Community College Research Initiatives

September 18, 2023

New Research Scientist Mayra Nunez Martinez

It is with great pleasure that we introduce our newest research scientist, Mayra Nunez Martinez whose research centers on reimagining and transforming postsecondary institutions to better serve historically underserved students and communities. Informed from both personal and professional experiences her research is accountable to examining the racial and spatial inequities that rural Latine/x students face in higher education. She brings a unique lens to CCRI’s work, particularly for our grant on Building Evidence to Increase Rural Learner Success funded by Ascendium Education Group. She understands that it is critical to better support these communities, as rural communities are often excluded from national conversations around education, and there are substantive gaps in the literature for issues in rural higher education.

As a first-generation, DACAmented Mexicana and former college access advisor and high school teacher, she is committed to removing the systemic and structural barriers that exist for underserved communities in accessing higher education. Currently, she is working toward her Ph.D. in School Organization and Education Policy at the University of California, Davis. Her dissertation work examines how institutional and structural factors influence rural Latine/x students’ community college transfer decisions and outcomes.


“As educators and scholars, we must critically analyze policies, programs, and resources to make college accessible for all students by acknowledging the unique needs of students based on their intersectional identities and experiences.”


Through her collaborations on various projects as a graduate student researcher for the California Education Lab and Wheelhouse, she supported data collection, analyses, and dissemination of research related to higher education access and equity issues. For example, she contributed to projects examining factors influencing Latinx community college choice, first-time Latinx students’ and parents’ college choices during the pandemic, and how recruitment and outreach strategies can be more culturally and linguistically inclusive at emerging Hispanic serving institutions. From these experiences she learned the importance of using mixed research methods and centering students’ voices to understand how institutional practices and educational policies should be more responsive to their unique challenges and needs and how academic research utilizing researcher-practitioner partnerships can inform policy and practice. 


These opportunities have provided her with invaluable experience that will contribute to CCRI’s research in this and other areas as well as continue to gain more tools for advancing educational equity to postsecondary opportunities for rural Students of Color.