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IDRA Fellows

The IDRA Education Policy Fellows Program moves to Georgia for the state’s legislative session in early 2022. The program’s inaugural cycle in Texas operated from November 2020 through July 2021. It was generously supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Trellis Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and in partnership with the John Gardner Public Service Fellowship, facilitated by Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service. IDRA’s Research Fellowship was supported in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows program was established in 2013 by IDRA to honor the memory of IDRA founder, Dr. José Angel Cárdenas.


2021-22 Fellowships


Mikayla Arciaga, M.A.Ed.

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Georgia Education Policy

Mikayla Arciaga, M.A. Ed., spent the last five years teaching high school math and coaching swimming at Title I schools in both Florida and Georgia. While still in the classroom, she worked with multiple school districts in a variety of roles focusing on community engagement, curriculum improvement, teacher development and policy analysis. During her summers, Mikayla collaborated with and led a team of policy fellows assisting school board members in metro Atlanta and across the country. She contributed to several projects including a line-item review of an $800 million budget, an equity audit of almost 200 school board policies, and an analysis of both school and state-level per-pupil expenditure data.

Throughout her work at the school district level, she recognized the need for high-quality accountability processes in the public school system, which motivated her to pursue a master’s degree in program evaluation in the educational environment from the University of Florida. Mikayla’s policy interests are centered around dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, accessibility for students with disabilities and digital accessibility. Outside of education policy, her other great love has been to make swimming accessible to learners of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. As a swim coach, she has worked to create a space focusing on sportsmanship, community, and joy, bringing home the first city championship in school history.

Sample Fellowship Products by Mikayla


2020-21 Fellowships


Dr. Altheria Caldera

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas Preparation and Access to College

Dr. Altheria Caldera is a scholar, writer and equity activist whose other identities include dog-lover, nature-enthusiast and college football fan. The Alabama native began her professional career as a middle school English teacher. As a teacher educator for the last four years, she aims to equip her students with the knowledge necessary to effectively teach students of color in P-12 schools. Through her research and scholarship, she aims to promote access and equity for all minoritized students in academic institutions that span the P-16 spectrum. Altheria earned her Ph.D. in education studies from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and is looking forward to learning how to apply her classroom knowledge to state-level advocacy work.

As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Altheria identified and pursued advocacy opportunities to expand access to and ensure success in postsecondary education spaces, particularly for students of color. After the fellowship cycle ended, Altheria became assistant professor of language arts and reading at Howard University and director of its DC-Area Writing Project.

Sample Fellowship Products by Altheria

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Dr Salih Cevik Dr. Salih Cevik

IDRA Southern Education Leadership Initiative Fellow

Salih Cevik is a Ph.D. candidate and a graduate assistant in the educational administration and policy program at the University of Georgia. He obtained his master’s degree in educational leadership and policy in University of Minnesota. He received the Turkish Study Abroad Scholarship, CEHD Advanced Study Scholarship, and Ray E. Bruce Award. Salih’s research focuses on differentiated instruction, teacher evaluation and social justice. His fellowship through the Southern Education Leadership Initiative took place in the summer of 2021.

Fellowship Writing by Salih


Araceli García

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas Emergent Bilingual and Immigrant Student Education

Araceli Garcia grew up on the South Side of San Antonio and is the daughter and granddaughter of Mexican immigrants. As the culmination of her hard work and the sacrifices of her family, Araceli graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in Chicanx/Latinx studies and a minor in education. Araceli is the first person in her family to attend college, and she has held several leadership positions within the Stanford University Latinx community, where she found a home away from home. In addition to her studies, Araceli has worked alongside detained immigrants fighting for their right to seek asylum. She plans to pursue a law degree.

As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Araceli identified and pursued advocacy opportunities that ensure equitable and excellent schools for English learners and immigrant students. After the fellowship cycle ended, Araceli entered the University of Texas’ School of Law.

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Haley Gray Haley Gray

IDRA Southern Education Leadership Initiative Fellow

Haley Gray, originally from Loganville, Georgia, is a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, pursuing a master’s degree in education policy. She recently finished her undergraduate program at Vanderbilt University in May of 2021 and graduated with a B.S. in child studies and a B.S. in human and organizational development.

While at Vanderbilt, Haley has been an active member of several campus and community organizations that are dedicated to mentoring and providing equitable educational resources to low-income students and students of color in Metro-Nashville public schools. She aspires to work in education policy to ensure all students are guaranteed access to an equitable future.

As a Southern Education Leadership Initiative (SELI) Fellow in the summer of 2021 at IDRA, Haley continued her work and research on these topics as she pursues opportunities to advocate for the implementation of cultural studies courses within Georgia schools, encourage community activism, and forward restorative school practices that will help to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.

Fellowship Writing by Hayley


Thomas Marshall III

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas Digital Communications and Community Engagement Advocacy

Thomas Marshall III is a native of Columbia, South Carolina and is new to the Houston area, residing in the Third Ward. He attended Clemson University for his undergraduate studies, where he received a B.A. in English with a minor in youth development studies. Educational equity is at the core of his heart and collegiate career. During his undergraduate career, he mentored and holistically developed men of color, ranging from first-year students to seniors in high school. To Thomas, educational equity is when the institution of education decides to take ownership of the inconvenient truth: the history of inequities in education put marginalized folks first. His research interests include the recruitment and retention rate of Black males at predominantly white institutions. He is currently a student in the master of education (higher education) program at the University of Houston.

As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Thomas executed a strong digital communications and community engagement advocacy program for the 87th Texas legislative session. After the fellowship cycle ended, Thomas joined the IDRA staff as a policy communications strategist.

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Christina Quintanilla-Muñoz, M.Ed. 

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas Equitable Response to COVID-19 in Schools

Christina Quintanilla-Muñoz, M.Ed., is a second-generation, Latina master’s student studying quantitative methods in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Christina believes that voices from students and other advocates of color are grossly under-represented in the policymaking space. She hopes to learn how to be a stronger advocate for families, students and educators in local communities, using advocacy and community-focused data collection strategies to identify their needs.

As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Christina identified and pursued advocacy opportunities that address both the new and the existing systemic needs that schools, students and families have due to COVID-19. After the fellowship cycle ended, Christina joined the IDRA staff as research analyst.

Sample Fellowship Writings by Christina

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Dr. Cristóbal Rodríguez

IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow

IDRA has named Howard University professor Dr. Cristóbal Rodríguez as the 2019 IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow. He is an associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies and is the director of graduate studies in the School of Education at Howard University in Washington, D.C. His research centers on diverse demographics and explores how policy and leadership influence equity and access for diverse populations throughout the educational pipeline. He received his Ph.D. in educational policy and planning at the University of Texas at Austin, with an emphasis on education research, evaluation and policy analysis with a social and cultural historical focus. His fellowship culminated with a virtual symposium in October 2021.


Except where otherwise noted, content produced by IDRA fellows during their fellowship is licensed under a Creative Commons (CC-BY). This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.