Fernando Tercero | Credit: Jun Starkey

Third-year UC Santa Barbara student Fernando Tercero has gained popularity and a large following on TikTok through creating interactive videos centered around equity, accessibility, and community participation.

Tercero, known as @ferniesanders2024 on his TikTok account, has amassed nearly 80,000 followers since he began making videos just over a year ago, and has gained more than 1.8 million likes across all his videos. They span a wide variety of topics — mostly centered on politics — and his most popular discuss issues like redlining, distribution of resources, and how systemic racism shapes our modern experiences.

Tercero’s most popular video series is called “Modern Day Segregation.” In it, he walks the viewer through different areas of Isla Vista, Goleta, and his own home town of Palo Alto, and demonstrates how areas populated predominantly by lower-income residents and people of color have fewer public spaces, less accessible roads and sidewalks, and fewer community resources than their predominantly white-populated counterparts.

Tercero attributes a newfound desire to take an active role in local politics to his position as an intern for Esmeralda Quintero-Cubillan, UCSB’s External Vice President of Statewide Affairs. “As soon as I learned about city council hearings and public comments, I was obsessed,” he said. And connecting to younger people through social media is an effective way to involve them, he explained. “If students understood that they can be an active part of the legislative process, I feel like they’d be a lot more excited to join,” he said.

One of the neighborhoods Tercero highlights in his “Modern Day Segregation” series is along Hollister Avenue in Goleta, which Tercero points out is predominately Latinx. The video begins with him walking and jogging easily through the streets of Isla Vista, with plenty of available walking paths and bike lanes. The video then cuts to Tercero standing on the sidewalk on Hollister, his voice barely audible amid the roar of vehicles whipping past. “Areas like Hollister Avenue lack access to public spaces and instead have roads like this that are hostile to pedestrians,” he says. “This can create an environment that has a negative impact on an individual’s mental and physical health.”

Another video focuses on the abundance of liquor stores in Isla Vista. Tercero walks along Embarcadero del Mar, where three stores are clustered, then takes the viewer less than a mile away to Isla Vista Elementary School, which he acknowledges serves mainly children of color. “As a Latino, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been told that my culture values alcohol over education,” he says. “How are our children supposed to succeed academically, when our education system predisposes them to substance abuse?”

Tercero often encourages his viewers to become involved in their community to help raise awareness of inequity, and to encourage city planners to create more spaces like the Johnny D. Wallis Neighborhood Park in Old Town Goleta, which he credited as a sign of positive change in the area. He recently spoke at a Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission meeting. “A push for renter majority districts is a push against gerrymandering, a push against discrimination, and a push for all those marginalized,” he told the commission. “No student, child or citizen should have to face what I and many other working class immigrant families went through.”

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