One summer during college, I worked as an intern at a non-profit founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. During the day I would develop written materials about best practices of parent engagement in education and attend Congressional briefings on access to affordable child care in low-income communities. After hours I would head to the local YMCA, where I tutored nontraditional, adult students who were preparing for their GED exam. Their children would be in the next room playing for a few hours while I worked with their parents.
This brief summer experience has largely shaped me as a researcher. My work focuses on the well-being of children and families; specifically, how to evaluate and develop policies that provide support for families with young children. This includes studying how investments in early learning programs affect children’s success in school and how these programs can be improved to better serve children and their parents. My dissertation examines features of early education programs that promote healthy and positive child development. To conduct this research, I have been awarded a two-year dissertation grant from the Administration of Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
One of the proudest accomplishments of my life, and of my parents, will be earning a doctorate degree. I would not have gotten this far in my academic career if not for the great mentors and cheerleaders along the way. This is why I see DECADE as such a great program to provide students with the support they need to succeed in graduate school. As co-leader of DECADE this year, I hope to help carry out the goals of DECADE’s mentoring program in providing all graduate students with the wisdom, technical knowledge, assistance, support, empathy, and respect they need to thrive in the School of Education.