Clarissa Laguardia

California State University, Sacramento

Clarissa is a Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) graduate student who will finish her program in May 2021. Clarissa is uniquely reflective of many Sacramento State student experiences. She is a first-generation college student. She emigrated to the United States from El Salvador as a teenager. She is a leader in the LGBTQ community. She is an entrepreneur and small business owner. She is an active volunteer and advocate and is working to advance her strongly held belief, articulated to one of her faculty mentors, that “civic engagement and higher education are key to escaping inequity.”

Clarissa is committed to making Sacramento, the State of California, and the United States better for everyone—especially those who are under-represented and marginalized. Her passion is voting access and civic engagement. These are direct avenues to impact social issues via policy reform, community organizing, and other means of building the capacity of communities to effect social change using a diversity and inclusion lens.

Robert Nelsen
California State University, Sacramento

Personal Statement

I spent my formative years in El Salvador during the civil war. It was there I learned the value of education as society's greatest equalizer. As an immigrant, I spent my first years in America learning a new language with its cultural norms. The numerous obstacles along my journey are what now motivate me to ensure others don’t have to struggle as much as I did. Communities of color can have a difficult time accessing and digesting information that is unfamiliar. For instance, voting can be intimidating, especially if you do not speak English well or have never been to a voting center. It took me many years to be in a position to recognize the value of my immigrant experience. I can now leverage these lived experiences to help me connect with marginalized communities. Over the span of almost ten years, I have organized for local and national civic engagement groups and served as a community advocate for underserved populations. My goal for Sacramento is to build coalitions on and off campus, in the public and private sectors, and across various ethnic groups to promote cultural diversity, inclusion, civic engagement, social justice, language access and equity for all.

Clarissa Laguardia
Public Policy and Administration: Class of 2021
written 2020

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