A voice is my answer to: what is public interest communications? 

A voice that echos and embraces the struggle of many. 

A voice I know too well. 

Perhaps because mine was interrupted — illegal alien— as I begged for the cancellation of my Papis deportation. 

Or because it was stolen when I was put in time out for speaking Spanish at my predominately white elementary school. 

The more I grew up, the more my struggle was told to shut the f*ck up. 

My immigrant mother raised my 4 siblings and I on WIC and medicaid. 

I didn’t understand income inequality, human rights, or non-profit work. 

But the trauma of poverty ran, and continues to haunt, my nervous system. 

Shame and guilt held my identity hostage. 

How to be confident, I Googled. 

In hopes of erasing and recreating myself. 

In hopes of changing the fact that my roots were not planted in the US, 

that English was my second language, that my parents were fruit packagers and my universities’ tuition cost more than their salaries and assets combined. 

And one day, I was baptized in gratitude. 

I realized the power of who I was and where I came from. 

My life had a clear purpose; 

Use the privileges I do have, to help lift those of my community. 

As a bilingual, low-income, first-generation college student, 

Mary’s Center has been perfect for me. 

A health center, that welcomes all– regardless of legal status and income.  

A safe haven for families like mine, only hoping for better futures.  

A confirmation that my identity is my greatest gift.  

Second on the list, is America.  

I am an anchor baby,  

I generational curse breaker,  

And now an advocate.  

Through my internship at Mary’s Center,  

And the Karel Fellowship,  

I have learned how to make an impact through story-telling  

and encourage true change.  

Not only have I translated documents and researched health and policy issues.  

I have been healing my inner child; 

the eight-year-old whose summer vacation was spent in immigration courts,  

that filled out the free and reduced school lunch application on her own,  

And the eight-year-old that believed her life had no value.  

After a month of living and working in DC,  

I feel empowered.  

I feel motivated to continue this path of service.  

I feel that I have found my voice.  

A voice that represents my roots and my future.  

This is a promise,  

That I will learn to be loud and make noise,  

and never shut up about issues that I have lived through.  

As I reflect, I know the field of communication very well.  

Take my life as a testament.