Kristina De Luna: Presentations of Impact 2020

Kristina De Luna: Presentations of Impact 2020

Hi, my name is Kristina De Luna and I would like to talk to you about my journey in Public Allies, what I learned, what I gained, and how I made an impact. To be honest, I have always wanted to join Public Allies. I remember when I was a street kid and I noticed a sign that recommended an Americorps member program on the side of a building. When I looked at it, I was immediately interested, but I knew I was far away from getting an opportunity like that and even if I went for it, I wasn’t ready.

Fast forward to many years later, moving through a lot of hard experiences and making much better choices, working towards my dreams I was in college at the university. I was studying Justice and human rights. There and in my personal work, I was interested in race studies, prison work, surveillance, and transformative justice. As I studied hard in school, I remember seeing an online advertisement for Public Allies, a 10 month apprenticeship program that provided professional experience in a social justice oriented non-profit. I knew that this was the opportunity for me and I immediately wanted it, but I knew that the timing was wrong because of the deep commitment and I already dealt with a lot in my current program, but I told myself I would apply after I was done.

At the time when I graduated, Public Allies still felt right to me and I knew that it was for me. I was always excited about Public Allies and the one thing I knew was that I needed to gain professional experience in my field and I knew that Public Allies was the way to do it. One of my greatest struggles has been to see myself as a professional and I knew that Public Allies would help me with this. (I feel like my story starts here) I knew I would find my way. Before my experiences in Public Allies, I never felt confident to apply for a professional job. More than just needing professional experience, I did not have a professional identity. I didn’t know my professional path, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do or why. Not only did I gain professional experience working for the YWCA, but I also learned about my professional identity. 

Early in the process of selecting organizations you would like to serve your term of service for, there are specific focus topics that you’ll be doing like economic stewardship or education. I remember looking through the different categories and thinking, well I don’t think I’m really interested in education and I wonder why they’re putting education here, but I really liked the position description and I have learned through this term of service something much different. I love education.

I interviewed with YWCA, an anti-racist organization with a mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. They have had a long, deep history of working in social movements and being there for the community when terrible things were happening like going to Japanese internment camps to be with the women during World War II or establishing that they needed to stand for the movement of women’s right to vote by encouraging more public leadership of Black women who brought significant expertise for how to move the movement for all women to vote in the United States. When I first met Debbie Esparza, the CEO of YWCA, we had a really profound conversation. If anything, it was more like a brainstorming session. I let her see a lot of how I thought and she helped me understand her vision. I had never more enjoyed being in an interview. To this day, that is still my favorite interview. I left feeling empowered and I wanted to help this woman. After the interview I thought about the things we talked about and I just knew that if I never saw her again, I really wanted to get her a couple of resources that would help her so I immediately sent her a follow up email with some resources that were burning inside me to give her. Fortunately, that was not the last time I would see her.

When I first started working for YWCA, I noticed I delved deep into research to learn everything I could about the census impacts communities and I was blown away by the census and I fell in love with the power and change that the census and leaders that use the census have to create change for the community. From there, I was motivated and used my unique and creative perspective to help the community understand the importance of the census. 

Not only did I want to be filled with so much education, but I wanted other people to know and have a robust knowledge as well and I began to notice how much education meant to me and how I wanted to help create a society where everyone values education and speaks truthfully and deeply about topics.