Kayla Mazariego, a 3rd year student at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), is a passionate student leader with a strong voice. She has experienced firsthand, domestic violence, gangs, and drug use within her community and has created a social media platform to address these issues as well as political polarization and inequality. Kayla is a first-generation college student, who was raised by a single mother. She is using her voice in the community and at UHD with her peers to address issues such as, voting rights, and societal inequalities. Kayla is a proud member of the UHD Honors Program, and is currently working on a research project to address issues of recidivism in halfway houses. She will be presenting this work at the UHD Student Research Conference in April 2022. Kayla is an exceptional leader who enthusiastically talks about her future short- and long-term goals. She inspires those around her with her energy and constant drive for success. Regardless of her upbringing Kayla is a strong young woman who is not afraid to take on challenges and make a difference in the world.
As a child, I was always told to mind my tongue and behave like a lady in certain ways. Thankfully I never listened; my voice has always been my most powerful tool, and I use it to address issues of injustice and inequality. I began by volunteering at homeless shelters, having once been homeless myself. I wanted to give back to the community that graciously helped me in my time of need. As a young college student, I enjoy educating my peers on civic matters including voting and reasons to exercise this constitutional right. I attend protests that promote human rights such as Black Lives Matter and various Women’s rights events. Another project I recently volunteered at was at UHD’s GatorServe event on the 9/11 Day of Service. It was held at the Evergreen cemetery, which was completely run down. After I was there for 10 minutes, I was given a separate project and led a team of volunteers. Finally, I am a part of the Honors program at UHD and am currently working on an honors project with one of my professors to research the recidivism rate at halfway houses and what can be done to lower that rate.