Liani Astacio is a scholar of Prep for Prep’s Contingent XXXV and a rising senior at The Chapin School. She was born and raised in Queens, and currently lives in Woodhaven, Queens. Liani regularly takes a 1.5 hour commute to the Upper East Side to go to The Chapin School. She strongly believes in being politically and civically engaged. On the weekends, Liani regularly volunteers for different campaigns in the Lower East Side and in Queens ranging from civil court judge races to congressional races. She is the founder of a youth-led group in Woodhaven that regularly holds voter registration drives and hopes to educate the community about local elections and local issues.
Q & A with Liani
What is your favorite memory of food?
My favorite memory was probably trying mofongo for the first time. My family always raved about it but when I was younger I was extremely picky. After years of hearing about its deliciousness I finally tried it, and I was not disappointed.
Do you cook at home? What is your favorite family recipe?
I try to help out cooking whenever I can. The first food I learned how to make were pastelillos, which are extremely similar to empanadas, with my grandma. It is one of my favorite things to make because it’s easy, incredibly versatile, and because it’s something I usually make with my grandma.
Why did you want to become an intern at The Sylvia Center?
Last year, I worked at the NYC Department of Health working on a project under the Race to Justice campaign in the Office of School Health. There, I learned how where one lives can drastically affect one’s health outcomes and health access. What I learned at the Department of Health about health equity motivated me to work at an organization that would address issues of health inequity in NYC. Once I read about the Sylvia Center’s work to address health inequity, I knew it was a perfect match for the type of organization I would want to work at.
You are entering your senior year of high school, what do you look forward to on your last year? What do you want to study in college?
I am excited for the increasing academic and personal freedoms of both senior year, and college. In senior year, I’ll be working on an individual study research project focusing on reproductive health policies in Puerto Rico and reproductive justice issues in the diaspora. In the upcoming year, I’ll also have more impact as a student leader in the student groups I lead and as an older student. I’ll also be able to register to vote. In college, I want to explore how history, policy, identity and health intersect and hope to major in public policy, political science and/or public health.
What is your dream job?
I want to work as a pro-bono immigration lawyer or work as a community organizer in Queens, where I live. I want to work in a job that positively impacts and empowers the people in my community.