As an active student leader at Rutgers University-Newark, Maria Zamora-Porras has demonstrated a strong commitment to creating social change through awareness raising, advocacy, and activism. During her time at Rutgers-Newark, Maria has effectively implemented initiatives aimed at addressing social inequities experienced by historically underrepresented and marginalized communities. As an intern in the Rutgers University-Newark Office of Undocumented Student Services, Maria has worked to empower undocumented students by coordinating community building activities, facilitating educational trainings,and inspiring her peers to take action by sharing her personal narrative of being a first-generation college student and child of immigrants. As an Honors Living and Learning Community (HLLC) scholar and member of the BOLD Women's Leadership Network, Maria helped implement a transformational project called "Swipe Out Hunger" to address food insecurity on campus. Maria's enthusiasm for improving the campus community lead to her election by the student body as the Student Governing Association (SGA) Senator for the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA). Maria's commitment, strong leadership, and genuine passion for serving the community has positioned her to become an influential agent of social change.
Growing up undocumented, the social issues and injustice that surrounded the immigrant community were not spoken due to fear of deportation. When I graduated high school, I realized my human right to education was being stripped from me. At my community college, I found people who identify as undocumented and founded a club; We the Dreamers. In the mist of the systematic attacks on the immigrant community, I found refuge in a group of people that are fighting for the same goal, our human rights. At Rutgers University-Newark through the Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC), a social justice cohort, and the Undocumented Student Services, I learn the mistreatment of undocumented immigrants is a social issue with multiple dimensions that form to create inequality. I was fortunate to be part of HLLC because I was given the resources to help my community better. Through HLLC, I had the opportunity to be part of BOLD Women's Leadership Network, a cohort of ten women chosen to design a transformational campus project. With BOLD we implemented "Swipe out Hunger" a program focused on food insecurities. Through my work at the Undocumented Students Services, HLLC, and BOLD I believe the immigrant community is one step closer to equality.