At the beginning of February, Young Invincibles’ New York office launched its seventh 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 Spring New York Young Advocates are listed below.
For more information about our Young Advocates Program, including information about applications for our Fall 2023 program, please fill out this Google Form.
Lexcy Alexis (she/her/hers)
Senior, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Lexcy Alexis is a senior at Brooklyn College, majoring in Earth and Environmental Sciences. During an internship in summer 2022, she became interested in hows green infrastructure funding policies can affect how frequently a neighborhood is flooded. Since then, Lexcy has found herself participating in petitions and demonstrations on her campus as a way to help amplify the voices of the people who are affected by campus policies or the lack thereof.
As a Young Advocate, she hopes to be able to spark changes in higher education policies by sharing some of her experiences as a first-generation college student, as well as elevating the experiences of her peers. Lexcy joined the Young Advocates Program to be able to better understand these policies and the ways she can advocate for better practices. As she continues her studies in graduate school to become a Hydrologist, she hopes to use her research to push for better water quality legislation throughout the United States and globally.
Laiba Amin (she/her/hers)
Senior, St. John’s University
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Laiba Amin is a senior majoring in Government and Politics with a minor in History at St. John’s University. She enrolled as an undergraduate student at St. John’s at the age of sixteen, which evolved her into an ambitious leader who quickly learned to adapt to change. Her extensive involvement as a student leader at St. John’s has prepared her to think on her feet and tackle unforeseen obstacles.
With a deep connection to her roots, Laiba aspires to attend law school and get involved in the world of politics back home. She has always dreamt of becoming a politician to improve the lives of the less fortunate. Over the years, Laiba realized that having an understanding of law and politics is extremely important in the advancement of our society and communities.
Laiba has interests in advocacy and higher education as an immigrant living in NYC for the past thirteen years. She is passionate about working towards improving the situation of immigrants and in international relations issues. Being a part of Young Invincibles, Laiba hopes to gain educational and professional experiences to truly make change in the world.
Sonnah Barry (she/her/hers)
Graduate Student, University of Albany, SUNY
Sonnah Barry is a graduate student at SUNY Albany pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Policy degree and recently graduated with her undergraduate degree from SUNY Oswego in Global and International Studies. She was born and raised in Harlem, and has family roots in Conakry, the capital city of Guinea, in West Africa. Sonnah is pursuing her M.P.A. because she enjoys working with others and wants to better prepare herself to confront the challenges facing our diverse society.
In the future, she plans to help middle-income families have more opportunities. She feels being middle class can be difficult because of the lack of resources that go unrecognized. Sonnah’s long-term goal is to become a diplomat for the Foreign Services and work in a different country or an embassy to give back to her country. She’s excited to be a part of this program and was so interested in Young Invincibles because it is a space where she can learn more about advocacy, dive deeper into common issues that minorities face in New York City, and advocate for them.
Ariel Clarke (she/her/hers)
Senior, SUNY University of Buffalo
Ariel Clarke is a first-generation American and student of color attending the University at Buffalo (UB). She was born and raised in Queens, New York, and comes from a Jamaican immigrant household. Ariel is currently a 4th-year at UB, double majoring in Criminology and Political Science, with a Public Law Concentration. She has aspirations of becoming a public interest attorney, a chief diversity officer, or one day both, as she is open to many career paths within the public sector and diversity, inclusion, and justice (EDIJ) field.
Ariel strives to be an advocate for all through the use of intersectionality, equity, and inclusive sociological practices in every environment she walks into. As a Young Advocate, she hopes to foster her desire to become a changemaker, advocate for equitable student access in higher education, and learn ways to engage in grassroots advocacy and policy efforts.
Sarah Dorme (she/her/hers)
Freshman, SUNY Oswego, SUNY
Sarah Dorme is a first-year student at SUNY Oswego, and grew up in a suburban Nanuet, New York, a town in Rockland County. She is 18 years old and currently in a five-year program pursuing a Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Business Administration. Her interests lie in school extracurriculars, such as mentorship programs, writing societies, and reading books and articles online. Her goal is to become a mental health counselor or work with nonprofit organizations to do research and spread awareness on social and economic issues through her writing.
A few of Sarah’s passions are advocating for mental health, and addressing racial and social injustices. Since high school, Sarah saw the lack of mental health resources in her community. After participating in the Project Lift Me Up mental health study, she decided to research ways to assist her local community and all New Yorkers, especially low-income families and students, with healthcare and mental health resources. Sarah saw how destructive and discriminatory the world has been towards minorities. Police shootings, minimal resources for online students, and rising deaths in her town alone was enough to motivate her to take action by sharing her writing on social media. She was able to amplify her voice and address racism towards minorities through poetry and online articles. She wishes to use her voice and incorporate her writing in conversations centered around protection towards minorities, women, and people in need. As a Young Advocate, she hopes to learn how to take on leadership roles and change the psychology and business fields.
Tamara Frith (she/her/hers)
Junior, Cornell University
Tamara Frith is a First Generation Low-Income (FGLI) student from the Bronx, attending Cornell University as a third-year Sociology major and double minoring in Education and Psychology. She hopes to obtain her PsyD to become a licensed counseling psychologist. Growing up in the Bronx exposed her to an increased prevalence of substance and drug abuse, mistreated and often undiagnosed mental illnesses, and low college retention rates. As a low-income student, Tamara understands the importance of education to provide economic opportunity and the ways in which poverty can inhibit an individual’s access to quality education and health care facilities. She wants to empower young adults from marginalized communities to become agents of their own destinies through advocacy and community outreach. By focusing her efforts on increasing access to adequate health care facilities and early childhood intervention programs, Tamara hopes to mitigate the adverse effects of poverty on mental health and wellness, educational attainment, and employment.
Through her participation in the Young Invincibles program, she wants to further her understanding of the legislative process and the current systematic barriers affecting young adults and their access to quality services. By being an example of the next generation of young adults, she wants to uplift them as current participants in the political process.
Melody Garcia (They/them/theirs)
Junior, Hunter College, CUNY
Melody is a 20-year-old junior at Hunter College, CUNY, majoring in Political Science. Despite being old enough to vote, Melody did not vote in 2020. Recently, however, they sought to be more active in their community, whether that meant text banking for Get Out The Vote, packing bags for migrants, or being a virtual tutor. As a shy kid who was bullied, they knew the results of complacency and not speaking up.
Being a nonbinary, Colombian-Filipino American, Melody is interested in the nuances of things and the ways that things can’t be boxed in. They enjoy being a New York Civil Liberties (NYCLU) Campus Organizer and a teacher’s assistant for Columbia University’s pre-college program on Saturdays, while also tackling what it means to work for a private university and a nonprofit organization. They want to take what they have learned and use it for the better.
As of now, Melody’s career choice is still undecided. They’re here at Young Invincibles to see what they can do, fight for equity and justice in higher education and health care, and see where it leads to.
Yousra Ghassat (she/her/hers)
Sophomore, Rochester Institute of Technology
Yousra Ghassat is a sophomore at The Rochester Institute of Technology, studying public policy and political science. She grew up in Rochester in upstate New York, a city heavily affected by redlining and inequality in education. Her experiences motivated her to pursue a career that allows her to help individuals in the working class. Passionate about advancing inclusion, equity, and quality of life, she believes civic engagement can provide resources to support community members academically, mentally, and physically. She is passionate about targeting systemic inequalities and hopes to use her work to enhance the generational success of families in marginalized communities.
Kimberly Hernandez (she/her/hers)
Medical Student, CUNY School of Medicine
Kimberly Hernandez is a fourth-year medical student at the CUNY School of Medicine. She hopes to be an OB/GYN physician and applied for OB/GYN residency, which will begin in July. She is currently a national volunteer lead for Planned Parenthood and helps coordinate various events regarding reproductive health justice and choice.
She is passionate about health equity, health disparities, reproductive choice, and access to higher education. She believes the Young Advocates Program will give her the tools to influence public policy and inspire political change, especially as a future physician.
Stephanie Herrera (she/her/hers)
Sophomore, Nassau Community College, SUNY
Stephanie Herrera is a sophomore at SUNY Nassau Community College, where she majors in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Social Work and Law. She is a proud first-generation college student who hopes to empower students in bridging the gap in higher education institutions.
Growing up in a small town which lacked diversity, she noticed the inequities and lack of inclusion of marginalized communities. This resulted in her passion for spreading awareness on the lack of accessibility in educational systems. Although a spark was lit, Stephanie knew she wanted to take things at a macro-level and learn how to uplift herself in policy advocacy, as well as exercise her agency. One of her goals as an Executive Board Officer for Student Government is speaking about issues regarding Title IX and mental health resources. She plans on working in nonprofit organizations and applying her future law degree to a multitude of organizations.
Alyssa Kamara (she/her/they/them)
Junior, University at Albany, SUNY
Alyssa Kamara is a junior at the University at Albany, double majoring in Public Health and Economics. Her lived experience as a black person from a working-class family informed her interests in economic equity; being a resident of Albany, NY, which suffers from stark racial health disparities, profoundly impacted her passion for promoting health equity through policy. Currently, she is a student assistant at the New York State Department of Health, an educator at the Women’s Resource Center at her university, and health policy research assistant in the University of Albany’s economics department.
Dedicated to rectifying health disparities for marginalized communities, she hopes to pursue a PhD in Epidemiology; study how social inequalities perpetuate poor health outcomes; and become a professor, researcher, and policy consultant. With the knowledge acquired through the Young Advocates Program, she hopes to strengthen her skills in community organizing and become more informed about New York State-specific health care and higher education policies. When she is not working towards her goals, you can find Alyssa hiking, learning about insects, and enjoying the arts.
Elsa Lalin (she/her/hers)
Advanced student, Hunter Silberman School of Social Work, CUNY
Elsa Lalin is an Advance student at the Hunter Silberman School of Social Work, practicing methods in Clinical Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups. After completing an associate degree in early childhood education, Elsa switched majors. However, she was motivated by the hard work of the social worker that would enter the classroom and advocate for the children. During her internship at a public school, Elsa became interested in advocate for indigent individuals by expressing her views to promote equity, inclusion, and social justice. Elsa is passionate about addressing core issues, particularly those in health care, higher education, and civic engagement, which inspired her to apply to Young Invincibles.
In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in health care within a hospital setting. Using her skills, she would like to uplift and support patients, staff, and doctors. Elsa hopes to make a difference in her future career as a social worker in health care because of the many issues she’s faced and seen. With the knowledge and experience she will gain from the Young Advocates Program, she hopes to be part of the solution.
Jessilyn Morales (she/her/hers)
Junior, Lehman College, CUNY
Jessilyn Morales is a junior at Lehman College in the Bronx. She is currently a History major with a minor in Women’s Studies and Youth Services. She has been working as a College and Career Bridge Coach for two years with CUNY’s K-16 Initiatives and plans to stay within the program throughout college to help high school graduates pursue a post-secondary plan. She is pursuing a career in Museum Studies and Education and aspires to make a change for students within the NYC education system.
Jessilyn is passionate about issues related to education and accessibility for students. She grew up in the Bronx, where underfunding of schools is a major issue and hopes to bridge the gap for students who do not have the resources to advance further in their academic careers. She intends to use the skills and knowledge gained through the Young Advocates Program in her future profession to help struggling college students like herself and hopefully make a change within the system.
Melvin Rodriguez (he/him/his)
Junior, Stony Brook University, SUNY
Melvin Rodriguez is a 22-year-old student at Stony Brook University with a major in Social Welfare and a minor in Spanish. Melvin was born in the Dominican Republic and, at the age of three, came to the US, where he moved and went to school in East Flatbush. Then, when his family moved, he went to high school in Bushwick. Due to his experiences in the school system, he was often the one who would translate and walk his family through different services. This responsibility sparked his aspirations to become a social worker and help other Hispanics who need help getting specific services.
Through his studies in the social welfare program, Melvin learned about the importance of advocacy and decided that he wanted to lend his voice to those who can’t speak up on their own. He understands that those who need the most help often do not have the space to be able to fight for it. Social work has become a pillar of his life. He will continue to lean into it to help as many people as he can. During his free time, Melvin likes to explore new video games and spend time with his friends and family.
Amy Thomas (she/her/hers)
Sophomore, City College of New York, CUNY
Amy is an undergraduate student in the Sophie Davis Biomedical Education Program/CUNY School of Medicine BS/MD Program at the City College of New York. She is a Biomedical Science major and aspires to become a physician. After feeling voiceless as a child, Amy holds a deep passion for advocating for others and for issues relating to education and health care. In the past, Amy engaged in her passion by advocating for her classmates as Senior Class President in high school and volunteering for various organizations.
Amy joined the Young Advocates Program to continue exercising her oral and written communication skills and to fulfill her passion for advocacy. She hopes to develop new skills and gain experience in advocacy and public policy. Amy is excited to use these skills and experiences to help make positive changes in her communities. In the future, she hopes to be an advocate for patients and health care workers.
Victor Vasquez Brenton (he/him/his)
Junior, Lehman College, CUNY
Victor Vasquez Breton is a junior at Lehman College and in the process of completing his Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. Born in the Dominican Republic, he was brought to the United States when he was six years old. Victor currently volunteers at the Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals (CCLP), a volunteer-led organization that helps people get free legal aid.
Victor is interested in studying the relationship between psychology and political science. He hopes to gain an understanding of the factors that influence voting patterns. Through the Young Advocates Program, he wishes to learn the process of policymaking. He hopes that the program will guide him in his journey of becoming an advocate for the working class.