Juana OchoaChancellor’s Award for Community Service Recipient 2020

    “I arrive here, a Xicana woman Sangre Dividida, as both the colonized and colonizer (Tarahumara and Spaniard), the victim and victimizer. I carry the story of divide; I carry the lineage of rape: of land, body, and spirit, arranged for me before the birth of my mother and her mother. I carry with me simultaneous temporality and potentiality, the past while becoming. My journey is not rational. It is not linear but is also not unique.”

    Juana Ochoa was raised in the Pico-Gardens housing project in Los Angeles, east of the Los Angeles River, a marginalized, drug infested, gang protected community, fighting persistent poverty. A first-generation Mexican American, Ms. Ochoa lived her life within the partitions of what was safe and secure. She started working right after high school, and began her educational career at the age of 26, excited to learn more about thoughts and actions, family dynamics, and her community.  Eager to peel back multi-generational layers of pain, fear, neglect, and abuse, Ms. Ochoa sought out an undergraduate degree in psychology and today is a Ph.D. candidate, pursuing a degree in Depth Psychology with a strong emphasis in Community, Liberation, Indigenous, and Ecopsychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

    All of this while concurrently mothering five children and working full-time with a non-profit organization, the Amity Foundation! Ms. Ochoa describes her life’s work as: “Dedicated to reconnecting individuals who have been ‘thrown away’ (in foster care, juvenile and adult prisons, and mental institutions) with healthy food, source separation, waste reduction, product stewardship, alternative gardening practices, and most importantly, the best version of themselves.”  Ms. Ochoa sees her story as a microcosm to the planetary crisis we are facing. she strives to raise awareness about climate change, community building, storytelling, and doing away with acronyms and language that continues to dehumanize and promote the dichotomy of us and them.

    Most currently, Ms. Ochoa has been working alongside passionate individuals directly from the government, social service, prison, private, and non-profit sectors in El Salvador, collaborating to find solutions to El Salvador’s current gang and incarceration problems by introducing them to the foundations of the Teaching and Therapeutic model, “Community as Method;” around every circle of truth, a larger circle can grow.

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