John Matthew Camara ’19 was one of 19 young leaders selected from across the country to attend the fifth annual Asian Americans Advancing Justice Youth Leadership Summit. Held in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2018, the three-day leadership program focused on Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) advocacy and civic engagement, providing Camara a unique opportunity to learn from and network with national leaders.
During the summit, Camara attended workshops where leaders discussed issues currently facing the AAPI community such as immigration, the Census and voting rights. “The workshops helped me gain insight into voting barriers my community faces due to factors such as lack of language translation,” he says.
Camara then went to Capitol Hill to advocate for the AAPI community to lawmakers, including meeting with Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo of Guam and legislative staff of Senator Kamala Harris of California. “Through these meetings, we had productive dialogue about different topics. For example, another group member of mine talked about the disadvantages of Guam being a U.S. territory,” Camara says. “It was interesting to educate myself about that topic.”
Born to two immigrants in Honolulu, Hawaii, and raised in Los Angeles, Calif., Camara self-identifies as a second-generation immigrant and a Filipino American. Through his experiences, he has developed an interest in advocating on issues affecting the AAPI community. “I have become extremely interested in understanding ways to be an AAPI advocate to educate my peers on campus about Asian-American struggles and have them challenge existing stereotypes,” Camara says.
A dual international relations and economics major, Camara is president of the Hobart Student Government and a member of the HWS Debate Team. He has held internships with the U.S. Forest Service and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, as well as worked on a group project analyzing gentrification in Boston’s Chinatown with the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership.
A Posse Scholar, Camara represented the Colleges’ Asian Student Union at the 2018 East Coast Asian American Students Union Conference and serves as philanthropy chair of Sigma Chi fraternity and volunteers for Days of Service and Alternative Spring Break.