Read about Arush Mehrotra’s goal to fight injustice in our justice system through student-led roundtable discussions and think tanks.
What’s your story? Tell me a little bit about what your organization’s purpose is and your inspiration for founding it.
Around a year ago, I read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which opened my eyes to the various injustices that are being committed, ironically, in our system of justice. After reading more about these issues, I started to write articles for my school newspaper and the LA Times High School Insider and at the beginning of this year, I decided that I wanted to make a real change in the community around me. This is what led to the founding of the OC Justice Project.
Our mission is to inspire our generation to care about the issues that are undermining the democratic ideals our justice system was intended to be founded upon. We are completely student-led, currently spanning over six high schools and are continually expanding.
Who does your project help?
Our project is aimed at supporting marginalized members of our local community. Whether that be immigrant families who are suffering due to the inherent injustices associated with immigrant detention centers or minority groups that have been affected by our system of justice in some way, shape, or form.
How has your experience with this changed you as a person? Is there anything you’ve learned?
This experience has definitely opened my eyes to just how strong of a community there is, especially in Orange County, of people who are truly passionate about advancing social justice. Through talking with other community organization leaders and youth, my knowledge and perspective on issues specific to our system of justice have definitely matured and I find it truly amazing how there are just so many ways to make a difference.
Any particular story/memory from the OC Justice Project that stuck with you?
A particular story that sticks out to me is during one of our roundtable events in which we invited members from our local community to talk about issues that were sparked by the blatant murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
One of the people who attended this roundtable talked about their experience living in poverty and just how emotionally taxing their upbringing was. It can definitely be difficult sometimes to recognize all that you have and this particular story serves as my reminder to appreciate the things in life that often go unnoticed.
How far do you see yourself taking this? Will you take it with you throughout college and adulthood or pass it on once you graduate?
When I go to college, I definitely plan on staying involved with the OC Justice Project, but given that OCJP is local to Orange County, I will definitely not be able to play as active of a role as I have been able to so far. Therefore, I will likely be passing it down so that this organization can continue to make a sustainable and tangible impact in the Orange County community.
How has your experience been with Irvine LIGHTS?
My experience with Irvine LIGHTS has been amazing. The number of resources, support, and infrastructure that Irvine LIGHTS provides definitely has made the OC Justice Project what it is today. I am extremely thankful to everyone at Irvine LIGHTS and especially, Shrey for his continual mentorship and guidance