Q: What changes do you want to see in your community?
Erika: The fear and shame that I once felt has grown into an appreciation and respect for every Mexican/Hispanic individual living in my Santa Ana community. I used to feel ashamed of my roots and to be from a low-income family with a single mom raising four kids without any male support. Additionally, the issues of gang violence, drugs, and alcohol continue to plague my community. However, rather than ignoring the issues of my neighborhood as a whole, I’ve learned to share and form relationships with those around me.
A few positive changes for my community would include: offering free English courses for the elderly, teaching children how to code online websites, and providing decent computers for students to complete their homework. The goal is not to change the people, but rather their surroundings. I can help reinforce this change by promoting activities through flyers and posters and participating in student-led classes.
Q: If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Erika: Given the opportunity, I would have dinner with my middle school friend, Duane. Whenever I had issues with my mom, missed the public bus and arrived to school late with an empty stomach, Duane would save me a fruit or bagel without me asking him to do it. He would keep me company after school as I waited for the 2 hours it would take my mom to pick me up from school during traffic. Because his actions spoke for him, he was an unconditional friend I could faithfully trust.
Q: What are you doing this summer outside your internship?
Erika: So far throughout my summer, I have been reconnecting with friends at the beach and shopping for new clothes and shoes.
I have also taken advantage of my spare time to catch a few movies at The Block with my sisters and study for my driver’s license as my senior year of high school approaches.
Q: What advice do you have for future ‘B’ Bold Awardees?
Erika: Interns must learn to wisely manage their time. Asana helps manage small tasks and overall ‘B’ Bold agendas.
Don’t be too intimidated to ask for help or to ask questions during meetings. Everyone at Clearinghouse is supportive. Take advantage of your resources and tools.
The coursework for the internship may feel overwhelming at times. There is no shame in asking for an extension when needed.
Q: Who have been your favorite people to work with at CCDFI?
Erika: Without a doubt, Aylinne Mendoza, my ‘B’ Bold co-worker, has been my favorite individual to work alongside. Due to our similar backgrounds and childhood struggles, we have been able to swiftly connect and communicate. Conversation is always easy. I enjoy her company during lunch and laughing at each other’s jokes.
It has also been a pleasure to work with Cesar and Helen. Their generosity in sharing food is appreciated. Last but not least, Natasa, Avery, and Mai have been three amazing, supportive mentors who are always willing to offer their help and advice when needed. I am grateful for their friendship, their guidance throughout every project, and their encouragement to ask for help or start conversations with other interns.