Lilia Gonzalez has made her presence felt through organizing and activism. Lilia entered higher education overcoming many obstacles, but she persevered, demonstrating resilience and commitment. Her lived experiences as a formerly incarcerated student motivated her to transform higher education. At CSUN, she co-established Revolutionary Scholars (RS), a student organization devoted to supporting formerly incarcerated and systems impacted students. With Lilia's impulse, CSUN obtained a grant and established the Revolutionary Scholars Project, a resource space for CJIS. While working out of ANWOL, a women's re-entry project Lilia fought against mass incarceration by organizing legal initiatives, projects, community events, conducting research and mobilizing members. At Homeboy Industries, she managed the organization's relationships with the larger community, and became the first "homegirl" to obtain a bachelor's degree. Lilia is involved at the state and national level advocating; she was selected as a fellow by JustLeadershipUSA and led the training program for formerly incarcerated people engaged in advocacy and community organizing. Lilia is a part-time blogger for "La Comadre," a blog to create knowledge about the challenges faced by people of color and the significance of education for social transformation. Lilia labors against the dehumanization of incarcerated people and toward changing the narrative from her embodied knowledge.
I am formerly incarcerated. Upon my release, I went to Homeboy Industries, which provides hope, training and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. I went on to become the first "Homegirl" to obtain a Bachelor's degree. While exciting, I faced many challenges as a re-entry student. I went on to co-found Revolutionary Scholars (RS). RS is a student organization and space that provides support for students impacted by the criminal legal system. RS creates pathways for formerly incarcerated and system impacted individuals into higher education. We are building a prison-to-school pipeline through recruitment, retention, and advocacy. Our success will directly challenge the stigmas associated with our population. Not only am I working to achieve this at CSUN, but also throughout the state and nationally through policy and advocacy. My aim is to challenge societal norms concerning systems impacted people, specifically students impacted by issues of mass incarceration, imprisonment, and detainment of any kind. My goal is to bridge the popular academic theoretical discourse of mass incarceration with one that is grounded in the lived experiences of CSUN students and people from surrounding communities.