The Student Newspaper of Oxford Academy

The Gamut

The Gamut

The Gamut

Support The Gamut

Your donation will support the student journalists of Oxford Academy. Your contribution will allow us to cover our annual website hosting and operation costs. Thank you for your support!

ROOTED Youth Fellowship builds bridges towards equity

Cultivating Change: ROOTED After School and Gilbert High School Cohort Fellows, ROOTED Leaders, and OCAPICA Youth Team gather after the Activism Showcase. (Photo By Monica Tran)

On Dec. 8, the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA) concluded its seventh semester of the ROOTED Youth Leadership and Development Fellowship. ROOTED educates on social justice, civic engagement, career development, and wellness over the course of 15 weeks with in person meetings. 

Over 30 fellows represented nine schools across the AUHSD. Throughout the program, they participated in interview training with Disney and Taco Bell, toured University of California Riverside, and wellness workshops. Additionally, this was ROOTED’s first time hosting additional programming exclusively for Gilbert High School.

With its goal of achieving equity and reaching underserved communities, OCAPICA coordinators decided to make the program more accessible for Gilbert High School students by embedding it within students’ class schedules on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Gilbert High School is a continuation school designed to support students in need of a flexible schedule due to employment, family obligations, and other needs.  

“It’s hard to get [Gilbert High School] students to join ROOTED because it’s after school and a lot of students have other responsibilities full time,” Youth Program Coordinator Monica Tran said. “We decided to go to Gilbert so we can give those students an opportunity to grow without having to worry about things like transportation and time, or having to give up other responsibilities.”

After students devote weeks to developing community projects addressing social issues such as homelessness prevention, food insecurity, mental health, and gender equity, groups presented their projects to AUHSD officials and OCAPICA partners at the Activism Showcase in the Gilbert High School auditorium on Nov. 15. Nine groups presented in front of large poster boards detailing their project activities, pictures, resources, and students’ personal growth.

Five students (each from five different AUHSD schools) tackled the topic of homelessness prevention as their project. By partnering with art classes and reaching out to AUHSD students, they collected art pieces depicting different aspects of the issue and were used in an art gallery night at Magnolia High School on Oct. 30 to spread awareness. Additionally, they collected clothes and toys to donate to local homeless shelters. 

“From ROOTED, I’ve grown so much,” junior Perla Santana, a Loara High School student part of the homelessness prevention group, said. “The first day I was here, [I] wasn’t confident with my words. I speak more Spanish than English, so it’s difficult for me to talk sometimes. I was going to ditch. But then I was like, let’s do it [and] it made me so confident. It made me express my true colors rather than hiding it and being ashamed of who I am.”

Upon completion of the program, students receive two certificates signed by national and state public officials, as well as qualifying for future opportunities through OCAPICA. To continue their ROOTED journey, fellows are eligible to intern for future cohorts where they further their leadership skills by advising activism projects and facilitating sessions.

“The biggest thing I gained [from interning] was becoming more comfortable being myself in public spaces. I have a hard time getting out of my comfort zone. Being a ROOTED Leader really allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and grow as a person. When it comes to public speaking, I still get nervous but I feel confident that I can do it,” said junior Erina Jung, a Cypress High School student and ROOTED Spring 2023 fellow. 

OCAPICA looks forward to expanding ROOTED to more communities and students who lack the opportunities for leadership programs. Regardless of background, ROOTED strives to provide all students with the confidence and skills to bring positive change to their community.

Donate to The Gamut

Your donation will support the student journalists of Oxford Academy. Your contribution will allow us to cover our annual operational costs and website hosting. Thank you for your support!

About the Contributor
Trisha Phan
Trisha Phan, Editor in Chief
Trisha Phan, a senior at Oxford, is this year's Editor in Chief of The Gamut. A staff member since freshman year, she served as the Lifestyle Editor for the 22-23 school year (her personal favorite section, as a lover of fun diction and features). Trisha is also the Co-President of the new Law and Politics Club and the Co-President of Cartooning Club (and advises all who love drawing to join). During her free time, she enjoys crocheting stuffed animals and reading. A Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift enthusiast, her favorite albums are NFR and Reputation. Since becoming part of the Gamut in her freshman year, Trisha has fallen in love with journalism, and is looking forward to trying new things this school year.
Donate to The Gamut