UCLA Labor Center

Meet Dream Summer 2019 Graduate, Abigail Gonzalez

We are ecstatic to announce that the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s Dream Summer 2019 fellows will be graduating this Sunday, August 18th! The fellows engaged in critical work, throughout the fellowship, to ensure that social justice continues to be a strong force within the United States. Each fellow performed a critical role to advance the work of the host organization they were placed with and to sustain the immigrant rights and labor movement. The graduation will celebrate the leadership, dedication, resilience, and growth exhibited by each one of the Dream Summer 2019 fellows. 

Meet Abigail Gonzalez, one of the Dream Summer 2019 fellowship graduates!

Placed at Equality California for Dream Summer 2019.

Biography:

Abigail Gonzalez was born on December 6th,1999 in La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico. When Abigail was just a six-month-old baby, her family immigrated to the United States for a better life and future. After moving to the U.S., Abigail grew up in the small neighborhood known as Boyle Heights located in Los Angeles, California. She attended First Street Elementary School, Hollenbeck Middle School, and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 2018. Throughout high school, Abigail was very active within her school and local community. She was class president for three years, was a four-year varsity softball player, was a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council, and a College Track scholar. 

Abigail is currently attending Pasadena City College (PCC) and will be transferring this fall to Pomona College, where she plans to pursue a degree in public policy. After graduating, Abigail hopes to work at a nonprofit organization that provides all immigrants⏤regardless of their immigration status⏤with educational opportunities, legal assistance, and mental health resources. Abigail’s career goal is tied to her personal life experience. Abigail comes from a mixed-status immigrant family, so she wants to empower her community and create positive social change because she is highly aware of the struggles immigrant families face. In particular, she understands how an individual’s immigration status can highly impact the type of opportunities available to them.   

In February of 2018, Abigail and her family were featured in NPR’s podcast Code Switch to discuss what living in a mixed-status immigrant household is like. Abigail’s mixed-status household includes her younger brother who is a U.S. citizen and her two older sisters who are both recipients of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA provides eligible immigrant youth⏤who were brought to the U.S. as children without proper documentation⏤temporary relief from deportation and a work permit. Unlike her brother and sisters, Abigail is neither a U.S. citizen or eligible for DACA. She is currently undocumented because the program is no longer accepting new applicants, since President Trump rescinded the program. Abigail’s older sister, Miriam Gonzalez, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit suing the Trump administration for its decision to rescind DACA.

Abigail at the Census 2020 press conference, held by Los Angeles County Supervisor representative Hilda Solis, that addressed the potential inclusion of a citizenship question on the U.S. Census.

We asked Abigail: What was your experience with the fellowship like?

“As a Dream Summer fellow, I was assigned to work with Equality California (EQCA), the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. EQCA works on improving the lives of California’s LGBTQ community through grassroots organizing and political advocacy. This summer, I had the pleasure to work with EQCA’s 2020 Census outreach team. I was in charge of the outreach to college campuses in the Los Angeles County. Our goal was to engage LGBTQ and immigrant youth with the U.S. 2020 Census. Outreach was challenging because it is summer and many campuses do not have a lot of students present, but I was able to connect with five campuses that will allow EQCA to host tabling events for census outreach. These tabling events include talking to students about the importance of the 2020 Census and getting them to pledge to fill it out.

I also attended two press conferences, with EQCA, about the 2020 Census. The first press conference brought local leaders and community members together, right after the Supreme Court’s decision on the potential inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. The second press conference was hosted by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer in order to inform his district about the census work he is supporting. These two press conferences were significant because they were the first I had ever attended. They taught me about the work that other community organizations are doing regarding the U.S. Census.”

Abigail with Dream Summer Project Coordinator, Leticia Bustamante, at the 2020 Census press conference in Los Angeles. 

We asked Abigail: How has the fellowship helped you grow?

“If I am being completely honest, I never thought I would be able to have an opportunity like this because I am not eligible for DACA. Therefore, this fellowship has been nothing but a huge learning experience for me. It is the first fellowship that has allowed me to learn skills necessary for a job. This fellowship was a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time being in an office and professional setting. I never thought I would be able to experience this, at such a young age, because opportunities like these are rare to find when you are undocumented⏤and even more so when you do not have DACA. 

Overall, I have grown a lot professionally. Throughout the fellowship, I wrote professional emails, made professional phone calls, and attended staff meetings. These experiences helped develop my professional skills such as time management, organization, problem-solving, communication, and more. These are skills that one cannot develop and improve, if one is not in a professional setting. 

This fellowship was also great for networking. I met a lot of cool people who are doing great work! They have provided me with both professional and life advice. I have grown so much⏤both personally and professionally⏤in just a couple of weeks because of this fellowship.”    

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.