices, she decided that she would devote her career to fighting on behalf of victims. She understands that a person’s voice can be silenced or unheard. Through civic engagement and in her legal career, she hopes to amplify those voices so that they can be heard and fight against the injustices that countless people may have faced.