Jessica Riestra

I attend the University of Sacramento. I worked for the  California Democratic Party as a field organizer during the 2018 midterms, serve as the Co-Director for March for Our Lives California, and acts as the Vice President of External Affairs for a new group called GenUp. Moreover,  I have also been an organizer for MoveOn while being the Volunteer Coordinator for the Western Service Workers Association of Sacramento.

Activism means giving back to the community that has provided to you. It means never forgetting about your origins but fighting for your people. It is a continuation of a civil rights fight that has been fought by multiple generations to improve for the next one. I come from a background where I have been belittled because of my race and my language. Although, born in the United States, I grew up with Spanish being the dominant language in my life. Throughout my life I have had to surpass multiple challenges and struggles in order to succeed in life. People have been vocal on their desire to see me fail, which has empowered me to become a voice for my community.

The biggest wakeup call was during Trump’s campaign trail that landed him in Orange County. During that rally, I was called more names then I can ever imagine. I was called an alien, dirty, immigrant, ext.. I had people telling me to go back to my country and was harassed by 10 men who were trying to take advantage of me. It has and will always be one of the most difficult moments of my life. However, my political participation means me being a voice for many of my family members. Most of my family members are still undocumented and risk the chance of deportation. My participation means me empowering my family to fight for their individual rights as citizens of this country. It means an overcoming of an era where I felt I would not become anyone simply because I had so many people wishing me to fail. In general it means me continuing the fight of the generations before me and hoping to make changes for the generations after me.

One of my mentors was named Asia. She taught me that it is important to take care of myself while it is significant to love myself. In this type of realm, mental health often becomes our worse rival. We have doubts about ourselves and our fight. We often sacrifice so much for others, that we forget to take care of ourselves. In the end, we fail to realize our own importance. It is through the constant reminders of love and trust that I learned this lesson. Now I use this to help my members understand their contributions and knowing that before the organization, comes the person.