Laura Madera

Policy Fellow
University of Southern California

Laura Madera grew up in Southeast Los Angeles, in a low-income household with parents who immigrated to the US in search of better opportunities. As most first-generation students, Laura knew at an early age that she had to attend college but had no idea how to navigate that process. Thanks to federally funded college access programs, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, and educators/mentors who encouraged her, she was able to attend and afford a college education.

Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where she first became involved in college access and success work. Laura volunteered to help seniors from South/East San Diego high schools complete their college applications and scholarships to see more representation at UCSD and other campuses. Later, she became a peer counselor to support incoming first years, of similar backgrounds as her, with the transition and adjustment to college. Since then, Laura has continued working directly with students in various roles across the K-12, higher ed, and non-profit sectors.

Laura pursued a Master of Education in Educational Counseling to be in a position where she could remind students they belong at their institutions, guide them towards necessary resources, and support them through setbacks. During her graduate program, Laura focused on researching and understanding the unique challenges that community college and undocumented students face to identify better ways of supporting their journeys to graduation. Laura is aware that racial/ethnic, economic, and social disparities continue to affect completion rates for specific student populations, and she is committed to working with and for students who deserve to be better supported to-and-through higher education.

Laura is excited to join the Campaign and deepen her understanding and involvement in educational policy to advocate for large-scale change at the local and state level.