Amerika is the Director of Student Success with the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) where she is leading a unique intergenerational program that supports Central Valley students’ higher education and career journeys. By working in partnership with institutions of higher education, community partners, and local schools, families are able to access support and resources for students. Additionally, in partnership with DHF, Amerika leads the Campaign’s regional higher education access and student success work in the Central Valley. By establishing a Central Valley Higher Education Equity Hub she works to foster a collaborative space focused on policy advocacy, and implementation in the Central Valley. In her work with the Campaign she is engaging partners in conversations around policy priorities, and elevating the Central Valley voice regarding statewide policy and representation decisions.
Amerika Nino-Rodriguez was born and raised in Kern County and spent her childhood in Lamont, California. She has always called the Central Valley home and feels lucky enough to also call Durango, Mexico home since that is where her parents are from. Amerika attended the University of California, San Diego where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies and a Minor in International Migration. While an undergraduate she lived in Siena, Italy through a study abroad program. She also lived in Washington D.C. where she interned at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Amerika obtained her master’s degree from New York University in Educational Leadership, Politics and Advocacy. Her professional career includes over 12 years of experience in Youth Leadership Development, Academic Support, Community Organizing, Student Services, and Program Development. Throughout her career she has also led coalitions that have successfully advocated for policy change in the Central Valley. These efforts include protecting immigrant rights in the Central Valley as well as leading efforts to increase access to safe recreational spaces. Fun Fact: Amerika has made a career out of leading innovative programs in education and youth development in the Central Valley. Her 12 years of experience span 4 roles that did not exist before Amerika spearheaded them.
Alma Mater(s): New York University, University of California San Diego, Arvin High School & Bakersfield High School
Why I Do What I Do: Higher education has the power to change people’s lives and transform communities. As a first-generation college student growing up in the migrant agricultural town of Lamont in California’s Central Valley I have experienced first-hand the transformational power that a college education can afford a family. The problem is, however, that stories like mine are seen as the exception because we defied so many odds. Higher education is a public good and all communities, despite their background, should have an equitable opportunity at obtaining a higher education. I do this work because I feel a sense of duty to make the American Dream a reality for future generations.
Your role in one sentence: I consider myself a champion of higher education and advocate for policy & systems change.
When I am not at work helping students get to and succeed in college I am… reading and painting with my 3 year old daughter.
If not higher education then what cause? Early literacy & the arts.