Ana Rojas-Gabriel, Solidaridad intern
Union. Support. Fuerza. Poder. Empowerment. These are words that I associate when I think of Solidaridad both as a term and a program. My participation in Solidaridad this year has allowed me to continue advocating for social justice while also providing space to learn about educational equity. It has been incredibly rewarding working with Levante youth and other SOL interns; throughout the year I have witnessed much growth. We have created a space to empower one another and share our personal journeys. In doing so we have been able to teach and inspire each other through unique experiences.
One of the biggest highlights for me was helping coordinate a college tour for Levante youth. There are a few seniors in the program who plan to attend college next fall and younger students who have expressed interest in pursuing higher education. Our hope in planning the visit was to create exposure and connect the students with resources to help them in this process. During the tour, the youth were able to speak with college students and faculty. They received information on how to fund their education and also gained insight into the life of a college student. I feel that this experience helped the youth better understand that there are resources that can help make higher education more accessible. Furthermore, it was impactful to the youth to hear directly from the college students about their experiences as many were in their shoes, years prior. Especially for first-generation students, there is added pressure as many are tasked with navigating academia on their own.
Spaces like the Levante program help youth connect with other students and create a network of support to uplift each other and facilitate discussions on themes that resonate most with their identity. I am grateful to have been able to work with this year's cohort. I see so many determined to give back to their communities and am excited for what their future holds.