Paola Montenegro, a junior at Barry University, is engaged in addressing social issues, particularly those pertaining to environmental sustainability and human rights. She is the Chairperson of the Recycling Subcommittee of Barry's Ecological Sustainability Team and serves as Secretary of the Barry Green Team, an allied student organization. As a Barry Service Corps Fellow, Paola also participates in a civic learning and leadership initiative designed to foster civic-mindedness and prepare students for social change roles. She has contributed to the development of partnerships with several local organizations and helped to launch a community-supported agriculture project that benefits Liberty City, one of Miami's economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. After participating in a Coalition of Immokalee Workers training session on Community Organizing, Paola helped to recruit and coordinate the participation of more than 300 students in several peaceful demonstrations to advocate for farmworkers' rights. As an Executive Board member of Barry's Alternative Breaks student organization, she has facilitated service trips to communities in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas as well as to Port-de-Paix, Haiti. In 2016, Paola was among a select group of student leaders who lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill to support programs aimed at ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.
I first became involved in community service by spending time with children at a Salvation Army foster home and later visiting children with HIV/AIDS at a hospital in Maracaibo, Venezuela, where I was born and raised. As I grew older and moved to the United States, I thought more and more about income inequality and began to question the unjust reality of the world we live in. I helped with tutoring while I lived in Detroit. At Barry University in Miami, I participate in the Barry Service Corps (BSC) Fellows Program and Alternative Breaks. As a BSC Fellow, I have led community service trips and have participated in multiple marches throughout Florida to advocate farmworker justice. Also, I have recruited students, facilitated preparation meetings, and coordinated fundraising efforts toward trips to the agricultural community of Immokalee, Florida; the US-Mexico border town of McAllen, Texas; and Haiti's isolated Northwest Department of Port-de-Paix. In addition, as a member of Barry's Ecological Sustainability Team (BEST), I take part in environmental sustainability efforts on campus. My involvement in civic engagement programs at Barry has influenced me to become a more conscious global citizen and to take action to help build a more just world.