Vanessa Almaraz is a second year student at the University of California Berkeley, where she is studying Environmental Biology with a minor in Education.
Vanessa immigrated to the United States from Mexico at the age of one with her parents and her older sibling. Due to the young age in which Vanessa entered the U.S., she constantly struggled with her identity and roots. Growing up in the Central Valley of California, Vanessa saw firsthand experiences the lack of resources available to immigrants in that region
Moving to Berkeley was a pivotal moment for Vanessa, and she was able to explore her own identity with the support of organizing groups such like R.I.S.E. There, she was able to find a community she would eventually call family. Vanessa’s living experience in the Central Valley is at the core of her passion for helping causes such as accessible higher education, homeless programs, and advocating for human rights. Additionally, Vanessa has grown in her knowledge of the resources available to immigrants, and she in turn seeks ways to share those resources to community member back home in the Central Valley by leading a week-long Know Your Rights training throughout different cities in the region.
As a DreamSF Fellow, Vanessa is placed at Causa Justa :: Just Cause, where she is able to create impact in her community by promoting education to avoid unlawful evictions or tenant harassment, all while supporting the unity and collaboration of black and brown folks. Her main focus at Causa Justa is to interact with the community she is helping and create a safe space for community member to enter while educating the member of their rights as tenants regardless of legal status.
Vanessa continues to explore San Francisco is excited to interact with the various communities in the city. In her free time, Vanessa enjoys hiking, trips to the beaches, and exploring new places.