2012 Interns

The Students for Economic Justice Summer Internship Program is a project of CPI which aims to build stronger capacity for community organizing in San Diego. Team SEJ 2012 consists of an amazing batch of educated, activists that are ready to give back to their communities. Check out their bios below.

For more information on the SEJ program, click here.

Not pictured: Jasmin Griffin (scroll down to view a photo of Jasmin).

Zainab Badi is an undergraduate at the University of California San Diego where she studies International Studies-Political Science. On campus, she works as the Director of Civil and Human Rights at the Student Sustainability Collective, an organization that seeks to educate students about the intersections of environmental and social sustainability and create policies to make UCSD more sustainable. She aspires to one day work in education reform to make a higher education accessible to all students. Zainab plans to either attend law school or pursue a Master’s degree in Public Administration after she graduates. She chose to apply to the SEJ internship because she felt that she was getting too entrenched in a UCSD bubble and wanted to gain exposure organizing around campaigns in an off-campus environment. She hopes to gain a better understanding of the “real world” through this internship and is very happy to have an opportunity to work on progressive policy campaigns in the San Diego area. Zainab, an avid reader, particularly enjoys the works of Arundhati Roy and Howard Zinn. Along with reading, Zainab also enjoys biking, learning guitar, making brownies, and learning languages in her spare time.

Kristian Castro hails from the University of California San Diego majoring in Communication and minoring in Management Science. Through his volunteer work Kristian has come to understand how marginalized communities struggle to find access to higher education. He first discovered his passion for making higher education more readily accessible after attending a statewide conference, hosted by the University of California Student Association. More recently, he concluded an internship with EMPOWER San Diego, a group seeking to promote community empowerment through civic engagement. Meanwhile, on campus, Kristian has served as the Chief of Staff for the Office of External Affairs on behalf of the Associated Students at UCSD. In the new school year, Kristian will serve as the VP of Finance for the Asian and Pacific-Islander Student Alliance. As a CPI intern, Kristian looks forward to developing a deeper understanding of San Diego politics and other issues pertinent to San Diego communities. After graduation, he plans to continue working to develop leadership and greater access to higher education in his community. In his spare time, Kristian watches movies and practices martial arts.

Mirna Cruz, a Chicana, wom[y]n of color, grew up in the communities of Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, Golden Hills, and San Ysidro. She is motivated by her mother,  a strong wom[y]n whohas struggled to live in the U.S. At age 13, she participated in the student walkouts against H.R. 4437 also known as “The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005”. In 2009, alongside her mother and AFSCME Local 3299, she protested to demand fair wages, stop layoffs, and fair treatment for the UCSD Workers. For many years she volunteered at the Golden Hill Recreation Center and Casa Familiar in San Ysidro. While attending Mission Bay High School she became active in Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan and was part of Café en la Calle, Colectivo Zapatista, Education Not Arms Coalition (ENAC), and Project YANO. Currently she attends San Diego State University with a double major in Social Work and Spanish, and was the Vice-Chair of a student organization called Association of Chicana Activists. Her goal is to work with youth that have been incarcerated in the Juvenile Hall system. She aspires to help youth realize their college potential. In participating in the SEJ summer internship program, looks forward to gaining hands-on experience working in campaigns for economic and social justice that she can later bring back to her community. In her spare time she enjoys dancing, playing basketball, spending time with her loved ones and helping out her community.

Nancy Cruz, a recent UCLA graduate, double majored in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies and minored in Labor and Workplace Studies. Nancy came from working-class immigrant community. For as long as she can remember, her mother worked seven days a week to provide for her family. In working towards a better future for all, Nancy has worked with Youth Action Network, Cafe En La Calle, Collectivo Zapitista San Diego and helped found the Education Not Arms Coalition (ENAC). While at UCLA she became active in the Los Angeles labor movement, working with organizations such as the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), CLEAN Carwash Campaign, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and Student Worker Front. Additionally, she worked at the Labor Center on development of a social justice curriculum with the goal of creating spaces of reflection and action. In the future, Nancy plans to work towards a doctoral degree in education in order to change the educational system at an institutional level through the development of curriculum that is student relevant and facilitates critical thinking. In participating in the SEJ program, she hopes to gain knowledge about the specific needs and struggles of workers in her hometown. Her hobbies include traveling, getting to know people, engaging in critical discussions and dancing.

Manuel Enriquez’s parents emigrated from Mexico. As a first generation San Diegan, he is the first in his family to graduate from a four-year University. Manuel attended San Diego State University where he earned bachelor’s degrees in Chicana/o Studies and Sociology, and minored in French. He was apolitical until his third year at SDSU where his Chicano/studies courses opened his eyes as it relates to critical consciousness and self-identity. At that time, he joined the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A.), and Association of Chicana Activists (A.Ch.A.). Through A.Ch.A., he gained leadership skills by helping members schedule study hours, overseeing the annual Chicana/Latina High School Conference, and coordinating scholarships. By participating in SEJ he hopes to learn additional organizing skills that he can share within his community. In the future he hopes to become an educator and motivate youth to be self-determined with aspirations for a higher education. Manuel enjoys playing the drums, the guitar and soccer.

Abigail Rosas currently attends San Diego State University. Born in Mexico, she lived there for eleven years and moved to City Heights in middle school. Upon entering High School she encountered opportunities to volunteer at her middle school. She thrives in academic environments and is passionate about education. For her SEJ is the “opportunity of a lifetime to have a closer impact in the working community of San Diego. It is an opportunity to see on a deeper level what it is to fight for causes that affect every person in the community; it is the chance to become part of something bigger than [her]self.” She looks forward to the opportunity to make an impact on many lives through SEJ. Upon completion of college, she would like to begin her own organization that will connect both parents and students.

Jasmin Griffin is an EARN intern participating in the SEJ program. She is an undergraduate student at Howard University where she is studying Economics and has minors in Math and Political Science. While at Howard, Jasmin has shaped the community by helping to organize her university’s first Relay for Life, the proceeds from which went to the cancer center of nearby Howard University Hospital and its patients. Jasmin has also worked with Mayor Gray’s administration in Washington D.C. and with a green building consulting firm to encourage responsible, environment-friendly development. Jasmin has a passion for learning and growing as a person and hopes that this internship will teach her as much as possible about community organizing.


And Meet our Internship Coordinator…
Mark Leo was born in Baguio City, Philippines, and moved at age 2 to San Diego, which he calls his hometown. He received his undergraduate degrees in History and Asian American Studies from UC Santa Barabara and his Master degree in Asian American Studies from San Francisco State University where he wrote his thesis (In)visible Within: Igorot Filipino Americans.  Prior to graduate school and working with CPI, Mark worked with the San Diego County Office of Education at the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility serving “at risk” youth.  In his spare time, Mark is involved with BIBAK San Diego a social organization comprised of the five major tribes of Indigenous Igorot Filipino Americans, where he teaches Igorot youth the folk dances and folkways of his unique Filipino Igorot heritage.  He devotes his time to mentoring youth, and encouraging young people to stand up and voice their opinions.