Cristel was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was three years old. She has three brothers. Cristel got involved with Enlace Chicago when she was in 5th grade. She became a member of the Eli Whitney Community School Youth Council and the Oversight Committee, and truly enjoyed the opportunity to contribute her ideas and make decisions concerning out-of-school programs. Cristel has taken the lead in initiatives such as Big City Mountaineers, an outdoor leadership program for urban youth, and the movement for comprehensive immigration reform. Last year, she was at risk of being arrested as part of an act of civil disobedience designed to urge the government to stop deportations and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Even though she is an active volunteer, she is also a full time student at Harold Washington College and works as an after school program coordinator at Eli Whitney.