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CHCI-Coca Cola Intern
Hometown: Huntington Park, California
School: University of California Berkeley
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Linda Sánchez

Karen Avila was born in Huntington Park, California. Her passion for public service is based on her experience growing up in poverty. Support programs helped her family survive in spite the constant moving and the instability in her education, and at UC Berkeley, Karen has worked to assist low-income students and families, especially in education retainment and legal services.

Karen was an active participant of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Student Intake Staff, where she helped hire, train, and supervise interns every semester to manage the EOP office. Karen also worked with academic counselors to help quantify educational data of at least 800 first-generation and low-income EOP participants. As a low-income, first-generation Latina, Karen strives to support students and contribute to their professional growth.

During her third academic year, Karen volunteered over 300 hours serving low-income and middle-income families in the California courts. As a Justice Corps member, she assisted limited English-proficient individuals and families suffering from evictions, habitability issues, civil harassment, and domestic violence. Through this work, she observed first-hand the overwhelming need for affordable legal aid. Afterward, Karen volunteered at Bay Area Legal Aid to assist with housing preservation.

As a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute intern, Karen hopes to analyze larger-scale anti-poverty strategies in policy areas. She will learn legislative skills to advocate for the greater Latino community. Upon completion of the CHCI internship, Karen is determined to work in public policy or in a field of law. She hopes to pursue a master’s in public policy or a J.D to represent families from under-resourced communities in the legal system. Karen accredits her personal and professional accomplishments thanks to the unconditional support from her family, teachers, and mentors.