“The world is so much bigger than Pasadena. Make sure in whatever field you decide to study or whichever career you choose, remember that receiving a privileged education at Mayfield Junior comes with responsivities and it is our responsibility to make the world a better place.”
What have you done (personally and professionally) since you graduated from Mayfield?
After graduating from MJS and Mayfield Senior, I went to college at LMU. As part of an undergraduate class on homelessness and health, I spent four days on the streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles. Even though I had the privilege of knowing that I would soon return to my own bed and social circle, the experience of street-based homelessness is something I will never forget. This brief attempt to experience street-based living and adapt to the survival mentality opened my eyes to the compounding stressors of homelessness. The entire experience ignited a deep sense of curiosity and soon after I decided to dedicate my academic and professional career to fighting systemic factors of chronic homelessness.
I went on to Yale and recently graduated with my Master’s degree in Public Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences. Using my internship experience and entrepreneurial vision to focus on homeless youth (ages 15-28), in 2018 I co-founded the nonprofit DreamKit and began developing the DreamKitApp
. DreamKit is a web-based app that creates partnerships among youth experiencing homelessness and their local businesses, service providers, community residents and local stakeholders to end youth homelessness in urban cities, starting with New Haven. Youth earn points on the app by utilizing resources at existing homeless agencies (i.e. case management, education and employment classes, etc). Those points can be redeemed for immediate needs, such as food, a haircut or even clothes for an interview.
What is your favorite Mayfield memory?
That’s a toss-up between Blue & White Day and the Harvest Festival. I love celebrating, it’s in my genes and these two days were a great opportunity to bond with classmates and just celebrate life and friendships. Plus, the competitive edge of Blue & White Day was also a bonus. I loved the years when my team won. I can still remember screaming frantically and jumping up and down when the winners were announced on the PA system.
What advice would you pass on to a current Mayfield student?
The world is so much bigger than Pasadena. Make sure in whatever field you decide to study or whichever career you choose, remember that receiving a privileged education at Mayfield Junior comes with responsibilities and it is our responsibility to make the world a better place. Don’t get trapped in the “Pasadena bubble” forever because there are so many disparities in our world (i.e. health, economic, and social) that future generations need to address. Learning about principles like the “Golden Rule” and social justice at such a young age at MJS helped dramatically shape me into the advocate I am today.
Name one thing you learned at Mayfield and never forgotten.
Treat others how you want to be treated. If you could go back to MJS, what grade would you do over again and why?
Eight grade for sure! Since I’m the oldest child it makes sense that I loved the time when I felt the oldest on campus.
How has your Mayfield education contributed/influenced who you’ve become (personally and professional)?
I really appreciate MJS for providing an insight to understanding the social justice principles and ample leadership opportunities to 8th graders. From hosting weekly “families” to running booths at the Harvest Festival, it really shaped my confidence at Mayfield Junior to be able to go on to high school, college, and grad school with a strong sense of leadership.
I am grateful for my Holy Child education especially the encouragement to “Be a person with and for others.”
*In January 2022, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, American Province selected Marina as the recipient of the Holy Child Spirit Award for her work helping vulnerable communities.
Interested in connecting with Marina? Email her at email@example.com
or connect with her on LinkedIn.