Meet Esther Lau and Fiona Lu, 2023 Scholarship Recipients

Meet two of our scholarship recipients, Esther Lau and Fiona Lu. Esther and Fiona live in California and have become advocates for low-income families in need of menstrual products with their project What We All Deserve. Their mission was to give families the ability to purchase menstrual products using SNAP benefits. Both girls come from low-income families that have relied on state services in some capacity, so this bill was very personal and important to them. They write,

“CA’s SB 260, the Menstrual Equity Act of 2023, is What We All Deserve’s first legislative advocacy initiative. If passed, the bill will add $20 in monthly cash assistance for each menstruating CalWORKs recipient. From its ideation to current standing in the CA Legislature, we’ve spearheaded its efforts, gathering support from 12 co-authors, endorsements from the CA Women’s Caucus and Senate Democrats, 13 co-sponsors, and 50+ supporting organizations.”

“Our project has successfully sponsored SB 260 into the California Legislature. SB 260 is currently being voted on in the Senate and has already passed the Senate Human Services, Governmental Organization, and Appropriations committees. Soon, it will head through the Assembly and go through the parallel review process, and eventually be signed into law. We’ve already gained robust legislative support with 12 co-authors across the Senate and Assembly, as well as endorsements from the CA Women’s Caucus and the Senate Democrats Budget Plan. We’ve also rallied strong organizational support with 13 co-sponsors (ex: PERIOD., IGNITE National, URGE) and 50+ supporting organizations (ex: ACLU, NARAL).”

Not only are these girls spending their time working towards passing this legislation, but they’re also involving the community as much as possible, making their project spread and influence as much as possible. 

“What We All Deserve is working to engage the communities most affected by economic inequalities in the fight for economic justice. For example, while recruiting for other youth advocates, we hope to particularly highlight other low-income youth who have directly been affected by social welfare programs and other economic gaps in opportunity. By doing this, we hope to empower underserved communities simultaneously while advocating for progressive economic policy.”

Not only have they worked on SB 260, but they’ve also been actively involved in California’s education policies and they’ve worked on student-written and led policies. 

In an interview held with Fiona and Esther, they both commented on how real imposter syndrome has been during this entire process. They often questioned whether or not they were qualified to do this work. But they both agreed that the hard work pays off when they were able to meet those that the bill would impact and hearing individuals testify why the bill would be beneficial in their state. 

Our team at Honors GradU loved reading more about Esther and Fiona’s work in the community and state. They inspired us by their work and we are honored to have them as our 2023 scholarship recipients. 

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