Rafaela grew up in Mexico City and moved to California as a teenager. She went on to graduate from UC Berkeley where her passion for international work began to flourish. After graduation she took on an internship working for a non-profit in rural Uganda for six months. Here, she worked hand in hand with the community and helped develop income-generating activities for HIV+ orphans and their families. After coming back from this eye-opening experience, Rafaela worked with vulnerable children in the Oakland School District where she provided emotional support to children and their families who had a hard time staying in school. These two experiences pushed Rafaela towards obtaining her MSW at the Lusking School of Public Affairs at UCLA.
During her time at UCLA, Rafaela has worked with undocumented immigrants at her first year internship and is currently working with foreign national human trafficking victims at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. Rafaela’s interests in working with Latin American communities drove her to work in Nicaragua during her summer. She collaborated with the UCLA BLUM Center and the Center for Demographic and Health Research in Leon, Nicaragua to investigate the current interventions and the key stakeholders that are working to mitigate the rising teenage pregnancy statistics across the country.
Upon graduation, Rafaela hopes to work with Latin American communities where her background as an immigrant and her education as a social worker will guide her towards creating effective positive change in communities abroad.