2023-2024 CHCI Postgraduate Fellows
CHCI Housing Postgraduate Fellow Presented by Wells Fargo
Hometown: Aurora, Illinois
School: Illinois Institute of Technology
Degree: Master of Public Policy and Administration
Placement: The Office of Congressman Steven Horsford
Sandy (she/her) grew up in Aurora, Illinois as the daughter of immigrants from Mexico City and Michoacán, Mexico. Her Latina identity has helped her appreciate the value of hard work and has influenced her aspirations toward a career in public service. She witnessed her parents’ courage and vulnerability as they immersed themselves in American culture to ensure better opportunities for their children. While her parents faced challenges adapting to a new culture, they reminded Sandy to use her privilege as a U.S. citizen and education to stay connected to the Latino/a/x community. Additionally, her lived experiences have deepened her understanding of how policies impact underserved communities and perpetuate multi-generational cycles of poverty and marginalization. She has witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects of racial inequities in housing policy and experienced the tragic loss of her father to COVID-19, highlighting the consequences of structural inequality.
Her lived experience of understanding how public policies could better meet the needs of Latinx communities influenced her decision to pursue higher education. Sandy is a first-generation Mexican American graduate from Illinois Institute of Technology in 2022, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with minors in Political Science and Public Administration and an accelerated Master of Public Policy and Administration with honors. She has wide-ranging experience working with various stakeholders, community partners, state agencies and departments, and government and non-profit leaders. As a ’22-’23 Illinois James Dunn Fellow in the Governor’s Office of Equity, Sandy contributed to statewide diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives. She is committed to ensuring an equity lens is applied in policy redesign and implementation.
As a CHCI Housing Postgraduate Fellow, Sandy hopes to gain a more nuanced understanding of constitutional, statutory, and regulatory frameworks that underpin a significant portion of public policy formulation and implementation in the United States. Later, she plans to pursue law school to examine how the law shapes the life experiences of society’s most vulnerable communities and how it can be used as a tool to push back against discrimination and bigotry. She strives to leverage her knowledge and lived experience to build consensus as a future lawyer and remains committed to proactively shifting the way Latinx, immigrants, and other marginalized groups are treated. It is vital for policies to broaden and be more inclusive, comprehensive, and robust. Policy should reflect what is happening to communities of color on the ground and be co-designed with members of these communities.