2012-2013 Luce Scholar

Ana Maria Cruz is the daughter of immigrants from Latin America. She grew up in a household where the goal was to achieve the American Dream, yet the daily struggle was to place food on the table. At Barnard College she became dedicated to the goal of improving the quality of life of working families in New York and gradually came to realize that one solution could be: the labor movement. As an Urban Studies major with a concentration in Sociology she took courses that examined different aspects of living in Urban America, including healthcare, politics, education and social movements. While conducting fieldwork for her thesis on immigrants achieving workplace justice, she helped undocumented immigrants find their voice in the workplace through education, collective action and mobilization. Soon after graduating from Barnard she went on to intern in the political department of 32BJ SEIU, the Building Service Workers Union, to work on New York City legislative campaigns affecting the working family. She was soon hired by the union as a public relations and communications assistant; in this capacity she works with a team of spokespeople and local reporters on developing stories about the members of the union. She is currently working on her master’s degree in Labor Studies at the Murphy Institute, part of the CUNY School of Professional Studies, and her new yet familiar goal is to create a community organization that brings together different racial and ethnic groups to support positive legislation that improves working conditions and provides support for the working family.