Finding a Passion for Combatting Human Trafficking
B.S., Sociology, 2021
Vanessa got involved with the CCI when she volunteered to assist with the CCI’s Human Trafficking Summit that took place in January of 2020, and ended up getting hired to join the CCI team. Since then, she has found a love for the fight against human trafficking, applying her expertise in the field in each of her classes. Getting hired to help with the Human Trafficking Summit was an opportunity that allowed Vanessa to combine and apply her interest in criminology and her experience with sociology. She played a role in building out the three-pronged event with components designed specifically for Cal Poly students, Central Coast residents, and local law enforcement. The different arms of the event allowed Vanessa and the team to provide specific education and training to the three groups. She said it was important to her to be able to share the importance of this issue with fellow college students, and noted the impact of the keynote speech by Marjorie Saylor, who was a victim of human trafficking during her own college experience.
Vanessa has taken her experiences and applied her skills to devise ambitious solutions. To date, her biggest accomplishment at the CCI has been her proposed anti-human trafficking legislation. She had fostered a friendship with a CCI colleague who had gone on to work as a legislative aide for Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham. The aide reached out to Vanessa asking for assistance from her and the CCI to propose legislation to combat human trafficking. The Assemblyman had wanted to propose some anti-trafficking legislation and sought out the CCI for their specific expertise and experience working against trafficking on the Central Coast. Vanessa worked to come up with seven different proposals so that Assemblyman Cunningham’s office could evaluate the suggestions and bring the ones they thought were best to the floor. Vanessa took three different approaches when developing these policies: targeting combating human trafficking on a large scale, helping victims recover and reintegrate into society, and holding criminals accountable and redirecting how they function. Vanessa had to analyze past legislation, develop policies that could realistically pass and become law, and consider the regulatory frameworks that govern the specific organizations that you are targeting. For example, one of the policies Vanessa suggested had to take into account the existing codes under which Uber operates, so that she could suggest a policy creating education for both Uber drivers and riders to learn about the signs of human trafficking to encourage their intervention.
"[It] was cool to see the influence the CCI can have on the state and on this field in general."
Vanessa is currently creating a resource for the students that participate in the CCI’s annual California Cyber Innovation Challenge. The resource will include a variety of topics that will help them during their CCIC competition such as python, bash commands, presentation, collaboration, and teamwork. Additionally, Vanessa is working on developing a uniform classifier tool in conjunction with the Global Emancipation Network, a non-profit fighting human trafficking through data analytics. This tool will analyze and identify logos on student’s school uniforms to expedite the process of rescuing trafficking victims.