Liyanni Vazquez ’24 is a Harvard College student studying economics and ethnicity, migration, and rights. She is an Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) mentor and an intern with Old West Church through Radcliffe’s Community Based Student Internship (CBSI) program.
Vazquez says that as an ELP mentor, she learns alongside her high school mentee. Together, they discuss the importance of identity and ways to create social change. Vazquez’s favorite part about the role is “being a cheerleader for [high school students’] dreams and someone who can offer practical ways to see their visions realized.”
As an intern with Old West Church, Vazquez is working on a food justice networking project to assess potential partnerships with other local organizations. Old West Church offers weekly meals to anyone who comes through their doors, but they are hoping to expand the reach of their services by partnering with other organizations in the Boston area. “Food justice is important because it mobilizes people in every other area of life,” says Vazquez. “If people have easy access to food, they can approach issues of health, housing, employment, and education with more fuel in their bodies and less stressors weighing them down.”
According to Vazquez, participating in the ELP and CBSI programs have been the highlights of her time at Harvard so far. She says that, while she studies inequalities, economic mobility, and social change in her classes, “nothing in the classroom compares to seeing how people want to create and are creating solutions to problems in real life.”
Sam Zuniga-Levy is the communications coordinator at Harvard Radcliffe Institute.