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Meet The Team
Aiko Celeste is an undocumented student at Santa Ana College and a youth organizer in RAIZ/KOFT. Born in Cuernavaca, Morelos, she emigrated to the U.S with her mother and siblings. Her educational aspirations, after transferring from Santa Ana College to a four-year institute, are to graduate with her bachelor's in Sociology and go on to either earn a master's or go to law school. Aiko's involvement in RAIZ is rooted from the love she has for her community. she, as an undocumented individual, also feels it is crucial for the voice of the community to be heard, instead of letting others speak for them. This is what has started and motivated her involvement in RAIZ.
RAIZ to her is more than an organization; "It is a family and place where her leadership skills have been strengthen!"
My name is Giovanna, but everyone calls me Gio. I am originally from Michoacan, but moved to the U.S. back in 2001 and I'm proud to say I've been a Santanera since. I am currently a fourth year Mathematics Major with Specialization in Education at the University of California, Irvine. I hope to become a math teacher in my hometown of Santa Ana in the near future. We started off as a group of people who wanted to educate themselves about issues affecting our community. While we all helped paint a mural in Santa Ana, we got to know each other and have critical conversations about the changes that we felt were needed. When we were done with the mural, we all just started teaching each other about different topics and after a couple of months, we made it official and gave our group an organizational name Resistencia, Autonomia, Igualdad, lideraZgo. RAIZ.
RAIZ is my family. They are the people who I know I can just talk to and they will understand exactly where I'm coming from because we're on the same page. I love that everyone voices their opinions because that is what has made our organization so amazing. We are able to take everyone into a count which leads to a movement that speaks to everyone. RAIZ is a space where everyone teaches and learns, with what we say, what we questions and how we go about understanding one another. The highlight of my Fridays is going to El Centro and seeing my RAIZ brothers and sisters.
My name is Brenda Vazquez, I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and I migrated to Santa Ana when I was 10 years old. Now I live, study and work in Santa Ana. I currently attend Santa Ana College, majoring in Biological Sciences and I plan to transfer to Berkeley in 2015. I started volunteering at RAIZ in summer of 2012. I have heard about RAIZ through SAC's volunteer center. My motive behind being involved with RAIZ is to do the right thing- give back to my community; give a voice to my beautiful unheard immigrant community.
"RAIZ means family. You can be entirely yourself, and have your own options, and no one will ever judge you, instead you will learn to grow, and RAIZ will be there behind you."