Yahtzeni’s story as an activist began in 6th grade at Little Village Academy. In the middle of her that year, the school got a new principal. To protest the firing of many of her favorite teachers, she began to organize with 8th graders to stage a protest outside of the school. They handed out fliers to Little Village Academy parents and students, called news and radio outlets, and found out which day the CPS Area Officer would be in for observation. They had more than half the students and their families outside the school protesting.
At Social Justice High School, she and a few friends started an LGBTQ group to take action against the homophobia and violence against queer people in the community. They organized students and staff to participate in a “Day of Silence” to honor those who stay silent about their gender identity or sexual orientation in fear of violence. She has also been an strong voice for immigrant rights and was instrumental in the efforts that lead to the creation of the Dreamers Unidos Scholarship Fund.
She has been a SOJO Ambassador since Sophomore year and has received the SOJO Essential 7 Service Award three times. She organizes the Phoenix Open Mic, mentors first graders during the summer, and volunteer at the LVLHS Community School office and the library. She also volunteers in many capacities at The House Covenant Church in Lawndale. Pastor Phil, who she considers her mentor, has been an important part of her life and journey as an community activist.
Yahtzeni also credits her mother for her successes. She explained that, “I cannot finish describing my life without speaking about the woman who has made it all possible. She’s been my mother and father, my best friend, and my teacher of life. My favorite super hero is my mom, my best friend, my lighthouse when everything seems too dark. Mi bella madre y querida, mi mama.”