Madina Zermeño draws from her experiences growing up in San Diego as a Muslim child and later volunteering abroad as she aims for a career improving life in underrepresented communities.
Growing up as a Muslim, Latina, Filipina woman of color, Madina Zermeño draws on her multifaceted identity to promote societal change.
Zermeño, a senior majoring in political science at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, grew up in San Diego, a diverse city bordering Tijuana, Mexico.
“There are so many minority intersectionalities that make up my identity, which has sparked my interest in social justice. Growing up in such a multicultural city, I was encouraged to advocate for the communities I come from,” she said.
Zermeño is passionate about carceral justice, including mass incarceration and juvenile justice. Several members of her family have been incarcerated, which has given her insight into similarities among minority neighborhoods and communities that struggle with poverty, gang violence and incarceration.
This personal experience sparked her interest in protecting communities from the pattern of repeated incarceration from one generation to the next that her family has struggled with — a personal battle Zermeño has channeled into a passion for societal change.
Zermeño has also focused on education, equity and access. Both of her parents work in education, so she has been able to identify ways American youth can use education as a tool to break societal patterns that have affected minority groups.
“It made me value education and want to advocate for quality education and access for the most deserving, underserved, and underrepresented youth,” she explained.