Clarissa Riojas is from McAllen, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with BA degrees in English Literature and Mexican American Studies. While at the university, Clarissa interned for the Texas Center for Educational Policy under the direction of Dr. Angela Valenzuela where she worked to promote ethnic studies and provided support in the development of the bilingual/bicultural Cuauhtli Academy.
An aspiring educator, she returned to the Rio Grande Valley in 2014 to teach in public school. As a teacher, she seeks to empower students through a curriculum that emphasizes social justice, tolerance, and inclusivity. She writes curriculum for the district and has served as a mentor teacher for educators new to the profession. Additionally, she has served her fellow educators as a member of the McAllen American Federation of Teachers Executive Board.
Clarissa is passionate about human rights and her border community. In 2016, she began actively volunteering with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club and was part of an effort to launch a collective of intersectional organizations focused on stopping the construction of the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley. As a volunteer community organizer for the RGV No Border Wall Coalition, she helped to organize a series of actions and rallies that brought attention to the devastating effects of the border wall on the Texas-Mexico border. During this time, she also worked with the nonprofit Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center, where she served as a volunteer coordinator. In 2018, she directed the short film "Speaking Through Walls," a project that aims to raise border voices in the fight against border militarization in the Rio Grande Valley.