The IDRA Education Policy Fellows Program that operated from November 2020 through July 2021 was generously supported by Trellis Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Hewlett 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 Fellowsprogram was established in 2013 by IDRA to honor the memory of IDRA founder, Dr. José Angel Cárdenas.
Dr. Altheria Caldera
IDRA Education Policy Fellow – 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.
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.
IDRA Education Policy Fellow – English Learners 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.
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 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.
IDRA Education Policy Fellow – 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 policy communications strategist.
IDRA Education Policy Fellow – 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.
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.