Valentina Pereda, 28, served as White House deputy director for Hispanic media at the Obama White House. Growing up, Pereda enjoyed music and singing and dreamed of a performing career.
Her view of the world dramatically shifted when her family had to take an emergency trip to Venezuela to see her ailing grandfather. During that trip her mother confessed that she was undocumented and would not be allowed to re-enter the U.S.
A U.S. citizen, Pereda was only 14 when returned home alone without her mother. "I just remember going back to the airport, and we were literally ripped apart from one other. My uncle had to physically separate us," she said. "I never understood, nor did I have any interest in politics and government until that moment. That's when immigration and immigration laws became very personal to me."
Pereda's mother was later able to return to the U.S., and she became a citizen earlier this year.
Subsequently Pereda became active in the movement for immigration reform. In 2006, the New York Times noted that she "embodied the powerful forces of transformation" in her hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut.
"It is very important for us to be at the table, especially in media - we are all the American experience."
Pereda is currently the Florida Press Secretary for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Pereda understands that some young Latinos feel disconnected from civic engagement. "But politics matters, it impacts our lives every single day," she said.
"You need to vote at every single election - we need to understand that our voices, our votes absolutely matter."