AmeriCorps Fellows begin county service

Cal Lutheran students help underserved populations

English major Emma Janzen is one of the fellows providing mentorship and services to at-risk youth through the Safe Passage Foundation.

Photo: Tim Hagel

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Jan. 28, 2021) California Lutheran University’s first AmeriCorps Civic Action Fellows have begun serving low-income and immigrant populations throughout Ventura County as part of a first-in-the-nation program.

Cal Lutheran is one of eight universities partnering with the state of California to help students pay for college through public service targeting pressing regional challenges. Each fellow in Cal Lutheran’s inaugural corps of 20 will spend 25 hours a week over 22 weeks serving with local nonprofit organizations. In exchange, they will receive valuable experience and up to $7,900 from the state and federal governments.

Katia Ayala of Oxnard and Amaris Menjivar of Huntington Park are serving with the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project. Ayala, a political science and Spanish major, is helping to develop the leadership skills of the next generation of Indigenous Mexican residents through the Tequio Youth Group. Menjivar, a communication major, is creating and sharing educational materials through social media and other channels for the farmworker justice initiative.

Four fellows will help middle and high school students in Cal Lutheran’s TRIO Pre-University Programs become among the first generation in their families to go to college. They are Martha Juarez, an Adelanto resident double majoring in Spanish and biochemistry and molecular biology; Hennessy Munoz, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Los Angeles; Isabel Ulibarri, an interdisciplinary educational studies major from Vista; and Blessing Win, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Yangon, Myanmar.

Makenna Drye, a mathematics and global studies major from Burlington, Washington, and Kelly Melgar, a Los Angeles resident double majoring in psychology and criminology and criminal justice, are serving with the Moorpark College Rising Scholars Program, which works with Cal Lutheran to provide a pathway from middle school to a bachelor’s degree for students who may not have considered college.

Eight fellows are serving at Oxnard College. Celeste Adler, a psychology and philosophy major from Los Angeles, and Ariana Avila Torres, an interdisciplinary educational studies and Spanish major from Oxnard, are serving with the DREAM Center and Basic Needs Initiative. Alyssa Anguiano, an exercise science major from Sylmar, and Karla Melgar, a sociology major from Los Angeles, are serving students in the TRIO Upward Bound and Student Support Services programs. George Khoury, a political science and philosophy major from Granada Hills, will help improve men’s success rates through the Oxnard Male Educational Goal Achievement Initiative. Angelina Leanos, an English major from Oxnard, is assisting with outreach at high schools and in the community. Kennedy Olivia, a biology and political science major from San Diego, is helping students in the Transfer Center. And Denise Quezada, an exercise science major from Fillmore, is serving the First Year Experience Center.

Four fellows will help provide mentorship and services to at-risk youth through the Safe Passage Foundation. They are Sonia Chan, a sociology major from Foster City; Miguel Angel Gomez, a biology major from Oxnard; Emma Janzen, an English major from Peoria, Arizona; and Jade Reyes, a psychology major from Los Angeles.

AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.