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CHCI-Toyota Intern

Hometown: Albertville, Alabama
School: University of Alabama at Birmingham
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Terri Sewell

Bessie M. Gaspar was born in Boaz, Alabama, and raised in the small immigrant community of Kilpatrick on the outskirts of Albertville, Alabama. Bessie is the daughter and granddaughter of Guatemalan-Maya immigrants, more specifically decedents of the Akateco and Q’anjob’al indigenous people of Guatemala. At an early age, Bessie learned the value of hard work and perseverance through her family who traversed the entire country as seasonal migrant farm workers. Her family ultimately moved to North Alabama to seek stable employment at the Albertville poultry processing plants.

Growing up in the rural South, Bessie gained valuable knowledge of the challenges and disparities rural Americans and immigrant communities encounter. She learned the importance of land and agriculture firsthand through her own experience with her grandparents’ small farming business in Kilpatrick and largely through her parents’ migrant history.

Bessie is currently a senior majoring in Political Science with a minor in Professional and Public Discourse at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. On-campus, she serves as the vice-president of the Spanish and Latino Student Association and lead-student assistant of Free Food For Thought, a student and multicultural diversity program.

Upon completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to attend law school and subsequently create a program that will provide meaningful resources to students from rural communities so that they may thrive and support their communities.

As a CHCI Intern, Bessie is eager to meet policymakers and gain valuable insight in research and policymaking, explicitly in the field of rural development and agriculture.