Charles Clary – Antioch University

Service is not something we do out of obligation; it is more of a necessity, an urge, a longing. It is a desire to see the community in which you live to become better and to grow, not only in temporal and political affairs, but morally and spiritually

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Elizabeth Herrera – Cal State Northridge
Criminal Justice and Criminology

I know what it is to live in fear. To live with restrictions. And, I know what it is like to grow up feeling alienated. I knew I was different when I often questioned why, during my summer vacations, my family never travelled. Why my father had to do manual labor for many hours of the day to make ends barely meet, living pay check to paycheck. Little differences like these sparked curiosity in this eagerly confused child. Out of embarrassment, my parents didn’t explain our situation. They were both undocumented. …Coming to the United States was a decision based on necessity, to escape a life of poverty. I realized the sacrifices my parents had made for me – it wasn’t easy for them to leave their homeland, family, traditions, and customs to come to a place where they would be alienated, excluded, discriminated against, and live in fear.


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Jose Vasquez – UCLA

I am an 18-year old born to two Salvadorian immigrants. I was raised in the city of South Gate for my entire life. My father is a welder; my mother is a worker in a sewing factory. I have two older siblings who have both graduated from UCLA, yet struggling financially to pay off their student loans and to assist my parents in paying the family bills. I strive to be a doctor, specifically a cardiologist, to provide medical care for low-income families like my own.


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Brenda Vertiz – California Baptist University
Public Administration

I realize that some of the challenges faced in my neighborhood consist poor parenting, lack of education, and low incomes. Poor parenting and lack of education are factors that contribute to low incomes in our neighborhood. In addition, the lack of resources prevents adults from implementing good parenting skills, and enforcing that importance of education. It is clear the values in our communities are diminishing because neighborhoods are not receiving support to break the cycle. The best response for this issue is that citizens must continue demanding the enforcement of equal rights. For many years government has focused on helping the top 1% by giving tax breaks and developing policies that increase their profits. It is time that the government creates policies that benefit the remaining 99% of society.


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Shonn Bunn – LA County Mental Health
Mental Health

I had an experience that changed my life forever. I was homeless and under the age of 18. I learned you can always come out of that struggle. There are resources out  there to help you overcome this. You just need to want to help yourself. I am twenty three years old now and independent today. I saved money, found work, and signed up for transitional age housing. I was scared but now I feel safe and secure. I realized it’s not always our fault why we get into struggle. But we can most definitely do something about it. There should be more organizations that help youth overcome crisis and homelessness. After witnessing the support first hand, it inspired me to give back to my community and start up a nonprofit organization. It will be called “How May I Help You?”