Meet one of the Labor Studies Commencement Student Speakers, Mary Entoma

Learn more about Mary’s journey in getting to UCLA, why she chose the Labor Studies program, and her plans after graduation.

This story forms part of our 2023 Labor Studies Graduation Stories series.

Marcos Ruiz Rojas | June 6, 2023

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

My name is Mary Entoma, she/her. I grew up in San Mateo, CA but was born in Cebu City, Philippines. I come from a working-class, first-generation immigrant family. My mom was a union teacher. I have one older sister, Judy, and two dogs, Cannon and Mahalia! 

Why did you choose Labor Studies?

In my first quarter at UCLA, I took a class where I connected with a labor union, Unite Here Local 11, and volunteered with them for a quarter. I attended pickets, surveyed workers, canvassed, etc., and was excited by the work. I wanted to learn more about unions and the history of the labor movement, especially here in Los Angeles. When I heard that there was a Labor Studies program here at UCLA, I immediately took the necessary steps to see if I could take on the major. Now graduating, it has been a pleasure taking great classes that Labor Studies has offered and working with professors/TAs who have done so much to grow the movement. 

What opportunities have been the most meaningful within the Labor Studies program and while at UCLA? 

I’ve had the opportunity to connect with students, professors, and TAs through Labor Studies. I’ve organized and organized with so many people from the program. I’ve had professors out on the picket line, and students join me in canvassing for pro-labor candidates. Being part of a community passionate about worker issues and willing to take action has been a pleasure! 

Since organizing my first year, I’ve been part of many organizations working to grow the labor movement here in LA. I’ve been an active member of SLAP, the Student Labor Advocacy Project. I was a young religious fellow with CLUE, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. I’ve been on staff with Local 11 for a little over a year as a community organizer, where I’ve volunteered and interned with the union since my first year. I currently also serve as one of the Co-Presidents of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Los Angeles chapter. 

What are your goals after graduating? Where do you see yourself going in the future with a degree in Labor Studies?

My goal after graduation is to keep organizing. Fortunately, I will continue my work as a community organizer with Unite Here Local 11. More than 100 of our union contracts will expire this coming June, so I will spend my summer on the picket line! 

Learn more about commencement activities for the UCLA Labor Studies here.

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