Geshalem Perez said she knew early on she wanted to "help people in some way." So when she heard a union leader speak in her San Diego State University's "Social Movements" class, she found her calling.
Perez, 28, is the organizer for three unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, after having been involved with labor unions for a number of years.
"After having graduated from SDSU in 2007 with a B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Diversity and Change, I've been actively involved in the labor movement, helping to empower workers and strengthen the middle class," she said. "I feel both humbled and strengthened being able to fight for the rights of working class people—currently as an organizer on staff for the UDW Homecare Providers Union, which has greatly engaged and retained me within this movement."
Perez, who said her biggest accomplishment is participating in groups such as the board of directors for Justice Overcoming Boundaries as a Fiesta del Sol co-chair, the Labor's Training and Community Alliance, the Foundation for Change and Train of Thought San Diego, said she hopes to continue to serve the Labor and Green Movements.
As she continues to grow in the community, Perez thanks her parents for being her inspiration.
"Being the hardworking people they are, they definitely helped instill a strong work ethic within my core values," she said.
Advice for young people:
"Essentially, no matter where you are in your career, I would bet even a few of these following points may come in handy one day. And at the very least, the "15 Commandments Toward Effective Organizing" may prove useful in building solid relationships with those around you."
1. You are an organizer.
2. Things are always great; be positive.
3. Think with your head; be driven by your heart.
4. People come to a campaign for a candidate; they stay because of you.
5. Empower yourself, empower others.
6. Respect your co-workers.
7. NEVER lie.
8. The phone is your weapon.
9. If it's not written down, it doesn't exist.
10. Numbers win campaigns.
11. Have goals; be accountable. Make others accountable, too.
12. "Some" is not a number and "soon" is not a time. HARD NUMBERS COUNT.
13. K.I.S.S. = Keep it short, and simple.
14. Time is the most valuable resource you have. Don't waste it.
15. When you are not working, the other side is.