UCI students start Labor Summer internships

labor summer interns

Pictured above are the 19 Labor Summer interns. Below are the interns with Virginia Parks, UCI Labor Center director, at a UC Berkeley orientation event.

Inaugural group of 19 takes part in paid posts 

Nineteen UCI students are at UC Berkeley this week, taking part in orientation activities for their Labor Summer internships, which begin next week.

Their seven-week, full-time, paid internships with labor organizations throughout Orange County begin Monday. The following are the students who make up the first cohort of UCI Labor Summer interns:


  • Zaineb Aboud, international studies, senior
  • Gloria Baroi, political science, senior
  • Ziyi Chen, social ecology, junior
  • Michelle Dong, social ecology junior
  • Thi Le, social ecology, junior
  • Lauren Melvin, political science and business economics, senior
  • Aura Navarro, criminology, law and society and language science, senior
  • Mariana Nunez, urban studies and criminology, law and society, senior
  • Jacob Ramos, criminology, law and society, sophomore
  • Alejandro Martinez Santos, public health sciences, junior
  • Makeda Telahun, criminology, law and society and language science, senior
  • Michelle Truong, political science, senior
  • Hunter Ung, history, junior

Grad students

  • Nancy Delgado, Master of urban and regional planning student
  • Sabrina Mesropian, MPP student
  • Evan Schwartz, MPP student

Law students

  • Nic Guo
  • Sandra Guzman
  • Allysa Suhaidi

“Labor Summer sets students on a path of experiential exploration and learning,” says Virginia Parks, professor of urban planning and public policy and director of the UCI Labor Center. “Students have a lot to offer — they have a chance to put their talents in service of workers, their communities, and the broader public.”

As part of their orientation this week, the interns, who are split in research and organizing tracks, are learning about the California labor movement. The research interns are gaining strategic research skills and the organizing interns are learning the fundamentals of union organizing. 

The UCI Labor Center, established in March, is modeled after existing centers at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Merced. It builds upon previous campus efforts to investigate low-wage worker sectors in Orange County. 

UCI’s School of Social Ecology and School of Law are overseeing the center, which aims to boost the power of working people in Orange County and beyond by promoting, defending and expanding workers’ rights.

Through research, advocacy, policy innovation, education and outreach, the center supports unions and worker organizations in their endeavors to create a fair and racially just worker-centered economy. Parks; Walter Nicholls, professor and chair of urban planning and public policy; and Sameer Ashar, clinical professor of law and director of UCI’s Workers, Law and Organizing Clinic, are leading the effort.

Funding for the UCI Labor Center was made possible by a historic allocation in California’s 2022-23 budget, passed last summer. It includes $13 million to expand such programs across the University of California system. UCI is receiving $1.5 million over three years for its center.

The Labor Summer internships will culminate with a ceremony in Oakland on Aug. 11.
— Mimi Ko Cruz