Ready to Drive Change

As Cassandra Abarca learned about the destructive and discriminatory practice of redlining, it lit a fire to work for social change.

“Redlining is a form of discrimination when a lending agency or company denies a loan or insurance based on a person’s geographic area, especially because it is an area thought to be a ‘financial risk’ due to poverty or its ethnic or racial make-up. Even though redlining has serious negative effects, it still happens to Black and Hispanic communities in Milwaukee,” she explains. “When I realized the level of discrimination happening in my community, I became a strong advocate for creating change in the public education system and making sure to create opportunities for all people.”

As an Alverno student who is double majoring in Business and Management as well as Spanish Language and Cultures, Abarca is learning the skills needed to drive social change. Her potential as a change maker has been recognized by the nonprofit Campus Compact, which named Abarca a Newman Civic Fellow.

Abarca, along with the other 290 college students around the United States chosen for the 2020-21 cohort, will further develop their change-making skills and join a powerful network of promising young leaders.

“As a Newman Civic Fellow, I am eager to begin my leadership role representing Alverno through a national conveying, learning alongside passionate leaders who are creating a difference in their community,” Abarca says.

Abarca was nominated for the program by Alverno President Andrea Lee, IHM, who saluted the student’s passion for economic justice.

“Cassandra believes that advocacy concerning, and education on, issues facing minorities is essential to creating positive outcomes for Milwaukee’s and our nation’s future,” Sister Andrea says. “As an emerging minority businesswoman, I have no doubt that Cassandra will make an impact on our community through her dedication and determination.”

The fellowship will build upon the 8 Abilities that Abarca is developing as an Alverno student, including problem-solving and effective citizenship. She currently serves as the vice president of Alverno’s chapter of Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee and participates in Campus Ministry and the Alverno Business Leaders Empower student group.


This article appears in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Alverno Magazine.

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