Gregoria Uroza, a third year student at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), is an active leader in engaging with communities as well as addressing public policy issues that affect community members. For the past three years at UHD and previously in high school, she has served in communities and worked closely with community leaders to advocate for the rights of underserved populations, including being a voice for those who are not often heard. She is currently working with a team composed of members from various church groups and from different universities around Houston, to explore the needs of low-income communities and address issues such as hunger, poverty, education, and immigration. The team connects with other community-based organizations to provide resources for the underserved Houston communities. In addition, Gregoria works with young adults in the communities and encourages them to engage for the betterment of their communities. She has received grants from UHD and external organizations to carry out her mission.
I first became involved in addressing community issues by volunteering at a soup kitchen during my junior year of high school. I learned that I needed and wanted to serve my community. I began to share the opportunities with friends and family, and later with adolescents and young adults – the future leaders of our communities. I continued to explore community issues and volunteered, at the local Boys and Girls Club, nursing homes, and homeless shelters, for back-to-school supply drives, and during flood relief efforts. As I became more engaged, I realized that our community needed more than volunteer services, it needed increased awareness of public policies that impact the lives of its members. In college, I was a co-leader for a community engagement project that provided alternative sources for students at 25 elementary schools, aimed at increasing communication between students and staff. I am now part of a team that works to provide resources for underserved people, including our large immigrant population. Through my commitment to service and our communities, I promote community engagement and advocate for those who are often not heard due to social status.