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CHCI – Walmart Intern
Hometown: Kissimmee, Florida

School: University of Florida
Major: Biology
Placement: The Office of Rep. Darren Soto

Mariana Castro was born in Lima, Peru but calls Florida home since immigrating there in 2005. She and her mother came to the United States seeking a better life, leaving behind her siblings and father. Growing up undocumented in a new country, she was unsure of her future until DACA came along months before her high school graduation. Mariana knew this was her opportunity into higher education, and fought for tuition equity for undocumented Florida youth. This sparked her passion for social justice and taught her how grassroots organizing can shape policy.

After successfully advocating for tuition equity, she attended the University of Florida (UF) majoring in biological sciences. Mariana continued her advocacy at UF where she held several leadership positions within Chispas, the only student-led immigrant advocacy organization at UF. Castro established programs that provide visibility to undocumented students at UF, most recently institutionalizing training for professional staff about relevant immigration laws that affect the student body.

Mariana’s passion for social activism and policy led her to spend a semester working for the Florida Senate, learning how she can push for change for other marginalized communities across the state. Mariana works closely with the Florida Immigrant Coalition providing different trainings in immigrant communities and lobbying against anti-immigrant laws in Florida.

As a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute intern, Mariana hopes to further learn how our legislative process works and how the federal government can bring tangible change to disenfranchised communities. Mariana plans to pursue a combined JD/MPP degree and continue to use legislation and grassroots organizing in order to fight for marginalized communities in the nation.