Washington State University doctoral student Jose Riera will use his passion of language and linguistics to help shift educational policy in Nashville, Tennessee this summer thanks to an Urban Leaders Fellowship.

The nonprofit Urban Leaders Fellowship is a seven-week program that allows fellows to work with elected officials to advance policy and make an impact in communities across the country. In 2021, 135 fellowship recipients were selected out of an application pool of 1600.

Riera, a PhD student in the College of Education’s Language Learning and Technology program, will split his time between two projects in Nashville. Along with two or three members of his cohort, he will work directly with a Tennessee Department of Education official on issue of student equity and special education. His second project will be working one on one with a partner organization that focuses on educational issues.

Through his dissertation, Riera has worked closely with faculty members Sola Adesope and Tom Salsbury, and they both encouraged Riera to find opportunities for both experiential learning and research-based learning. Riera said his passion for serving communities and influencing social and educational policy makes the fellowship a perfect fit.

“This is an opportunity to work on a team, roll up your sleeves and share the burden with communities dealing with inequity and injustice,” Riera said. “This experience will escalate and magnify my research and the things I have learned at the College of Education.”

Since Riera said a main goal of the fellowship is to give fellows a chance to make change in the communities, as well as develop personally and professionally, he urges students and future graduate students to participate in the ULF.

“This is a great opportunity for WSU,” he said. “Students should embrace this opportunity.”