FCC Freshman Takes Lead in Community Activism


Photo by: Ram Reyes

Sophia Bautista speaks to the crowd during a protest she organized in Fresno’s Tower District on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.

Story By: Seth Casey, Reporter

Courage can manifest in many ways.
It is a trait all are capable of, but few truly display.

For 18-year-old Fresno City College freshman Sophia Bautista, courage is doing the right thing, regardless of fear, doubt or opposition.
“Straddling that hyphen between Filipino and American really added a lot to my experience and my viewpoint,” she said.

Bautista displayed her courage when she coordinated, promoted and led a public march on Sept. 17 in Fresno’s Tower District. The protest drew an estimated 1,000 participants, all showing their disapproval of President Trump’s discontinuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

For Bautista, the issue was personal. She discovered, only months before Trump’s decision, that her close friend of six years was a DACA recipient. However, Bautista’s passion for justice and equality was forged long before the president’s actions became a national discussion.

Born in Davao City, Bautista emigrated with her parents from the Philippines when she was two years old. They came in search of economic opportunity for themselves. Bautista said she was very young when she witnessed racial discrimination and other experiences that influenced her desire for fairness, equality and justice

“I wasn’t an activist, but I knew that there was something wrong in the way people treated other people,” said Bautista. “Even something as trivial as mocking an Asian accent or something, I’ve experienced that since I was a kid.”

Bautista asserts that the most powerful way to help those in need is for others to take a stand in support of those who are marginalized and left without a political voice.
“They don’t have the ability to vote, but we do,” said Bautista. “It’s definitely really important for us to be able to speak up for them.”

Community involvement and political activism are only part of Bautista’s repertoire. She is also on the CSU Fresno color guard team, on the FCC Speech and Debate Team while being enrolled in the Leon S. Peters Honors Program, an academic program consisting of honors classes which requires students maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA.

Bautista enjoys expressing herself through creative writing; she wrote for her high school’s literary magazine. Now she is looking for ways to coalesce her passion for writing with her activism, and has written stories and poetry that showcase and confront social issues. Her love of writing and reading even prompted her to be designated as a speaker to read poetry at the DACA march.

She said self-expression has been a part of her life and she and enjoys the medium of through performing arts and displays this through her literary ambitions in her performance with the color guard teams since high school.

Bautista was accepted into UC Berkeley upon graduating from Clovis West High School in 2017. However, she was unable to attend immediately because of inadequate funding.

Now in her first year at FCC, Bautista is pursuing a major in political science, and she plans on adding a second major in philosophy when she transfers to either UC Berkeley or UC Davis. She plans on later attending law school, and aspires to someday run for district attorney.

Bautista’s actions have established her as a role model for her peers and her community as well as to her two younger sisters who are in elementary school.

She noted that the partisan rift separating the country’s ideologies, Bautista says she is inspired to promote discourse among opposing viewpoints, in order to further a mutual understanding and compromise across the aisle.

“Especially now, our political parties are really polarized, and they don’t want to listen to each other,” she said. “The thing is, in a democracy, we need that discourse.”

Bautista’s parents are politically conservative, however, through discussion and understanding, she communicated to them the severity and ramifications that ending the DACA program could have.

“The thing is DACA isn’t citizenship. After I made that point, they kind of agreed,” said Bautista. “Convincing them wasn’t really the thing…I’m more open to understanding.”

Bautista plans on continuing her community involvement and to keep fighting for the rights of others. She says she was inspired to be engaged in her community after attending the Ignite Women’s Conference, a political leadership conference for young women, and participating in the women’s march in Fresno Jan. 21.

“I’ve always felt that way,” Bautista said, “that everyone should have the same rights, regardless of if they’re citizens, or different ethnicities, or gender.”