The University of Texas at Austin
School of Undergraduate Studies
Skip navigation links

Clarissa Riojas

Clarissa Riojas
Major: 
English, Mexican American Studies
Graduation: 
Spring 2014

Clarissa Riojas is a Children & Society BDP student who spent the fall 2013 semester interning with the Texas Center for Education Policy. She helped organize a conference to address the need for more Latino children’s literature in libraries and schools, and she also helped initiate the process of developing a Mexican American Saturday school.

“It was inspiring to see how collaboration between a group of powerful and passionate individuals helped to create change in the community.”

How did you find your internship?
I sent an email to Dr. Angela Valenzuela, asking if she’d consider being my faculty advisor for a research project. In reading my email, she saw that my interests in Latino Literature aligned with a project she was already working on. She asked me if I would be willing to come onboard with her!

Describe the work you did as an intern.
During my internship, I helped organize a conference that discussed the lack of Latino children’s literature in libraries and schools. Currently, we are in the process of developing a Mexican American Saturday school, where children will become educated on their cultural history. I have researched ethnic studies programs, their impact, and the ways in which they are implemented through curriculum.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
The relationships I formed have been the most rewarding part of my experience. Through my internship, I had the opportunity to meet community activists, educators, librarians, and graduate students. It was inspiring to see how collaboration between a group of powerful and passionate individuals helped to create change in the community. I have learned so much from everyone I have met, and I will cherish their teachings throughout my educational and professional career.

In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
My heart has always been in changing the education system. However, I wasn’t always sure what career in education I wanted to pursue. Before my Connecting Experience, I planned to attend law school. After my internship with the Texas Center for Educational Policy (TCEP), I have realized that I have a strong interest in policy-making. Graduate school is now in my future, and I am thankful to BDP and TCEP for having played such a large role in helping me discover my passion.