Meet Rebeca, current student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and our new MFO Pop-up coordinator! Check out this inspiring chick and her involvement with the Chicago community!
- Tell me about your involvement with the Metro Achievement Center youth program.
Metro is a nfp tutoring center that helps inner city youth. I started the program in 4th grade and, after I graduated, I wanted to continue working with Metro as an advisor to the students I knew in the program. During my time there, I saw how the girls really needed someone to motivate them to keep going to Metro. I asked Metro's program director about the volunteer options available and I began working as the summer assistance sports teacher. Then I became a program directors assistance for the high school program. I stayed with Metro for a couple of years and started getting to know the girls more personally.
- How did your high school experience shape you?
Being in the Metro program really helped me. I was in an all girls school from the suburbs and Metro introduced me to girls from all around Chicago. The program encouraged us to try to learn about each others cultures and backgrounds. As I formed friendships, I started learning about the different neighborhoods in the city. Without Metro, I would’ve been a completely different person—I was rebellious before high school and Metro really put me on track by encouraging me to focus on studies and myself. I got closer to my faith and learned to set specific goals for the future through my mentors.
- What attracted you to MFO's mission?
Working with the inner city youth. It all starts with the younger generation. Teaching youth how to work on themselves is really important. In order to spark change, you have to go within yourself. Being able to teach students this by boosting their confidence is what attracted me to MFO.
- What do you like most about MFO and it's programs?
Teaching girls how to be confident. It is a powerful thing. MFO inspired me to keep working with inner city youth to help them in any way possible. From what I’ve heard and seen about MFO's programs, the mission is very powerful.
- How has helping others - both in and out of work - impacted you?
I believe that it's important to help others no matter what. You can never go wrong; it's something that’s needed in society today more than ever. Helping others not only influences you, but influences those around you as well. It’s like a domino affect. It starts from within; you need the change before trying to help others. I try to put myself in these situations to demonstrate that volunteering is a wonderful, rewarding thing. When my friends see me trying to help others in school, they become inspired as well. It's nice to see when your actions influence others!
- Do you believe that clothing impacts your confidence?
Yes! Clothing plays a huge role, but I also think that loving and believing in yourself comes before anything else. However, clothing is defiantly a bonus!
- Describe your style.
I'm most comfortable in a pair of jeans with a basic, plain t-shirt. It depends on the season too. In the fall for example, I like to wear jeans, comfy flats, a plain t-shirt, and a nice blanket scarf. I love being cozy so that’s always a priority.
- What hobbies fulfill you outside of work and volunteering?
I used to blog a lot! I focused on fashion and found it was a great way to express myself, be creative, and put myself out there. A lot of my friends aren’t really into fashion, so it was a cool way to meet people with similar interests. I also used to create make-up tutorial videos on Youtube. Apart from my blogs, I love hanging out with my friends!
- What’s your favorite part about growing up on the South side of Chicago?
My favorite part is being in a community that is very united. The majority of the population are Latino. Growing up around people from my culture was a really beautiful thing. I feel like it helps unit everyone when we come together regarding any issues or causes. It was a community that was uplifting and positive, which is was really important to me.
10. What do you think the biggest issues are affecting families in low income communities?
Communities like Brighton Park (where I live), Pilsen, and even Rogers park, are affected by gentrification. It’s affecting a lot of the families there. Most people don't see how it’s affecting the community as a whole. It's important to recognize the culture and the struggle that families have gone through to be able to express themselves about issues like, for example, oppression. Gentrification has sanitized a lot of these issues. It’s important to embrace the culture that’s already there and recognize the hard work that went into to creating a place to express their culture.
11. What's had the biggest impact on those issues?
There hasn’t been a solution to any of these issues yet, but I believe that the communities need support from one another. People need to come together and give support, love, and positive energy to make a change within these areas. It can be as simply as listening what people have to say. People have many different opinions, but when we listen to one another instead of arguing, it can make a huge difference.