05/03/2017 On April 13, 21 Progress honored its 2017 “Imagine Us” awardees, young leaders who have fought for justice and strengthened their communities in powerful ways. Awardees included IAS alumni Gabriella (Gabby) Ibanez-Dacruz (’16, Community Psychology) and Alejandra Pérez (’16, Society, Ethics & Human Behavior; American & Ethnic Studies). 21 Progress provides engaging, youth-focused social justice leadership development programs and campaigns that advance progressive issues in our society. Gabby Ibanez-Dacruz is a self-identifying multiracial (Portuguese, Filipina, American) womxn who comes from an immigrant family. Through her education at the UW Bothell and life experiences living in the PNW, she has dedicated herself to organizing communities around racial, gender, immigrant, and worker rights. Last summer Gabby embarked on Seattle2Selma, a civil rights pilgrimage to experience our country’s racial history and reflect upon its continued institutionalized racism. During this past election season, she fought for hotel worker’s rights. She is devoted to hearing different stories and learning storytelling in order to change the narrative of our country. “I am deeply honored to be a recipient of this award, although my work has never been about the recognition,” says Ibanez-Dacruz. “Everything I do is for the communities I serve, the people who are deep in the struggle, and for the untold stories of many. I want to thank 21 Progress for supporting young leaders such as myself to push past barriers of injustice and achieve to their fullest potential." Born and raised in Guatemala, Alejandra Pérez moved to the United States when she was twelve years old. She graduated from Cleveland High School and earned her BA from the UW Bothell with 22 scholarships. Alejandra’s passion for educational equity comes from her advocacy with and for undocumented students and their families in Washington State and around the nation. Alejandra has an extensive background in organizing for social justice, running large-scale events and conferences and providing professional development to educators. On her award, Alejandra says, "Often, our lived experiences and constant unpaid labor as marginalized people get exploited by oppressive institutions. 21 Progress' commitment to recognize the stories of young leaders who are dismantling oppressive systems and fighting for liberation is a revolutionary act. 21 Progress is one of the few organizations in our state, that actually takes the time to listen and provide space for our community to organize, empower ourselves, and continue to fight. It has been an honor to have my work with and for undocumented students and their families be recognized by the powerful staff at 21 Progress." 21 Progress Program Director Marissa Vichayapai lauded these two individuals, writing, “Gabby and Ale are remarkable leaders who have fought courageously against oppressive structures to increase justice and liberation in the spaces they occupy. UW Bothell is a stronger institution because of students like them.” Congratulations, Gabby and Alejandra!