Clara Grimaldo, a sophomore sociology major, describes herself as “an activist at heart.”
She developed an interest in political activism at a young age, and since arriving at Oglethorpe, has increasingly taken on leadership roles, both on and off campus—which recently landed her an internship at the State Capitol.
Grimaldo is an active member of the Oglethorpe community, coordinating efforts in the A_LAB’s civic engagement office, interning in the HUB student services, working as a residence assistant, and serving as the vice president of (H)OLA, Oglethorpe’s Latinx association.
Last year, she spearheaded the Petrels to the Polls initiative to help Latinx voters navigate the voting process and increase their turnout.
In January, Grimaldo served as trip leader for Oglethorpe’s annual Alternative Winter Break, and helped to guide other students through reflections on the experience in Puerto Rico.
When you live in a world that tries to take away your voice, you learn how to speak even louder.
“It was a priority of mine to have conversations with participants about the savior complex. Many people go to other countries and fall into a savior complex where they try to take over a movement with the intention of helping, but may end up doing more harm,” she explained.
“As a Sociology major, I learn about societal structures and constructs; those structures…affect and influence politics. I have been able to take lessons, authors, and research from my courses at Oglethorpe and apply them to real-life situations on topics such as immigration, race, class hierarchies, and gender.”
Grimaldo also credits Oglethorpe staff in the Campus Life and A_LAB offices for inspiring her and encouraging her to further pursue her interests.
“Nury Castro and Jessica Winestock have helped me realize I am capable of doing great things with this opportunity and many more that come my way. Nury has been my first Latina mentor who also understands my passion for political activism and has helped me piece together my place in different spaces.”
Off campus, Grimaldo volunteered as a graduation coach at the Atlanta-area nonprofit HoPe (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education), a role that led to her current internship with State Rep. Brenda Lopez in the Georgia House of Representatives.
The experience has given Grimaldo more insight into working in politics and led her to consider a career in the field.
“This internship is allowing me to experience politics and activism like I never have before and know if this is truly something I want to do for the rest of my life,” she said.
“As of now, law and policy are the areas I see myself working in. Lawyer, lobbyist or with the UN are jobs I see myself pursuing. Whatever I do it will be a career that allows me to continue my work in activism and continue to organize,” she added.
Although her career plans are not set in stone, Grimaldo’s main goal remains to give a voice to those who need one.
“When you live in a world that tries to take away your voice, you learn how to speak even louder. I know the struggles of belonging to historically marginalized groups… I don’t want the exception to be the standard for my community and all others. Individuals of historically marginalized backgrounds, like myself, pursuing degrees should not be the exception.”