Astoria Local and First Generation American Henry Cornejo Gives Back to the Community with CIANA


Henry Cornejo at his CUNY graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of Henry Cornejo.

Henry Cornejo was a key Outreach intern during the Spring 2019 semester, contributing to the success of CIANA’s Know Your Rights workshops to inform the local community of what to do if they see ICE, as well as many of its other efforts to reach immigrants and immigrant allies. The Astoria native is a first generation Peruvian-American himself and recently graduated from CUNY with a BA in Political Science and International Studies with minors in Portuguese and Public Policy. In July 2019, Cornejo will start his first job out of college as an analyst for the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) in the Fleet Office of Real Time Tracking Unit.

He chats with CIANA’s Director of Development and Communications, Maria Eliades, about unexpected experiences in interning at CIANA and how that’s helped him get his first job out of college.

Maria Eliades: Why don’t you tell us a bit about your work at CIANA?

Henry Cornejo: I was the Outreach Intern for CIANA from February 2019 to the end of May 2019. But I wasn’t only the outreach intern. Since there’s a very limited budget, we have to use the interns in any way, so I was also the development intern, social media intern.

I really learned how a non-profit works, especially a small non-profit and I got to see the inner workings, what it’s like working with different clients and trying to navigate what they want the organization can do for them. I learned a lot in the few months that I was at CIANA and I got to see many things that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, like going to Albany. I never thought I would go twice and meet council members or state senators, so it was really a lot of fun.

ME: Could you talk more about your visits to Albany?

HC: So the first time I went to Albany I went with you and a couple of clients from the English course to support an education funding that the whole state and the city of New York need that was still held up by the federal government. We were there with Senator Jessica Ramos and Make the Road, and we tried to take photos and get as involved as we could while taking in the whole experience of being in Albany.

The second time I went with Nima Omar, CIANA's case management intern, and staff from CACF to promote different bills in the Invisible No More Campaign. We went to different state senators to see if they could su