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STAFF PORTRAIT julia barajas

Julia Barajas

Community Engagement (she/hers)

I was raised in the city of South Gate.

When I was 12, I started getting bussed out to schools in the South Bay, an experience that gave me early exposure to the vast educational inequities among zip codes in L.A. County.

I came to journalism after working in education. Some of my former students are now in college and bring me to tears when they share photos of their accomplishments. I know that college can transform lives. But I also know that it can serve to uphold existing systems of power.

My focus is on how students navigate obstacles that come their way, with an emphasis on those who’ve been historically excluded from higher education. This includes students who’ll be the first in their families to earn a degree; DACA and Pell Grant recipients; students who are parents; Black and Latino men; BIPOC and women in STEM; and incarcerated students.

I’ll also be looking closely at what’s happening inside professional and graduate schools to see how we’re creating our next generation of teachers, principals, doctors, lawyers, historians, etc. Accountability is central to my reporting, but I’m equally interested in learning about programs and policies that work.

When I’m not reporting, I’m often dancing or reading books and magazines that I get in Mexico City. I’m also prone to talking to strangers about their student loans.

Stories by Julia Barajas

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