Yessenia Prodero was born in Boston to immigrant parents who came from Colombia. She is a master’s candidate in International Human Rights with a focus in gender rights and international development in Latin America.
When Yessenia started attending the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in the Fall of 2015 one of her classes was Professor Rebecca Galemba’s Qualitative Research Methods course. She was drawn to this course due to its emphasis on working with the Denver immigrant community and the qualitative research skills that could be gained.
All student groups were required to conduct fieldwork, as a result, Yessenia’s group decided to join the Direct Action Team (DAT). The DAT is a group of passionate and motivated group of volunteers that fight alongside workers on their wage theft cases. Becoming a surveyor and conducting Know Your Rights workshops on the street corners where the workers find work was a natural addition to her work with DAT.
Conducting interviews in the field and getting a glimpse of the day to day struggle of finding work on the street corners has allowed Yessenia to see the incredibly hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and humility of these men. It has also painted a clearer picture of the injustice, humiliation, mistreatment, and discrimination these men encounter by unscrupulous employers. Conducting these surveys and Know Your Rights workshops alongside volunteering for DAT has motivated her to continue to work with and advocate for the immigrant community.