PhD Candidate in Sociology and Social Policy

Curriculum Vitae

While I'm broadly interested in social inequality, the sociology of education and American education policy, my work at Harvard has focused on links between education and the labor market for students not immediately bound for four-year college.

In my dissertation, I seek to better understand the postsecondary educational experiences of young women balancing the demands of family, work and school in search of a college credential. I use longitudinal data from The Resilience in Survivors of Katrina (RISK) Project, which began as a randomized experiment with performance-based scholarships for low-income parents in two New Orleans community colleges. The RISK Project's longitudinal mixed-methods design facilitates a rich analysis of these young women's educational trajectories over a five-year period. I  integrate data from respondents’ longitudinal survey responses with narratives from in-depth interviews, highlighting important limitations to what we know about—and how students navigate—the increasingly complex landscape of 2-year colleges, for-profit institutions and technical certification programs.  This project capitalizes on my interest in mixed-methods data analysis and methods of sociological inquiry more generally.  My dissertation is advised by Mary Waters, Mary Brinton and Kathryn Edin.

In the K-12 context, I have written on what we’ve learned from American school-to-work reforms of the mid-1990s. My qualifying paper used data from the NLSY97 and model-based clustering to identify four major patterns in how students prepared for life after high school. In conceptualizing high school preparation, I combine information on respondents’ early labor market participation, high school coursework, and participation in school-to-work linking activities like internships and job shadowing. I find that students with focus during the high school years--be it academic or work-oriented--are more successful in young adulthood. These students spend less time unemployed or out of the labor force than those with less focus during these critical years.

In addition to my affiliation with Harvard Kennedy School via the Joint PhD Program in Social Policy, I am the founding graduate student coordinator of the Harvard Sociology of Education Workshop, bringing together doctoral students and faculty from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Sociology Department to discuss works in progress. In my time at Harvard, I have also served as graduate student coordinator of the Migration and Immigrant Incorporation Workshop and the professional development coordinator for the sociology graduate student organization.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and attended Wellesley College, where I earned a BA in Sociology. Before beginning my PhD, I worked as a Research Associate at The Urban Institute and earned an MA in Education Policy Studies at The George Washington University. During my time at Urban, I worked on several multi-site, mixed methods program evaluations of education interventions in both K-12 and higher education settings. Research areas included underrepresented minorities in the math, science and engineering pipeline; data-based accountability and institutional change in higher education; and the educational segregation of limited English proficient students in K-12 schools.