Teacher Education student Vanessa Chavez Jurado was recently selected for the Stephenson Harrington Internship cohort, a group of Goodrich Scholars representing majors across UNO who gain hands-on experience in a field of their interest. Vanessa is pursuing an Elementary Education degree and a minor in Leadership and Public Policy.
I had the opportunity to learn more about the importance of public schools and how to find allies even among people who may not always agree with you.
- Vanessa Chavez Jurado
During Fall Semester, Vanessa assisted the nonprofit Stand For Schools, a Nebraska nonprofit dedicated to defending and advancing public education, with organizing and advocacy efforts and with researching education policy.
"Last year I said that I wanted to expand my engagement to the broader community and through Stand for Schools I have been able to do so. I am elevating issues that I have been addressing since my sophomore year as Senator for the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences," explained Vanessa.
Vanessa served as UNO Student Body Vice President during the 20-21 academic year and president of TEDO, the Teacher Education Diversity Organization. Her leadership platform included diversity in the field of education and barriers presented in standardized testing.
In addition to demonstrating campus leadership, Vanessa was recognized nationally as a 21-22 Newman Civic Fellow, a group of 290 students across North America who demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally, and internationally. She is the only Fellow from Nebraska.
"My background as an aspiring educator supports my work because I can approach the topic of, say engagement in public policy, through the lens of educators who already have so much going on, and I can consider how to present policy engagement in a way that shows it is more than just another task on the never ending to-do list."
During her internship, Vanessa developed a toolkit for current and aspiring educators to learn about getting involved in policy advocacy, supported the creation of a newsletter, and worked on a Critical Race Theory fact sheet.
Vanessa said the skills she gained through the internship experiences are invaluable to her future career, especially learning more about finding common ground on issues that affect everyone in a community.
"I had the opportunity to learn more about the importance of public schools and how to find allies even among people who may not always agree with you. I gained a deeper understanding of the impact of public schools in our state and have learned about what makes public schools in Nebraska unique. I am empowered by incredible individuals who are committed to the work they do," said Vanessa.
Upon graduation, Vanessa is considering the teaching profession, law school, or public policy master's programs in Washington, D.C.
"I have always said I want to serve as Secretary of Education when I grow up, and while I may not know exactly how to get there, I know that I ultimately want to get involved in education policy," said Vanessa.