Iyai 2022 “Community-Builder” Internship Recipients

San Bernardino Valley Community College (“Inland Empire”) Announcement

At Introducing Youth to American Infrastructure (“Iyai+”), our focus is helping to address the high-risk, next-generation workforce development challenges facing our nation’s critical infrastructure sectors – with particular emphasis on young women, people of color, and our most vulnerable youth – who continue to be significantly under-represented across our critical infrastructure sectors. In 2021, we launched our highly successful Infrastructure Careers Awareness Program as a weekly campus lecture series in partnership with San Bernardino Valley Community College (SBVC) and a host of regional, State national, and international public, private sector; and community-based infrastructure-focused employers and organizations. And have been extremely excited to enter into a 5-year Memorandum of Agreement with SBVC to expand our national infrastructure careers awareness programming to the Inland Empire/southern California region – our California “home base.”

It is our pleasure to introduce Susan Ortiz and Cecilia Sanchez, students at San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC) – as the 2022 recipients of our Dr. Juanita Jones-Abernathy “Community-Builder” Internships (2022). A Founding Iyai+ Board Member, we were honored to have benefit of the late Dr. Abernathy’s wisdom and active participation. All important to our “community-building” framing, emphasis on “youth voice” and respect for the value of “learned” experience.

ln 2020, with the support of HDR, we established this “paid’ internship opportunity in recognition of Dr. Abernathy’s historic civil rights leadership together with her spouse, the late Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Dr. Martin Luther King’s mentor and partner in the civil rights movement of the 1950’s – 60’s, and lifetime of extraordinary community service, public advocacy, and civic activism. Corporate support that has been an immense help to our youth – virtually all of whom need to “earn” while the “learn.”   Making it possible for our young “community-builders” to complement their Iyai+ career awareness experience actually working on projects in their community that — build on their knowledge and experience; advance the work of “community-building;” help them to personally build their professional networks; and very importantly — “opens doors” to potential career and educational/training funding opportunities.

Susan Ortiz is a first-year student at San Bernardino Valley Community College (SBVC) with an interest in Business Administration. Susan is passionate about participating in community events and taking on leadership responsibilities, wishing to serve her people in any way possible. Local to the Inland Empire, she has seen first-hand how people face economic inequality and barriers in the workforce. And the tremendous need to close the gap and make high-paying jobs in the infrastructure sectors more accessible. Susan’s involvement in the Puente Project at SBVC (an initiative designed to increase the number of educationally under-represented students, complete higher education and return to their communities as mentors and future leaders) plays a huge role in her desire to improve the Inland Empire, aiming to bring greater youth participation and community awareness to the infrastructure world.

Cecilia Sanchez recently graduated from San Bernardino Valley Community College (SBVC),with an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts. She plans to continue her education at Cal State San Bernardino University in Fall 2022. Of Native American and Mexican descent, Cecilia’s identity plays a huge role in her ambition and dedication to help people and communities similar to her. Taking advantage of the many resources on campus. Cecilia participates in programs including SBVC’s Foster Care Program, Star Program, Disabled Student Program (DSPS), Valley Bound Commitment (VBC), and Extended Opportunity Program (EOPS). She is also the President of the Math Club and the Treasurer for the Performing Arts Club at SBVC. Cecilia aims to represent a more inclusive body of youth to the infrastructure industry through Iyai, to inspire others in her respective circles as well as the larger Inland Empire.