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May 28, 2014
Fight on all Fronts: USF Gates Millennium Scholar Puts on the Gloves for Immigrant Rights
by Ed Carpenter
Like most USF students, Marisela Esparza’s service-learning experience started by volunteering for a cause. Unlike most, it ended with her helping to organize a strike to win higher wages for thousands of San Francisco hotel workers. What began as a class requirement became a calling.
Esparza ’14 spent her sophomore year fighting for hotel workers as a volunteer organizer for Unite HERE!
“My sophomore year was when I found my voice,” says Esparza, an International Studies major. Once shy, she was inspired by the struggles of the Hilton San Francisco chambermaids, bellboys, and kitchen cooks she met during a service-learning class.
“I had to go up against this huge corporation. I got angry,” says Esparza, who volunteered for seven months and worked alongside picketers and telephoned hundreds of convention goers to urge them to hold their events elsewhere. “It was something I felt was very important, and that I couldn’t leave just because the semester ended.”