Veteran political activist and local elected official Gloria Molina met with the Political Students Assembly on Monday night to kick-off the organization’s semester events. Molina represented East Los Angeles on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for 23 years before being termed out this December.Molina first entered elected office in 1982 as a State Assembly Member representing what was then the 56th district. In 1987, she was elected to the Los Angeles City Council where she represented District 1, and in 1991, she was elected to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Molina is the first Latina in history to be elected to the California State Legislature, the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.The event was organized by Emily Hodgkins, assistant director of PSA, and Edwin Saucedo, the executive director of PSA.“She’s a huge legend with great name recognition in the community. We got a lot of support from other student organizations on campus for this event,” said Saucedo.Molina discussed her experiences in government and in grassroots organizing. Molina became attracted to politics before she was old enough to vote, frustrated by the disenfranchisement and discrimination of those in her community.Molina was an integral part of the first “Chicana” feminist organization, Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional, where she served as president from 1975 to 1977. At the time, Latino rights organizations primarily dealt with discrimination against men, and feminist groups were mostly white. Molina found that dialogue in these types of groups was not inclusive, which prompted the creation of Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional. More than 200 women attended the organization’s first meeting, which Molina says, “proved that there was an appetite for discussion about Chicana issues.”Before being elected to office, Molina served in the White House as a deputy for presidential personnel during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.During 1980 congressional reapportionment, Molina faced pushback from Democratic party officials who told her that there was no room for a female on the party’s ticket. Soon, after a seat opened in California State Assembly, she entered the race, and despite having fewer financial resources and endorsements than her male competitor, Molina was able to win by rallying women in her community to go to the polls.“We demonstrated to men in the community that women would succeed if they had the opportunity. Women had the capability of running an effective campaigns… we could raise money and challenge men,” Molina said.As a State Assembly Member, Molina faced challenges as she fought against the Governor’s plans to build a state prison in her district, which is predominantly Latino. Once elected to Los Angeles City Council, she rallied an organization of concerned citizens called the “Mothers of East LA” to file a successful lawsuit against the prison’s construction, which would have been located in what is now the Arts District.Molina claimed that the biggest problem she has faced with grassroots organizing is getting people in the community to be responsive.“To them, you’re just another politician … You have to cut through all of the noise to really reach people. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be tough,” she said.Emily Hodgkins, one of the organizers of Monday night’s event, connected with Molina’s background in grassroots politics.“It’s particularly exciting to hear about the grassroots activism that [Molina] gave us a look into. We usually don’t see this perspective because ‘big money’ swallows up so much of the media’s attention,” said Hodgkins, a junior majoring in history.During the event, Molina also addressed the discrimination that she faced while in office.“If you read articles about me, you will always find an adjective before my name. I’m not the ‘powerful’ supervisor, I’m the ‘shrill’ supervisor. Men can do the same things that I do, but they’re treated differently by the press,” said Molina. “At the end of the day, I was elected to do a job. Not as a woman or as a Latina, but to represent all of my constituents.”Today, Molina is most proud of her work in combating homelessness in her district. She helped to create the Bell Shelter for homeless veterans in order to surround them by supportive services and mental health resources. During the event, Molina discussed her advocacy on issues such as environmental protection, gerrymandering and education.Currently, Molina is challenging incumbent Jose Huizar for his seat on the Los Angeles City Council in what is considered to be a highly competitive race. In November, Molina collected over 1600 signatures from 14th Council District to enter the race, rather than paying the race entry fee. The election will take place on March 3rd.