Izabela Menga

Fellow, Scholar

"We all stand up for each other."

Izabela Menga is a student at Foothill Community College and will be transferring to San Francisco State University. She was first accepted into Immigrants Rising’s New American Scholars Program in 2014, and shortly after joined the Immigrants for Inclusion & Change (I4IC) group.

 

How did you get involved with our organization?

I first got involved in 2014, when I got a scholarship. Then I joined Immigrants for Inclusion & Change (I4IC) because I didn’t qualify for DACA or AB540. I4IC has been very important to me. You see all these amazing people in similar or even worse situations than me, and they’re doing amazing. It’s a huge inspiration. We all stand up for each other.

 

Can you share some memorable moments?

One day in I4IC we were reading poems or short texts from undocumented people, and somebody started crying in my group. Then other people started crying. One of the lines of the poems referred to saying goodbye to a person without essentially knowing when you’re going to see them again. And that’s the hardest goodbye you can possibly give.

We can all relate. We realized the life we left behind, and we really bonded through that. This pain is very shared in our community. Knowing who we left behind. It might be a grandpa, it might be an uncle. In my case, it’s my entire family.

I will admit, no shame, I cried. I was wearing a lot of makeup, it was all gone. I never thought I’d find a group of people I could be as exposed to as in that moment. That really changed me. I don’t really open up very easily, but that really impacted me.

 

Thank you for sharing that memory, about how others impacted you. Along similar lines, do you know if you’ve impacted others?

I have worked in restaurants for three years now, so I know a lot of undocumented adults that have no interest in going back to school or anything like that. They just want to do well for their children, but they’re at an age where they shouldn’t give up. And I really, really try to help them out, let them know oh do you know this path, or this path, because who’s going to let them know?

Last year, I told someone that he qualified for DACA. And he had no idea what that was. There’s many more people out there that can benefit from our resources.

 

What are your hopes for our organization and community?

I hope we can keep going and have something that actually covers everybody. It’s great to know that this organization exists in the world. It gives you some relief, knowing that there’s people out there who actually work towards helping people. I don’t want to say that I hope it won’t be here anymore soon, but I hope it doesn’t need to help us as much in the future.