Meet CHLI’s Spring 2024 Global Leaders

Maya Arredondo |

Maya Arredondo

Heritage: Mexican American

School: University of Texas at Austin

Major(s): Sociology, International Relations and Global Studies, and French

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Maya, a senior at The University of Texas at Austin, is pursuing degrees in Sociology, International Relations and Global Studies, and French. Maya is passionate about unraveling, understanding, and addressing systemic issues — rooted in her father’s immigration story from Salamanca, Guanajuato, to Houston, Texas, and the passing of her grandfather, Pawpaw, due to medical malpractice. As a first-generation Mexican American, she constantly reflects on her roots and strives to be the first in her family to represent Chicana women in the legal and political arena. She desires to attend law school, where she will gain the skills necessary to construct equitable legal and human security for all under American democracy through criminal justice reforms.

As a 2023-2024 Brumley Next Generation Scholar in the Strauss Center for International Law and Security, she examined the various implications facial recognition technologies pose when used by law enforcement entities within the criminal legal system. Maya also serves as a Peer Support Specialist with the Longhorn SHARE Project, promoting peer-based mental health services and emotional wellness on the Forty Acres. Combined, Brumley, Longhorn SHARE Project, and prior research experience reiterated her determination to pursue a political career where she can holistically and proactively protect individuals from issues disproportionately impacting her community.

Maya is one of six undergraduates in the inaugural cohort of the Lyndon B. Johnson Foreign Policy semester at the LBJ School of Public Affairs’ Washington Center. She is excited to simultaneously leverage the CHLI Global Leaders internship and the LBJ Foreign Policy semester to deepen her political perspectives, hone her professional capabilities, and gain the necessary networks to succeed as a purpose-driven leader tenaciously championing social justice. For Maya, her journey represents a commitment to advocacy and a future of bringing about justice for her community, inspired by the continuing resilience of her father and the enduring memory of her grandfather.

Alejandro Castillo |

Alejandro Castillo

Heritage: Mexican American

School: Middlebury College

Major(s): Sociology, minor in Spanish

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Alejandro was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. His mother and father, immigrated to the United States from their small, indigenous village in Oaxaca, Mexico. As an indigenous, Mexican American, first-generation, low-income student, Alejandro has always understood the value of pursuing higher education – which he did through the unwavering support of College Match Los Angeles – and empowering students from similar backgrounds to do the same.

Alejandro is a rising senior at Middlebury College, majoring in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. On campus, he is actively involved in the Student Government Association – serving as the Co-Director of Academic Affairs for the past two years. In that capacity, he has consulted on and advocated for academic policies that center students from underrepresented backgrounds. Moreover, he works in college access within and beyond campus. Most notably, he has served as an Admissions Student Ambassador and has led the team as an Access Intern in the Admissions Office. After the Supreme Court’s recent decision on college admissions, his commitment to college access has only deepened. The impact of his college access work has been felt beyond just his home state of California. Through his role as a College Access Consultant in rural Pennsylvania, Pennsylvanian students and their families have had their lives catapulted into the American Dream thanks to Alejandro’s wise and necessary leadership.

This academic year, Alejandro has embarked on a gap year to pursue his dream of interning in the United States Congress. In preparation for this, in the summer, he traveled to Denmark. There, he gained knowledge on sustainability and renewable energy through a holistic examination of Danish leadership, their successful projects, and their areas of improvement. In the fall, Alejandro was selected to intern for the U.S. House of Representatives. There, he enjoyed learning extensively about the legislative process and gaining knowledge on additional policy areas. At the same time, he also learned the importance of cultivating a culture of respect amongst Hispanic leaders and the necessity of investing in human capital to staff quality programs that cultivate Hispanic leadership of the highest caliber. As a CHLI Global Leader Intern, Alejandro hopes to expand his legislative experience with a focus on education, economic, and environmental issues while also developing his private sector experience through his corporate internship. Ultimately, he hopes to leverage this experience to make a lasting difference in communities like his and inspire others to do the same.

Upon graduation, Alejandro hopes to pursue education policy to enact systemic change while supporting college access nonprofits to support students to uplift them, their families, and their communities.

Lydia Nunez De La Torre |

Lydia Nunez De La Torre

Heritage: Peruvian American

School: Florida International University, Honors College

Major(s): Psychology and Statistics

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Lydia Nunez De La Torre is a Peruvian American raised in Miami, Florida. She is an undergraduate student at the Honors College at Florida International University (FIU), pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Statistics.

With a focus on marketing and a keen interest in U.S. transportation infrastructure, she initially delved into the realm of transit systems through the McNair fellowship at FIU. This opportunity allowed her to conduct a research proposal, specifically exploring the effects of Transit-Oriented Development on mental health within the Miami Metropolitan Area. Her passion for understanding the connection between urban planning, transportation, and well-being continues to drive her pursuits in the field.

As a Global Leader intern, Lydia’s future goals include gaining insights into the legislative process, aspiring to comprehend the intricate workings of policy formulation and implementation. Simultaneously, she aims to delve deeper into the dynamic realm of marketing, aspiring to navigate its multifaceted landscape and contribute innovative strategies.

Kevin Paez |

Kevin Paez

Heritage: Cuban American

School: St. Thomas University, Honors College

Major(s): Political Science, Pre-Law

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Kevin Paez is a Cuban American pre-law undergraduate student from St. Thomas University (STU) in Miami, Florida. Kevin is an STU Honors College student who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science. As an athlete throughout his young life, he believed that his calling was to go to law school and become a highly touted sports agent. This all changed once introduced to the study of political science. Being extremely fascinated with the way policy was created and how the effects of policies can be seen within his community.

Throughout his career in addition to receiving high remarks in all his classes, he also became the founder and president of the Political Science Student Organization of St. Thomas University. This organization originally planned to be a small debate-style club, but soon grew to one of the most recognized organizations on campus under Kevin’s leadership. His most recognizable achievement was having opportunity to be one of the introductory speakers at the University’s Constitution Day Celebration amongst Florida’s Secretary of State Cord Byrd, the Dean of the Benjamin L. Crump College of Law, and the President of St. Thomas University. Kevin prides himself on creating new opportunities for others to succeed. As the first ever applicant from St. Thomas University to be selected for the Global Leaders Internship, Kevin hopes to continue paving the way for other students to follow.

Dianly Perez Mulet |

Dianly Perez-Mulet

Heritage: Cuban American

School: Florida International University

Major(s): Criminal Justice

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Dianly was born and raised in Miami, Florida, by two Cuban immigrants. Her parents instilled in her the importance of education and hard work from a young age. She believes that education sets the foundation for achieving dreams and that working hard always pays off. At 19, Dianly is set to graduate from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

Law has always fascinated Dianly. She decided to follow a path that would allow her to pursue her passions. Dianly gained experience working at a law firm and developed skills that can be applied in any setting. As a member of Phi Alpha Delta at Florida International University, Dianly connected with attorneys and students who share her values. In the future, Dianly plans to attend law school, pass the bar exam, and become a reputable attorney. With her license, she wants to offer legal aid to her community and positively impact others.

Being part of the Spring 2024 Global Leaders cohort of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Dianly to prepare for what the future holds.

Ian Rios Plumey |

Ian Ríos Plumey

Heritage: Puerto Rican
School: Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Metro
Major(s): Marketing, minor in Business and Management Development
Hometown: Toa Alta, Puerto Rico

Ian Ríos Plumey was born in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. From an early age, Ian developed a deep passion for finance and numbers, influenced by his father, who often tuned into radio programs related to the financial and business world during their trips to school. His middle and high school years were spent at the prestigious Central High School of Visual Arts. During his time at this institution, Ian not only explored his artistic side but also actively participated in various international programs aimed at promoting education, arts, and commerce.

While advocating for the elderly community for over 7 years during his college years, Ian had the valuable opportunity to carry out several internship programs both in the State Legislature of Puerto Rico and the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. It was around this time that Ian realized that his acts of service for the causes he advocated for and the elderly community could become something more than simple gestures and could be complemented with public administration to achieve a larger-scale impact. Ian Ríos Plumey successfully completed his academic career, obtaining magna cum laude bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, with a minor concentration in business and management development.

Currently, he is focused on creating easier medical access for seniors and a corporation specializing in the manufacturing of housing for older adults, a project that combines his interest in the business world with his desire to contribute to the well-being of the senior community. Additionally, Ian actively works alongside Puerto Rico’s legislature and government agencies, seeking to learn and participate in processes that positively impact society and the development of public policies. His commitment to public service and his business vision makes him an individual committed to the progress and well-being of his community.

Paul Rampersaud |

Paul Rampersaud

Heritage: Mexican-Guyanese American
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Major(s): Political Science, Spanish, and Communications
Hometown: Carpentersville, Illinois

Paul Rampersaud is a proud, Mexican Guyanese American. He was born in Carpentersville, Illinois, and was raised by his mother and father, who migrated from Mexico and Guyana. He grew up in a mixed household that taught him the importance of understanding different perspectives, cultures, and beliefs while staying committed to one’s values. At a young age, he became an advocate for low-income minorities by creating a tutoring program in his community to bridge the gap that exists in our education system. This solidified his commitment to be a servant leader and amplify the voices of marginalized communities. He learned from his parents that education is the key out of poverty and the tool to help build communities.

As a first-generation college student, he enrolled in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is triple majoring in Political Science, Spanish, and Communications. During his time on campus, he was nominated to found a fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi, to break the stereotypes that exist in Greek life while serving to be inclusive with 21st Century ideals. He grew his chapter from 5 members to 110 members in two years while receiving international awards twice for the best fraternity chapter. He also founded the Association of Minorities in Political Science (AMPS) and has served as the president. AMPS has fostered an environment for professional and academic growth for students by providing mentorship and community involvement. In addition to serving as the president of AMPS, he is one of two undergraduate students representing the undergraduate student body in the Department of Political Science. Lastly, he serves at La Casa which is a Hispanic cultural center on his campus. In this role, he focuses on creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for mixed-raced students on his campus. In addition to being a leader on campus, he has taken the initiative to help his immigrant community members by serving as a legal service intern for the New American Welcome Center. As a legal intern, he was responsible for working with sensitive information and ensuring that the privacy and confidentiality of his clients were protected. Through these interactions, he saw the impact state and federal legislation have on his community members. The skills he learned at the New American Welcome Center prepared him to serve as a constituent service intern for Congresswoman Delia Ramirez. He managed and assisted over 73 constituent inquiries and ensured the constituents were being served by federal agencies.

Bri Saenz |

Bri Sáenz

Heritage: Mexican American
School: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Major(s): Political Science, minor in German

Bri Sáenz is a Mexican American undergraduate senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was born and raised in Elgin, IL. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science, as well as a minor in German.

Her fascination with politics, economics, and international relations was sparked by years of visiting her family in Durango, Mexico, and her father’s involvement in the military as a U.S. Marine. Through these unique experiences, she learned how politics and policies could affect people’s lives across the globe firsthand. It shaped her view of the world and ignited her passion for foreign diplomacy and strengthening U.S. ties with Latin America.

As a participant in the Global Leaders Internship Program, Bri hopes to take a look into the U.S. legislative process to better promote democracy and diplomacy around the world. She hopes to pursue a career in foreign affairs and international politics to protect, consider, and advocate for those in need worldwide.