Hometown: Huntsville, Alabama
School: Mississippi State University
Placement: The Office of Rep. Nikema Williams
Elisa Castañeda is a first-generation Latina-Americana that is equal parts Indiana Hoosier and Alabamian. She lived the first ten years of her life in Fishers, Indiana, and in 2009, her family relocated to North Alabama due to job loss during the housing market crash.
Her mother was born in Honduras, and her father is from Mexico, and they taught her the value of her Latinidad in a community that sought to degrade her by it. The challenges and adversities that she has faced have helped her to grow a passion to serve those groups most marginalized in society.
Elisa is currently a Junior at Mississippi State University, majoring in Architecture and pursuing minors in Geospatial Information Systems and Remote Sensing, as well as Sociology. At MSU she participated in the National Organization for Minority Architecture Students Conference in Chicago. She has also sought to celebrate the Latino community on-campus by developing and exhibiting research on Latino Architecture and Urbanism in Central and South America at her student union gallery. In addition, she actively supports the Latino Student Association at MSU. After obtaining her bachelor’s, Elisa hopes to serve in the Peace Corps and then get a master’s degree in Urban Planning and International Affairs, with an emphasis on Sociology.
As a CHCI Intern, Elisa aspires to gain perspective on how the legislative process works, in hopes that it will equip her with the right skills she needs to advocate for policy change in legislation that disproportionately affects disparaged groups.