This Bridge – On Connection, Support and Mixed Student Organizing with Jenifer Logia

Interview with Jenifer Logia, Founder of the Mixed Alumni Association at UCLA and Recipient of the 2017 UCLA Impact Award 


I first met Jenifer at UCLA during their Mixed Student Union’s 5th annual Mixed Heritage Conference back in April. The recipient of the 2017 Impact Award, Jenifer is driven, yet she speaks about her experience with mixed student and alumni organizing with humility, and as having its roots in finding a community that embraced her multiple ethnic backgrounds. I interviewed Jenifer a few months later to hear more about how she came to establish the Mixed Student Alumni Association for which she was recognized, in the hopes of bringing some lessons from her experience to other student leaders in our community.

Jenifer grew up in the Bay Area with a family of Nicaraguan, Filipino and Guamanian heritage. She says that she was always made to feel that all of her cultural lineages were equally important. It wasn’t until she attended the admitted students weekend before her first year at UCLA that she found a place where she could fully express this with others. “I just happened to walk past one [table] that said Mixed Student Union. As soon as I started talking to the folks at the table, they were telling me about their different backgrounds and one person was like ‘oh I’m Mexican and Jewish’ and someone else was, you know, Canadian and Indian and all these different things and I was like oh my gosh this is me. And I’ll never forget that moment because it was literally the first time in my entire life where I even thought I could identify that way and just meeting other people who had multiple backgrounds, I just felt this immediate connection like, ‘oh wow, this is a space for me.’”


See more of Jenifer’s story in Part 1 of our video interview:


What I was most struck by in Jenifer’s story was her commitment not only to being part of and serving an insular mixed race student body, but widening her network to gain support and perspective from an intergenerational group of student and community leaders. She worked with the leaders of other race and ethnic establishments on campus, and regularly attended their meetings. Even when people looked at her strangely, she persisted in maintaining her relationships across campus to make MSU known and understood as an ally; for Jenifer, “it was just about showing up and showing up consistently.’

The UCLA Mixed Heritage Conference created the opportunity to connect with local organizers and academics. Initially inspired by UC Berkeley’s annual conference, Jenifer and her colleagues began hosting their own in an effort to bring this type of event to student organizations in Southern California at schools like UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and UC San Diego. By expanding the possibility of mixed student organizing, Jenifer opened up new ways of seeing how to shape community, identity, for herself and others. She says, “Knowing that I wasn’t alone and knowing that there were people out there doing work to, whether it was researching it at academic level or organizing outside of college was really big for me. It was a whole new way of understanding myself and seeing the world in a different way–having friends who I felt were like my family…and on top of being in the student group.”


See more about Jenifer’s experience with MSU in Part 2 of our video interview:


The alumni group is also premised on this notion of broad based support for mixed students. Jenifer had noticed that other more established groups obtained support through networking opportunities, scholarships and fundraising events. She made it her goal to begin the an alumni association for MSU in and effort to raise money for multiracial scholarships, provide post-graduate opportunities to MSU students, and increase representation of mixed alumnus board members. An additional benefit? Seasoned student organizers will be familiar with the sophomore slump, in which membership tapers off after the first year or two. An alumni association, Jenifer noticed, provides an external support network for student leaders to lean on during the skinny months of membership, as well as added interest for juniors and seniors who are looking for external mentorship and job training.

In addition to propping up MSU as an organization, the alumni network offers students and alumni the opportunity to understand more about their shared history as well as what mixed community looks like beyond the walls of academia and into the future. “This experience has opened my eyes to what it means to be a multiracial person later on in life or what it was back in the 90s or 80s long before I was a student. Up to the point that I started the alumni association, most of my experience talking about mixed race identity had been with college students on a college campus and so this just broadened my perspective to a much bigger level and just hearing stories from folks who attended UCLA long before there was ever a mixed student union and hearing about their experiences and how, today we’re very fortunate that students on college campuses can get together and claim a mixed identity and be proud of that, whereas before that was very much something that was taboo.” Outside of UCLA, Jenifer has noticed new issues arise around mixed race organizing. “Not everyone has that multiracial awakening in their 20s.” The dialogue is ongoing and, she says, it’s “been interesting to have that conversation with people who have professional careers and families. This has opened up a question about how we foster dialogues that’s not just about people in college, but how does this conversation look to someone who’s a little bit older?”


See more about the Mixed Student Alumni Association in Part 3 of our video interview:


These days, Jenifer has shifted some of her organizing energy to focus representing more women of color, and Latino and immigrant populations, in politics. Last year, she worked with San Mateo County on community outreach and engagement projects with the Latino community; this fall, she begins her studies for a Masters in Public Policy at Mills College. Her work with MSU has clearly left its mark. She says, “Wherever I go in life [MSU] has helped me to identify the missing pieces and that we still have a lot more work to do.”


Find out what Jenifer’s up to these days in Part 4 of our video interview.


You can see more about Jenifer Logia and the UCLA Impact Award here.

To find out more about MSU, find them on Facebook and Twitter @MixedStudentUnionUCLA

And to find out more about the alumni association, visit their website, or find them on Facebook @UCLAMixedAlumniAssociation.

Kaily Heitz is on the board of directors with Mixed Roots Stories, as the student and partner outreach coordinator. She is and alumnus of Pitzer College, where she co-created a club for mixed race students of the Claremont Colleges Consortium called MERGE, and is currently earning her PhD in Geography at UC Berkeley.

1000 in 1

Sometimes I laugh at the impossibility of my experiences. I find humor in the challenges and privileges that shape the way that I uniquely carry myself in this world. I used to shy away from being special, now I own it before I let others try to own me. It has been a long process of coming to terms with my true self and exploring my identity, my roots, the blood that has made me and yet, now I find it so incredibly easy.

Thanks to love from some of my elders, mentors/femtors and a lot of prayer and time in nature, I breathe my truth without permission and find power in my occasional loneliness.

This Saturday was the 4th Annual Mixed Heritage Conference at UCLA sponsored by the Mixed Student Union at UCLA. For mixed folks, conferences like these and organizations like MSU are like coming home for the first time, like the opportunity to be reborn,  like being hugged in a new way. Like any community, being seen, heard, felt, and recognized by folks that identify the way you do is essential for survival. I have not been in a conscious and intentionally mixed heritage space in over a year. Sure, I have hung out with my mixed friends and have talked about the issues facing the community, but the formal recognition of our lives and the sharing of space dedicated to mixedness is powerful blessing all on its own.

I cried twice during the conference. The first time was out of being completely overwhelmed. I co-founded MSU at UCLA with my friend Tara Sweatt in the fall of 2010. We were two people. Two second year multiethnic women of color Bruins that were determined to feel safe, to advocate and to carve space into UCLA for mixed folks. We dedicated 2 full years at UCLA to getting this organization off the ground. We built a team, we made flyers, we developed a mission, and we got to talking. We talked a whole lot. We answered over a million questions, most of them were one of three common questions on a loop: “What is mixed?” “What do you do?” “Why do you exist?”… Soon enough we had a banner, a mailing list, regular meetings and slowly made a name for ourselves. We met at night, on weekends, texted during class and exhausted on campus and off campus resources. We defended our right to exist, explained more than we expressed and put on events attended by over hundred people. Art gallery shows, panel discussions, workshops with youth, and social outings became our lives. We were adamant, unrelenting in our messaging and fearless with our intentions. We had stories that we needed to be heard, we wanted to be there for one another, we wanted to put context to mixedness historically in order to politicize mixed folks on our campus.

It was a labor of love and sacrifice. It had never been done the way that were doing it. We shook the status quo, changed the game of campus even if only a tiny bit, and linked our struggles to other communities. We built it, and people showed up. Six years years later, a generation of new leaders that do not even know our (the founders) names, are fiercely upholding the legacy in their own way and paving new conversations on campus.

I cried at the beauty of the legacy. I cried at the perpetual fatigue I had experienced that was finally catching up to me from having to defend our right to exist on campus and explain our unique experiences as mixed people. I cried for the amazing students I mentored who have since graduated, I cried for the realization of the vision we had 6 years ago. I cried that we had been an organization long enough to apply for permanent office space on campus. I cried for all the incoming mixed Bruins who did not have to search too far for their first home at school. I cried at the fact that we are still claiming space in a political way. I cried because I was overwhelmed that a conversation that I had with my brother on a late Thursday night in the living room of the one bedroom L.A. apartment that we grew up in, actually turned into an organization and now is a force to be reckoned with. From a conversation, to a dialogue, to a space, to a presence, to a MOVEMENT. TEARS. I cried because this last year has been the worst year for me in terms of stepping out of anger and letting go of family members that foster racism in my proximity. MSU is the only space I can imagine that could help me heal in spirit, even if from afar and through memories. Half a day at this conference and I already feel more human in the midst of familial racism placed to tear me up. “M-S-U”sounded so new before, we would repeat it so often to convince ourselves that we were real. Now the letters sound confident in themselves, whole, grounded, based in 6 years of hard work and community building.

The second time I cried was because the closing performance of the conference held truths that I could so closely relate to. Fanshen Cox’s “One Drop of Love” performance piece was so personal and relevant to my experiences that I cried of relief.  It can be shocking to feel camaraderie with other people when mixedness can very often feel like an island. So often amazing, but an island nonetheless. To watch Cox’s calm as she settled into her performance for an audience that she knew she didn’t have to explain a whole lot to was inspiring. Relief is the only way I can think to describe it. The laughter that her performance ignited in us was full of empathy. The tears some of us shed came from knowing and understanding her. There is nothing quite like the impossibility and beauty of mixedness.

My tears from Saturday turned into words which turned into a poem on Sunday.



you can’t fathom
























that I meet and master


built custom to the second







and decade when necessary.

I am practically a deity

with 50 arms

and endless fluency.

if I tried to explain it,

I woud fail

if I tried to show you,

I would collapse

and if you tried to be me,

you would fall fast, with bold blows to the

heart and head.

God must be MIXED

into me because I perform


I do the impossible- braid together

souls that I was shown didn’t function in the same universe.

I surf prohibited oceans for fun

and flip the sky over just to see the other side.

I risk everything all the time

in name of my duty to myself.

I know no other way to spin the world

other than in between

planets causing chaos by meeting.

my name is hard to say

and it pains me to answer questions

but I am the only one I know who can

carry me.

Who can shape faces empathetically into family

when we are at war.

Who can take a house apart and reconstruct its

framework while sleeping.

Who can undo the haters

with the blink of the spirit.

Who can teach her parents.


I am skilled

highly qualified

and bursting with


If you tried to feel this

you might

cry for longing

your old home

with clear exit signs

and a fixed menu.

Change is the name of

my being

and adaptation

is clarity

in the form of


Respect the dynamics

of a heritage of


3705b79f-4251-4db9-952d-c30ab189cff7Camila Lacques-Zapien  is a multiethnic woman of color born and raised in Los Angeles committed to local community organizing, youth empowerment and arts education thanks to her passion for social justice and artistic expression. She is an avid poet, blogger, and world traveler. She studied both Chicana and Chicano Studies and International Development Studies at UCLA (’14)  and co- founded the Mixed Student Union at UCLA in 2010.  She currently works in education serving high school aged youth in Los Angeles and is preparing for her move to Italy for a Fulbright English Teaching Grant for the 2016-2017 cycle.  You can follow her writing and reflections at: