Miriam HerrejonJune 6, 2024 - Class of 2019 Political Science alumna Miriam Herrejon has just started what she calls her “dream job” as a Deputy Labor Commissioner for the State of California.

Nobody is more surprised and thrilled than she is.

“I didn’t even know what the Department of Industrial Relations was,” said Herrejon, 27, who was the first in her family to graduate from college.

Herrejon learned about the position from CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Political Science adjunct professor Tim Allison, J.D., who recognized that his former student would be a perfect fit for job.

“Miriam Herrejon had extensive experience in working with farm labor recruitment, hiring and contract negotiation,” Allison said. “When I heard about this position, I immediately thought of her.  She will be incredible as a deputy labor commissioner.”

Allison knew her experience combined with her college degree qualified her for the job, but she also had passion for workers’ rights as she comes from a family of immigrants who had worked in the agricultural industry.  Herrejon’s mother did strawberry packing and later, retail, and her father was a farmworker who later worked with industrial equipment.

“Growing up, I could feel and hear how frustrated my parents were,” Herrejon said. “I didn’t have answers for them because I was seven. My mom was always missing things - special events and birthdays - because she was afraid to ask for time off.”

Herrejon is the youngest of four children, with her older sister having been born in their native Nicaragua. After immigrating to the U.S., Herrejon’s two brothers joined the U.S. Marines and her sister became a preschool teacher. After graduating from CSUCI in 2019, Herrejon pursued work in staffing and employment relations and discovered she had a passion for employee rights.

“When I first started doing work with labor relations, it was in as a human resources assistant at a strawberry packing facility,” she said. “These people were putting in 70 hours a week. A lot of them liked it but didn’t really know what they were getting into. They didn’t really know what they could ask for. I would see people come in for a second shift right after their first shift.”

Herrejon was just 20 years old but felt compelled to take a stand and inform workers of their rights, sometimes against her supervisor’s wishes.

“I always felt it was really important to inform employees about their rights, especially those who are not eligible to work in the U.S.,” Herrejon said. “They still have rights.”

Herrejon researched the position during the application, testing and interview process, which took six months, and grew more excited about the prospect of getting the job. Allison helped guide her through the process, and he was the first person Herrejon texted when she learned the good news.

“I credit my experience at CSUCI, the great faculty and a lot of patience that led me to this incredible moment,” Herrejon said. “I have always wanted to find a public service career that was rewarding and could make a difference for those who need an advocate. I didn’t know what path my journey would take, but I am excited to begin my life’s work.”

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