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    Center on Policy Initiatives

SEJ 2021 Begins!

Our 2021 Students for Economic Justice (SEJ) program starts TODAY! We’re thrilled to be able to bring back the SEJ program this year. To comply with COVID-19 regulations and ensure the safety of our staff, fellows, and community partners, we will conduct the SEJ program virtually this year. 

Since its inception in 2000, the SEJ fellowship program has trained San Diego’s next generation of social change and economic justice leaders and organizers. This intensive full-time, $16 an-hour, six-week program provides college students with trainings in local politics, organizing, and outreach, as well as hands-on experience with community organizations and local labor unions. SEJ graduates have gone on to work in local unions, social justice nonprofits, and elected offices in the San Diego region. 

This year, we welcome 8 new SEJ fellows! Read on to get to know each of them and the campaign they’ll be working on this summer. 

D’Marcus Andrus is currently studying at San Diego City College. He is a Louisiana native, and is highly enthusiastic about congregating and fellowshipping with peers that are also fired up about matters pertaining to social justice, and the advancement of minority groups that have been systematically disenfranchised. As an aspiring filmmaker, there’s nothing that D’Marcus loves more than a good story. In most cases, good stories contain great lessons, and great lessons yield invaluable perspective. While our respective pursuits of higher education may be the binding glue that joins us all, it is the value of human insight that drives his passion for social justice. This summer, D’Marcus will be working with Pillars of the Community on a police accountability campaign.

Jesús Martín Gallegos-Muñoz is a second-generation Mexican American who is proud to represent his Mexican roots and American nationality. He is currently attending the University of California, San Diego where he is double majoring in International Studies – Political Science and Latin American Studies, in which he focuses on border and migration studies as well as public policy. Jesus Martin is an active member of the community where he lobbies and advocates for everyone’s rights and liberties. Jesus Martin is excited for beginning his experience with Students for Economic Justice and knows that he will apply all his forthcoming experiences into raising awareness and bettering the livelihood of our San Diego communities. This summer, Jesús Martín will be working with the Center on Policy Initiatives on uplifting the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Sarah Guzman is a first-generation, queer, Mexican American, student-worker at the University of California, San Diego. They will be graduating in June 2022 with a double major in Political Science and Ethnic Studies and a minor in Education Studies. Growing up in the Imperial Valley with her single mother, grandma, and aunts, Sarah grew up in a powerful matriarchy that has influenced her values and work ethic. The Imperial Valley, a border town, taught Sarah about the institutional injustices that Black and brown folks faced in employment, housing, health care, environment, etc. Due to their dedication to community building and social justice, Sarah is currently interning at the Cross-Cultural Center at UCSD and has been involved in United Students Against Sweatshop. This summer, Sarah will be working with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) on a housing and cancel rent campaign.

Rami Ibrahim is a recent graduate from UC San Diego, where he studied Political Science and minored in Ethnic Studies. He was born in San Diego and was raised in Encinitas specifically, where he began to notice the social, economic, and environmental disparities between neighborhoods in San Diego county. He recognized the selective access to clean water, clean air, food, housing, and economic security as exclusive to more white, affluent populations within the County. Through his internship at the US Immigration Policy Center, he held a research and legal-focus, utilizing policy and election work to support immigrant communities nationwide. Rami is looking to shift his focus from political activity to community building, and is drawn to the impact of individual communities over political actors. As the queer son of a Jordanian immigrant and Palestinian refugee, he utilizes the collective traumas of his people towards envisioning a future of transformative justice for all global populations. This summer, Rami will be working with the Majdal Center on a redistricting campaign in the County of San Diego and the City of El Cajon.

Cheyenne Martinez [they/she] is a soon-to-be graduate from UCLA. Raised in National City, she attended Sweetwater High School where they were an active student leader and established the first committee to host an annual multicultural assembly. Throughout their time at UCLA, Cheyenne was a student-worker in order to help support herself. When her job shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was able to dedicate more time to political education for her family, friends, and herself, drafting public comments for city council meetings, and compiling resources to share broadly on social media. Now that they are graduating with a degree in Sociology, Cheyenne is ready to take the activism off of social media and begin doing work in the community to build solidarity and fight towards liberation. This summer, Cheyenne will be working with Mid-City CAN on a police accountability and juvenile justice campaign.

Hannah Marquez Marcias (she/her) takes pride in her hometown, San Diego, just as much as she takes pride in her Mexican roots. Her experiences living all over San Diego and Tijuana, and going to schools within these cities, have taught her about the importance of an education that connects with one’s story. As a Chicana, Hannah is determined to help other first-generation Americans and immigrants find a sense of belonging in the classroom. Everyone’s history deserves to be told, and everyone’s needs deserve to be respected, so she aims to make these educational institutions more accessible and intersectional. Hannah is currently attending SDSU as History Major with an Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies Minor—in order to help San Diegans’ futures become brighter, she is committed to learning about our past mistakes and successes. Beyond educational reform, Hannah is also a passionate advocate of food banks, libraries, and free museum programs. This summer, Hannah will be working with the California Teachers Association on an organizing campaign with educators.

Savahanna O’Toole is a first-generation college student and social justice activist. She grew up in rural Iowa and moved to San Diego in 2013. In 2016, she suddenly lost the ability to walk. It took two years to receive several medical diagnoses but her journey with disability is what ultimately stimulated her passion for social activism. Upon returning to college, she worked as an intern for the American Federation of Teachers where she participated in a range of social justice activism including racial justice, economic justice, environmental justice, gender equality and healthcare rights. She then was an intern for the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council where she helped organize with local union leaders and aided the passing of worker-friendly legislation. Savahanna is a sociology major, seeking a BA in social work. She hopes to work as a patient’s advocate, ensuring patients receive the quality of care they deserve. This summer, Savahanna will be working with San Diego 350 on a transportation justice campaign.

Ramon Saldivar is a first-generation, Chicano college student, and is the son of immigrants. He will be graduating from San Diego City College, and will be transferring to San Diego State University in the fall of 2021 as a Political Science major. Ramon was born and raised in South West Chula Vista. He has personally seen the inequities and struggles his community faces, and is motivated to bridge the inequities low income, black and brown communities face. Ramon has been involved in different campaigns, lobbied local/statewide representatives, interned for AFT local 1931, interned at the California State Assembly, been involved with ACCE, and continues to volunteer when given the opportunity. Ramon is currently working in the office of Vice Chair Nora Vargas. This summer, Ramon will be working with IATSE Local 122 on a contract campaign.

Want to support the next generation of social justice leaders in San Diego? 

  • Please consider making a donation of any amount that is meaningful to you. Donations support SEJ fellows’ wages, training materials, travel costs, and tech needs for virtual learning.
  • Become an individual or organizational SEJ program sponsor and have your name/organization’s logo displayed on the SEJ website and event collateral.
  • Sign up to get email updates on SEJ and our other leadership development programs.
Written by CPI San Diego