CHCI-Coca Cola Foundation Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Wilmette, Illinois
School: Northwestern University
Degree: B.A. in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation
Placement: The Office of Congressman Joe Neguse
Bibiana Belknap Fernandez (she/her) grew up in Wilmette, Illinois, and is the daughter of a Cuban immigrant. Her Latina identity and community have shaped her to think of the collective good before herself. From a young age, she fostered a passion for science through the team science competition Science Olympiad, where she studied epidemiology, glaciology, mineralogy, and more at the middle and high school levels. This solidified her interest in environmental justice and public health.
Bibiana attended Northwestern University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation. She also completed minors in Legal Studies and Environmental Policy and Culture. While at Northwestern, she founded and served as president of Philanthropy Choir, a community service choral ensemble dedicated to spreading joy and fundraising for local charities. In May of 2022, Philanthropy Choir hosted a Spring Benefit Concert where they raised hundreds of dollars for Evanston Pride Inc., a non-profit dedicated to uplifting the Evanston LGBTQ+ community. Bibiana also worked as a Resident Assistant, helping to build community while ensuring the health and safety of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to enforcing university policies, she hosted trivia nights, scavenger hunts, and cross-community clothing swaps, a sustainable way for people to refresh their wardrobes by trading clothes that they may no longer want with others. Outside of Northwestern, Bibiana was a summer intern for the Chicago Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Chicago Bar Association, which aims to improve access to the legal system for those in need. As an intern, she directly connected individuals to affordable legal services, completed research on student loan debt solutions and helped to organize an awards ceremony for pro bono and public service attorneys in the Chicagoland area.
As a CHCI-Coca Cola Foundation Public Policy Fellow, Bibiana hopes to learn more about the policy-making process and how solutions for environmental crises can best be put into practice. She plans to build on this Fellowship experience by attending law school and serving as a professional advocate for environmental protection.