UCLA Labor Center

Meet Freddy Lopez, 2020 Dream Summer Graduate

Placed with APALA, AFL-CIO for Dream Summer 2020.

Biography 

Freddy Lopez was born in Guatemala and has lived in Virginia since the age of 12. He is a junior at George Mason University’s Honors College majoring in Sociology.

Freddy is currently the Internal VP of UndocuMason, a student-led organization at GMU that aims to create a more inclusive environment for undocumented immigrants through education and advocacy. As the Internal VP, Freddy advocates for the implementation of in-state tuition and university-led fundraising for undocumented students. Freddy is also an UndocuAlly Trainer at GMU. He trains hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and fellow organizers on how to be a better ally for the undocumented community.

Freddy also uses his organizing skills to advocate at the state level. He advocated for the newly implemented Virgnia legislation that grants in-state tuition to undocumented students and provides “driving privilege cards” to undocumented immigrants. After graduating from GMU, Freddy plans to attend law school and use his J.D. to continue fighting for the rights of immigrants. He hopes to continue working closely with his community and to one day become a legal resource for a youth-led organization.

We asked Freddy: What was your experience with the Dream Summer fellowship like? 

“I am very grateful to have spent the fellowship with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO. Working with APALA has been an eye-opening experience that helped me realize the importance of intersectionality and being community-oriented when advocating, especially within the labor movement. During my time with APALA, I had the opportunity to work on three major projects that allowed me to get a front-row seat into the current landscape of the labor movement and the issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, especially during the COVID-19 health crisis.

Through APALA, I worked with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans’ (NCAPA) Housing and Economic Justice Committee. I co-led the development of a virtual teach-in about economic justice and the AAPI identity. During the teach-in, we discussed how the needs of working class AAPI communities are often ignored due to the model minority myth and how to create a movement that builds political power for those most marginalized. While working with NCAPA, I learned about the different ways organizations collectively organize and advocate for housing and economic issues impacting AAPIs at the national level.

I also had the opportunity to help create APALA’s 2020 Emerging Leaders Training (ELT) program. The program helps APALA members build their individual leadership; strategize chapter recruitment and engagement; and create actionable goals for racial and economic justice. I learned so much from participating in the creation of this program. My colleagues and APALA’s National Board Members provided me with insight into what organizing and leadership within the movement truly means, especially when aiming to train fellow organizers like APALA members at the national level.

I also helped lead APALA’s “National Healthcare Workforce Infection Prevention Control (IPC) Training Initiative,” a CDC sponsored initiative to develop a user informed, culturally competent, COVID-19 IPC curriculum to help train AAPI healthcare workers. I worked with union leaders, APALA members, and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum to launch this initiative that is expected to aid AAPI workers on the frontline across the nation.

These 3 projects have equipped me with priceless skills and knowledge that have helped me realize the many different ways in which I, a brown first-generation immigrant, can go from thinking I had no voice, to using what I know to uplift the voices of the most marginalized and organize for collective liberation.”

We asked Freddy: How has the Dream Summer fellowship helped you grow?

“My time at APALA has helped me become confident in my ability to organize, strategize, and lead. At the same time, APALA has taught me the importance of looking at issues through an intersectional lens and to always uplift the voices of the communities impacted by social inequality in the U.S. I learned from so many AAPI leaders who taught me what collective liberation truly means and helped strengthen my skills. I am forever grateful to APALA for welcoming me with open arms.

As I plan for my next steps post-graduation, I hope to use everything I have learned from APALA and the fellowship to continue my role in the movement.”

Learn more about Dream Summer here.

Meet Christine Nabung, 2020 Dream Summer Graduate

Placed at SEIU 721 for Dream Summer 2020.

Biography

Christine Nabung was born in the Philippines. When she was five years of age, her family immigrated to Los Angeles, California. While growing up in the United States, Christine knew that she was an undocumented immigrant, but it wasn’t until high school that she felt the weight of her immigration status. As Christine navigated the college application process, she experienced various barriers and obstacles due to her immigration status. It was also during this critical time, in her youth, that her father was deported. Christine’s family was torn apart and life would never be the same for them.

Despite these unjust and traumatic events, Christine is determined to pursue higher education. In December of 2017, she was chosen as a Posse scholar to attend Middlebury College in rural Vermont. Christine is currently working towards a B.A. in Environmental Justice and a minor in Education Studies. She is also heavily involved on campus by providing support to first-generation students and hosting monthly open mics.

Christine’s experiences sparked her passion for helping others and her desire to prioritize social equity in the work she engages with. She believes that there are multiple ways to solve social justice issues and enjoys creative problem solving. Her favorite creative problem-solving method is storytelling because she believes personal anecdotes are powerful, inspire change, and empower underrepresented communities.

We asked Christine: What was your experience with the Dream Summer fellowship like? 

“Through the Dream Summer fellowship, I had the opportunity to work with SEIU 721. My first project at SEIU 721 was to help drivers, in the gig economy, fight for their rights. In collaboration with the Mobile Workers Alliance (MWA), SEIU 721 led a campaign that challenged the gig economy by demanding for the recognition of workers’ rights and the improvement of working conditions for drivers.

I, along with a team of 9 people, made daily calls to drivers who work for companies like Lyft, Uber, and Instacart. We listened to their experiences, provided them with information, and mobilized them for major actions and events. From June 25th to the 26th, I attended MWA’s conference, a global meeting where drivers from all over the world discussed the rights of gig workers and shared resources. At the conference, I learned about the different processes workers go through to create a union and how to continue making progress through the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 20th, SEIU 721 joined a national one-day strike led by janitors, nurses, homecare workers, and thousands of others fighting for racial and worker justice. The event was a huge success with over 700 cars filling the streets of Los Angeles in a caravan for justice. Shortly after on July 23rd, I attended a virtual hearing joined by Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and hundreds of essential workers. At the hearing, people shared their stories and talked about what it’s like to be an essential worker during the current health crisis. I was moved by the stories and frustrated to hear that people endure harsh working conditions to survive. Folks in the discussion emphasized that workers who are essential are not expendable.”

We asked Christine: How has the Dream Summer fellowship helped you grow?

“Working with SEIU 721 has taught me so many valuable lessons. First, it has reinforced for me the intersectionality of social justice issues and how a crisis, like the pandemic, only amplifies the already existing injustices within our communities. I also learned that organizing is necessary to challenge power and that power can be fairly redistributed by encouraging collaboration and partnership. The fellowship also made me reflect on our current systems and how maybe it is not about fixing these systems, but rather recreating them to achieve a truly equitable and just society.

This experience also taught me the importance of communication. A single conversation can catalyze change whether it be through learning about another’s experience, brainstorming next steps, discussing campaign plans, or simply reminding someone about an event. Building genuine and lasting connections is the foundation of a successful movement. Overall, I am extremely grateful that through this fellowship I had the opportunity to work with SEIU 721. At SEIU 721, I found a community that helped me find confidence in myself and strengthened my passion towards supporting my community.”

Learn more about Dream Summer here.

Meet Dream Summer 2019 fellow Dani Alderete

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 Dani Alderete, a finalist who the DRC wants to highlight because of his continued work in the immigrant rights movement and a returning Dream Summer fellow! Dani graduated from Dream Summer 2018 but will be joining the DRC for Dream Summer 2019 to continue developing his skills!

Dani Alderete

Biography

Dani Alderete was born in Cuautla, Morelos, México and goes by Him/They pronouns. They arrived to the United States at the age of four and has lived in Long Beach ever since. Dani started kindergarten in the Long Beach Unified School District and navigated primary school without knowing how to speak English. The advocacy and assistance of Dani’s mother, as well as teachers, staff, and neighbors, helped Dani become adjusted to living in the U.S. Dani was always aware of their family’s undocumented immigration status; however, it became more salient when Dani started high school. During high school, Dani became aware of the various barriers ahead due to their immigration status such as being ineligible to apply for a driver’s license and being ineligible to receive financial aid for college.

Yet Dani maintained hope for the future and persevered by graduating from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) with a B.A. in Human Development and minors in Queer Studies, Spanish, and Gerontology. During Dani’s undergraduate career, they had the opportunity to be a part of the 2018 Dream Summer fellowship. The validating and caring community that Dani found in Dream Summer, encouraged Dani to stay connected and build a community with immigrant peers at CSULB by joining the student organization For Undocumented Empowered Leaders (FUEL).

Dani leading a “Stress Management with Aromatherapy” workshop during Dream Summer 2018.

Dani plans to attend graduate school and is currently working on applications for programs in college counseling/student services and mental health services. After graduating, Dani’s goal is to work at an AB540/Undocumented Center to help immigrant students reach their educational goals. Dani knows how difficult it is to access and navigate higher education as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S., so they wants to assist in creating inclusive, accessible, and equitable spaces for immigrant students. In the future, Dani also hopes to open up a private practice that provides mental health therapy and career coaching to the LGBTQIA+ community and immigrant communities.

Dani sharing a significant moment they experienced during the 2018 Dream Summer fellowship.

Why the Dream Summer fellowship?

“I applied to Dream Summer because I wanted to build community with other immigrant youth and learn more about community organizing. Since middle school, I was aware about my undocumented immigrant status and always had a desire to get involved in the immigrant rights movement. However, I was unsure of how to get involved and experienced deep anxiety and fear about sharing my immigration status with other people. I would frequently run into Facebook videos featuring Dream Summer alumni that the UCLA Dream Resource Center would post on their page. The videos were inspirational and I saw the amazing work that fellows were doing throughout the fellowship and later on as Dream Summer alumni. That inspiration and my desire to get involved are some of the main reasons why I applied to Dream Summer.”

-Dani Alderete

Learn more about Dream Summer here.

 

Meet Dream Summer 2019 fellow Paulina Ruiz

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.

 

Dream Summer Labor Cohort Video

 

WE’RE PLEASED TO PRESENT THE LATEST DREAM SUMMER VIDEO!

The Dream Summer Labor Cohort video highlights immigrant youth that were placed at key labor organizations during their Dream Summer fellowship in order to further a vision of an intersectional labor movement that sees worker rights as immigrant rights. The cohort’s mission is to help build the next generation of labor movement leaders and allies by providing them with the training that makes use of lived experiences and expertise in labor. The cohort is part of a series of cohorts that take on different aspects that affect the immigrant community.

As the Dream Resource Center, we’re proud to say that for eight years the Dream Summer fellowship continues to build the next generation of immigrant rights leaders through professional and leadership development, the creation of safe and healing spaces, and utilization of an intersectional, intergenerational and cross-racial framework to address issues impacting immigrant communities.

Join us in uplifting the next generation of Immigrant youth that continue to be at the frontlines of justice for our immigrant communities. Please help us share the fellow and host organization applications, and don’t forget to view our latest video the 2017 Dream Summer Video!