This month Claudia Cabrera was named Special Projects Organizer, managing the work of our Speakers Bureau and a creative writing outreach program, Horizons. We asked Claudia to introduce herself.
My passion for social justice comes from my lived experience as a Latinx immigrant female and the struggles I have witnessed through my community experience.
At a young age I witnessed my parents risk their lives in hopes of a better future for their children. Chasing the American dream, they left behind everything they owned and everyone they loved in Mexico.
I don’t recall a time that my parents did not work multiple jobs. They still found themselves struggling to make ends meet.
We experienced homelessness many times, doubling up with relatives in order to live adequately. My parents lived in fear of being deported, so they avoided reaching out for help or resources. Education was extremely important to my family, but higher education was never talked about because it seemed financially out of reach.
In 2012, after a close family member passed away from an aggressive case of cancer, it made me re-evaluate my life path. I decided to pursue my education. I enrolled in college classes at St. Augustine while attending GED night classes. In 2018, graduating as valedictorian, I completed my bachelor’s degree in social work. I decided to continue my educational journey.
After a challenging but fulfilling year, I finished my master’s in social work (MSW), graduating with highest honors from Dominican University. Pursuing higher education completely altered my frame of mind and highlighted the importance of advocacy.
It was during my education that I learned about community organizing through an internship with the CCH Reentry Project. I worked hands-on with people and was able to see the development of grassroots leaders, from beginning to end.
I also learned that grassroots leaders are already equipped with the tools to make a change. My role as an organizer is to provide guidance and support. I’m excited to continue this journey as I coordinate the Speakers Bureau and Horizons. Together with our leaders, we will raise awareness about homelessness in different communities.