Lina Palancares

2018 Baldwin Unsung Heroine award

"Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world." -Dolores Huerta

This narrative is presented in Lina's nomination letter:

"Lina participated in DukeEngage in the summer of 2015 and was selected to participate in the DukeEngage “guiDE” (student leadership/advisory board) program that fall. She completed six semesters as a guiDE.

It’s clear that from the beginning of her college career, Lina wanted to balance what she learned in the classroom with real-world experiences. She understood migration from personal experience, having moved from Mexico to Lawrenceville, Georgia at age 10, but wanted to widen her perspective about what it meant to be an immigrant and to leave home. The summer after her freshman year Lina participated in DukeEngage Tucson, where she interned at Mariposas sin Fronteras, a non-profit that provides support to LGBTQIA migrants inside and outside of immigration detention.

Lina had a powerful summer through DukeEngage, learning about the power of stories and the importance of intersectionality in social justice movements. However unlike many students, Lina held herself accountable to continuing the type of work she started that summer upon coming back to Duke. To start, she took classes aimed at deepening her understanding of these issues. Left with more questions than answers, Lina has spurred many conversations on campus through her work with Mi Gente, Duke’s Latinx student organization. In addition to involving her fellow students in these conversations, it was important to Lina to include the people who are the subjects of them. During her sophomore year, Lina helped bring Josue, a community member from her DukeEngage Tucson program whose story greatly impacted her, to Duke. Getting him compensated was a challenge because of his DACA status, but she persisted, allowing Duke students to hear the unique perspective of this DACAmented student and activist.

Lina also started working with Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) in her sophomore year, doing an in-office internship. She participated in a documentary project using the Literacy through Photography model with farmworker families. Shocked and upset by what she was learning about how removed consumers were from the people who pick and process their food, and inspired by the work that was happening around her, she applied to SAF’s Into the Fields summer internship after sophomore year. In this 10-week internship, Lina worked in Western North Carolina as a community organizing intern with the Western North Carolina Workers’ Center. Her gentle demeanor helped her to excel at this work, which hinges on building trust and empowering others. As Lina nurtured relationships with women in the Guatemalan community in Morganton, many of whom work in the local poultry plant, she learned that one of the biggest forms of harassment comes in the form of the refusal to give workers adequate bathroom breaks, which has had significant consequences for the health of the workers. Lina was asked to prepare the leadership cohort (all composed of women), to launch a campaign asking the manager to implement a fair policy that gives people a bathroom break within 10 minutes of asking for it. She did just that, helping the women to develop a presentation that moved people to tears and inspired them to take action."

Lina graduated from Duke in May 2018.

photo of Lina Palancares