Return to the Latest

Introducing our Fall 2023 New York Young Advocates!

On September 15th, Young Invincibles’ New York office launched its eighth 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 State. 

The bios for the 2023 Fall New York Young Advocates are listed below.
For more information about our Young Advocates Program, including information about applications for our Spring 2024 program, please fill out this Google Form

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.47.08 AM

Klaudia Wiacek she/her

Sophomore, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Klaudia is a sophomore at the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island Where she is working towards her bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology and minor in English with a concentration in writing. Wiacek interned at the Community College Research center in Teachers College over the summer of 2023, where she worked as a communications assistant focused on writing blogs about higher education and the student perspective. Her biggest passion is dancing classical ballet and being able to utilize her creative side within her life and her academic career. Throughout her past work she has gained experience in teaching, journalism, social media managing, research and editing as well as reporting.

She gravitated towards the Young Advocates Program to expand her interest in higher education and helping students like herself have all the opportunities available to help students flourish and succeed throughout their academic journey in higher education.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.48.43 AMPriscilla Nyarko Wiafe she/her

Sophomore, Adelphi University

Priscilla is pursuing a nursing degree at Adelphi University, with a minor in African, Black and Caribbean Studies. Her journey began in Ghana, West Africa, where she was born and raised. At the age of 10, Priscilla moved to the United States with a deep-seated desire to become a nurse. Though her ambitions extend beyond health care–they are fueled by a compelling inclination towards advocacy, born from a lifelong sense of societal neglect. This instilled in her a sense of responsibility to magnify her voice on behalf of those who may have undergone similar experiences. 

After attaining her bachelor’s degree, Priscilla will subsequently pursue a master’s degree to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP). In addition to her fervor for health care, she’s a writer with aspirations to publish soon. For Priscilla, writing serves as a channel to bridge her experiences with a more significant purpose. Apart from writing, she’s passionate about reading and singing, using these talents to inspire and support others. Her goal is to become a strong advocate for important causes by gaining expertise and hands-on experience, dedicated to making a positive impact, knowing that every step forward contributes to personal and societal progress. 

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.50.02 AM

Melissa Vicente she/her

Junior, City College of New York, CUNY

Melissa, a dedicated third-year student at The City College of New York, is part of the esteemed Macaulay Honors program. She majors in Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies. Her journey into community involvement traces back to Melissa’s high school years, where she actively volunteered for a multitude of non-profit organizations. During this time, she played a crucial role in the District Student Advisory Council, where she had the unique opportunity to meet and engage with US Representative Jamaal Bowman. Presently, Melissa volunteers at the WANA (We Are Not Afraid) Community Center, extending vital assistance to those grappling with economic, food, and housing insecurity.

With an unwavering commitment to making a positive impact, Melissa looks forward to expanding her horizons. Her goal is to leverage her experiences and education to continue her community-driven efforts on a broader scale. She aspires to build a strong foundation from which she can enact substantial change, leaving a lasting imprint on the lives of those she serves and the communities she advocates for.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.46.07 AM

Patrice Sackor she/her

Sophomore, Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Patrice Sackor is a Business Administration student at Medgar Evers College. Once she completes her associates in business, she intends on transitioning to pursue a career in nutrition because of her passion in health and wellness. Her long-term goal is to own a grocery store chain specializing in premium affordable goods located in low-income neighborhoods. 

Young Invincibles is the perfect opportunity to advocate for the wellness of minority communities and gain the knowledge required to move towards achieving her career goals. She is a strong believer in self-improvement and encourages everyone to operate with a sense of urgency when bettering themselves and breaking the boundaries that hold them back in life. Patrice believes that leading by example shows people that no matter what happens in life they can change their circumstances and be the best version of themselves, once they are dedicated to making it happen.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.07.22 AM

Max Garcia he/him

Senior, City College of New York, CUNY

Max Garcia is a senior at the City College of New York and is currently a Political Science major. Born in Washington Heights and raised in the Bronx, he is the child of working-class Dominican immigrants. As such, he is passionate about issues surrounding immigration and community advocacy.

Max self identifies as a creative first and hopes to pursue a career in the arts in which his work can serve as a vehicle to advocate for communities of color everywhere. In February, he took his first step towards his goal upon the Off-Broadway premiere of his one act play titled “Tigueraje” which centered Afro-Latin-Caribbean characters.

Max hopes to utilize the advocacy skills gained in the Young Advocates Program to further his work and ultimately propel him to his ultimate goal of using the arts as an advocacy mechanism for good.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.10.15 AMJah-Quail Griffin (he/him)

Senior, Fredonia, SUNY

Jah-Quail Griffin, a senior at SUNY Fredonia and a first-generation college student from New York City, humbly embarked on a distinctive educational journey. Beginning in an early college high school, he earned valuable college credits, igniting his appreciation for the potential of higher education to transform lives.

Throughout his time at SUNY Fredonia, Jah-Quail excelled academically and assumed various campus leadership roles: Resident Assistant, a Student Government executive, a tour guide, and an open house organizer. These experiences deepened his understanding of education’s capacity to empower individuals and contribute to societal progress.

Approaching graduation with a humble heart, Jah-Quail remains committed to merging his social work background with his newfound passion for higher education policy, with a focus on advocating for holistic student development and inclusivity. He aspires to someday contribute to writing legislation related to higher education and education policy. Additionally, he plans to continue his studies in social work at the master’s level, furthering his dedication to fostering positive change and inclusive education.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.12.42 AM

Mercelis Hiraldo Veloz she/her

Junior, Cornell University

Mercelis Hiraldo Veloz is a 20-year-old junior at Cornell University, where she majors in Psychology and Biology, with a minor in Spanish. Motivated by her personal experiences as an immigrant, Latinx woman, she is pursuing a career in law in order to drive law reform through litigation, with a particular focus on health care, education and welfare policies. 

She was driven to join Young Invincibles because she was passionate about their mission to advocate for and promote accessible health care and higher education resources to those with low-income backgrounds, having grown up in the South Bronx, where neither are readily available. She hopes to use the experience and knowledge that she gains from the Young Advocates Program later in her career in order to better form policies that promote the betterment and relief of those that are oppressed and disenfranchised in America.

In the future, she hopes to pursue Immigration and Health law and use her skills and position as a lawyer to protect and support vulnerable communities and advance the activism that uplifts them. 

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.14.12 AM

Jessica Huang she/her

Junior, St. Francis College

Jessica Huang is a junior in the Honors Program at St. Francis College (SFC), majoring in Psychology and minoring in Communications. Jessica is deeply passionate about sharing her experiences as a first-generation, Asian American with a physical disability. Through her experiences overcoming challenges and advocating for change while attending New York City public schools, Jessica learned that student success encompasses more than just providing academic support. Today, she works with school administration to design policies and protocols to increase accessibility, and is an Executive Board member for the Fashion and Psychology clubs.

Jessica believes the Young Advocates Program will be beneficial as she progresses towards her career and navigates life as a young adult. She hopes to further develop communication skills and learn more about policy processes. This knowledge will allow her to build relationships with key decision makers and create tangible change. Additionally, being a young adult with a complex medical condition, Jessica would like to understand more about health care access in the United States. Ultimately, her goal is to be prepared for her own challenges, and be a resource for those with similar challenges.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.16.01 AMRachel Ifebuzo (she/her)

Senior, University at Albany, SUNY

Rachel is a  Senior at the University at Albany, majoring in Social Welfare, with a minor in Sociology. She has experience in internships, from interning at the New York Mayor’s office to her new position at the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program in Albany, New York. By pursuing a career in social work and her aspirations to be a medical social worker, she hopes to advocate for people of color and expecting mothers when it comes to medical autonomy and bridging the gap between patients and medical professionals. 

Rachel is also passionate about issues related to black and brown communities being racially profiled and mistreated by the criminal justice system, and especially about the school-to-prison pipeline. She is able to exercise her passion through her work with the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program by helping, mentoring, and accessing the intake and assessment of young participants of the program. She hopes that the experience she will get from working with Young Invincibles can be applied to her future career in the medical field. 

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.18.02 AM

Ruth Ifebuzo she/her

Senior, University at Albany, SUNY

Ruth Ifebuzo is a senior at the University at Albany, where she is a Psychology major, with a concentration in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and double minors in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Sociology and Sociology. She has been a volunteer at the Educational Alliance for six years, helping Asian-American high school students with SAT prep, and assisting with their after-school program. She is pursuing a career in industrial and organizational psychology which will allow a job that focuses on diversity, inclusion, and equity such as a behavioral analyst. 

Ruth is passionate about issues related to race, mental health, women’s issues, and education. She grew up in Queens, New York, where mental health issues are overlooked due to the predominant race being African Americans. There aren’t many people to advocate for therapists in schools and recreational centers in the community because they don’t see it as a profitable cause. Ruth wants to make a difference for college students like herself who are trying to navigate life while trying to expand their academics. Young Invincibles will allow her to support people like her while also putting in her input regarding changes that can be made.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.33.35 AMJoshua Morrison he/him

Graduate Student, Teachers College at Columbia University

Joshua Morrison is a Brooklyn native by way of the island Jamaica. After graduating from St. Lawrence University as a Government major, he became a middle school history teacher, in service of his hometown, Brooklyn NY. At Teachers College Columbia University, he is a part of the Politics and Education Masters program in preparation for his continued advocacy work through policy. 

In the future, Joshua plans to use his accumulated knowledge and experiences in charter school policy, school desegregation and law.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.35.46 AMJacqueline Ordóñez she/her

Sophomore, New York University (NYU)

Jacqueline Ordóñez is a 19 year old college student at New York University, double majoring in Sociology and International Relations with a minor in Public Policy. With a passionate commitment to justice and equality, she has consistently engaged in grassroots initiatives, advocacy, and lobbying efforts aimed at dismantling various forms of systemic injustice. 

She is dedicated to empowering marginalized communities and tackling systemic inequities that disproportionately impact communities of color. Her commitment aligns with YI’s mission, which is deeply committed to improving access to higher education, advocating for healthcare reform, addressing economic disparities, and harnessing collective power to drive systemic change. 

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.30.56 AMTrystan Melas he/him

Senior, Geneseo College, SUNY

Trystan Melas is a senior at SUNY Geneseo, majoring in Psychology and Sociology. He has aspirations to put theory into practice when addressing mental health inequities, ideally addressing such issues at the population-level. 

Trystan has interests in advocacy and social justice and intends to elevate the disadvantaged to a position where they can not only have a voice but also thrive. Through the Young Advocates Program, Trystan hopes to better learn how the legislative process works and how to bridge the literacy gap between scientific theory to realized change in health care and education settings.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.39.00 AMChasity Parker she/her

Senior, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

Chasity is a New York City native with a hunger for change. She is a senior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, majoring in Forensic Psychology and minoring in Criminology. As she entered the world of employment, Chastity spent much of her time working with children which revealed to her the many flaws there are within New York City’s current policies, agendas, and overall political culture. 

Many of New York City’s schools and extracurricular programs are neglected, leaving children without growing opportunities and hope. Many of these children came from immigrant families who lack the necessary resources to expand their lives as they knew it. This fueled Chasity to want to use her voice to stir up change in underserved communities.She has always had a passion for law and law enforcement, leading her to chase a career with the FBI. 

She will begin her journey by becoming a NYPD officer and aims to use her time as a police officer to redefine the relationship between minority communities and law enforcement.

Chastity was eager to be a part of  Young Invincibles because of the platform it provides for young adults like herself to voice their ideas and have those ideas validated and nurtured.

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.40.23 AMTianna Polk she/her

Junior, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

Tianna Polk is a junior studying Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She spent her childhood growing up in Lewisville, Texas, which is where she began her journey to evolve into a social justice coordinator with valuable experience. Since she was a young girl she dreamt big and has never let the fear of failure hinder her spirit from prospering. She is an open-minded, free soul drawn to the process of growing herself not only as a person but as a future social worker and business owner. 

After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Sociology she will attend graduate school to obtain her Master of Social Work degree while working on earning her Licensed Clinical Social Worker certification. She intends to use this knowledge to own a dance studio open to children who have special needs and an art therapy center for low-income children dealing with mental health issues. She also plans to conduct research on medication-induced psychotic disorders with the hopes of preventing misdiagnosis and bringing awareness to the dangerous misinformed world of pharmaceuticals. 

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 7.41.43 AMMaya Ratner she/her/they/them

Senior, Hobart and William Smith College

Maya Ratner is a senior at Hobart and William Smith College, where she is an Anthropology (concentration in social-cultural Anthropology) and Philosophy double major. Maya grew up in Tbilisi, Georgia, and wants to research post-soviet countries as well as post-soviet immigrants in the U.S. She is currently applying to various Ph.D. programs in Anthropology. Because of her immigrant and low-income background, she is extremely passionate about higher education and health care access policy. She has worked with College and Career Bridge for All for two years as a Bridge Coach. As a Bridge Coach, Maya supported hundreds of New York City high school graduates with college and career training program applications and enrollment processes.

Throughout the Young Advocates Program, Maya wants to learn more about health care and education policy in New York State, especially how these policies affect immigrants. She wants to utilize the skills and knowledge gained from this program in her academic work and her life as an advocate.