Isabel Cajulis, Director of Strategic Development

Perhaps the hardest thing about writing a bio is being forced to confront the feeling of inadequacy. Growing up in a non-Filipino neighborhood, questions of my identity were always punctuated with the word “enough.” Consequently, I learned to only know self through what was insufficient, through the gaps between me and performative stereotypes. I felt unworthy to call myself Filipina-American. I navigated this community-less space with the feeling of inadequacy for some time, the same feeling I am compelled to examine as I introduce myself to you here.

The question of self and of worthiness occurred to me like a dream in that space. In this dream, rainfall inevitably sweeps me away with its tides to the foundation of bahay. Abandon my island, how could I? Community teaches us to orient ourselves as we grapple with dissonance and identity. Community is a space where we learn that there is no desert to belonging, that the obstacles standing between us and others like us are the ones that we create for ourselves, sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of resentment. Community is a space where we look upon the faces of others and realize that there is no other, only love and affirmation. Through UniPro, I was able to plant myself in this space of love and affirmation, rooted in our unitary history. I wish to recreate this immersive experience for fellow Fil-Ams struggling to discover self and to cultivate a space (or garden) where folks have the opportunity to grow and connect with not only each other, but with themselves.

I joined UniPro as an intern in 2016 after interning at ARK, Inc. I currently serve as UniPro-NY’s Director of Strategic Development. You can also find me organizing at Project As[I]Am as their Nonprofit Fundraising Coordinator and at Kultura Caved (@kulturacaved on Instagram) as their Community Manager for NYC. I will be living in DC briefly this fall and working at the Smithsonian. Slide in my professional DMs with your program pitches and natal charts at isabel.cajulis@unipronow.org.