When not out canvassing community leaders for donations and donor support, Two Wings’ killer Community Outreach intern, Brenda, loves to kick up her heels and dance. Read on to learn about a day in the life of the recent Berkeley graduate, how important the role of community is to her, why she loves to make people laugh, and what she hopes to accomplish during her internship.
Name: Brenda Monica Gonzalez-Camacho
Ok, so let’s start with an ice-breaker. Would you rather explore deep space or the deep ocean? Well, right off the bat, thinking about the power and massive size of the ocean scares me. Thinking that, at any moment, the ocean could cause a natural disaster with no way of stopping it… Yeah, I think I would rather explore deep space.
What brought you to the Two Wings family? I’ve always had interest in assisting and supporting vulnerable communities, but I’m also a person who enjoys keeping busy. In this case, when summer came around, I started looking for different internships to build my professional skills and continue my experience working with non-profits. I came across the Community Outreach internship with Two Wings and thought of it as the perfect opportunity and organization to continue volunteering for the summer.
Awesome! What kind of experience from your background has come in handy most for this type of role? I recently graduated from UC-Berkeley with a double major in Peace and Conflict Studies (emphasis on Human Rights) and Sociocultural Anthropology. I’m really interested in learning about different cultures and figuring out the root causes/structures that create a system of injustices within these communities.
Before I came to Two Wings, during my last semester at Berkeley, I interned with the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute where I was able to conduct research on the prison system, specifically focusing in on topics of solitary confinement and capital punishment. Additionally, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to continue my work on prisoners in solitary confinement through volunteer work at the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law this summer.
What drew me to Two Wings, though, was the fact that it’s an organization that supports survivors of sex trafficking in our own community of Los Angeles. Doing this kind of work has made me realize that, as much as I would love to change the world and make it a peaceful place over night, it’s best for me to work locally and assist my own community.
What does a normal day at work look like for you? Well, what I enjoy most about my work with Two Wings is that it changes from week to week. Some days, I’ll be sourcing out businesses to ask for donations or researching grant applications. It’s really nice to be able to have different projects to work on because work is never monotonous. Since I plan on continuing to work in the non-profit sector, I really just want to soak up everything that I can during my time here. In that case, I appreciate any experience I can get!
What’s been the most challenging part of your internship so far? What about the most rewarding? The most challenging part of my work so far has been securing donations from various companies. It’s challenging because there are so many great non-profits out there that are asking for the same kind of support, so it can be a challenge.
My most rewarding experiences, though, has been attending trainings and conferences on human trafficking. I enjoy any opportunity I have to expand my knowledge on this practice and learn about the different ways in which we all can create change to end it. It’s been such an honor to work with Elena. I greatly admire her work and the goals that she works to achieve every day with Two Wings. Learning from such an inspiring woman has been so rewarding and makes me think that one day I might like to be an Executive Director of my own non-profit, as well.
It’s so empowering to hear about women inspiring each other in such meaningful, profound ways. Who are your role models? Which women have influenced you most in your life and career so far? The act of kindness, of being able to give without any expectation of something in return, is a quality I truly admire. With that in mind, one woman that has contributed her life to humanity is Mother Teresa. Another woman who has influenced me is Julia Butterfly Hill, an activist who had so much love and compassion for the Redwood forest that she lived on one of the trees in order to prevent its destruction.
I admire people who are selfless and sacrifice their lives for the lives of others and the environment. Knowing that there are people out there like Mother Teresa and Julia Butterfly Hill gives me the motivation to continue wanting to help our community’s most vulnerable.
I heard you love to dance. What’s been playing on your iPod lately? I enjoy a variety of music! But lately, I’ve been listening to Kaskade, Tiesto, Calvin Harris, and lots of electro-dance music.
Can you describe yourself in 5 words or less? Fun, loving, understanding, and open-minded. But my one quality or trademark is definitely my goofiness. I love to make people laugh! Whether it’s intentional or not, I’m always the one trying to get people to laugh.
Interview by Courtney McCarroll.