Graduate Student Directory

Randy Villegas

Research Interests

American Politics; California Politics; Local Politics; California's Central Valley; Latino politics; Civic Engagement; Immigration; Mobilization

Biography, Education and Training

A Kern County native, Randy Villegas is a Ph.D. candidate in the Politics department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a designated emphasis in Latin American and Latino studies. Villegas earned his B.A. in Political Science at CSU Bakersfield in 2017 with a minor in history and his Associate's Degree in Political Science from Bakersfield College in 2015.

Before beginning graduate school Villegas worked as a journalist and an organizer in Bakersfield, CA where he helped lead the 2016 Social Justice series, and the 2017 May Day Resistance march in Bakersfield. Villegas has written many reported pieces as well as opinion editorials in publications like South Kern Sol, El popular, and the Bakersfield Californian. 

He is currently featured in the California State Capitol Museum, in their newest ‘Unity’ exhibit for his work around social justice issues in Kern County. Villegas has also worked on several political campaigns and is currently serving as an elected delegate for the California Democratic Party, representing the 32nd assembly district. 

After completing his Ph.D., he hopes to return to his community in Kern, or a similar underserved area in the Central Valley to inspire other young scholars, and make a difference in people’s lives.

Honors, Awards and Grants



·       2020 CARE-UC Innovation Fellowship, recipient. April 2020.

·       2019-2020 American Political Science Association (APSA) Minority Fellows Program. April, 2019.

·       2019 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, Alternate & Honorable Mention. April, 2019.

·       2018 UC Santa Cruz Blum Scholars Recipient: ‘Voices from the Valley of Vulnerability’. May, 2018.

·       2018 American Political Science Association (APSA) Fund for Latino Scholarship award recipient, July 2018.

·       UC Santa Cruz GSA (Graduate Student Association) Travel Grant recipient, June 2018.

·       Recipient of the 2017 Maddy Institute Wonderful Public Service Fellowship.

·       Recipient of the Eugene Cota Robles Fellowship at UC Santa Cruz (PhD Program in Politics).

·       Keynote Speaker at the Vision Y Compromiso 16th Annual Conference ‘"Building Bridges for a United and Resilient Community" Promotor and Community Worker Conference.

·       Keynote Speaker at the 4th annual Promotores Conference of the Central Valley, Fresno CA August 2018.

·       Awarded Outstanding Student and Graduate in Political Science at CSU Bakersfield (2017).

·       Recipient of the CSUB Tim & Jeanelle Palmbach Memorial Endowed Scholarship (Political Science 2016-17)

·       Recipient of the “Society State of Mind Scholarship” presented by the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success. (2016)

·       WGI (Winterguard International) Scholarship Recipient- 2014, 2016, 2017:

·       Bakersfield College Political Science Scholarship/Department award (05/2015).

·       Inducted into CSUB Roadrunner Society.

·       Inducted a member of Pi Sigma Alpha: The National Honor Society for Political Science.

·       Inducted member of Sigma Alpha Pi: The National Society of Leadership and Success


Selected Publications

(Under Review, Revise & Resubmit): Terriquez, Villegas, Villalobos, Xu. The Political Socialization of Latinx Youth in a Conservative Political Context: A Case Study of Youth Organizing and Voter Mobilization Efforts in California’s Central Valley. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.


(Under Review, Revise & Resubmit): Villegas, R. 2019. “Latino Mass Mobilization: Immigration, Racialization, and Activism” Book Review. Social Movement Studies.


Co-Author: Terriquez, Villegas, & Villalobos.  “Youth-led Civic Engagement and the Growing Electorate: Findings from the Central Valley Freedom Summer Participatory Action Research Project”. Santa Cruz: UCSC Research Center for the Americas. Available at:


Villegas, Randy. "Getting out the Vote in the Valley: Connecting Politics and Participation to Youth." Political Science Now. American Political Science Association Raise the Vote Campaign.  Available at:


Terriquez, Veronica, Jiayi Xu, Randy Villegas, and Jennifer Soto.2019. "Youth Power at the Ballot Box:  How Youth-Led Voter Engagement Efforts Increased Turnout Among Young Voters in California’s 2018 Midterm Election." Los Angeles: USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity.  Available at:


Co-Author: Terriquez, Villegas, & Villalobos. (2019). Central Valley Freedom Summer. Contexts, 18(3), 54–57.


Co Author: “Young Californians are politically aware, they just don't vote. Here's how we turn them out ” (Terriquez, Villegas). The Los Angeles Times. September 17, 2018


Co Author: “Chapter 8: Tweeting Religion: The Impact of Religious Language and Rhetoric in the 2016 Presidential Election”(Kraybill, Mirakazmi, Villegas) From the book: Unconventional, Partisan and Polarizing Rhetoric:  How the 2016 Election Shaped the Way Candidates Strategize, Engage and Communicate.  Lexington Books, 2017

(Acknowledgment as Research Assistant) Institutional Dilemma:  An Examination of Catholic Male and Female Religious Leaders and Their Effects on Lay Public Opinion published through the Temple University Press.

Selected Presentations

(Forthcoming) American Political Science Association (APSA), Paper Presentation: Voices from the Valley of Vulnerability. Panel: Latino Identity, Racism, and Vulnerability. September 2020. 


Moderator/MC: Health Care Access, Service Delivery, and Youth Civic Engagement in the Central Valley during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Sponsored by USC PERE, UC Berkley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative, UCSC IST, California Funders for Boys and Men of Color, supported by the James Irvine Foundation. May 2020


Session Organizer & Roundtable Participant. Youth Civic Engagement and Health Justice. UC Global Health Day (UCGHD). UC Santa Cruz, May 2020.

***Cancelled due to COVID19. May 2020. 


Rural Justice Summit Organizing, Mobilize, Vote: Youth Power in the Central Valley

***Cancelled due to COVID19. March 2020. 


Workshop presenter at the 2019 Community-Engaged Research Institute (CERI). Hosted by UC Santa Cruz’s Everett Program, the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California (CCREC), the Center for Labor Studies, and the Blum Center.


Urban Affairs Association 49th Annual Conference April 2019. Mobilizing Second Generation Immigrants Young Adults: Electoral Strategies for Advancing Immigrant Rights in Hostile Political Climates. (Terriquez, Villegas, Villalobos).


2nd Annual Jess Nieto Memorial Conference April 2019. Voices from the Valley of ‘Vulnerability’. 



Presentation at the 2019 Rural Justice Summit. Central Valley Freedom Summer, & Voices from the Valley. UC Merced, March 2019. 

Blum Scholars Presentation, February 2019. Preliminary findings from my project: Voices of the Valley of Vulnerability


Western Political Science Association (WPSA), March 2018. Tweeting Religion: The New God Strategy of the 2016 Presidential Election. Roundtable: Presentation and Review of the Edited Volume: Unconventional, Partisan and Polarizing Rhetoric: How the 2016 Election Shaped the Way Candidates Strategize, Engage, and Communicate, Authors meet Responders

Presentation at the annual Bay Area Community Psychology Network meeting, June 2018. Alongside Dr. Terriquez and Roxanna Villalobos presenting their Central Valley Freedom Summer research, I presented my forthcoming research project: Voices of the Valley of Vulnerability.

Teaching Interests

American Politics; California Politics; Local Politics; Political Parties; Social Movements