April 20, 2014

An Experience as an AERA Undergraduate Fellow

By UW Dream Project

By Nesley Bravo, UW student

It is hard for me to grasp that less than a week ago I was surrounded by colleagues with a mutual passion in education research and was “fan girling” professors who do research on questions I’ve only dreamed of. As of one in 24 American Education Research Association (AERA) Undergraduate fellows, I attended a Student Education Research Workshop in Philadelphia from April 3rd to 5th.

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In less than 48 hours I learned about topics ranging from creating innovated community research for social change to quantitative measures that could be used in education research. In between learning these topics what captured my attention the most was the work of Dr. Sean Reardon at Stanford University and Dr. Paul Jargowsky of Rutgers University. While at the AERA workshop, I was fortunate enough to attend a panel of researchers focused on examining the educational attainment inequalities due to residential segregation by race and class. My own research interests lie in studying the access and quality of education students are given based on their social identities, specifically race and socioeconomic status in segregated neighborhoods. Dr. Reardon and Dr. Jargowsky are answering the questions I’ve been exploring in the seminar I facilitate, EDUC 361 “Oppression Through Policy”. Their works investigate the causes and patterns of racial and socioeconomic achievement disparities and examine poverty at the neighborhood level.

From my experience researching material and contacting guest speakers as a class and seminar lead, I have not encountered anyone researching similar questions I have about our education system. I found learning about the research of others and knowing the work I want to do is being done the most inspiring part of the seminar! It has increased my own thirst for knowledge and passion in this work. I am ecstatic at the thought of being a part of the innovation they are involved in education research.

I am currently figuring out ways to integrate the material I learned during the workshop into my seminar. This includes many pictures of data and notes taken from presentations. The data covered by Dr. Jargowsky’s presentation further supported the relation race and socioeconomic status have in segregated neighborhoods and schools presented in my seminar. As well, Dr. Reardon shared with me resources to contact in the Seattle area that can share with me further information for my seminar and who can serve as guest speakers. In terms of my future plans, AERA provided me a better idea of the possible directions that have been taken and which I can make my own. This includes ensuring that my research is applied to attainable social changes. As a first generation college student this experience has allowed me to further explore my passions in pursuing a Ph. D, and I cannot be any more thankful for such an opportunity.

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