Before joining Urban Alliance, Eva Mercado worked alongside her entire family at night in a newspaper warehouse that “lacked ventilation, was covered in cobwebs and caked in dust,” Eva remembers. “I went in fresh and clean, and left stained in newly-printed ink and calloused.” While Eva learned some practical skills while working in the warehouse, that wasn’t the career she envisioned for her future. She also struggled to keep up in school when she was constantly exhausted from working nights. She even considered leaving high school early to focus on earning more money to help support her family.
So when she heard about Urban Alliance, she thought it would be the perfect opportunity to start on a pathway toward her dream career in politics. Eva was placed in an internship at the Fairfax County Democratic Committee where her diligence, maturity, and work ethic quickly made her a valued employee. There she worked with the party’s voter database, drafted email outreach, and assisted in hiring and training college interns—all while still in high school.
Eva also had the chance to assist with events, where she gained the most profound experience of her internship: “I attended the governor’s inauguration, and I was able to meet the 44th President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama,” Eva said. “This governor’s inauguration was the most impactful for my mom and I. It was emotional for us because my mom immigrated to this country and never saw herself being at an event like that. This disappointed me, that she thought she would feel out of place in such an important aspect of society. But it also made me realize how Urban Alliance has impacted not only me, but also is starting to impact my family because of my successes. I’ve come to realize, in the span of two years from working in an old warehouse to working in an office, Urban Alliance has now set me on the right path toward my desired future.”
Eva said that in joining Urban Alliance, she was able to take action and take control of her future, a chance often denied young people from her background.