Young Invincibles’ California office launched its Spring 2020 cohort of the Young Advocates program, our 15-week paid policy and advocacy fellowship, where young Californians learn how to build campaigns for change on their campuses and across the state.
To learn more about our 2020 Spring California Young Advocates, scroll below.
Trade student, Job Corps, Los Angeles
I am a student at LAJC currently studying the transportation industry. I love to make use of my interpersonal skills by volunteering in my community on weekends and with the Metro arts program during the week. I also have a passion for higher education and child development. I am a children’s activities leader and an assistant to the head of children’s ministry. I aspire to one day obtain a job in the transportation industry so I can eventually fund and develop my own school for children with special needs. I joined YI in hopes of gaining more experience to serve, change, and further improve my community through civic engagement.
Justine Ventura Mejia
Justine Ventura Mejia was born in California’s 39th congressional district and raised throughout the communities that comprise it. From an early age, she recognized that all people hold deeply personal stories and each story is impacted by the world we live in. With this keen awareness and the support of her family, Justine earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Economy as a first-generation college graduate. She possesses tri-sector experience and currently works at a nonprofit organization in leadership development and nonpartisan voter engagement. Justine is passionate about cultivating equitable communities and enacting systemic change. The Young Advocates program is an exciting opportunity for her to grow as a change-maker and pursue her passion!
Junior, Cal State LA
Selena is majoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, with a minor in Political Science. They are a part of the Honors College and are a member of the WGSS Club as well as an officer and co-founder of the Radical Socialist Collective on campus. Selena grew up in LA County and has lived there for their entire life. Selena has been active in their local government since age 10. The Young Advocates program appealed to them because they have a passion for civil engagement and activism, and they would like to refine that passion into praxis. Their passion is rooted in their own lived experiences which strengths their will to create change in the world at small and large scales.
Senior, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Anh Nguyentran is currently pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Gender Studies at UCLA. In the future, she plans to pursue a PhD in Sociology and to become a professor.
Anh grew up in Little Saigon, a Vietnamese ethnic enclave located in Garden Grove, California and has been active in community service organizations working to tackle health inequities within the Vietnamese American community. She has also been heavily involved with non-profit organizations that advocate for gender equality, such as IGNITE National and the Feminist Majority Foundation, and has experience with organizing professional workshops and political campaigns.
Anh joined the 2020 Young Advocates Program hosted by Young Invincibles because she wants to learn the skills needed to engage with young adults and to educate them on issues of affordable healthcare and financial literacy that deeply affect them. She is passionate about political advocacy and wants to encourage more young adults to become civically engaged and informed.
Fourth year student at UC Davis
Annie Wang is a fourth year student at UC Davis studying Materials Science and Engineering. Annie is excited by the intersections of technology and social justice, especially in terms of environmental sustainability and healthcare. In her past three years as an undergraduate student, she has produced videos on eco-friendly living, researched materials for biodegradable diapers, and co-founded the Davis chapter of PERIOD, a non-profit dedicated to destigmatizing, celebrating, and improving access to menstrual hygiene. After realizing how lack of access to basic hygiene necessities is a barrier to education, she is now helping to build #FreeThePeriodCA, a state-wide coalition of students advocating for free period products in all campus bathrooms, just like toilet paper. Annie is the daughter of Chinese immigrant parents and she wants to support more sharing of stories and civic engagement from the Asian American community. As a YI Young Advocate, Annie strives to combine her academic background, advocacy experience, and creativity in developing interdisciplinary solutions to community challenges.
Sophomore, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, LATTC
Dionshay Larry is a Sophomore at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, majoring in psychology with a minor in sociology. Her passion for helping others inspired her to get involved in the Associated Student Organization at her College. Advocating for the student body at LATTC has allowed her to see the importance in having a voice and standing for the things she believes in, even if nobody else stands with those beliefs. Ultimately, she has learned that advocating for food insecurity, and support services for students facing homelessness can help improve the conditions of many students at LATTC. Another reason Dionshay got involved with Student Government was because she knows the reality of being a woman of color and the disadvantages she will face. Ultimately, she has learned that advocating for higher education is one of the next steps in helping the next generation in solidifying the foundation to improving the education system.
Junior, Sacramento State, Sacramento
Migdalia is a first generation, Latina woman born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. She moved to Sacramento to earn her bachelors in Social Work. Her community taught her the importance of uplifting one another. As a college student, Migdalia has engaged with many young adults through various organizations to encourage them to be involved, advocate for change, and become civically engaged. Currently she is involved with IGNITE Sacramento State encouraging young women to run for office and become involved in policy advocacy and is also working with different cultural clubs and organizations to bring awareness to the basic needs of students.She is committed to engaging with communities, increasing civic engagement, and building community as a Young Invincible. She hopes to go back to her community to advocate for changes that marginalized communities face in Los Angeles.
Graduate Student, CSUN
Teni Danoukh is of Armenian descent born in Iran. She moved to the US as a refugee when she was five and quickly understood the difficulties of access to healthcare for all Americans, especially immigrants. Her personal mission is to use her educational background to inform and find solutions for healthcare reform. Teni attended the University of California at San Diego as a pre-medical student earning two B.S. degrees in Public Health and Psychology. After college, she moved back to Los Angeles and became the Director of Operations for a healthcare tech company. During her time there, she decided to apply for an M.S. program in healthcare administration and informatics at the California State University at Northridge where she can continue to find solutions for healthcare access and dive deeper into the world of technology.
Teni is currently working at a startup healthcare tech company centered around sexual health and noncommunicable diseases as a healthcare administrator and informaticist. She joined Young Invincibles to help broaden her knowledge on issues in healthcare and education so she can continue her mission.
Fourth Year, University of California, Davis
Elena is a transfer student from Sacramento State University and American River College, graduating soon with a B.A. in Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies and an ADT in Political Science at UC Davis. She is currently Chairperson of the Gender & Sexuality Commission in UCD student senate, previously the California State Student Association Liaison, Vice Chair of Lobby Corps, President/Founder of Humans for Feminism club at Sac State, President/Founder of Feminists United club and VP of student senate at ARC.
Her passion for feminism comes from her experiences of sexism throughout her life, specifically in the obstacles she has faced as a young adult trying to access sexual and reproductive healthcare. She has experience advocating within conferences, seminars, student senate meetings, lobbying offices, hearings, and interview settings in support of students access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.
Young Invincibles has given her the opportunity to work with driven and passionate young people in an inclusive dynamic, to promote the development of skills to facilitate change within the world of advocacy. She wants to give her voice a purpose that is bigger than herself, and be a better ally everyday, remaining fluid in her understanding of advocacy.
Senior, California State University, Sacramento
Ruth Sosa is currently a senior at California State University, Sacramento and is pursuing a major in political science with a minor in Deaf Studies. She has a deep passion for grassroots organizing and advocacy work. On her campus she is the vice president of Students for Reproductive Justice and an active volunteer with the #Fight4Her Campaign. In the past year Ruth was an organizing fellow with Voto Latino and a Political and Organizing Intern with the Democratic National Committee. Ruth joined the Young Advocates programs because of her commitment to creating a positive impact in the lives of those in her community.
Second-year Student, Sierra Community College Sacramento, CA
Samantha Smith is currently a Communications major at Sierra Community College and plans to transfer to Sacramento State University in the spring of 2021 to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. Samantha’s passion is to seek social justice and change for children and youth of color by equipping youth with the tools they need to be successful in college and beyond so they can become the world changers of tomorrow. In recent years, Samantha has worked with local non-profits like Project Optimism to be the catalyst that will adequately equip young people with an optimistic mindset. This mindset is to be a productive contributor to society while giving them access to higher education, scholarships, character development, teamwork, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Samantha’s goal within Young Invincibles is to enhance her skills set to become a better advocate for college students and people of color through access to higher education, affordable healthcare, policy, and activism. Along with being a change agent, Samantha works as a freelance photographer, graphic designer, and assistant girls basketball coach.
Junior, University of California Davis
Daphne Lun was born in Singapore and moved to the Bay Area when she was two years old. She began advocating in high school by starting her own club dedicated to speaking out about social inequalities in our society and being involved in student government for three years. She transferred from Skyline College in the fall of 2019 and is currently studying Sociology and minoring in Asian American Studies. At Davis, she is also a research assistant and part of PERIOD UC Davis.
Daphne is committed to education and healthcare reform, working as a summer intern with the San Mateo County as well as a development volunteer for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Most importantly, she takes pride in her Chinese-American identity and hopes there will be more Asian Americans joining her in doing advocacy work.