Cynthia Villarreal is a doctoral student at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. She is a research assistant working with Dr. Estela Bensimon and Dr. Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux. She is a qualitative researcher working to promote racial equity for people of color in higher education with specific interests Hispanic-Serving Institutions, community colleges, faculty hiring practices, and organizational culture.
Cynthia’s career in education began as a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher in San Antonio, Texas. She was critical of how college preparation or college readiness strategies took deficit-minded approaches to understanding students of color and became affiliated with a college and career readiness program, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID). Her work in college readiness led her to pursue graduate studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio where she received a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with a concentration in Higher Education. As a graduate assistant at UTSA, she worked in the office of the McNair Scholars supporting and mentoring first-generation college students in pursuit of undergraduate research, and in the office of Strategic Planning and Assessment for the Vice President for Student Affairs assessing how student affairs departments used the campus’ Student Learning Outcomes (SLO’s) framework in their programming. She received her B.A. from Texas Tech University in English and Anthropology.