UCLA Labor Center

Meet The 2019 Immigrant Justice Fellows

We are excited to announce that the 2019 Immigrant Justice fellows have been selected. Learn about them below:

Adanna Ilori

SACRAMENTO FELLOW

Placed at Sacramento Immigration Coalition

Biography

Adanna Ilori was born in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in Northern California since she was ten years old. She is currently a double major in Design and Managerial Economics at UC Davis. She is a passionate advocate for the rights of the LGBTQIA community and undocumented immigrant community. At UC Davis, she interned for the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center on campus to ensure that undocumented students had the resources they needed to succeed. She educated students on policies; contributed to the center’s web page; and outreached to middle schools, staff, and faculty regarding federal, state and local immigration policies. Since high school, Adanna has advocated for the rights of the LGBTQIA community such as by providing resources to and working as a caregiver for Black LGBT elders.

Why the Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF)?

Adanna applied to the Immigrant Justice Fellowship because as an immigrant she knows firsthand the unique challenges immigrants face in getting internships, securing jobs and overall attaining a better quality of life. She wants to give back to the undocumented immigrant community and help represent their voices.

Personal hobbies and interests

Adanna’s personal interests and hobbies include fashion design and photography. She has advocated for the African American community by designing clothes inspired by African culture. Her garment designs have been featured in fashion shows and shown the fashion industry the intrinsic beauty of Africa and its people.

Brenda Gutierrez Ramirez

ORANGE COUNTY FELLOW

Placed at Resilience OC

Biography

Brenda Gutierrez Ramirez was born in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico and has lived in Anaheim, California for 15 years. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Anthropology and minored in Film and Digital Media. Brenda is passionate about grassroots organizing for social justice. She was a member of MEChA de UCSC for three years, where she learned and practiced student agency and student organizing. MEChA de UCSC taught her about social justice and enabled her to get out of her comfort zone.

Why the Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF)?

Brenda applied to the Immigrant Justice Fellowship to improve her skills as a grassroots organizer and to help out her community. For Brenda, IJF represents an opportunity to engage with individuals that have a similar background as her. Being around folks with similar backgrounds, empowers and encourages her to continue with her social justice work.

Personal hobbies and interests

Brenda loves spending time with her family and dog. Watching movies and funny shows are her favorite pastime. She also enjoys visiting natural places with her friends.

Kristina Olea

CENTRAL VALLEY FELLOW

Placed at Faith in the Valley (Kern County)

Biography

Kristina Olea was born in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico and came to the United States at two years of age. The youngest of 11 children, she was the first one in her family to graduate from college. She graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration and an emphasis in Economics from the California State University, Fresno. She is currently an immigration and criminal case manager and loves every second of it. Her professional goal is to attend law school and eventually open up her own business.

Why the Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF)?

Kristina applied to the Immigrant Justice Fellowship because she is passionate about labor rights. She specifically wants to make a difference in agricultural labor laws. As a resident of the Central Valley, California’s single most productive agricultural region, Kristina understands the lack of resources and protections agricultural laborers have.

Personal hobbies and interests

Kristina enjoys baking. She is a self-taught baker, but thanks to YouTube she has gained a lot of baking techniques.

Mario Perez

INLAND EMPIRE FELLOW

Placed at Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice

Biography

Mario Perez was born in the capital of Mexico known as Mexico City. He arrived to the United States when he was five years of age. As a person directly impacted by the current state of the U.S. immigration system, Mario is passionate about shining a different light on the issues that face the immigrant community. His current goal is to pursue a career in journalism to cover immigration issues. His ultimate goal is to become more involved in the immigrant community by providing the support they need to gain justice.

Why the Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF)?

Mario applied to the Immigrant Justice Fellowship to become more involved in the immigrant rights movement and to further develop his leadership skills as an organizer. Through the program, he hopes to learn how to effectively fight for the rights of immigrants and become a voice for the immigrant community, so that they are no longer excluded from decisions that directly impact them.

Personal hobbies and interests

Mario enjoys the arts, fashion, music, and visiting museums.

Mayra Pelagio

SILICON VALLEY FELLOW

Placed at Santa Clara Rapid Response Network

Biography

Mayra Pelagio and her family moved to the United States in 2009 from León, Guanajuato, Mexico. She graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management (ESM) and minored in Wildlife, Fish, Conservation Biology. Throughout her undergraduate career, she worked on programs that served the undocumented immigrant and low-income student community. One of her biggest accomplishments was establishing the BikEmpower program, which is structured around sustainability, empowerment and community building. In the program, students are taught bicycle repairing skills which they use to repair a refurbished bicycle they are given by the school. After graduating from UC Davis, Mayra advocated for the passing of the federal DREAM Act in Washington D.C with members of congress. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in environmental studies at San Jose State University.

Why the Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF)?

Mayra applied to the Immigrant Justice Fellowship because she wants to expand the resources that were available to her, as a high school student, to the broader immigrant community.

Personal hobbies and interests

Mayra loves hiking, camping, and bird watching.

Maythe Alderete Gonzalez

LOS ANGELES FELLOW

Placed at Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition

Biography

Maythe Alderete Gonzalez was born in Cuautla, Morelos, Mexico. She arrived to the United States at the age of two and has lived in Long Beach ever since. She is currently pursuing her B.A. in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and a minor in Human Development at California State University, Long Beach. Maythe is actively involved in creating a safe space for undocumented immigrants by sitting as an active board member for student organizations such as For Undocumented Empowered Leaders (FUEL) and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Student Association (WGSSSA).

Why the Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF)?

Maythe applied to the Immigrant Justice Fellowship to enhance her professional, networking, cultural competency, and ethical decision making skills. Through the Immigrant Justice Fellowship, she hopes to discover her personal, academic, and career goals.

Personal hobbies and interests

Sewing and photography have become Maythe’s two biggest hobbies to express her creativity through. She began a project named “Undocu Journey” in which she photographs undocumented immigrants and asks: who are you outside of this undocumented identity? The purpose of the project is to provide viewers a different perspective of each photographed individual, as a means to end the dehumanization of undocumented immigrants.

Learn more about the Immigrant Justice Fellowship

 

Meet The Immigrant Justice Fellows

Ana Ramirez Zarate

Orange County

Resilience OC

Ana Ramirez Zarate graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor degree in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies. During her undergraduate career she was part of PATHS for US, a student project funded by the Bruin Excellence & Student Transformation Grant program (BEST) that focuses on the retention of undocumented students at UCLA. Ana began her undergrad at Fullerton Community College where she met a supportive undocumented student community that inspired her to continue her education journey and become a femtor to other undocumented students. She currently works as program coordinator for the Bruin Excellence & Student Transformation Grant Program (BEST) at UCLA which is a student-led initiative that fosters social justice leadership among campus activist.

 

 Saira Murillo

Inland Empire

Inland Coalition For Immigrant Justice (ICIJ)

Saira Murillo migrated to the U.S. at the age of 8 and has lived in the Inland Empire (IE) ever since. Growing up in the IE, Saira witnessed a lack of support for undocumented youth and their families; such as limited access to preventive care, resources for undocumented students, and local law enforcement collaboration with I.C.E. Now at the age of 24, Saira has been actively involved for almost five years in creating a space for undocumented youth where they can have the tools to self-advocate to live unafraid and unapologetic, especially in this crucial time where immigrant youth need to continue leading and shaping their own narratives. Saira hopes to continue contributing for a sustainable movement in the Inland Empire and she knows that by participating in the Immigrant Justice Fellowship it will be possible.

 

Sandra Morales

Sacramento

Sacramento Immigration Coalition

Sandra Morales was born in Juayua, El Salvador and immigrated to the United States at 2-years of age. Sandra is the only sibling of six that’s undocumented, and this causes insecurity among her family. She’s been a TPS beneficiary since the age of 10, and she now finds herself in a limbo with her immigration status. Sandra currently attends Sacramento City College as a Sociology major, and she hopes to have a career that focuses on education and law. Her biggest motivation and what keeps me wanting to fight for immigrant rights is the older generation of immigrants that paved the way for youth and are too afraid to speak out for their rights because they fear retaliation.

 

Rubi Salazar

San Mateo County

Youth Leadership Institute

Rubi Salazar is a full time student at College of San Mateo where she plans to transfer to UC Santa Cruz to study Marine Biology. She currently sits on the executive board of the San Mateo Youth Commission for the second year, and is the chair of the immigration justice committee for the San Mateo Youth Commission where she guides the committee on immigrated related issues, especially affecting youth. Rubi has previously worked closely with Half Moon Bay City Council to help Half Moon Bay become a sanctuary city for immigrants. She helped reduce alcoholic beverage sings in Half Moon Bay corner stores along side the Coast side Youth Council were she attended the group for three years. Rubi has worked at Hassett Ace Hardware in the Garden department where she helped order plants, product, meet with vendors, and helped customers.

 

Yael Pineda

Los Angeles

Working for Justice, Dignity, and Respect (KIWA)

Yael Pineda was born in the state of Morelos, Mexico. In 1999, at the age of four, she crossed the United States border alongside her parents, due to the lack economic opportunities her family faced while in Mexico. Yael’s parents sacrificed their lives, as many do day by day, crossing the dangerous and vast desert that masks the border between Mexico and the United States. She grew up in La Puente, California, where she believed that after high school, college was not an option due to her immigration status. Since 2003, Yael participated in different protests and rallies, her parents fostered a passion for immigrant and worker justice. In September of 2017, Yael received her degree in Psychology and Labor and Workplace Studies from UCLA.

 

Yenedit Valencia

Central Valley

UFW Foundation

Yenedit Valencia was born in Ayoquezco de Aldama, Oaxaca. She arrived to the United States at the age of 8. She is pursuing her B.A. degree at California State University, Fresno. She will be graduating in May with her B.A. in Sociology and with the Humanics certificate which is a certificate program in administration and leadership for community benefit organizations. Yenedit currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Central California Legal Services and co-directs Xiadani del Valle a traditional Oaxaqueño dance group.