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2013-2014 CHCI Fellows

CHCI welcomed its 2013-2014 fellows on August 19. The class is composed of 19 diverse individuals from 13 different states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. 

Detailed Demographics: 2013-2014 Fellows

2013-2014 Graduate Fellows

 

Scott Astrada


Lissette Flores


Wesley Brooks


Elizabeth Padilla-Crespo

Brenda Calderon


Carolina Rizzo


Daphne Delgado


Norma Salazar-Ibarra

 

2013-2014 Public Policy Fellows

 

Ricardo Alvarado


Elias Gonzalez


Eric Hernandez


Vanessa Quintana


Yesenia Lopez

Samuel Madrigal


Erika Rendon


Eliza Ramirez


Monica Sanchez


Pedro Suarez


2013-2014 Graduate Fellows 

Scott Astrada
Housing Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Milford, Connecticut
School: Marquette University
Degrees: J.D.; M.A., Business Administration 
Placement: U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Placement 2: U.S. Department of Treasury

Scott Astrada is a first generation American from Milford, Connecticut. His family is originally from Cordoba, Argentina. Scott started his undergraduate studies in Miami, at Florida International University, where he was enrolled in the honors college. In 2006, after transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his junior year, he completed his B.A. in English. He then went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from Marquette University Law School in 2009. As a law student, he interned and clerked at numerous private and state organizations including the Wisconsin Department of Justice-Attorney General’s Office, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-Legal Services Division, and Legal Aid. Scott has devoted his volunteer time to drive community and economic development in Hispanic and minority communities throughout Wisconsin.

While working full time for a local law firm in Milwaukee, Scott pursued his masters of business administration (MBA) from the Marquette Graduate School of Management, which he completed in May of 2013. During this time, Scott founded the Milwaukee chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, the nation’s preeminent organization for Hispanics professional, serving 39 chapters and over 20,000 members. He served as the President of the Board of Directors from 2010-2013. Scott also sits on the Board of Directors of numerous local and national organizations.

As A CHCI Graduate Fellow, Scott hopes to continue working toward building and maintaining sustainable economic communities among the Hispanic population, primarily through real estate and economic development projects and policies.
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Wesley Brooks
Shell STEM Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Miami, Florida
School: Rutgers University
Degree: Ph.D., Ecology and Evolution
Placement: Office of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen 

Wesley Brooks was born and raised in Miami to a Cuban-American mother and an American father. He graduated from Duke University with dual bachelor’s degrees in biology and political science. As a doctoral student at Rutgers University, Wes studied behavioral interactions between native and invasive fishes in the Florida Everglades, as well as the patterns of plant invasions and novel methods for the restoration of these rare communities.

Wes also obtained a Certificate in Politics and Government from the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers through which he secured a placement within the National Center for Environmental Economics at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While at EPA, he worked with agency staff to develop an improved economic model framework to capture ecological damages. Recently, Wes has been heavily involved in translating science to policymakers and the public. As a result of his efforts, he has been recognized as an Emerging Public Policy Leader by the American Institute for Biological Sciences.

Wes is excited about his upcoming opportunity as a STEM Fellow. He aspires to gain more experience with government and policy-making from the perspective of the Legislative Branch. Ultimately, he hopes to use the knowledge he will gain from this experience to promote increased scientific literacy amongst the public and policymakers, and enable more efficient and effective governance at local, state, and federal levels, especially with regards to energy, environment, and technology policy.

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Brenda Calderon
Higher Education Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Schools/ Degrees: Loyola Marymount University, M.A. Education
George Mason University, Ph.D. Student, Education Policy
Placement: Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP)

Brenda Calderon is a Salvadoran- American from Los Angeles. After becoming the first in her family to complete a university degree, she pursued a professional experience at the California State Legislature working for Assembly member Joe Coto. Subsequently, she went on to work in both education and disability rights advocacy groups prior to completing a M.A. in education.

Brenda’s master’s thesis examined the mentoring of first generation students in higher education. As a result of her research, she was chosen to create and direct a mentoring program for the inaugural class of the Summer Leadership Institute, a pipeline program for undergraduates and post- graduates pursuing advanced degrees in public health. Brenda has also served on the board of directors for a non- profit dedicated to women in higher education, organizing leadership programs for undergraduates and coordinating college- access programs that service over 2,000 students across the nation. She is a Gates Millennium Scholar and member of Order of Omega and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies.

As a CHCI Graduate Fellow, Brenda intends to fully immerse herself in the world of public policy. This experience will bring her one step closer to fulfilling her career goals, which include informing policy through research and directing programs to advance minority students in higher education.

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Daphne Delgado
PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Miami, Florida
School: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Degree: MPH, Health Behavior
Placement: Office of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard

Daphne Delgado is a Cuban-American raised in Miami. She received a B.A. in cultural anthropology, with a minor in biology, from Duke University in 2008. During her undergraduate career, Daphne was a founding member of both the Latino Pre-Health Society and the Duke Cuban-American Student Association (CASA). Prior to graduate school, Daphne spent two years at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – a non-profit patient-based advocacy organization – where she managed grassroots advocacy volunteers in strategic congressional districts. She also coordinated all logistics for the organization’s annual Advocacy Day, a 500-person event where advocates from across the country gather in Washington, D.C.

Daphne completed her Master of Public Health (MPH) in health behavior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013. As a graduate student, Daphne focused her research and work experience on health disparities, cancer, chronic disease, and tobacco control. She was actively involved in the Minority Health Conference, the largest and oldest student-run health conference in the country, as the Broadcast Co-Chair. Additionally, she was a Public Health Counselor for the Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) free clinic, the oldest student-run clinic in the country.

As the Health Graduate Fellow, Daphne seeks to build on her skills and experiences to gain a better understanding of how current health policies affect Latinos and other minorities. She aims to ensure that traditionally underserved communities are meaningfully included in the federal health policymaking process.

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Lissette Flores
Housing Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
School: University of Illinois, Chicago
Degree: M.A., Urban Planning and Policy
Placement: Office of Rep. Tony Cardenas
Placement 2: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Lissette is a Mexican/Peruvian-American born and raised in Chicago. She obtained her B.A. from DePaul University in 2008, with a double major in political science and Latino studies. Before attending graduate school, Lissette worked for Instituto del Progreso Latino, a nonprofit agency catering to Latino families. Lissette obtained her graduate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a M.A. in urban planning and policy and a concentration in community development.

As a Housing Graduate Fellow, Lissette will learn to make an impact on housing policy. She seeks to use the knowledge and expertise acquired during her time in Washington to find ways on how to make housing more affordable in communities that face the threat of gentrification. Furthermore, she aims to make homeownership more accessible to Latinos and other low-income communities.

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Elizabeth Padilla-Crespo
API STEM Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
Schools/Degrees: Georgia Institute of Technology, M.S., Applied Biology. University of Tennessee, Ph.D. Candidate, Microbiology
Placement: House Committee on Science, Space and Technology 
Placement 2: American Petroleum Institute (API)

Elizabeth has a double degree in industrial biotechnology and microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, an M.S. in applied biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. As an undergraduate student, she performed research at top research centers: Harvard Medical School, the US Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

The recipient of a competitive NSF Gradate Research Fellowship, Elizabeth is the primary author and coauthor of more than 30 conference proceedings and peer-reviewed publications. Her efforts have been recognized by organizations such as the Federation of European Microbiological Societies, the Goizueta Foundation, the American Society of Microbiology, the University of Tennessee and Hispanic Business, Inc.

Elizabeth is committed to education and outreach; she has served as a mentor in the Minority Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science Professional Development Program (MS PHD'S) and the NASA Student Ambassadors Program. She has also volunteered in outreach activities from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicano/Latino and Native Americans in Science), and ASLO-MP (American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Multicultural Program).  Her ultimate goal is to be in a position where she can advocate for funding of basic/applied research and broadening participation initiatives.  She wants to share her knowledge with the community in order to give smart solutions to enhance bioremediation and detoxification of contaminated sites and inspire students, especially woman and minorities, into pursuing careers in science.

As a CHCI Graduate Fellow, Elizabeth will be exposed to the day-to-day policy making process, which will provide her the tools to continue her plight of advocating for more funding in the areas of basic and applied research.

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Carolina Rizzo
Law Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Paysandú, Uruguay
School: American University
Degree: J.D.
Placement: Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
Placement 2: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Carolina Rizzo was born and raised in Uruguay, but moved to the United States upon completing high school. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2009 with a B.A. in Latin American & Caribbean studies and international relations & human rights. Carolina is passionate about public service, international human rights and policy and advocacy on behalf of Latinos. In college, she received a Social Change and Community Service Award for her involvement with the local Latino community through “Migrants and Immigrants’ Rights Awareness”, a student-led community organizing group.

In 2012, she obtained a J.D. from American University Washington College of Law. During law school, Carolina was a legal intern at MALDEF, a democratic policy intern in the Office of Senator Harry Reid, and a volunteer at CARECEN. As a student attorney in the International Human Rights Clinic, she represented a Salvadoran asylum seeker in the Baltimore Immigration Court. After law school, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Marielsa A. Bernard, the first Latina judge in Montgomery County, Maryland.

As a CHCI Law Graduate Fellow, Carolina will apply her legal skills to the public policy-making process. She hopes to gain valuable insight into the intersection between immigration policy and foreign relations.

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Norma Salazar-Ibarra
Secondary Education Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Santa Maria, California
Schools/Degrees: Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ed.M., Education in Prevention Science and Practice. California State University, Long Beach, Master of Science in Counseling
Placement: Office of Rep. Raúl Grijalva 

Norma R. Salazar-Ibarra was born in Zacatecas, Mexico but raised in Santa Maria, California. She holds B.A. in Chicano & Latino studies, human development, and sociology from California State University, Long Beach. During her undergraduate studies, she worked for a federally funded program where she assisted first generation low-income high school and middle school students with post-secondary processes.

Norma received a M.A. in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She was a member of the Multicultural Advisory Council which seeks to facilitate diversity awareness in the HGSE community. She is currently completing a second M.A. in science in counseling with an emphasis in school counseling at California State University, Long Beach. Norma most recently coordinated a federally funded program at a community college in southern California that seeks to increase the number of women, underrepresented minorities, and veterans who are pursuing a degree in the field of engineering.

As a CHCI Graduate Fellow, Norma seeks to enhance her knowledge of Congress and educational policy-making. This experience will facilitate her desire to promote equity in education among students across racial, economic, and geographic boundaries.

 

  2013-2014 Public Policy Fellows

Ricardo Alvarado
Google Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Lake Station, IN
School: University of North Texas
Degree: B.A., Communications
Placement: Office of Rep. Henry Cuellar
Placement 2: White House Initiative

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Ricardo Alvarado was the first member of his family to earn a college degree in the United States.  Ricardo attended Collin College where he served as President of the Student Government Association and Region II President of the Texas Junior College Student Government Association.  He was nationally recognized with the Newman Civic Fellows Award for his work in mobilizing community colleges statewide and engaging the Texas legislature on education issues. After receiving his associate’s degree, Ricardo transferred to the University of North Texas (UNT) to major in communication studies with a concentration in rhetoric.

At UNT, he served as President of the Residence Life Advisor Council and President of the National Communication Association of Future Professionals. As a resident assistant for the university, Ricardo was awarded the Academic Engagement Award and has twice received the Outstanding Service and Professionalism Award. He also participated in the North Texas in D.C. Governmental Internship Scholarship program where he interned in the office of Congressman Henry Cuellar. Recently, Ricardo was the CHCI-Telemundo Scholar Intern at the NBC Universal Telemundo station in Dallas.

Ricardo aims to continue his education in the field of law, hoping to work on immigration issues in the state of Texas. As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, he seeks to create lasting relationships with other young professionals and develop new policies that pave avenues to success for the next generation of Hispanic leaders in the United States.

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Elias Gonzalez
Coca Cola Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Hialeah, Florida
School: University of Pennsylvania
Degree: B.A., Political Science
Placement: Office of Rep. Joe Garcia
Placement 2: U.S. Department of State

Elias Antonio Gonzalez was born in Miami, and raised both in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. He attended the Design and Architecture Senior High School where his active involvement in numerous community service activities earned him the Congressional Medal of Merit. After high school, he attended the United States Military Academy and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in political science, focusing on constitutional law and electoral systems.

As an undergraduate, Elias conducted research on public health policy in Latin America that was published by the university.  He also started a program to get other students involved in the local elections through volunteering.  Elias worked as project manager for the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia, and spearheaded a program aimed at educating and promoting health and political awareness in Latino communities in Philadelphia.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Elias aims to learn how government can affect change and enfranchisement in low income communities. He plans to use this knowledge to build a stronger and more active Latino voting population, prepared for the challenges that come with democratic citizenship. His academic goal is to pursue a law degree with a specialization in constitutional law.

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Eric Hernandez
BP Foundation STEM Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
School: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Degree: B.S., Chemical Engineering
Placement: Democratic Leadership Office, Rep. Xavier Becerra

Eric Hernandez is a native of Detroit, Michigan.  He graduated from the University of Michigan, where he earned a B.S. in chemical engineering.  In addition to his studies, Eric is actively focused in easing the difficult social and academic transitions of students to college life, which many underrepresented minority students must tackle.

As an undergraduate, Eric served many leadership capacities, including a role as student coordinator with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. In this capacity, he provided campus networking and analytical data support for underrepresented minority student recruitment efforts. He also organized the student-driven first-year mentorship program, Assisting Latinos to Maximize Achievement (ALMA).

Eric is interested in understanding municipal responsibility and the influence of community-based organizations in times of drastic economic change – specifically in urban areas. As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Eric looks forward to gaining a multidimensional understanding of policy-making as it relates to the development of urban and metropolitan areas.

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Vanessa Quintana
SEIU Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
School: Hastings College
Degree: B.A., Peace, Justice and Social Change
Placement: Office of Rep. Barbara Lee 
Placement 2: Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Vanessa Quintana is a Chicana born and raised in East Denver. Despite her high school closing during her freshmen year, Vanessa’s determination led her to become the first in her family to graduate from high school. She later went on to become a Daniel’s Scholar, which gave her the opportunity to attend Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska.

While at Hastings College, Vanessa got involved in three academic honoraries, Alpha Kappa Delta, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Lambda Pi Eta. She also worked with faculty on the Team Against Bias, an organization that promotes acceptance of diversity and support for first generation college students.

Vanessa aspires to become an advocate for Latinos and low-income students. As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, she seeks to expand her knowledge and understanding of how to effectively include Latinos and other underserved populations into the policymaking process. Vanessa hopes to return to her community to provide better opportunities for education as she sees that as a catalyst for alleviating poverty.

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Yesenia Lopez
Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
School: DePaul University
Degree: B.A., Political Science
Placement: Office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez 
Placement 2: Commission on Immigration, American Bar Association

Yesenia Lopez was born and raised in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, a predominantly Latino neighborhood. Growing up in Pilsen, she developed an interest in immigration, social justice and education policy. This prompted her to pursue a B.A. in political science, which she received from DePaul University with a minor in women & gender studies.

During her undergraduate career, Yesenia interned in electoral campaigns and joined the Community Partners Intern Program through DePaul University’s Stean Center. She then went on to participate in Americorps Public Allies Chicago where she was placed at Telpochcalli Community Education Project (Tcep).  Recently, Yesenia worked as the 21st Century CCLC site director with General Wood Boys and Girls Club and Spry Community Links High School in Little Village. 

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Yesenia hopes to learn more about policy making and the legislative process so that she may go back to Chicago as an effective and resourceful leader for the city’s Latino community.

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Samuel Madrigal
AARP Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
School: Arizona State University
Degree: B.A., Political Science  
Placement: Office of Rep. Ed Pastor 
Placement 2: AARP

Samuel Madrigal is a first generation Mexican-American who was born in New York City and raised in Phoenix. Samuel acquired a B.A. in political science from Arizona State University with a concentration in foreign affairs and a minor in U.S. history. He is the first person in his family to attend and graduate from a university.

Samuel became involved in politics during his freshman year at ASU when he joined Congressman Ed Pastor’s reelection campaign as a field canvasser.  During his time as an undergraduate, Samuel became involved with various student organizations where he rose to several leadership positions. As the Vice President of Operations for the Hispanic Business Students Association (HBSA), Samuel ensured the continuing legacy of one of the oldest student organizations.  After graduating, Samuel joined RIESTER, a communications firm, as the deputy campaign manager for the “YES” on Proposition 204 education initiative. Recently, Samuel worked for the Be A Leader Foundation where he helped oversee youth development clubs throughout Phoenix. 

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Samuel hopes to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to empower future Latino leaders to run for public office.

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Erika Rendon
Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Corpus Christi, Texas
School: St. Mary’s University
Degree: B.B.A., Corporate Finance
Placement: Office of Sen. Charles Schumer 
Placement 2: U.S. Department of Commerce

Erika Rendón is a Mexican-American raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. She received her undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas where she double majored in corporate finance and financial services & risk management.

Since high school, Erika has taken an interest in public service and increasing Hispanic representation in her community.  Erika was elected Precinct Chair of Nueces County at the age of 18, becoming the youngest person in her county to take public office. She still holds her position and is responsible for managing the precinct and county convention processes. As an undergraduate, Erika was active with several school organizations; she worked with fellow executive board members for one of the largest student organizations at her university to provide undergraduate students more resources to succeed in their education.

Erika’s passion is rooted in civic engagement and she strives to develop the next generation of Hispanic leaders. As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Erika hopes to gain the skills necessary to increase minority awareness of public policy.

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Eliza Ramirez
Altria Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Anaheim, California
School: California State University, Fullerton
Degree: B.A., Political Science
Placement: Office of Sen. Robert Menendez 

Eliza Manuela Ramirez is a native of Anaheim, California and earned a B.A. in political science and gender & women’s studies from California State University, Fullerton.  Eliza has held various leadership roles including President of the Mesa Cooperativa Council, student director of the Chicano/Latino Graduation Committee and also served as a member of the national policy debate team.  She has interned for Comcast/Telemundo Government Relations, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and California State Senator Lou Correa.

Eliza has received several prestigious awards for her community and academic efforts such as California State University Trustees Hearst Galison Scholar, UCLA Law Fellowship and the CSU Global Human Rights Award.  Eliza’s passion for international relations and human rights issues led her to earn a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship where she wrote policy memos on several topics like health care reform, international trade, and international law. 

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Eliza hopes to gain a deeper knowledge about international human rights and criminal issues. She is dedicated and passionate about educating low-income and immigrant communities about their legal rights. In the future, Eliza aims to pursue a career in law.

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Monica Sanchez
New York Life Foundation Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: Ruidoso, New Mexico
School: Brown University
Degree: B.A., Education
Placement: Office of Rep. Ben Ray Luján  

Monica Sanchez is a Mexican-American from New Mexico. She received her B.A. from Brown University with a concentration in ethnic studies and education.
As an undergraduate, Monica was actively involved with the “Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan” (MEChA), where she coordinated a mentorship program for first generation Latino college students. She also interned with the Julian Samora Legacy Project where she researched and developed a curriculum for high school students that integrated the untold historical narratives of Mexican Americans in the Civil Rights Movement. For her honors thesis, Monica focused on the Mexican-American Studies program in Tucson, Arizona. In this research, she sought the perspectives of students and teachers who participated in the program to better understand how to support Latino students in school.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Monica hopes to become a positive leader in her community and expects to gain a better understanding of the policy making process, with a focus on education. She would like to learn more about the achievement gap and work to ensure that Latinos are given the resources, support, and encouragement to thrive in education and become empowered citizens.
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Pedro Suarez
BP Foundation STEM Public Policy Fellow
Hometown: San Juan, Texas
School: University of Texas, Austin
Degree: B.S., Mathematics
Placement: Office of Rep. Filemon Vela 
Placement 2: Office of Rep. Raul Ruiz

Pedro Suárez Jr. is a first-generation Mexican-American born in McAllen, but raised in San Juan and Dumas, Texas.  In May 2013, he earned a B.S. in mathematics and Mexican-American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

As an undergraduate, Pedro participated in several student organizations and initiatives that focused on assisting underserved communities. His involvement and research in K-12 and higher education led him to help establish the Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) which fosters a pipeline for higher education in the Latino community.

As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Pedro hopes to develop his leadership skills and become better acquainted with the public policy process. His primary interests are K-12 and higher education, health and labor policy, and Mexico-U.S. border issues.

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