Emiliana Almanza Lopez is a third-year student at the University of Wisconsin- Madison majoring in Environmental Sciences and Sociology. She combines her knowledge of the hard sciences along with social science to tackle important issues surrounding environmental justice. Currently, she is a Social Justice Intern at the University of Wisconsin's Multicultural Student Center (MSC), where she designs curriculum for workshops that she facilitates across campus. This spring she is building a new environmental justice workshop that will be open to students from all across campus. She hopes by bridging the gap between science and society, she can create long lasting legislative change on all societal levels. During her fellowship year, she will begin to find spaces to have workshops for the surrounding Madison community, in hopes of fueling local passion for environmental justice. In particular, she is excited to collaborate with community organizations to combat environmental injustices ranging from food deserts to water crises, like those found in Flint, Michigan.
I grew up living in various socioeconomic worlds, as parts of my mixed family lived with different levels of comfort socially and economically. As I grew older, I began to see how systems of oppression and the legacy of colonialism affect modern day society. Specifically, I came to understand how systems of power purposefully divide communities, creating social stratification based on identity and economic status. My focus of study has been how these divides are intentional and give the platform for certain groups to gain a sense superiority, and how this feeling of superiority is reflected in the functioning of societies' institutions. My life work is to support the communities that have been wronged by these imposed systems of power, and to address the issues at the root of the problem. On campus, I work to promote social justice through creating curriculum and facilitating workshops for students, staff and faculty. Additionally, I am working to create a program focused for local high school students who identify as women of color, to promote healthy relationships, and discuss how to navigate and identify toxic and abusive interpersonal relationships.