Layla Villarreal is a passionate individual who identifies as a lifelong learner and seeks to create positive change through public policy. She is obtaining a BA in both political science and public administration & policy with a minor in civic engagement from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Layla is a Corpus Christi native and a member of the UTSA Honors College. She is proud to be a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar, Dell Scholar, and UTSA Terry Scholar. Currently, Layla serves as the director of service for the Terry Scholar Student Organization and on the UTSA President’s Student Advisory Council. She enjoys staying connected to the community through volunteering and as an alternative break trip leader, as well as through her previous internships at the San Antonio Food Bank and in the office of Texas State Senator Jose Menendez. Layla continues to strive for academic excellence and spent a semester studying abroad in Italy, analyzing global politics and democratic backsliding. She is a part of the IES UTSA P20 Pathways to Education Research Training Program and her research interests include understanding the persistent repercussions of perpetually underinvesting in schools in low-income and minority communities. Layla’s previous research analyzed different types of financial aid to better understand how to promote equity in higher education. She aims to continue exploring the avenues to promote access to quality public education and achievement in higher education.