Clara Medina Maya
External Relations Associate
Clara E. Medina Maya (they/them/theirs) is an unapologetically queer and undocumented education justice advocate. They join the Education Trust-West as an External Relations Associate with experience in policy advocacy, coalition building, and community organizing.
Before joining the ETW team, Clara was a Policy Intern and Administrative Assistant for the Partnership for College Completion while attending the University of Chicago as a recipient of the HBCU/HSI Bridge Year Scholarship. Within the Partnership’s efforts to eliminate degree completion disparities for low-income students and students of color in Illinois, Clara provided policy analysis and research on proposed legislation and initiatives. They most recently drafted the initial legislation language to create an emergency grant program in Illinois that would support the most financially impacted students. Through the Illinois Higher Education Network (IHEN), Clara was the lead in coordinating partners as they planned and facilitated the inaugural Student Advocate Board focused on the Illinois Funding Campaign.
Prior to their time at the Partnership, Clara advocated for equitable resources, access, and retention of students, particularly students of color and undocumented students, in the California higher education landscape as a board member of the University of California Student Association (UCSA) – first as UC Merced’s Legislative Director and later, as UCSA’s Appointed Officer on Campus Climate. Among many roles that exposed Clara to the lived experiences of students and deepened their commitment to equity, they were a resident assistant, social justice initiatives intern, and had the privilege of being an undergraduate research assistant in the Sociology department for a project exploring the first-year experience of LGBTQ+ students.
Born in Mexico and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Clara is the first in their family to graduate college and holds a B.A. in Political Science and B.A. in Sociology from the University of California Merced. They are committed to racial justice and dismantling systemic barriers preventing students of color, low-income students, and undocumented students from accessing quality education and are excited to engage in this work with the ETW team.