Casey Feldman Foundation Proud of Scholarship Recipient, Alejandra Pedraza
Alejandra Pedraza is a shining example of the kind of student that the Casey Feldman Foundation is proud to support through its Alternative Spring Break Scholarship program. This first generation college student and junior at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) was born in the United States by an immigrant mother who crossed the border from Mexico with Pedraza’s older sister in arms. According to Alejandra, “being born in this country is one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received.” Majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology as well as environmental studies, Alejandra hopes to one day become an environmental lawyer to protect the environment and advocate for people who are disproportionately impacted by unsound environmental practices.
“Being in college is a great privilege” and “one of the hardest and most fulfilling endeavors of my life,” says Pedraza, who takes immense pride in being the first in family to attend college and sees herself as a role model for her younger sister.“I make the most out of every day by constantly learning and participating in events and activities,” she adds.
A Daniels Scholar as the result of her exceptional character, leadership, and community service, Pedraza is grateful for the payment of her college tuition and fees. With no other financial support, she has worked throughout college to pay her living expenses and to send money to her hard working mother, who struggles to make ends meet. This leaves virtually no funding for the many extra programs, activities and leadership opportunities that she would like to participate in, something often taken for granted by other students.
One of these is the Alternative Breaks, a program of the Volunteer Resource Center at CU, which sends teams of college students to engage in community-based service projects during each college break, providing opportunities for students to learn about the problems faced by members of communities with whom they may otherwise have had little or no direct contact.
It was only through funding from the Casey Feldman Foundation that Pedraza was afforded the opportunity to participate in the Alternative Spring Break human trafficking trip this past spring in Miami, Florida. The host for the students in Miami was The Life of Freedom Center, a community resource that offers free support and restorative programs for female survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking and works toward ending human trafficking both locally and throughout the United States.
The experience was an immersive educational experience for Alejandro and her fellow volunteers who learned about this $32 billion industry and how to identify and respond to human trafficking in their own community. Much of Alejandra’s time and energy is focused on the environment and she was eager, as a student leader, to learn about this critical and heartbreaking issue. “This trip really helped bring the concept of human trafficking closer to home. A lot of the things I witnessed in Miami can easily be witnessed throughout the streets of Denver. I simply had never put two and two together,” said Alejandro.
Part of Alejandra’s week was spent volunteering her services at a safe house for human trafficking victims where she performed landscaping work to make the entrance more attractive.” I loved doing this,” said Alejandra, “because I was able to actually contribute to the cause with my own hard work. Casey Feldman was a champion of human rights and by participating in this trip, I took a step in the same direction.”