Maria Alejandra Hernandez, immigrated from Guadalajara, Mexico in 1996, when she was eight years old along with her single mother and has resided in Central Pennsylvania ever since. She was a former undocumented student navigating U.S. culture, language and customs. At a young age, she was always looking to help others in need, being a past-youth volunteer in the International Service Center at the age of fourteen, past-volunteer in Estamos Unidos of Pennsylvania at the age of fifteen and has been a member of St. Francis of Assisi Church serving as a past-catechist and current volunteer for church events.
Maria Alejandra graduated in 2005 from Bishop McDevitt High School. She continued her education despite being undocumented and being a single mother, she obtained her Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Harrisburg Area Community College in 2010. She has personal experience navigating the immigration system and becoming a naturalized citizen while being employed at The Shagin Law Group LLC, as an immigration paralegal working to help diverse immigrant and refugee families.
She is able to share her personal and professional knowledge to the immigrant community as a heart driven organizer with Movement of Immigrant Leaders in Pennsylvania (MILPA). MILPA is a grassroots network of Pennsylvanian immigrant families that cultivate leadership and organize for unmarked driver’s licenses for all Pennsylvania residents, regardless of immigration status; fight back against anti-immigrant bills; and develop leadership skills and political education. Maria Alejandra has organized the MILPA Harrisburg Committee since December 2012 advocating and educating our state officials on the contribution and needs of the diverse immigrant communities in the state. Through this work, she was awarded the BCMPeace Award in 2018 and Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow in January 2020 . She has recently graduated this Spring 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Penn State Harrisburg while being a wife and mother to three daughters. She hopes to keep advocating for immigrant rights, family unity and empower others through her shared experiences.