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Fall 2018 CCDE Fellows

Isabel Agtual

CAL Class of 2020

Isabel Agtual is a junior at the University of California, Berkeley. She is majoring in Legal Studies and minoring in Spanish. This fall Isabel will be interning at the United States Attorney's  Office where she will gain first-hand experience in the federal legal system. Isabel is fascinated by the roles of law and law enforcement in the United States. Her passion is fueled by her interest in the human aspect of society.  She is captivated by the rules that operate within society and the fact that people run afoul of these rules on a regular basis. She is also curious about why certain issues have become important in our society, and whether certain laws are valid. During her years at Berkeley, she has taken a particular interest in expanding her knowledge regarding human trafficking. She participated in the YWCA Anti-Human Trafficking Internship where she met weekly with other participants to discuss the horrendous issue of human trafficking, listen to speakers, and further explore her options of how she can work against this form of modern-day slavery. She is also a member of the Berkeley Anti Trafficking Coalition. This past summer she participated in an internship in Tel Aviv, Israel, at the Eritrean Women's Community Center. There, she worked with many women who were trafficked in the Sinai Desert during their trek from the repressive dictatorship of Eritrea to Israel. She helped people fill out Refugee Status Determination forms, taught weekly English classes, and helped with fundraising to ensure the center could continue to provide services. Her experience working with these survivors has further strengthened her desire to fight against trafficking. 

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Berkeley, she plans to attend law school and ultimately work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a Special Agent. During the summer of 2017, she interned for the Los Angeles World Airports Police Division in the Homeland Security and Intelligence Section with the Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Unit and the Emergency Operations and Planning Unit.  She had the unique opportunity to shadow police officers, attend workshops relating to emergency management, and assist with various sensitive law enforcement tasks, including acting as a decoy.  She received first-hand exposure into the world of law enforcement. Isabel is grateful to receive the Center on Civility and Democratic Engagement fellowship and for the opportunity to expand her horizons. Read her story.


Karen Avila


Karen Avila is a graduating senior at UC Berkeley, pursuing a major in Political Science and a minor in Public Policy. She is from Huntington Park, California. Her experience growing up in a low-income household fuels her passion for public service. Karen has worked to assist low-income students and families, especially in education retainment and legal services.

Throughout her four years at UC Berkeley, Karen was a participant of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). EOP provides academic counseling and financial resources to students of color and undocumented students. After completing two internships with EOP, she accepted a student staff position. As part of the Student Intake Staff, she helped hire, train, and supervise interns per semester to manage the EOP office. She facilitated weekly seminars for interns and helped quantify educational data of EOP participants. As a low-income, first-generation Latina, Karen strives to support students and contribute to their professional growth.      

During her third academic year, Karen dedicated over 300 hours serving low-income and middle-income litigants in the California courts. As a JusticeCorps member, she assisted limited English-proficient individuals and families suffering from illegal evictions, habitability issues, civil harassment, and domestic violence. Through this work, she observed first-hand the overwhelming need for affordable legal aid. Afterward, Karen volunteered at Bay Area Legal Aid to assist with housing preservation.

Karen will intern at a congressional office during her UCDC internship. She hopes to analyze larger-scale anti-poverty strategies and learn from professionals shaping policy at the national level. Karen intends to research causes of homelessness and analyze subsidized program policies in rural and urban areas throughout the United States. Upon completion of the UCDC program, Karen is determined to work in public policy or in a field of law. She hopes to pursue a Masters in Public Policy or a J.D to represent families from under-resourced communities in the legal system. Through the UCDC program, she will enhance her leadership and legislative skills to advocate for the greater Latino community. Karen accredits her personal and professional accomplishments thanks to the unconditional support from her family, teachers, and mentors. 


Karina Paredes-Arzola

CAL CLASS of 2019

Karina Paredes-Arzola is a 5th year transfer student pursuing a major in Political Science with a minor in Ethnic Studies.

As the daughter of undocumented immigrants from Mexico, Karina witnessed her parents persist through the fears of deportation, financial instability, lack of opportunity, discrimination, racism, and the myriad of hurdles that follow living in a country illegally. These experiences have driven Karina towards a career in public interest for worker, immigrant, and voting rights through the non-profit field. Therefore, she intends to pursue a joint degree in law and public policy. Her goal is to create change through a holistic approach by meeting immediate need while strategizing for long-term transformation.

During a two-year break from education, Karina worked as community organizer for a faith-based economic justice non-profit organization. She engaged clergy, often from more privileged backgrounds, to take an active role in campaigns that advocated for the dignity and respect of disadvantaged communities, particularly immigrants and workers. She collaborated with a diversity of people, from elected officials, to clergy of various denominations, labor unions, grass-root groups, and community members of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

While at UC Berkeley, Karina has gained research experience relating to Latino politics, displacement, and state predatory lending policies. In the summer of 2017, as a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow, Karina interned in the Capitol for the office of Assemblymember Rudy Salas. Returning to her Central Valley roots, she learned about water storage projects and heard directly from constituents about their positions on immigration and agriculture. Karina currently works as an Immigration Legal Assistant at the East Bay Community Law Center where she helps fellow UC Berkeley students, their families, and low-income community members gain access to quality legal representation.

With her remaining time at Cal, Karina will spend Fall 2018 interning in Washington, DC and hopes to study abroad in Santiago, Chile in Spring 2019.