Shayla Rodriguez, a Sophomore at the University of San Diego (USD), is an active and engaged leader committed to creating positive social change. Through USD’s Beyond Borders, Shayla works to raise awareness on the challenges, opportunities and unspoken narratives of border communities. She uses her leadership with Beyond Borders to speak up about her experience as a first generation student from an immigrant background. Before USD, Shayla worked primarily in her home town of Atlanta, Georgia where she founded Nuestras Voces, a non-profit organization to empower hispanic/latinx community to self advocate. During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, she collected donations and distributed them to those hit harder by lockdown and isolation. Shayla’s commitment to social justice and community engagement focused on supporting and empowering immigrant communities have landed her opportunities with AChA and MECHA clubs and the Beyond Borders Team. After graduation, Shayla plans to go back to Atlanta to continue advocating for equity and justice in systematically oppressed communities.
I am a first-generation Mexican American daughter of a single undocumented mother, born and raised in South Atlanta, Georgia. Being a U.S.-born citizen has granted me the privilege of voting and living a life without the risk of deportation; however, I live in a mixed-status household in which my mother and sister -- individuals who raised me – are undocumented. This fact has made me who I am today and continues to shape my everyday decisions by forcing me to think beyond myself, for any state or federal policies targeting undocumented immigrants directly affect my family. Just how it shapes the person I am, also makes me limited to resources due to language barriers and racial isolations. This target drove my passion to fight social justice inequality for BIPOC communities in low-income areas. I interned for various nonprofit organizations around Georgia raising awareness on civil rights, civic engagement, and community organizing. I eventually launched my nonprofit organization my sophomore year of high school called Nuestras Voces Georgia aiding over three thousand families in Georgia. On-campus, I hold different positions for multicultural undergraduate students organizations, residential life, and for the center for community awareness and social action in San Diego.