CALS junior wins national award for tackling social change

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Christina Ochoa ’23 was named a Newman Civic Fellow for her commitment to fighting social change and injustice.

The National Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes students who are tackling issues of inequality through collaborative action to create long-term social change.

Ochoa advocates for incarcerated individuals serving life sentences in New York State through the Cornell University Parole Initiative; she won the award for her dedication to transforming systemic injustice in prisons and parole policies.

“The job of an advocate is not to speak on behalf of a marginalized community, but rather to engage in direct and cooperative action to help secure better conditions,” said Ochoa, a sociology specialist from the development at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences department. of global development. She studies creative writing, law and society, and inequality studies.

As part of the Parole Preparation Project, Ochoa works with prisoners to prepare for their parole hearings.

“This project has been particularly meaningful because not only are we helping people get a second chance outside of the industrial prison system, but we are also helping to reaffirm the humanity of individuals who have gone through the dehumanization associated with incarceration,” said said Ochoa. .

“By taking the time to get to know the people we work with and for, we remind them that they are worth helping and prove that everyone deserves support and a second chance.”

The scholarship is a program of Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities working to advance public goals of higher education. Ochoa is one of 173 student civic leaders in the class of 2022-23 of Newman Civic Fellows from 38 states as well as Washington, D.C. and Mexico. The David M. Einhorn Center for Community Involvement at Cornell facilitates the university’s nomination process and provides financial support to the recipient.

“During our competitive application process to select Representative Newman from Cornell, Christina stood out as a student committed to fighting social change and injustice at the individual, organizational and systemic levels,” said the President Martha E. Pollack.

“We are proud to name such an exceptional and diverse group of students Newman Civic Fellows,” said Bobbie Laur, President of Campus Compact. “Their passion and determination to act on the wide range of issues facing our neighborhoods and communities is inspiring and deeply needed. We look forward to engaging with them through this transformative experience.

Kelly Merchan is a communications specialist in the Department for Global Development.

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