MJ Olea Gerardo
MJ Olea, standing at a whopping four feet eleven inches, stopped growing vertically at age twelve. She's pequeña pero fuertota (small but strong. Despite her short stature, she aims to reach towering heights. Born in a small, isolated town called Piedra Iman in Southern Mexico, MJ and her family made the long journey to the United States when she was two years old. Here, she learned what it meant to rise above any challenge. Here, she faced numerous obstacles being an undocumented, first-generation college dropout and eventual college graduate seven years later. MJ recently graduated with a Bachelor's in Economics from San Francisco State University, where she was on the Dean's List three semesters in a row. Her current dream is to open an animation studio to tell stories that can change lives; just like stories changed hers.
The lows of life have shaped the heart of MJ; and in those lows, she found a deep love for helping those around her.. As early as sixth grade, MJ started volunteering at homeless shelters in downtown San Diego, where she grew up. Over the course of her life, MJ has volunteered over 400 hours at various nonprofits that work with different vulnerable communities, such as: Father Joe’s Village in San Diego, Project Open Hand based in San Francisco, and the Prado Day Center in San Luis Obispo. During her brief time studying engineering, she was able to conduct research for Jet Propulsion Laboratory and further developed an interest in merging community work with engineering solutions.
For the DreamSF Fellowship, MJ has been placed at Mission Asset Fund (MAF) to provide financial services to immigrant communities in the Bay Area. She will be assisting with operations and support the programs offered by MAF. MJ strongly believes in providing access to financial literacy to the immigrant community, as this is key in breaking the cycle of poverty.
MJ owns a small business, selling art at anime conventions across the country. She absolutely loves anime, reading books, volunteering, spreading laughter, hiking, and spending time with her girlfriend and cat. Whenever possible, MJ visits her wonderful family down in San Diego.