Karolina Barrientos, a third year student at Trinity College, is a student leader committed to addressing issues of equity and justice for young people, especially in educational spaces. Over the past three years Karolina has worked on many projects at the grassroots level including collaborating with nonprofit partners and Hartford Public Schools personnel and students to better understand youth homelessness, indexing oral history interviews from Trinity’s Watkinson Library and Hartford History Center’s “Voces de la Migración: Archiving and Sharing the U.S. Latinx Experience in Hartford,” and serving as the Cultural House Coordinator on Trinity’s campus for La Eracra, an inclusive space on campus for students of color. Beyond this, Karolina has dedicated her time to mentoring and welcoming younger students through Trinity’s Community Action Gateway program and the college-access program Emerge. Across these roles, Karolina has demonstrated a strong commitment to grassroots level social change and inclusive community building work at Trinity, in the Hartford community, and beyond.
My passion for researching and studying educational injustices comes from my own educational experiences in Houston, Texas. I am a product of the Houston Independent School District and until my undergraduate years I only ever attended public schools. My schools were mostly comprised of marginalized students and lacked the resources many of my current peers had in their schooling experience. I was finally able to put my experiences into words when I enrolled in education and sociology courses that explained the systemic causes of those injustices. I was lucky enough to have mentors in my schooling experience that led me to opportunities like attending Trinity College. With that, I wanted to pay it forward and help other students that were given similar opportunities and come from similar backgrounds as me. To do this, I have mentored elementary students in Connectikids, Community Action Gateway First Year Seminar and EMERGE first years from Houston. I know if it weren’t for the pivotal mentors in my life, I would not be where I am today. That is why I believe social change can happen on the ground within individual schools and communities and I am dedicated to forwarding this work in my future.