Meet the Labor Summer 2023 Interns!

One-hundred thirty-four students are participating in internships throughout California in the first UC-wide Labor Summer 2023 program. They are getting hands-on experience in organizing and public-interest research with unions and worker centers throughout the state. Forty-seven Labor Summer interns from the UC Berkeley and UC Irvine Labor Centers participated in a five-day orientation in Oakland at the end of June before heading to work with their organizations. Students from UC Riverside and UC San Diego participated in a three-day orientation week hosted by the UCLA Labor Center, while students from UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz participated in an orientation week hosted by the UC Merced Community Labor Center. The UC Davis Labor Center hosted its first Labor Summer orientation week that included organizing, research, and a legal track for students interested in labor law. An in-person graduation ceremony for the entire UC-wide cohort is set for August in Oakland.

The Berkeley/Irvine cohort met together for orientation. They heard from State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, a panel of worker and tenant organizers, and Labor Center staff including chair Ken Jacobs, deputy chair Brenda Muñoz, senior policy fellow Jane McAlevey, Leadership Development Program director Danielle Mahones, senior trainer Beatriz Herrera, trainer Andrea Prebys-Williams, research and policy associate Savannah Hunter, and Green Economy Program co-director Jessie HF Hammerling. They were schooled in using research to support public- and private-sector worker campaigns and did role plays for organizer conversations. The Labor Summer interns will have two check-in zoom sessions before graduation in August.

Photos from Labor Summer 2023 Orientation


Labor Summer 2023 Interns

Sandra Barcenas, UC Berkeley, Senior, Research Track
Host Site: DAIR

Sandra Barcenas is a graduating senior at the University of California, Berkeley, with a double major in Political Science and Legal Studies. She has combined both majors, such as the subfields of Empirical Theory and Quantitative Methods; and Law and Culture, to gain experience in research to find tangible solutions to issues. Thus far, she is interested in researching contemporary issues within the immigrant community to enhance her knowledge for future graduate opportunities. Sandra is excited to gain more research experience at the UC Berkeley Labor Center this summer.

Diego Bollo, UCLA, Sophomore, Organizing Track
Host Site: Trabajadores Unidos Workers United (TUWU)

Diego E. Bollo is a rising sophomore and first-generation student majoring in political science and labor studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. He serves on the board of directors for Grupo Estudiantil Oaxaqueños, which aims at creating a safe space for Oaxacan students as they embark on their academic journey. Being raised in the predominately immigrant neighborhood of Pico-Union, Diego is passionate about improving working conditions for low-wage and undocumented workers in the construction, restaurant, and service industries. Diego is an advising fellow with Matriculate, a college advising organization that assists high-achieving, low-income students in their college enrollment process. In his free time, he enjoys thrifting and altering clothing, playing with his cat Lucas, and visiting museums and restaurants when in a different city.

Manuel Caceres, UC Berkeley, Grad Student, Applied Research and Policy Track
Host Site: California State University Employees Union (CSUEU)

Manuel is a first-year MPP candidate at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. Growing up as a first-generation student in the Bay Area, Manuel has seen how incredibly difficult it is for families of color to sustain a good standard of living. His main focus of interest is the impact economic inequality has on vulnerable communities living in the United States, impacts such as the increasing housing burden and wage stagnation felt by many families. Manuel previously did work with San Francisco's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), working with a team to do an impact analysis of the city's Emergency Rental Assistance Program (SF ERAP).

Diego Alexander Castro, UC Irvine to UC Berkeley, Grad Student, Organizing Track
Host Site: Teamsters 2010

Diego Castro Gomez grew up in Los Angeles. They have an extensive background advocating with immigrant grassroots organizations in SoCal and working on campus serving undocumented and marginalized students. Diego is passionate about immigrant justice and empowerment, a passion he developed advocating for expanded opportunities and resources for students regardless of immigration status, and navigating higher education while being non-DACA. They have a comprehensive educational background, having first attended Pasadena City College and completing their a double major in political science and Chicanx Latinx studies from UC Irvine. Outside of work, Diego enjoys spending time with friends, family, and two dogs. They are excited about the opportunity to become more directly involved with communities in the Bay Area and pursue their graduate studies in the Fall.

Cassandra Chase, UC Merced, Grad Student, Organizing Track
Host Site: One Fair Wage

Cassandra Chase is a first-generation college student graduating this spring from UC Merced with a bachelor’s in psychology and a writing minor. Cassandra attended culinary school after graduating high school and has 10+ years in the industry as a pastry chef, personal chef, and kitchen manager. Since 2014, she has worked with families before, during, and after birth as a Doula sharing knowledge and utilizing comfort techniques. She has supported clients in the hospital and birth center, and as a volunteer at the local county jail. Currently she is waiting for her license to practice as an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and support families with infant feeding and breastfeeding comfort techniques. Cassandra is excited to help organize food service workers gain a living wage.

Ray Cui, UC Berkeley, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Junior, Organizing Track
Host Site: Unite Here Local 2

I'm a junior majoring in sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I'm an international student from Qingdao, China. I was a young organizer for disability rights justice in high school, which sparked my passion in organizing and policy advocacy. I engaged in labor justice at Harvard Labor and Worklife Program and interned at AFSCME Local 3930 in 2022. I led a political education program to turn out union activists and organized a campaign to increase benefits for IHSS homecare providers.

Christian Espinoza, Claremont Graduate University, Grad Student, Organizing Track
Host Site: California Federation of Teachers

Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Christian (he/they) is a dedicated Ph.D. candidate at Claremont Graduate University, with a commitment to uplifting underrepresented communities in the Inland Empire region of California. As a first-generation and queer scholar, Christian's personal experiences and identities have shaped their passion for social justice and equity. With a bachelor's degree in sociology and computing from UCLA and a master's degree in higher education-student affairs from the University of Redlands, they bring a unique perspective and a strong academic foundation to their work as an educator and community organizer.

Julissa Espinoza, UC Berkeley, Graduating Senior, Applied Research and Policy Track
Host Site: North Bay Jobs with Justice (NBJwJ)

I am a senior at UC Berkeley double majoring in political science and ethnic studies. I am a proud first-generation college student and daughter of Mexican immigrants. With a background in a small rural town in the Central Valley, I am passionate about serving the farmworkers and ESL learners in education. In my attempts to advocate for better working conditions in the agricultural industry and support services for ESL learners, I participated in research programs like the Marco Antonio Firebaugh Scholars and Latinx and the Environment Fellowship. I focused on the health of migrant women farmworkers and the exposure and risks affecting their fetuses due to the unsafe regulation of pesticides used in the occupation. I also served as a mentor fellow for Improve Your Tomorrow and participated in the AERA annual research conference. I am a big foodie and enjoy listening to live banda. But once in a while, I enjoy staying in with my cat Luna and spending quality time with my family.

Alejandra Gil, UC Berkeley, Graduating Senior, Applied Research and Policy Track
Host Site: Teamsters 2010

Alejandra Gil is a graduating senior at UC Berkeley majoring in ethnic studies and legal studies with a minor in public policy. She grew up in the Bay Area as a child of Salvadoran refugees. Alejandra has organized and participated in the Berkeley program Teach in Prison, which provides tutoring for incarcerated students in the Basic Education program at San Quentin Prison. She is also an advocate for immigrant rights, having interned with the local nonprofit organization East Bay Sanctuary Covenant where she organized events and spread information and resources. Alejandra is also an associate for the Student Policy Institute at Berkeley (SPIB), Cal’s own student-led interdisciplinary policy think tank. Her initiative group has focused on researching barriers to unionization and proposing policies to address these issues.

Jazmin Hernandez, UC Berkeley, Graduating Senior, Applied Research and Policy Track
Host Site: Street Level Health Project (SLHP)

Jazmin Hernandez grew up in Los Angeles. They are graduating UC Berkeley this year with a Bachelor of Arts in geography and take pride in being a community college transfer student. Jazmin’s academic work attends to the precarious realities of undocumented and criminalized workers that often go unrepresented in traditional labor union organizing. They are constantly accompanied by the tenacious work of collective care, as continuously taught by her family and community. When not focused on academics, they develop mapping workshops to interpret space, power, and oral histories.

Sarah Kim, University of Southern California, Grad Student, Organizing Track
Host Site: Unite Here Local 2

Sarah "skim" Kim is a graduating student from the University of Southern California, receiving a bachelor's degree in law, history, & culture and East Asian languages & cultures, as well as a Master of Studies in Law from the Gould School of Law. After immigrating from South Korea at the age of four, Sarah moved around the United States, living in Arkansas, New York, Kansas, Wisconsin, and California. Her diverse encounters with various communities have led to a passion for social justice and grassroots organizing. In college, Sarah has worked as an intern for State Senator María Elena Durazo. She also served as the president of Liberty in North Korea, a student branch of an international refugee assistance organization. Sarah loves climbing, coffee, and connecting deeply with others.

Malia Knapps, UC Berkeley, Graduating Senior, Organizing Track
Host Site: East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE)

Malia is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in social welfare with a concentration on micro social work and education. She is a first-generation, low-income transfer student born and raised in Oakland to an African American family. Her lived experiences have led her to become passionate about using her voice to amplify the needs and liberation of Black and disabled folks. During her time at Berkeley, Malia served as an Experience Berkeley Transfer Coordinator and BUILD Literacy Mentor. She also was a McNair Scholar, where she conducted her own independent research on blackness and fatness in relation to labor and media portrayal. She also enjoys being in nature, exploring new places, reading horror books, and learning new languages.

Johana Mendez Lucas, UC Santa Cruz, Junior, Organizing Track
Host Site: North Bay Jobs with Justice (NBJwJ)

I am a Junior at the University of California, Santa Cruz majoring in business management economics with a minor in technology and information management. While a majority of agricultural workers happen to be undocumented or underrepresented individuals, I want to bring light to workplace inequality and discrimination in the agricultural workforce. I want to be able to provide workers with resources that can help address any issue or concern they may have. I previously interned for the Professional Career Development Program, and during my time I was able to help undocumented students participate in workshops and events that helped develop their professional skills. During my free time, I like to play soccer, try new food, and go to the gym.

Carlo Acevedo Malo, UC Merced, Grad Student, Organizing Track
Host Site: California Federation of Teachers

Carlo Acevedo is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of California, Merced. He makes part of the Interdisciplinary Humanities program and his research focuses on Latin American poetry. Carlo is also a writer and his first collection of poems, Fortuna del día (Day’s Fortune), was published in 2019. Regarding political activism, Carlo has engaged with different political and social organizations in his country for several years, in which just causes for the rights of laborers of different natures have been defended. For a living, before arriving in the United States, Carlo was a teacher and a creative writing workshop guide in his hometown of Barranquilla.

Paola Castellanos Martinez, UC Berkeley, Junior, Organizing Track
Host Site: One Fair Wage

Paola Castellanos Martinez is a rising senior at UC Berkeley majoring in political science and minoring in Chicanx Latinx studies. Born in Mexico and raised in LA, she is motivated by her experiences as an Latina immigrant woman to organize around prison, labor, and immigration reform. Previously she has researched and expanded on the literature of the experiences of undocumented students at UC Berkeley. In her spare time she enjoys live music, painting, and cooking up something good.

Phoebe Mijos, UC Berkeley, Graduating Senior, Applied Research and Policy Track
Host Site: Nor Cal Carpenters Union

Phoebe Mijos is a recent graduate from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in political science and a concentration in comparative politics. She was born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in Daly City, California. She's also a first-generation college student and transferred from Skyline College in San Bruno. She hopes to become the first lawyer in her family and is very passionate about immigration and women's rights. Fun fact: her birthday is on Christmas Day!

Tai-Ge Min, UCLA, Freshman, Organizing Track
Host Site: Service Employees International Union, United Service Workers West (USWW)

Tai-Ge (they/them) is a rising second year at UCLA studying Asian American studies, labor studies and social data science. Hailing from a family of organizers, they're passionate about the power of organizing in bringing power to marginalized people and workers. They're hoping to do research on labor, organizing, and its intersections with race, gender, class, immigration, etc. They're also a musician, and enjoy singing, making jewelry, and learning K-Pop dances in their free time. They're excited to work with SEIU-USWW this summer, and to keep learning and growing as an organizer and researcher in the future!

Mara Annina Miranda, UCLA, Graduating Senior, Applied Research and Policy Track
Host Site: National Union of Health Care Workers (NUHW)

Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Mara Miranda is a recent graduate from UCLA with bachelor’s degrees in economics and public affairs. She is experienced in research surrounding a variety of economic issues —including intergenerational poverty, accessible education, and the data market. Mara is passionate about increasing transparency and equity in financial and political systems. She is happiest when found playing beach volleyball, reading, or drinking coffee.

Elizabeth Nguyen, UC Berkeley, Rising Senior, Organizing Track
Host Site: The East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE)

Elizabeth is a third year at UC Berkeley studying global studies with a concentration in societies and cultures and a geographic focus in Europe and Russia. Born from an immigrant Vietnamese family, she is passionate about post-colonial studies and the construction of community-based power. Last summer, she worked with Mayor Libby Schaaf as a community engagement intern. On campus, Elizabeth serves as the legal deputy of the ASUC, director of marketing of the International Relations Council of Berkeley, and editor in chief of IRCB Editorial. Elizabeth is passionate about creative expression as a medium for power, serving as an editor/contributing writer for Berkeley B-side and previously writing for the Vanguard at Berkeley for the Prison Reform desk.

Kennedy Owens, North Carolina A&T, Senior, Organizing Track
Host Site: East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE)

Kennedy comes from a long line of women rooted in the East Bay, specifically Oakland. Her passions include community building, abolition, and decolonization. Entering her final semester as a first-generation senior at the illustrious North Carolina A&T, she is forever grateful for the opportunities her HBCU has afforded her. She is earning her bachelor’s in sociology with a concentration in liberal studies. During this time, she has been fortunate in gaining experience researching social justice issues including the school-to-prison pipeline, healthcare as a human right, environmental racism, and slavery’s evolution into today’s carceral system. She has organized around issues such as food insecurity, housing insecurity, and police brutality. Outside of school and work, you can find Kennedy trying new foods, being creative, and being a devoted cat mother.

Diana Peña, UC Berkeley, Junior, Organizing Track
Host Site: Trabajadores Unidos Workers United (TUWU)

Raised in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, Diana Peña is a first-generation student at UC Berkeley majoring in political science and minoring in creative writing. Diana has volunteered as an intern at the Los Angeles Country Public Defender's Office, served as a assistant researcher for the UCLA Labor Center's DREAM Summer Fellowship, and was previously involved with Cal ACLU's Immigrant Rights Cohort. Today, Diana celebrates her intersectionality by serving as a programming intern at the Gender Equity Resource Center. In the future, she hopes to attend law school and combine her interests in immigrants' rights and the labor movement. You can find her haggling in flea markets or bookstore-hopping on the weekends.

Isabel Penman, UC Berkeley, Graduating Senior, Applied Research and Policy Track
Host Site: California State University Employees Union (CSUEU)

Isabel Marie Penman is a recent graduate from UC Berkeley with a degree in political economy and a minor in human rights. For the past three years, she has worked to fight for economic equity and basic needs access in her community with UC labor union AFSCME 3299, conducting labor organizing, policy research, and advocacy work. In her free time, she likes to learn more about holistic cybersecurity policy in the human rights space, utilizing skills gained during her time with the UC Berkeley Citizen Clinic to help protect those fighting for basic needs around the world. She also enjoys the outdoors, learning how to sail, and painting somewhat poorly.

Ash Rosas, UC Berkeley, Junior, Applied Research and Policy Track
Host Site: Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR)

Ash Rosas, originally from Northeast Los Angeles, has a background in youth organizing for grassroots organizations that promote sustainable energy and environmental justice. As a recent UC Berkeley transfer student, she joined the Latinxs and the Environment Initiative to conduct research on California regulations aimed at mitigating the effects of rising heat indexes on farmworkers. Majoring in legal studies, Ash's career goal is to work in labor law, concentrating on policies and regulations that protect workers and unions. In her leisure time, she enjoys backpacking and baking traditional Mexican desserts.

Bernadette Torres, UC Berkeley, Graduating Senior, Organizing Track
Host Site: Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco

Bernadette Torres is a senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in sociology and public health. As a first-generation college student born in the Philippines and coming from a working-class background, she understands the abhorrent conditions that inequalities bring about. Therefore, she is passionate about social justice work to fight for the rights of marginalized folks. She was a member of Koreatown Popular Assembly, a community group organizing against ICE raids via a community-run rapid response network in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Bernadette’s future aspiration is to do work that contributes to a more equitable society that benefits everyone. In her free time, she enjoys watching shows, painting, singing, and playing games.

Ivy Xun, Johns Hopkins University, Graduating Senior, Organizing Track
Host Site: California Federation of Teachers

Ivy Xun is from Bethesda, Maryland, and is a graduate of Johns Hopkins, where she studied writing seminars and economics. At Hopkins, she served as a first-year mentor and peer study consultant. She also volunteered as a classroom assistant in after-school programs in Baltimore. Previously, she has been involved with organizing around voter access and voting information. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with friends.

Yan Zhu, UC Berkeley, Grad Student, Applied Research and Policy Track
Host Site: Nor Cal Carpenters Union

Yan Zhu is an expert in the intersection of the Internet and technology, public policy, and public service. One of her professional focuses is initiating public and private cooperation to improve public services with information and technology. She led several non-profit programs expanding the benefits for the labor force and marginal groups, such as establishing a public service portal in Asia's largest audio platform, training professional groups such as doctors for producing podcasts, and consulting a U.S. brain-machine startup for providing AI products for disabled people. She is also an experienced quantitative and qualitative researcher. She is pursuing a master's in public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley. This year, she is participating in a policy practice program with the Department of Energy on issues of technology funding and commercialization.