Category Archives: Student Stories

Zara Cadoux Takes on Amazon

Zara Cadoux has been a rabble-rouser from the start.

“I began thinking about power and justice as a kid,” Zara said. “I was one of three siblings growing up in a suburban household in Westchester, and although we were quite different from each other, we all had a similar critical lens on the world. We got that from our mom.  She is from Sweden and has more of a socialist outlook. She was always questioning things, saying ‘Why is this happening? This seems very unfair.’ I remember her saying, ‘Your health care is tied to your job? How is that not exploitation?’ She taught us to ask questions and not accept the first answer we got.”

Growing up in the affluent village of Hastings-on-Hudson, Zara began to realize that her public school was better-resourced than schools in nearby Yonkers and the Bronx. So like her mother taught her, she started asking questions. “I asked a number of adults about what I saw as inequities and inequalities between the education I was getting compared to kids who lived in the Bronx. And they would say, ‘Don’t think about that. You’re a hard worker, you deserve to be in this school.’ And I would reply, ‘I know that I’m a good student. What I’m asking is why does my school have this but that school doesn’t have it? Why do I go to a school that is predominantly white, and other schools are mostly Black and Brown and don’t have the same resources? Can someone please explain that to me?’ And overall, adults could not explain it to me in a way that satisfied me.”

“When I went to college at Vassar I kept trying to understand the world through a racial lens, looking at race and white supremacy,” Zara continued. “I got a degree in geography and anthropology—I never realized the connection before, but I think I went into geography because I was trying to understand the world spatially. I was doing human geography.”

“I graduated in 2009 and like a lot of my peers, I had to scramble for a job due to the recession. I was offered a job with Americorps in Baltimore so I moved there, but they lost their grant funding before I could start work. I decided to stay, however, and started building relationships and community. I love Baltimore—it’s where a lot of things crystallized for me with regard to social justice issues.”

During her ten years in Baltimore, Zara continued to explore issues of power and justice. “I started a business with several other anti-oppression facilitators, doing trainings and workshops. A lot of my focus was on organizing white women in the nonprofit sector to make racial justice demands, taking collective action to make changes in those programs. That was based on my experience in the nonprofit sector, where I saw myself reflected as a white woman in a majority Black city. I knew we needed to take collective action.”

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California DREAMer: Pedro Freire Heads West with an M.A. from SLU (and a lot of ideas!)

For Pedro Freire (Class of 2022, MALS) the journey has been long from South America to Connecticut to CUNY to California—and often arduous. But now he can see how all his experiences, good and bad, have brought him here, to the University of California Riverside Ph.D. program in ethnic studies.

“I came to the US with my parents when I was four, from Ecuador. My father was an aviation technician and my mother was a cook for the Ecuadorian embassy. Back in the ‘80s there was a neoliberal restructuring of the economy and the airlines got privatized. Austerity and privatization, typical appendages of neoliberal capitalism, worsened the economy and my parents decided to emigrate to the United States. We made the huge move first to Queens, NY, then my father got hired by a printing press and we moved to Connecticut.”

“Growing up undocumented was tough,” Pedro admitted. “I’ve met a lot of people who are undocumented and are struggling—not being able to get IDs or a driver’s license—so I can understand what they are going through. There’s a lot of anxiety, bordering on depression. But at the same time, I feel kind of privileged to have the opportunity to have DACA status and not be fearful of ICE or deportation. Of course, DACA folks also lack access to certain social services and aid such as food stamps or financial aid for students for instance.”

Pedro paused. “On second thought, maybe privilege isn’t the best choice of words. There is a bit of dystopic irony here, that one would resort to calling the prospect of not being detained and deported by ICE a privilege. Maybe I’m just jumbling words, but what I’m trying to say is that even though I’m in a more privileged position than fellow undocumented folks, DACA still serves no long-term pathway to citizenship and those without DACA are in an even more precarious predicament. If it were up to me, militarized borders wouldn’t be a thing and the free flow of migration would not be restricted, but the imperialist capitalist world system won’t allow that.”

“Many immigrants must deal with the fears of being separated from their friends, families and loved ones. This shouldn’t be happening, but sadly, the reality is that borders exist to restrict the movement of people and goods for the benefit of capitalists, and no solid reforms or a pathway to citizenship have been won so far.” Continue reading California DREAMer: Pedro Freire Heads West with an M.A. from SLU (and a lot of ideas!)

Marlon Bailey Isn’t About to Slow Down

Marlon Bailey Isn’t About to Slow Down

Marlon Bailey doesn’t plan to retire. Ever.

“I’ve got too many things to do,” he said. “I just plan on evolving and seeing where the journey takes me.”

Marlon grew up in Jamaica and says he caught the political bug from his mom, Ruby. “She was what you call here a district leader, for the Jamaica Labor Party. She believed that the government must protect and make conditions better for its citizens, she was very outspoken about it. Our family was complicated, some supported the opposition People’s National Party, so there were some pretty lively conversations. But politics never interfered with our family relationships. Love and loyalty always came first.” Continue reading Marlon Bailey Isn’t About to Slow Down

Marius Marinescu Finds a Vision—and His Voice—at SLU

Marius Marinescu Finds a Vision—and His Voice—at SLU

Marius Marinescu is living the American dream. “Whatever that is,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure it out.”

Marius was born in Brasov, Romania, in the historic region of Transylvania. There, he said, “I grew up in a totalitarian regime where I was inducted into the Youth Communist party at a young age, without my consent. The Communist party was trying to brainwash us, telling us we were living in a perfect society where everyone was equal. In actuality, we were powerless.”

He went on, “I grew up with minimal TV in Romania, and all it showed was Communist propaganda. So I became an avid reader. I liked history best, especially the fantastic books printed before the second World War. We had to hide them so the government wouldn’t confiscate them. They were beautiful, prized, secret cultural gems, the only way we could secure factual knowledge of the past.” Continue reading Marius Marinescu Finds a Vision—and His Voice—at SLU

Miriam Uribe Martinez Is Going the Distance

Miriam Uribe Martinez has already come a long way. And she has no intention of stopping now.

Born in Mexico, Miriam’s parents brought her to the U.S. when she was seven. She grew up in California, undocumented, like her parents. “My parents worked in factories, in people’s homes, places where they couldn’t complain about unpaid overtime or unsafe working conditions,” Miriam said. They got exploited time and time again. They wanted me to go to college, but my undocumented status and lack of funds made that very difficult.”

“Then lucky for me, just when I finished high school the California DREAM Act passed. I applied for DACA and was able to get grant money from the state to apply to college. I got accepted by the University of San Francisco but the scholarship wasn’t enough to cover my expenses—they hadn’t accounted for room and board, just tuition. I was just about to drop out because, being undocumented, I couldn’t apply for federal aid and USF didn’t provide much financial support for undocumented students. First I got upset and then I got angry, because California was providing undocumented students with the opportunity for higher education, but the university wasn’t providing them with the necessary support. So in my freshman year I wrote an op-ed for the student newspaper, ‘Undocumented and Unafraid.’ Fortunately, I got a tremendous amount of support from faculty and friends at USF, who literally helped me survive. I spent the next four years organizing on behalf of students like me and I learned that there are protections out there but most undocumented people are unaware of them. But change comes awfully slowly and in my senior year I wrote another op-ed, ‘Still Undocumented, Still Unafraid, Still Need Housing Funds’ to try to hold USF accountable.”

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Raising Cain (and Baby) with Jimmy Bosco

Jimmy Bosco is from the working class and he is damn proud of it.

“I always want to be a member of the working class,” he said. “That’s who I am.

I’m rank and file, and I like working and being with the rank and file. I don’t feel like I necessarily need to be a leader of a union or something like that. I can do that right on the floor. I like that I can bring my anarchist/libertarian/socialist views to work and share them with my fellow workers. I can tell them that the problem in our country isn’t Democratic or Republican politics—it’s our capitalist society. I give them reading suggestions and websites. During the pandemic, I read about Cuomo’s policies on nursing homes and told my co-workers that there would be trouble, and when it all came down the pike a year later, they were impressed.”

“I’m working in a restaurant right now, and I’ve been doing some agitating there. I’m not afraid of talking to workers in front of the owner. One hostess worked 40 hours one week and 36 the next but she didn’t get overtime for the 6 hours over 70.  The owner told her she had to work more than 80 hours to get overtime. That’s illegal in New York State. I told her to use the group chat to ask if anyone else was having issues with overtime. They all started chatting together about asking for overtime, getting promoted to waitress. They all wanted to help each other get what is their due. So I got them to ask for a raise collectively. When the restaurant reopened for dine-in, I told them that was the most leverage they would ever have. So they all signed a letter and went right up to the owner and gave it to him. And they got a dollar per hour raise.”

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