WASHINGTON, D.C., May 8, 2016 – Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC), the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) are excited to announce the 2016 First Generation Civil Rights Fellowship (FirstGEN) summer class. The Fellows are: Megan Brookens, University of Pennsylvania; Sanah Jivani, University of Texas at San Antonio; Dianne Kaiyoorawongs, Yale University; Raymond Magsaysay, Vassar College; and Renata Mauriz, Brown University
FirstGEN is a 10-week summer program for undergraduate students who are the first in their immediate families to attend an institution of higher education and who are passionate about pursuing careers in social justice. Fellows gain hands-on experience working on civil rights matters as full-time Public Policy and Advocacy interns while also participating in a parallel training program. FirstGEN creates a greater community of advocates by linking emerging leaders with existing ones and by creating a FirstGEN alumni network. Fellows receive a $1,500 summer stipend.
Megan Brookens is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Urban Studies and minoring in Urban Education. She currently takes part in multiple campus organizations, including Penn First which started this year to address issues with the support and recognition of first-generation and low-income students in higher education. She was matched to Penn through the QuestBridge College Match program and has been actively involved in the Quest Scholars Network chapter at her school, particularly by organizing service opportunities to support students in the Philadelphia school system. Megan is active in the West Philadelphia community through her work with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships and the Music and Social Change program. Through these groups, she has made connections with many amazing students and become even more frustrated with the lack of resources and opportunities for many low-income and minority students due to systematic racial and class oppression. She is currently interning with the Mayor’s Office of Education in Philadelphia where she enjoys working with the Community Schools and Universal Pre-K initiatives in order to combat inequalities in the local school system through policy. Megan plans to pursue a career that encompasses her passion for education, human rights, and social justice. She grew up in the small town of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.
Sanah Jivani is an honors college student double majoring in sociology and communications at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is an active public speaker and writer. She is the founder of a non-profit organization called The Love Your Natural Self Foundation, which focuses on empowering individuals all around the world through events, movements and hands-on sessions. She started this organization after losing all of her hair to Alopecia in the seventh grade. She struggled with wigs, bullying, self-harm and self-hate for years. Now, her non-profit organization hosts projects in 28 countries worldwide. She has reached over 10,000 students through speaking engagements and raised over $10,000 in fundraising for her non-profit organization. Sanah provides free resources and self-esteem based curriculum for schools all around the world. Outside of her work with her non-profit, she is one of thirty We Are Family Foundation’s Global Teen Leaders, a TEDx Speaker, Natural High’s 2015 Youth of the Year, a DoSomething and College Board Youth Advisory Council Member, a State Farm Youth Advisory Board member and a Prudential Spirit of Community Award Finalist. She hopes that this hard work and positive energy will someday change the world!
Dianne Kaiyoorawongs is a junior at Yale University majoring in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. She was born in Bangkok, Thailand and moved to the United States when she was three years old. This experience first fed Dianne’s interest in immigration reform, and Dianne has since volunteered in refugee resettlement and aiding immigration detainees. She is currently spending the semester in Morocco, and conducting independent research on immigration from sub-Saharan Africa. After graduation, Dianne hopes to study law and Public Policy to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. Dianne will be placed with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc
Raymond Magsaysay is a first-generation immigrant student and Quest Scholar majoring in Sociology and minoring in Hispanic Studies and English: Race & Ethnicity at Vassar College. He is passionate about utilizing coalition-building and critical, intersectional frameworks to combat the inequities that exist in the nation’s interlocking immigration, education, and criminal justice systems. Most recently, Raymond interned with the Diverse Elders Coalition in Washington D.C. as a Burnam Fellow to help shape aging policy for minority and LGBT people. At Vassar, Raymond has led successful campaigns with the Student/Labor Dialogue, a collective of workers and students dedicated to cultivating a dignified and empowered working environment, in addition to holding multiple leadership roles on campus to ensure that students of color and other marginalized populations thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Raymond was recently named a Vassar Tananbaum Fellow and plans to continue his work in law and policy this summer with the Committee; upon graduation, he plans to attend law school to better equip himself to contribute to the creation of a more just society.
Renata Mauriz is an undocumented student attending Brown University. She has taken advantage of the university’s open curriculum to create her own educational path focusing on public policy, ethnic studies and sociology with a pre-law track. At Brown, she has revived the Brown Immigrant Rights Coalition, which advocates for better campus resources and transparent policies for undocumented students as well as support for local immigrant communities in Rhode Island. Prior to being a student at Brown, Renata also led efforts with the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society to create a scholarship for undocumented students at her community college. She is proud for collectively helping lead the New Jersey Tuition Equity for DREAMers Campaign, which successfully resulted in passing the NJ DREAM Act, a law granting undocumented students in NJ access to in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. She is also a core member of Wind of the Spirit, a grassroots immigrant rights organization based in NJ advocating at local, state and national levels. Renata is originally from Brazil and calls both Brazil and New Jersey home.
The 2015 FirstGEN summer program will commence during the second week of June and end on August 7, 2016.