“She was so young,” said Maria Zamudio. “But I think she touched more lives in those 26 years than some people will in their lifetime.”
Alma was a passionate Chicago activist and fought for better migrant workers’ rights, sought college grants for first-generation students, revamped Chicago’s Little Village’s much-needed public transit program, and did so much more — at just 26 years old.
According to DNA Info, Alma passed away in late September after suffering from a chronic illness over the last year. Though her condition worsened in recent months, her death was still unexpected and resulted in a difficult loss for the Latino communities and organizations she was a part of for so long.
“For me, remembering Alma goes far beyond what she did, but what she stood for,” added Lynda Lopez, one of Alma’s best friends. “Alma taught us what it means to challenge our work, to critically think about our roles and to truly center community as we seek to make change.”
Streetsblog Chicago states that Alma was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and immigrated to Illinois with her family when she was only a toddler. She earned a BA in urban planning and public administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was attending graduate school in the university’s Master of Urban Planning and Policy program.
One of her most successful campaigns in her community was restoring the bus service on 31st Street in Little Village. There are roughly 6.8 million Americans that rely on assistive devices to aid with their mobility. Alma took it upon herself to help those who were less fortunate in her community and improved their ways of travel. Filled with plenty of blue-collar Mexican families and struggling youth, the Little Village had to cut its bus route back in the late 1990s due to low ridership.
“So if you lived in southern Little Village you had to walk all the way up to 26th or Cermak,” said Alma. “Old people couldn’t walk all that way, and some residents are afraid to walk on certain blocks.”
Thanks to Alma, the Chicago Transit Authority agreed to extend the 35th Street bus line to include 31st Street. Since then, ridership has met expectations and will likely remain a permanent solution.
“Alma was a force of nature,” Maria added. “She cared a lot about helping folks that oftentimes fall through the cracks.”
A memorial fund has been set up to raise money for Alma’s funeral expenses. Any additional funds raised will be used to create a scholarship in her honor.