Earlier this month, YI West kicked off the Fall cohort of our Young Advocates Program, a 12-week paid policy and advocacy internship, where young Californians learn how to become leaders in their communities.
We are so excited to introduce you to the amazing group of young adults who are ready to create change within their communities and across the state!
Meet our Fall 2021 California Advocates!
Marisol Ferreyra Orozco
Marisol Ferreyra Orozco is currently a fourth year student at CSU Sacramento majoring in International Relations, minoring in LGBTQ+ Studies. She is a First-Generation student who is passionate about social justice and social change. She is hoping to attend a Public Policy and Administration master degree program after completing her undergraduate degree and also become more involved to make a change.
Jabriel is from Los Angeles California and is a recent San Jose State University graduate of political science. His expertise consists of research, policy analysis, and synthesizing reports with empirical data to find solutions to public issues as a Policy Aide at the City of Milpitas. Growing up he witnessed many people know become stagnant, lose hope, or fall victim to their circumstances. This is why he chose to pursue a career in policy work, to enhance the lives of people in his community.
Recently, Jabriel has been upskilling by learning Python for Data Science and Finance as he has a deep interest in artificial intelligence and how it can be leveraged in favor of the public good.
Jabriel enjoys reading, weight training, motorcycling, and fishing. Some of his favorite books are Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched Of The Earth” and Kwame Nkrumah’s “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage Of Imperialism.”
Marisol Ibarra is a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants. She was born and raised in South East Los Angeles. She is a first-generation graduate and professional.
Marisol attended Cal Poly Pomona where she received her BA in Political Science. During her time in Cal Poly, she got the opportunity to study abroad in Hong Kong and Dubai where she learned about immigration, urban planning, and transportation policy.
Her last year in Cal Poly Pomona, Marisol completed her senior thesis and moved to Sacramento to participate in the prestigious Sacramento Semester Program in the California State Capitol. She became very passionate about bridging the gap between public policy and the communities like the one she grew up in.
Marisol has been part of Senator Hurtado’s team since January 2019 and has managed her legislative packet. As legislative staff, she has analyzed bills and budget requests that go through Health, Human Services, Business and Professions, and Economic Development and Education.
Her job experience also includes being a program assistant for Constitutional Rights Foundation, where she was responsible for coordination, planning, and media outreach for two-state-wide projects that encompassed civic engagement. Her experience encompasses policy development, coalition building, project management, and strategic planning. She has the ability to analyze and develop state legislation and budget to create unique solutions.
Marisol is also the founder and creator of Here Comes the Sun podcast where she helps first-generation college graduates and professionals navigate the water that our families have not had the privilege to cross. In the podcast, Marisol covers topics about career development, money management, and self-care. Outside the microphone, Marisol enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, and drinking coffee.
Adriana is a recent grad from the University of Pennsylvania where she double majored in Political Science and Latin American and Latinx Studies. As a first-generation college grad, Adriana is passionate about increasing access and affordability in higher education. She hopes to be a stronger advocate and community leader through this program.
Julissa Ruiz Ramirez
I am Julissa, she/her(s)/ella. Born in occupied P’urhépecha and Guamares territory, I migrated to Yokuts land in the Central Valley, a place where its land and peoples are exploited and killed by the police, white supremacists, and the colonial state; a land that feeds the nation, has the most prisons in California, and has amongst the most polluted air of the country. Here, I found and created community, graduated from CSU Stanislaus in Ethnic Studies and Political Science, and embarked on a journey of growth, ancestral research and discovery, and collective liberation.
My name is Sara Sanchez. I am currently in trade school learning office skills so I can take them into my future career as a computer technician. I hope to attend UCLA or Berkeley one day and get my bachelors in Computer Science. At school, I am also a part of student government and other extra curricular activities. During my free time, I like to explore more ways I can broaden my skills and knowledge.
After facing my own trials and challenges during my undergraduate journey, I felt it was vital to create a pathway of equality for students who didn’t stem from a place of systematic privilege. In the last four years, I partnered up with multiple organizations such as Swipe Out Hunger, u-Aspire, TICAS, Campaign for College, and Hope Center for Justice and Community to advocate for fundamental need issues. I have worked on higher education bills AB705 and AB928 to simplify the path to college and shed light on growing inequities based on issues affecting non-traditional, first-generation, low-income, and undocumented students.
Brendan is one of the members of the Young Advocates Program for YI West. He is a current undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside, double majoring in Political Science and Public Policy, and is currently based in the Inland Empire
Brendan is also the Government Affairs Coordinator at Student Debt Crisis Center, a nonprofit advocacy group with over two million supporters, where he has done work in the field of student debt cancellation. In his work with Student Debt Crisis Center, he has conducted legislative outreach to both state and federal legislators and been published in outlets such as The Nation. He has also engaged in advocacy surrounding college affordability such as the Double the Pell Grant campaign through UC Riverside’s Lobby Corps.
As a resident of the Inland Empire, Brendan is keenly aware of the importance of labor and labor rights. He currently interns with AFSCME Local 3299, which is a union that represents over 29,000 service workers across the UC system.
At UCR Brendan has served in various committees and is a Director for the Roosevelt Network at UC Riverside. In his free time, Brendan is an avid outdoorsmen and a volunteer beekeeper.
Kaitlin was born and raised in Riverside, California. Kaitlin attended the University of California Irvine to pursue her undergraduate degree in Political Science with a minor in Chicanx/Latinx Studies.
Kaitlin was a development intern for Red Hen Press in Pasadena and helped raise funds for free creative writing workshops and books to low-income students in the third through twelfth grades in Los Angeles. Kaitlin spent time in college organizing to pass SB 24 which required public universities in California to provide abortion care on campus. Kaitlin has always been passionate about reproductive justice and hopes to do more work in the field. In her free time, Kaitlin enjoys hanging out with her cats or browsing the new releases at her public library.
Michelle Rojas is a mom of two precious kiddos under the age of two. She is currently enrolled part time at College of the Sequoias with plans to major in the Study of Communications. Her goal is to be able to help others achieve their goals and have equal opportunities by advocating for their needs and helping to make those resources readily available. She has joined the Young Advocates Program in hopes that she will be able to learn the skills needed to aid people around her. In Michelle’s spare time she enjoys discovering new recipes and cooking/baking even though she’s had plenty of failed dishes.
Arys, (airh-riss), was born in Los Angeles and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. After attending university in Colorado, she took time out to tend to her health after discovering a severe chronic illness and rapidly deteriorating mental health. This time away led to a realization of larger factors at play; such as lack of access to affordable and quality health care, education, and housing, that lead to the disenfranchisement of many youth today, as well as finding a passion and dedication to public health and policy.
Ayrs hopes to complete a Bachelor’s in Public Health and continue on to receive a Master’s in Public Health or Policy.
Jeannette Mayo Gallegos is a first-generation college student and an HSF scholar based in San Diego, CA. She is a part of the MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science, and Achievement) program and is currently working on her B.S. in Computer Science. She recently interned with PayPal this past summer as a software engineer.
She strongly believes in the fight for diversity in tech and is a strong advocate for amplifying the voices of those from underrepresented communities and speaking out on the issues that greatly impact minorities.
Jeannette was one of the speakers at the Young Professionals Summit in 2020 representing the Civic Engagement Committee and provided information about the census and the voting process to the audience, as well as explaining the many different ways they could make an impact in their community.
Yvette is based in Southern California and is a California Young Advocate for the Young Invincibles Program. She is a first-generation sophomore student at UC Berkeley studying Public Health and Integrative Human Biology with a minor in Public Policy. She is passionate about using public policy to advocate for immigrant rights and the reforming of the health care and education system.
Yvette’s interest in health care and the reforming of the health care system began during her internship at a family medical clinic, where she experienced working with patients and saw firsthand the flaws in the system. The lack of diversity, the need for preventive care, and the growing number of uninsured folks in her community. Since then, she has become involved with the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California as a Health Justice Policy Fellow, working to advance Latinx health through lobbying, community outreach, research of key policy issues, and engaging with community organizations.
Many of the problems with the lack of representation of people of color in Medicine also stem back to education and the lack of access. She is currently working with Southern California College Access Network as a Basic Needs Fellow addressing higher education barriers that first-generation, low-income, and students of color face such as food insecurity, high tuition costs, and other crucial issues. She has lobbied to the offices of eight Legislators and Senators and has been able to secure co-sponsorships to the EATS Act that addresses food insecurity among college students.
Yvette has diverse experiences, such as interning with Kaiser Permanente, researching how COVID-19 has affected the education and health of teens in the San Gabriel Valley. In addition, she has worked on the Project Sticker Shock National Campaign with Day One, a Public Health Non-profit to reduce underage drinking and promote safe drinking practices. She’s also been an intern for Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio through her Young Legislator’s Program. At UC Berkeley, Yvette is involved with Comunidad for Health Equity as a Conference Coordinator planning the Minorities in Health Conference to inspire more people of color to pursue Medicine. She is also a Community Engagement Officer for The Academic Achievement Award Program Scholars that seeks to help underrepresented students find community at Cal through our program and the planning of professional development workshops and more.
In her free time, Yvette likes to spend time with her friends and family.
Agnes Julienne Bautista
Mabuhay! I’m Agnes (she/her/hers) and one of the California Young Advocates for this Fall 2021. I’m originally from the Philippines, but I currently live in Vallejo, California. In 2020, I graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology.
My passion for social justice and advocacy work is rooted in my identity as an 1.5-generation immigrant. Having been born and raised in the Philippines, to then moving to America at a young age, I had to grapple between my identities and experiences during my childhood in the Philippines and adolescence as a Filipino immigrant in America. It wasn’t until I attended UCLA that I understood myself better and realized how deeply connected my identities and experiences actually are to each other, to other communities, and to the systems and institutions around me. And although I wish I was consciously aware of this at an earlier age, I am grateful that I became conscious of this when I did. College exposed me to culturally relevant curriculum, discussions centered in social/racial justice, and the importance of community organizing; all of which paved the way for my life-long pursuit in being an advocate for the needs of and issues pertaining to the Filipino and Filipino-American community.
In my free time, I love to sing, dance, doodle, design graphics, curate Spotify playlists, and have movie/TV marathons.
Savannah Maria Mendoza
Savannah Maria Mendoza is a first-generation Latina born and raised in Oak Park, Sacramento. From a very young age, her parents instilled the importance of civic engagement and advocating for others. Her passion for improving the lives of those in her community is the driving force of her work today. Savannah is currently pursuing a degree in Political Science at Sacramento State and is the Manager at California Women lead. Her previous experience includes aiding California colleges with voting location implementation, student get out the vote efforts, and working in the California State Legislature. Mendoza hopes to continue using her privilege to serve others through a career in advocacy and public service. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her dog Luna, and working towards her Black Belt and Taekwondo.
Hi! My name is Amay Shah and I’m originally from Phoenix, AZ but moved to California a few years ago for school. I’m currently a third-year undergraduate student at UCLA studying Human Biology and Society on the premed track. My interest in advocacy was sparked by my experience volunteering at a hospital in Phoenix where I was able to witness many of the barriers to health care different groups of people face. After undergrad, I hope to pursue an MD/MPH degree and work in public health leadership at the CDC or WHO.