Shirleen Achieng, UCI Community Resilience Fellow

Description: The Center for Black Cultures, Resources & Research; the Cross-Cultural Center; the Global Sustainability Resource Center; and the Student Housing Sustainability Program are collaborating to build community resilience at UCI. The Community Resilience Co-lab is an experimental co-curricular education response to the enduring and intersecting crises of environmental, racial, and social injustice. The Community Resilience Co-lab seeks to advance a coalition that mobilizes student capacity towards engagement, inspires exchange among a diverse cohort of activists and healers, lifts up cultural relationships to the earth, and educates at the intersections of environmental, racial, and social justice issues. Our invitation for collaboration extends broadly to student leaders, staff, faculty, and community members who are engaged in work for racial and social equity and/or sustainability.

Student Project: Based at the Center for Black Cultures, Resources & Research, Shirleen became a fellow in May 2017. Project activities include catalyzing a rich campus conversation, fostering alignment, and building campus momentum to address actively the root causes of environmental, social, and racial injustice. The Fellow will support co-lab participants in designing and carrying out a range of actions that build community resilience, including mobilizing student capacity to reclaim and create systems and cultures of collective action that lift up cultural relationships to the earth and land. This fellowship is a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity to develop and practice a range of skills essential to building community resilience in the context of furthering our campus’s climate and sustainability goals.

Shirleen is a second year public health science major at UCI. As a public health major, she feels the need to not only focus on the health of the general community, but values the importance of environmental health in relation to social justice. Her biggest inspiration to apply for the Community Resilience Fellowship were her early background experiences of environmental inequality and injustice growing up in Kenya. She believes natural resources are extremely vital for human survival. As a result, she wants to promote access to, control, and use of natural resources in various marginalized communities that have been limited, denied, or undermined. She especially looks forward to tackling the intersecting environmental, social justice, and racial crises that are occurring in contemporary society. Her future career goals involve working with overlooked communities in third world countries as a public physician while simultaneously advocating for various public health issues severely affecting Kenyans. Since this fellowship aligns with her career path, she hopes to utilize the skills and experiences she takes away from it into her future endeavors.