Camilo Romero ’12 has become the second NYU Law student in two years to win a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Begun in 1997, the fellowship program awards 30 two-year fellowships annually, including grants and tuition assistance, to immigrants or children of immigrants.

Romero was born in California in 1981; his family had relocated there to escape the violence occurring in Colombia during that period. Today Romero is an international organizer and legal team member for SINALTRAINAL, a union representing Colombian food and beverage workers. Romero has worked with organizations addressing issues as varied as sweatshops, homelessness, and generational mentoring. His academic research has encompassed international garment and food service workers, the politics of salsa music, Latino identity, fair trade coffee stewardship, and Native American and Colombian indigenous movements. Romero has received dozens of achievement awards from a variety of organizations, and founded BlackBrown Projects, an organization fostering dialogues and mentorship to bridge the African-American and Latino communities. His ultimate aim is to combine his organizing efforts with impact litigation related to international labor and immigrant rights.

Adding the Soros Fellowship to his list of honors, he said, gives his union efforts added legitimacy: “Many times, issues of social justice and activism are cast aside as being for rabble-rousers on the fringe. It makes it harder to recruit other well-intentioned, thoughtful people to join.” But with recognition like the Soros Fellowship, it “doesn’t seem so weird now to be a social activist, and hopefully that trend continues.”

Posted on March 11, 2010