Mitzuky Orellana

Seminar: Women Unlocking Nonprofits (2016)
Occupation: Intake Coordinator, St. Anne's
Education: MSW, University of Southern California; BA, Psychology and Sociology, Mount Saint Mary's University (PLEN Member)

As a high school student at Saint Mary’s Academy in Los Angeles, Mitzuky was ready to pursue a career in health. She participated in a Health Careers Program that allowed her to specialize her studies in preparation for a medical career. Not only was she able to specialize her studies, but she was also provided the opportunity to volunteer at various hospitals to help her decide the type of medical career she wanted to pursue. During the day of volunteering, she met with a child life specialist who introduced her to the field of social work. From that moment on, she knew that social work was her passion.

After graduating from Saint Mary’s Academy, Mitzuky stayed in Los Angeles to attend PLEN member school Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU.) During an internship at Carson City Hall and Community Center in California, she learned about how public policy directly affects social work and social services. This experience widened her view of social work and inspired her to learn more about how she could influence her community directly through social work and on a large scale through policy, and how these two worlds intertwined in nonprofits.

After this internship, she set out to learn more about the intersection of social work and policy through her coursework at MSMU. One of the most impactful classes that she took was Nonprofits 101, which connected her prior volunteer experience and interest in social work in policy. With this class, she found out exactly where she fit into the policy world. Mitzuky went on to take a nonprofit management class, and then learned about the PLEN Women Unlocking Nonprofits seminar.

While volunteering with PLEN at Martha’s Table, and DC-based organization that supports strong children, strong families, and strong communities by increasing access to quality education programs, healthy food, and family supports, Mitzuky had her “ah-ha!” moment. With this experience, she was able to see not only what it’s like to volunteer at a nonprofit, but what goes on behind the scenes as well. Her three days with PLEN solidified her decision to go to graduate school and pursue a career committed to social justice and enhancing the well-being and quality of life of individuals who are impacted by social disadvantages.

Mitzuky’s advice for current undergraduate women is to get involved. If she hadn’t gotten involved in high school or college, she wouldn’t have found out her true passions. “Getting involved opens so many doors and opportunities,” she advises younger students. “Join various clubs and extracurricular to gain leadership experience, but do it to learn and explore various opportunities, not to impress future employers.”

In 2018, Mitzuky completed her academic goal of achieving a Masters of Social Work at the University of Southern California. During her time at USC, she interned with Saint Agnes Parish School and with the national nonprofit LIFT LA. She is now an intake coordinator at St. Anne’s, one of the most highly regarded social-service agencies in the country. Throughout her professional and academic path, Mitzuky makes sure to always follow her favorite piece of advice: “do things that make you happy, and be kind to those around you.”

By Hayley Humiston • 2018

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