Motivated by Personal Experience, Inspired by Professors, Schar School Junior D’Alacio Works for Social Change

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Isabella D’Alacio
Isabella D’Alacio: ‘I dove into activism having recognized the injustices affecting my identities in this country…’

Originally published on November 9, 2020

Coming from a family of Cuban immigrants, Schar School of Policy and Government junior Isabella D’Alacio has made it her goal to uphold the legacy that her grandparents wished for their family to pursue higher education to fight for issues that matter most to her.

D’Alacio is currently working with the March for Our Lives Campaign (as a federal policy associate “where I lead all policy initiatives for the organization and will be working on redrafting the Peace Plan”) and United We Dream Action Campaign, the largest youth-led immigrant network, as a Florida “relational organizer.” “I recruit volunteers who are either immigrants or allies to the Here to Stay Squad where we focus on getting out the vote in Florida to ensure that although all immigrants can’t vote, they are still represented in the upcoming election,” she said.

On top of that, she’s an intern at the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service “writing my own report of current and past energy laws in Puerto Rico with special attention to Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority, the renewables mandate to get to 100 percent renewables for electric power generation, and the prospects for Puerto Rico to end its use of fossil fuels.”

Though these may seem like random causes, for D’Alacio—who is a Government and International Politics major with a minor in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and a concentration in Law, Philosophy and Governance—there is meaning behind all of the roles she has chosen to champion.

As an out-of-state student and a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., D’Alacio has direct connections to both the March for Our Lives and the United We Dream campaigns. Having a sister who previously attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—where the March for Our Lives movement was created out of response to the tragic 2018 mass shooting—and having firsthand knowledge of the barriers that immigrants face in every election cycle, D’Alacio found it impossible to ignore these issues.

“I dove into activism having recognized the injustices affecting my identities in this country—a Gen-Z, Latinx women—while also recognizing the power I have to change that,” she said. “I realized that my family worked hard to assimilate to this country, but now it is my time to change this country to accept all people, like my family.”

D’Alacio said during her freshman year at Mason, her passions were greatly reaffirmed and amplified by courses taken with Schar School associate professors Matthew Scherer (Democratic Theory and Contemporary Political Theory) and Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera (U.S./Mexico Border).

“With Dr. Correa-Cabrera, she was so being able to understand that immigration experience—and connect that with the work I do at United We Dream,” she said. “While Professor Scherer helped me identify the theories and roles of government and helped me feel more connected as a citizen to my government in different moments of my work.”

“Isabella was always very motivated and has a true passion for human rights and social justice issues,” recalled Correa-Cabrera. “She is especially interested in contributing to fix the broken immigration system in the United States. Isabella has a very clear idea of what is wrong with it.”

Through her experiences at Mason and the Schar School, D’Alacio has realized that she wants to pursue a law degree after graduation.

“I want to go to law school and focus on labor law to bring justice for working-class Americans and focus on rebuilding my hometown in South Florida to be the change I want to see for my people and my community,” she said.

Though Isabella’s grandfather, Jorge Vizcaino, passed away during her freshman year, D’Alacio is only further motivated to work hard to honor his legacy and to continue to honor her family’s experience, in the classroom and through her activism.