How Studying Poverty Turned Me into a Social Justice Advocate

By Citlaly Mora

Ms. Mora graduated from Elon University in January 2016. She majored in International Studies with minors in Poverty and Social Justice, Peace and Conflict Studies, Latin American Studies, and Political Science. She works as Women’s Resource Center Manager in the YWCA of High Point. She serves on the Social Justice Committee of High Point and Advocacy, International Task Force of the Greater High Point Food Alliance, and the Housing Coalition of High Point. She continues to work with American Friends Service Committee doing communications, social media, and writing their monthly newsletter. She hopes to pursue graduate school in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies.

"Not a week that goes by that I do not use what I learned during my participation in the internship and the internship continues to develop my understanding of poverty and the structural inequalities that many people, especially women, face in the United States," writes Mora (Elon 2016).

“Not a week that goes by that I do not use what I learned during my participation in the internship and the internship continues to develop my understanding of poverty and the structural inequalities that many people, especially women, face in the United States,” writes Mora (Elon 2016).


During my internship at American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Greensboro, North Carolina, I had the chance to work enthusiastically in social justice activism in the state through public advocacy. The internship in immigrant rights and later communications, allowed me to vocalize my beliefs of freedom and equality for everyone. We gave particular heed to those who have been disenfranchised, marginalized, and worst of all, have fewer resources to make their voices heard in our society. Not only did it allow me to become active in policy and community education, but it also allowed me to make friends and find networks with people who believe in the same mission as I do. It was through an AFSC fellow intern that I was considered for the privileged position I hold today, which is a gateway to a career serving the public. Thanks to her and thanks to the professor who encouraged me to seek the internship, I was directly led to where I am today.

After my SHECP experience, I became more involved in finding solutions to the poverty problem we have in the U.S. Based on my summer experience, I was encouraged to explore courses and research with a professor who allowed me to implement what I learned academically about poverty for conducting ethnographic research to better assist people in the welfare system and improve the services aid recipients receive in Guilford County. I ended up being employed working for the people of Guilford County. My work with AFSC is relevant because it gave me hands on experience in social justice activism enabling me to learn about how public policy influences the lives of everyone, and especially impoverished persons. Due to my Elon studies in Poverty and Social Justice I have evidence and academic knowledge to defend and understand the struggles millions of Americans face, and at the same time my internship allowed me to gain the tools needed to voice my concerns about social injustice through activism and seeking a career that would fulfill my moral values.

I will be forever grateful to Elon University that I had the opportunity to experience many things during my undergraduate years. One of the best choices was to pursue a minor in Poverty and Social Justice. This gave me the opportunity to participate in the SHECP internship that ultimately led to my job offer as a Women’s Resource Center Manager at a Women’s Resource Center in High Point, North Carolina. My job entails implementing programs that will help empower women who have faced many adversities, roadblocks, and life obstacles deriving from being in poverty. They were ensconced in poverty because of circumstances beyond their control. Not a week that goes by that I do not use what I learned during my participation in the internship and the internship continues to develop my understanding of poverty and the structural inequalities that many people, especially women, face in the United States.

For instance, the work that my fellow interns accomplished in the mobile farmer’s market and what I learned from their experiences comes into use when I work with an international task force that to reduce the food insecurity that makes High Point number one in the country for food hardship, according to the Food Research and Action Center. The experience of participating in my first Moral March during my internship allowed me to participate in my second Moral March this past February. Learning about structural inequalities in class helped me better understand what many women go through and advocate for long-term solutions to poverty and inequality. I can confidently say that it was because of SHECP that I can vigorously fulfill the mission of my organization: to empower women and eliminate racism.

Today I sat with two women who face struggles of transportation, healthcare, and many unfortunate events in their lives, events that I could never imagine having to experience. However, I remain optimistic that my years in poverty studies, research experience, and internship observations will help me help them and many others. My experience in the Consortium and its relevance to my career demonstrates the value of opportunities like these for students who are idealistic and motivated enough to work in a career that tackles injustices and poverty. I can honestly say that without my venture into poverty studies I would not be where I am today: on track to do what I can to use my career to fight for social justice and equality for all –especially those who have been left behind time and time again.

#AmericanFriendsServiceCommittee #GuilfordCounty #WomensResourceCenter

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