Luis Ornelas, a junior majoring in Urban Studies at Stanford University, has worked across diverse pathways of public service to advance educational equity and to help students recognize education as a vital tool for social change. Luis has been a committed tutor and mentor to local youth and a valuable resource to their families. In addition to volunteering throughout the school year, Luis has devoted each summer to service fellowships raising awareness, addressing educational disparities, and promoting community-based solutions and policy change. He has also made a significant contribution to helping students see education as a viable career path-whether as teachers in the classroom or policymakers addressing educational inequality through legislation. As a respected student leader, Luis brings an ethos of humility and a deep understanding of the importance of empowering those who will benefit most from change.
My passion for educational justice comes from my own experience in the public education system as a Latino son of immigrant workers. The unfair treatment of my community and the education system's failure to support our students have motivated me to be an educator. My parents, who did not have the opportunity to receive an education themselves, taught me the importance of education when working to make a positive impact in the community. This strong belief inspires me to do work that supports the growth of low-income youth of color to empower them as individuals and members of their communities. I have had the opportunity to both teach and learn from my students in classroom settings. Because it takes the entire community to provide a quality education, I have also worked with parent groups and community organizations to find new ways to ensure that parents have a voice when it comes to their children's education. Rather than entering communities with the hope of "saving them," my social change philosophy calls for working with communities to develop their capacity to address the social issues that they identify.