Alumni in Action

VC_pic.jpgVanessa Calderon
Ph.D. Student

Ph.D. Student in Clinical Psychology and Master of Public Health at the University of Southern California

Garfield High School, Class of 2009

Yale, Class of 2013

B.A. in Psychology 



‘I continue to address educational inequities by leading a college prep program in East L.A.’


What was your proudest accomplishment when you were a member of InnerCity Struggle?

I’m really proud of my involvement in InnerCity Struggle overall. I was involved with several campaigns and am grateful to have been a part of such important youth movements. Seeing how our collective efforts led to real change was very inspiring and motivating. 


What are you doing now? 

I’m currently a Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology at USC. My work centers on issues of discrimination, family support, and mental health disparities. I’m passionate about decreasing the stigma surrounding mental health and increasing the availability of services and support for Latinxs and others from marginalized backgrounds. 


Did InnerCity Struggle play a role in influencing your career path today?

My time in InnerCity Struggle taught me a lot about how to be an advocate for my community. I have carried those lessons with me throughout the years and have continued to work toward addressing educational inequities. In addition to my graduate work, I am the Director of College PATHS, a mentorship organization for high school students in East LA. We provide workshops on the college application process as well as important social justice issues affecting our community. Our goal is to provide students with additional support and resources and encourage them to engage with their school and community. 


How did being a part of InnerCity Struggle as a youth impact who you are today? 

I learned a lot about how to advocate for my community and feel more confident doing so. InnerCity Struggle helped me step outside of my comfort zone and engage with students and officials on important issues. I realized the importance of embracing difficult dialogues and the power of collective action. 


What advice would you give to young people today?

Get involved! There are so many organizations and collectives doing important work in our communities. Find what you’re passionate about or take a chance to figure it out.  

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