Yessenia Santamaria is junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in Sociology and Spanish and pursuing a minor in Criminal Justice. She is an honors student and received the Sociology and Social Work Department's Virginia Fish Scholarship in 2016 for students who have a deep interest in women's studies and gender issues or social deviance. Yessenia's passion for social justice and gender equality stems from her upbringing in a Mexican immigrant family on the south side of Milwaukee where she witnessed acts of social injustice. She has been an active member of organizations on campus promoting diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. She is a leader on and off campus, is a voice for marginalized people, and has worked to support immigrants' rights. After graduation, Yessenia plans to work for a nonprofit organization to promote social justice in Wisconsin.
Coming from an urban city like Milwaukee, I witnessed multiple social injustices throughout my life and it motivated me to be part of that change. I came from a mother who worked two jobs to make ends meet and a father who worked in heavy labor for minimum wage. I came to campus with multiple goals in mind and with my family and my city to encourage me; I am involved with organizations like Latino Student Alliance (LSA) and Black Student Union (BSU). These organizations bring awareness of the diverse student body on campus and provide support. Being the vice president of LSA and a member of BSU, we host events every year like Celebracion Hispana and Soul Food Dinner to invite students and community members to experience music, food, and entertainment. Along with these types of events, I've helped LSA join rallies for immigrants' rights and helped BSU give a voice to those who feel victimized by racial injustices occurring on campus. The topic of immigration is very important to me, and one of my goals after college is to work within an organization like Voces de la Frontera to help claim immigrants' rights in the city of Milwaukee.