We're excited to welcome Raul Orellana to The Kelsey as a 2020 Summer Analyst! Raul is a Latinx, Queer, social justice activist; and an incoming junior studying Sociology and Spanish with minors in Ethnic Studies and Latin American Studies at Santa Clara University. As with everyone on our team, we asked him to share his #MyOwnHome story.
I have practically lived in the same location my entire life, and that would be my family’s home in Los Angeles, California. However, a home to me doesn’t always necessarily mean a physical space but rather a sense of community and belonging filled with impactful relationships. In fact, I am always quick to mention that Santa Clara University has become like a second home to me, primarily because of the people I have come across. Nonetheless, I feel extremely fortunate to have a space in LA, which I was able to come back to during COVID-19 and these turbulent times.
Before attending Santa Clara University, I never lived alone and was nervous about the challenges with the transition to independent living. While I had the privilege to live in a dorm for my first year and the first quarter of my second year, the end of 2019 presented me with some housing challenges. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, I had to move out almost immediately from on-campus housing. Over the course of four weeks, I searched endlessly for housing in Santa Clara and even San Jose. Although I was unsure if I would be able to pay rent and make it through the next few months, I remained hopeful that things would fall into place. Thankfully, I was able to sign onto a short lease for the remainder of the academic year and worked part-time jobs to pay my rent.
Since an early age, I have been an avid learner, fast grower, and critical thinker, all attributes which led me to move out of my comfort zone. When on long seasonal breaks and visiting family, I do reside in Los Angeles, but when in school, I live near campus and pay rent. In all honesty, it feels great to be independent and provide for me whenever possible because it means dismantling systemic barriers that prevent queer people of color like myself from thriving. Yet, it is important for me to uplift other communities that face housing challenges as well, and I am committed to serving people with disabilities so that they find their voice, an appropriate living situation, and a welcoming community.
#MyOwnHome story meant overcoming obstacles, never losing hope, finding a group of friends that embrace me, and supporting myself at all costs. In recognizing my privilege in having a housing, I am eager to advocate for affordable, accessible, and inclusive housing for everyone, not just a select few.