It was the summer after her freshman year in college, teaching English in Colombia, when Laura was first exposed to the educational inequities millions of students face around the world. She came home determined to do more. So, she increased her credit load, graduated in three years, and joined Teach For America.
At 21, Laura moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and became a high school social studies teacher. She taught for three years — two years at her placement school and the third year at an alternative high school. At one point while teaching, 80 percent of her students gained three times the anticipated reading progress in just one semester.
Tragically, in her third year as a teacher, one of her students was murdered. When Laura visited his bereaved mother, she sobbed into her arms and repeated over and over again, “we tried, we tried.” The mother’s words inspired Laura to reflect on how she could influence systems that aren’t currently set up for student and community success — how she could try even harder.
Laura is now a LEE Public Policy Fellow working in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education in Washington, D.C. There, she is researching education policy issues that will drive the citywide Truancy Taskforce aimed at addressing and reducing chronic student absenteeism among more than 80,000 D.C. public and charter school students. She attributes the fellowship with giving her a firsthand look at the education policy landscape, helping her build a stronger professional network and developing her voice as a leader who is truly championing equity.
As for what’s ahead? Laura recognizes the privilege she’s had in her own life — she plans to continue to be an ally of those with less privilege and pursue experiences that push her out of her comfort zone. She hopes to continue her career in education policy to help create a world in which students are not limited by circumstances, and structural inequality is eradicated.