UCLA Labor Center

Meet Dream Summer 2019 fellow Paulina Ruiz

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Publish date: June 19, 2019

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The UCLA Dream Resource Center (DRC) finalized their selection of fellows for the 2019 Dream Summer fellowship and will be kicking off the fellowship from June 20th to June 22nd! The next generation of immigrant youth social justice leaders will be joining the DRC for a three day kick-off filled with leadership and professional development workshops and on-the-ground experience in social justice movement building.

Forty-two amazing fellows were selected this year for the 2019 Dream Summer fellowship! Meet Paulina Ruiz, a finalist who the DRC wants to highlight because of her continued work in the immigrant rights movement and a returning Dream Summer fellow! Paulina graduated from Dream Summer 2018 but will be joining the DRC for Dream Summer 2019 to continue developing her skills!

Paulina Ruiz

Biography:

Paulina Ruiz was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and arrived to the United States at the age of six. Since then, she has resided in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a B.A. in Spanish Literature and a minor in Mexican Studies. After graduating, Paulina decided to utilize her language skills to aid and defend the immigrant community. As an immigrant rights activist with a disability, Paulina’s biggest goal is to bring out of the shadows more marginalized people like herself. She firmly believes it is not only important to bring more people like herself out of the shadows but to also strengthen intersectionality in the immigrant rights movement, by teaching individuals how to effectively organize for the immigrant differently-abled community.

Paulina leading a workshop entitled “Activism: Ableism and the Immigrant Movement” during Dream Summer 2018.

Paulina provides workshops, to organizations and individuals involved in the immigrant rights movement, that teach how to make and take space with people of different abilities. In her workshops, she explains key barriers that people with disabilities and an immigrant background may face such as lack of access to adequate healthcare, employment opportunities and education. Alongside this work, she also mentors individuals with disabilities on how to fight social norms that limit the space they hold in society. Although the barriers to equality for both immigrants and people with disabilities are huge—and maintaining a space in the immigrant rights movement is tough for people with disabilities—Paulina seeks to put a face to the millions of people in her situation who are still in the shadows. She wants to live to see a world where people with disabilities and immigrants are respected and have the opportunity to hold positions of authority that can lead to positive social change for both groups.

Paulina at the 2018 Dream Summer closing retreat.

Why the Dream Summer fellowship?

Paulina decided to apply to Dream Summer again because it is an innovative fellowship and a stepping stone in the immigrant rights movement that holds space for people with different abilities. She has seen firsthand how welcoming the mentors at Dream Summer are and how willing they are to accommodate people with disabilities. Paulina knows that Dream Summer can open many doors, since the program helps fellows build their skills by placing them in social justice organizations across the U.S. She is sure Dream Summer will open more unimaginable opportunities for her and other immigrant rights advocates. She wants to encourage others to take a leap of faith and seek this opportunity—like she did—because it is life changing.

Learn more about Dream Summer here.