Member Spotlight: Alexy Majano, Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) Intern

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As one of our YPAR interns, Alexy Majano conducted a research project at local high schools to learn more about academic and career barriers.

Learn about Alexy's work in this interview and testimonial, and check out an excerpt from Alexy's report below.

How did you initially feel about the internship and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project?

At first I didn’t really know what the internship was about, but as we worked through it, it started to get a lot more interesting and made me realize and and understand things I never knew about. Such as gentrification, school to prison pipeline and how students really feel about school and how it affects them. I also felt a bit nervous because it’s the first time I ever did something like this.

Before you conducted the actual research, what preparation, workshops, presentations did you engage in? How did you choose your topic?

Before the research I learned how to gather qualitative and quantitative data. I also learned how to compare and contrast health issues in communities. I felt like schools don’t really support young people, and treat students unfairly so I wanted to give students that feel this way about schools a voice.

What information/workshop/presentation stood out most during your preparation?

What most stuck out to me was the schools to prison pipeline and how schools are prison-like environments that affect students tremendously. Also learning the steps on how to conduct the research was something new to me. Interviews and surveys were very helpful for this research because we can put all the pieces together and really see where the problem is and how it affects people.

How did it feel gathering data from youth in your community?

It made me realize more about not only how students feel about school but also what affects them in their everyday life and how it affects them. Whether it’s outside of school or inside of school young people are always troubled & experience a lot of unfortunate events.

How did the data findings impact you?

The data made me worry about whether I am getting the support I need. Not only me but others as well. We all need to come together and support each other as a whole , see everybody equally and better our school systems.

What action plans did you initiate based on your data findings?

The action plan was to develop recommendations about how schools can create better supports for students with needs. To make a report on all the data and share it with the public.

What was the most rewarding experience during the project?

The most rewarding experience was getting to know more about schools, students and issues in my community. Also understanding factors that cause these problems in the community and actually creating a plan to address it.

Excerpts from Alexy's YPAR Report:


Topic: Academic and Career Barriers

Issue: Students face different obstacles that get in the way of them achieving their academic and career goals

Purpose: To create better support systems that address the academic and career barriers that students face

Research Question(s):

  • What do students identify as obstacles that get in the way of achieving their academic and career goals?

  • How do these obstacles affect them?

  • What type of supports would create a better school environment that would help students achieve your goals?

Theoretical Frameworks: Trauma-Informed Practices, School to Prison Pipeline

Research Methods: Quantitative (40 Surveys) and Qualitative (5 Interviews)

Quantitative Data

How comfortable do you feel at school?

On a scale from 1-5 (1=not comfortable, 5=very comfortable) 59% indicated between a 1 and 3.

What are some obstacles you face?

  • 59.5% - Mental Health/Stress
  • 45.9% - Bad Relationships
  • 40.5% - Drugs & Alcohol
  • 37.8% - Not Enough Support

What gets in the way the most?

  • 46% - Not Enough Support
  • 40.5% - Mental Health/Stress
  • 48.6% - Peer Pressure
  • 30% - Violence

Qualitative Data

“If I did have all the support for every obstacle I face in school id be better as a student”

"I don't want to be seen as the student who has behavioral issues, or looked at in a bad way because of what my past family members have done”

"Our schools need more windows”

“School feels like jail, ain’t no windows”

“Hard to work because you never know what can happen”


What type of supports would create a better school environment that would help students achieve your goals?

If schools had more counselors, better trained teachers, and no harsh punishments for little things such as skipping classes, being a distraction in class or simply having a phone out, students will have a way to cope with any issues or troubles the student might be having. Having better relationships with teachers will create a bond and students will feel safer, happier and focused. Students also said that more opportunities such as jobs, learning programs and life skill classes will help and support students in need. It will not only engage them but also prepare them for the future and real life situations.


Schools need culturally relevant counselors/ therapist so students can go to for support or just to cope with anything that’s bothering them.