Identity and Storytelling Intersect on the East Side of LA
Alex Medina ’22 is a student writer for Hamilton’s Communications office. He spent this summer working at two internships – at Latino Equality Alliance and as a writer for the Boyle Heights Beat. He describes both experiences below.
Boyle Heights is a vibrant, tight-knit neighborhood with a long history of activism on the East Side of Los Angeles. Over the years, a wide-range of nonprofit organizations have risen to uplift the community in a multitude of ways while addressing important issues impacting the area.
Throughout my time in high school, I wrote for the bilingual newspaper Boyle Heights Beat, which pairs local high school students to experienced mentors that help them write stories about the neighborhood. I also became an advocate for myself through involvement in the organization Latino Equality Alliance, whose mission is to promote equity and justice for the Latinx LGBTQ+ community.
This summer, I was able to reconnect with these two amazing nonprofits because of the variety of skills I learned through my involvement in the Joan Hinde Stewart (JHS) Career Development Program. The JHS program was crucial to my professional development this past year and gave me the confidence to pursue internships to give back to those who helped me.
My typical day this summer consisted of waking up early to search for any breaking news to write an article about. The biggest story I feel most proud of covering this summer revolves around a three-tier strategy employed by a local collective of organizations to uplift and protect undocumented immigrants.
Being able to share pertinent information of the collective’s Rapid Response Team proved to be very important as threats of ICE raids grew country-wide. Getting to see so many in the neighborhood take a stand during that fearful time was definitely impactful and further strengthened my goal to pursue a career in community journalism down the line.
Whenever I wasn’t looking for and writing my next article, I’d spend my time working at Latino Equality Alliance’s office to plan events, engage in outreach, and outline programming for the various support groups offered at the center.
Being in a space where both of my identities as a queer Latino were fully embraced empowered me to do the same by facilitating support groups for youth where they shared ideas on how to improve local school climate while raising awareness of LGBTQ+ issues in local schools.
As my summer comes to a close, I can confidently say that these experiences have nourished my goals to utilize nonprofit work to uplift youth in diverse and underprivileged neighborhoods. I want to help others flourish like the mentors who helped me grow.