When April Terrazas visits elementary schools, she always begins her presentations by asking the students in the auditorium to raise their hands if they like science — about half of them do. She then tells the other half to raise their hands, promising that they too will like science before the hour is over.
Terrazas, a UT biology pre-med alum, writes children’s books for a living. But don’t expect the pages of her five published books to be filled with imaginary characters or talking animals. Terrazas writes and illustrates books about science.
“I would like to change the way science is taught in elementary school,” Terrazas said. “At least try to get some change going on in Austin.”
During high school, Terrazas, an Austin native, started what she called a “babysitting empire” in the neighborhood where she grew up. When it was time for her to go to UT, she knew that keeping the connections she had created was important, but she needed to refocus her business. Terrazas created Crazy Brainz Tutoring her freshman year. The company, which she still runs today, helps tutor children in the Austin area four days a week.
Terrazas eventually decided against attending medical school and, instead, decided to create Crazy Brainz Publishing and write children’s books.
“Being around kids this long and seeing the potential there taught me that you can do something with a child,” Terrazas said. “They are so primed for knowledge. I wanted to take advantage of that time and make learning fun.”
Terrazas’ second book in the Super Smart Science Series is called “Chemistry: The Atoms and Elements” and is dedicated to UT chemistry professor Brent Iverson. To this day, Terrazas thinks Iverson was one of the best educators she’s ever had.
“[Iverson] is the type of professor that made you want to go the extra mile,” Terrazas said. “When I did my chemistry book, I was like, ‘I’m [going to] dedicate this to him’ because my goal with my books is to make science fun for little kids, and he made science fun for me.”
Since graduating from UT, Terrazas has been involved in UT’s alumni network, Texas Exes. Through Exes, she has been able to speak on panels and has been featured in the Texas Exes alumni magazine, Alcade. Kira White, Texas Exes alumni relations director, met Terrazas after coordinating for her to speak on a panel.
“Her books are reader-friendly, and every adult and child can gain something from them,” White said. “It’s funny: When I was going through her cellular biology book, I told her that the book could have helped me when I took Biology C and D.”
Terrazas understood what content needed to be included and how it should be presented, but she needed a sound business model. Luckily, she grew up with an entrepreneur as a father and a supportive mother.
“They were always feeding that desire to produce something,” Terrazas said. “If you tell me it can’t be done, I will tell you in five ways how I can do it.”
Much of Terrazas’ outlook toward education and achievement can be seen in her father’s attitude as well.
“Telling a young person ‘no’ when they’re little, you don’t know the emotional impact that [it] can have on their ability to achieve,” said her father, Joel Terrazas. “Anytime she came up with an idea, even the ones I thought were silly, I always just told her, ‘Hey, that’s an option. Never close the door.’”
Terrazas said she feels lucky to be surrounded by individuals and professionals who don’t discriminate against her based on her gender.
“Everyone I associate and do business with knows that women can handle it,” Terrazas said. “Nowadays, everyone recognizes that women are a strong force.”
She doesn’t face much adversity — rather, she said she gets positive responses from teachers, moms and readers she meets on book tours and signings.
“It’s always been, ‘Wow! You’re doing it and making it possible for other women,’” Terrazas said. “It’s important that you make your own advantages because there are always going to be excuses.”