Reflections of Adilene López Valenzuela, Alum
Adilene experienced a “paradigm shift” in her understanding of social justice work while serving with the Public Service Center, known at that time as Cal Corps. “Being a part of Cal Corps influenced my educational and personal trajectory immensely. As a product of some of the poorest communities in Southeast Los Angeles County, I thought I knew all there was to know about poverty, racism, sexism, and other social injustices." Adilene brought her past experience to her service work with Alternative Breaks, where to her surprise, she found she had a lot to learn.
Adilene was a participant on an Alternative Break trip investigating migrant labor issues in the Central Valley. The experience was powerful and confirmed her interest in immigration and labor issues. The following year, she became a student leader and organized a trip to San Diego and Tijuana where participants learned about social justice issues along the border. She says that she learned a lot about the issues and also developed personally. "I learned more about myself, my innate passions, and personal vision of the world I wanted to help create.” Her public service experience guided her after graduation as she thought about career choices. She now works as a Development Assistant with the Advancement Project CA, a public policy change organization committed to ending inequities in education and health. Adilene still calls upon the skills she learned as a student. “I don’t think there’s a skill I learned at the Center that I don’t use today. Knowing how to facilitate a workshop, build coalitions, communicate across difference, work within a team, lead others, fundraise, use Excel, manage a budget, speak publically, make peace with discomfort, work with media, manage your time, handle criticism, has all been useful to me.”
Adilene also shares that the Center offered a community for students committed to social justice. In her words, the Center was “the space and eventual family of dedicated staff and peers that--through their honesty, encouragement, and love--were integral to my personal journey of healing and self-compassion.”