Community Organizer, ARC Leadership, LLC
First Robert Hildreth Award Recipient
Elected Harvard Undergraduate Researcher for Diversity, (In)Equity, and Social Justice Conference
By: Tim Estiloz
Andrea Ornelas has positioned herself as one of Boston’s finest in the fields of community service, social justice and youth involvement. Ornelas has demonstrated true leadership via her work with a variety of community organizations aimed at empowering Boston’s Latino community and beyond. A graduate of UMass Boston, she is currently pursuing graduate studies in International Business Management at Northeastern University.
“Social justice has always been a huge part of my life,” said Ornelas. “I started at Casa Latina, UMass Boston’s Latino student organization, in my freshman year… which led to my joining ARC Leadership which focuses on development, social movement and leadership capacity by leading community organizing and public narrative workshops to youth and constituents that require such outreach.”
A native of Revere, Ornelas’ passion for enacting social change not only reaches those in Boston but also her cultural roots in Mexico. She founded a clothing drive for Mayan women in Quintana Roo, Mexico and also created English tutoring classes for Mayan youth in Mexico.
“I was very eager to stay connected to my roots,” said Ornelas. “I spent time with indigenous communities there and I definitely felt something ignite within me once I was able to reconnect with that portion of my culture. It really helped me with my identity and my dual consciousness as a Mexican-American.”
In Boston, Ornelas has devoted her time to various organizations such as UTEC to assist youth respond to the problem of gang violence and Berklee City Music to guide young people from underserved communities to develop musically, socially and academically through the performing arts.
“I’ve always aspired to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Ornelas. “ One of my favorite quotes is ‘if you leave this life now by knowing you’ve made someone’s life better; then you’ve been successful’. I live by that motto. ARC Leadership, and my parents’ inspiration, has allowed me to be a person that can try to help people with whatever social goal they’re reaching to achieve”.
While Ornelas feels an increasing attraction to her cultural home in Mexico, Boston remains a strong influence in her life.
“Boston will always be home,” said Ornelas. “I’ve grown to appreciate Boston more when I’m outside of it. I feel Boston has so much to give to people, from its rich history to its diversity It’s really made me who I am as a strong Latina woman”.