MA in Sociology of Education

Selected Bios of Recent M.A. Graduates

Many graduates of the Sociology of Education program have gone on to pursue successful careers in the field, or are currently studying as doctoral students. Read ahead to learn more about several of our recent alumni:

Catalina Iglesias
Catalina Iglesias Catalina completed the MA in Sociology of Education program to learn more about the social and cultural determinants of education in order to become a more qualified Sociologist and make research that contributes to the design and implementation of public policies. She is currently working as a Research Assistant at the Faculty of Education of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

 

  • What is your current position/organization?

    I'm currently working as a Research Assistant in a project at the Faculty of Education of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The project consists in analyzing the level of alignment between the Faculty's teacher training model and the requirements for Teacher Training established by national public policies.

    What was your thesis question? Can you write a few sentences about it?

    My thesis focused on two countries with the highest levels of educational quality and equity according to OECD indicators, Finland and Singapore. The question guiding my thesis was: how did these countries come to be among the best educational systems in the world? To answer this questions, I did an extensive literature review on these countries, comparing the different sets of public policies that have given shape to their educational systems, the circumstances that preceded their implementation and their overall effects. I argued that, considering the evidence on teacher effects on achievement, policies that focus on teacher education, empowerment and development are the right policy drivers to trigger successful reforms and achieve higher levels of quality and equity in education.

    What made you choose the SOED program?

    Education is complex and multidimensional in its nature, given the different spheres of social life that interact with it and determine its effects, such as race, gender, neighborhood, family, policy, among others. I chose the SOED program because it offered a comprehensive scope to approach education related issues, with the option to tailor our course selection to topics of our interest.

    How did the SOED program help shape your career path?

    The SOED program reinforced my conviction of following a career path in the field on research and public policy. The program allowed me to gain a deeper and more critical understanding of the larger social, economic and political contexts that give shape to educational institutions and policies. It also helped me to acquire new analytical skills and techniques in order to promote the use of evidence based research in the development of new public policies, keeping a balance between theory and practice.

    What was your favorite part of the SOED program?

    Coming from Chile, having the opportunity to learn from a different educational system gave me a new perspective on the issues pertaining to my own country. Moreover, the experience of engaging with students from different contexts and disciplines, and learning from their experiences and insights, enriched my learning process and made me more critical of my own assumptions.

Natalie Spitzer
Natalie Spitzer Natalie serves as the Community Coordinator for NYC Pre-K Explore, Teaching and Learning Programs, in the Division of Early Childhood Education at the New York City Department of Education.

 

  • What recent project/thing are you most proud of?

    Working with a team of folks who are dedicated to making professional learning for Pre-K teachers accessible.

    What is your favorite part of your job?

    Executing projects and research that will make a difference for our future system of education in NYC.

Dena Lagomarsino
Dena Lagomarsino Dena Lagomarsino is a 2015 graduate of the Sociology of Education MA program.Her research focused on educators, sexuality, and social justice pedagogy.

 

  • What was your research focus?

    Educators, sexuality, and social justice pedagogy

    What was your thesis question and a few sentences about it?

    For my thesis, "Living in the Contradictions," I was interested in understanding and illuminating the experiences of middle and high school educators who openly identify as both LGBT and/or queer, and as practitioners of culturally relevant, social justice-oriented pedagogy in their  work with marginalized youth. To explore these educators' intersecting personal and teacher identities, I conducted semi-structured, qualitative interviews and engaged with theories of change and resistance in the classroom. I found that my participants act as bridges for students along lines of race, class, sexuality, and gender, and that more studies are needed on both sociocultural impediments to educator efficacy and coming out/being outed in schools. 

    Where are you now/anything you would like to say about how you got there?

    Thanks to the rigorous yet supportive environment and mentors I found in NYU's SOED program, I am currently pursuing a sociology PhD through Tulane University's interdisciplinary City, Culture, and Community doctoral program. My research interests are continuing to develop from my time at NYU, and include gender and sexuality, power relations, education, and cultural trauma.

Carolina Ramirez
Carolina Ramirez Carolina Ramirez is a 2015 graduate of the Sociology of Education MA program. Her research focused on identity formation, school integration, college access and support, and social and cultural capital.
  • What was your research focus?

    The themes that ran through my research at NYU heavily focused on identity formation, school integration, college access and support, social and cultural capital, all within the scope of higher education. Achieving educational equity framed the lens through which I understood and wrote about many of these concepts.
    Much of my coursework focused on the experiences of Black and Latino students at competitive, elite colleges and universities.

    What was your thesis question and a few sentences about it?

    I explored how students navigate spaces that are staunchly divided across class and racial lines. If colleges serve as spaces for social mobility, it is important to understand how individuals from diverse backgrounds engage with and become part of these culturally rich communities. I take a, further, look at the juxtaposition experienced by underprivileged students who attend privileged spaces of higher education, as they ironically become part of these elite communities.
    With my thesis, I embarked on a journey to discover how Black and Latino individuals from under resourced and disadvantaged communities experience their education at reputable predominately wealthy institutions. My journey uncovered an intricate reality. Although we’ve moved to an era that is seemingly more accepting, or at least more aware of individual differences, individuals continue to feel isolated and “other-ed” by their college community. As more students attend college, there is a stark difference in their experiences.
    My research uncovers ways that schools grapple with difficult conversations to address tensions that arise as students from different backgrounds interact with one another. I noticed several trends in the stories shared by the 8 women I interviewed. First, individuals came to a unique realization in college about their identity, which they were unaware of before college. Secondly, individuals lacked the necessary support systems to engage in meaningful productive conversations about race and class. Consequently, individuals never fully integrated to the overall campus community. Lastly, individuals gravitated towards other people of color but more importantly to spaces within the college community that affirmed, nurtured, and supported their identity.
    The most important finding of my research is the weight placed on Black and Latino students to find ways to integrate but also become consciously involved individuals thus, challenging the status quo.

    Where are you now/anything you would like to say about how you got to NYU or your 5 year plan?

    My experiences as an educator in the classroom prior to graduate school, as an academic adviser to high schools students at Legal Outreach, a college prep program serving students from underserved communities in NYC, coupled with the exposure I received at NYU during my time abroad in Ghana, prompt my decision to take a bold step: move to Ghana and help transform the educational landscape. Right after graduation, I joined Teach for Ghana, an organization I’ve helped pioneer, as the Director of Training and Support. Our mission is to provide all children, regardless of socioeconomic background, access to an excellent education. We’ve partnered with Teach for All to bring this dream to fruition. We recruit and train the most promising university graduates to teach in underserved rural communities for two years, transforming the educational trajectory of the children they serve. In order to sustain, long lasting change, we facilitate pathways to leadership positions for alumni both in the public and private sector. We believe it takes individuals, who are aware of the educational scope effecting children in poverty, in order to make decisions in the private and public sector that will drastically change the educational landscape. I am eager to continue on this journey.
    My plan is to create a dynamic, challenging, training program that is consciously aware of the challenges children in poverty face, specifically, in Ghana. We will engage the communities we serve to devise a collective, contextualized vision, and develop the leadership capacity of our fellows to lead transformational change. One day, all children in Ghana will attain an excellent education and I look to be at the forefront of that mission. 

Linda Edouard
Linda Edouard Linda Edouard graduated from the Sociology of Education MA program in May 2013. Currently, she is working in the Office of Research and Data at the NYC Department of Education. Linda says of the program: "the program painted for me the 'big-picture' in education --inclusive of processes that occur outside of the school setting. This allows me to contextualize and consciously reflect on how my role contributes to and/or resists the reproduction of inequalities in schools."
  • Undergraduate University: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Undergraduate Major: Psychology

    Current Job: Survey Coordinator for the Tripod Student Survey, Office of Research and Data at NYC Department of Education

    What is your favorite part of your job?

    I am excited about being a part of the implementation of a large, new research initiative in NYC schools. The Tripod Student Survey is an instrument that captures student perceptions of the classroom and was developed by Harvard Education Professor, Ronald Ferguson. Because of the number of students served in the NYC school district, once implemented, it will become the largest annual survey in the United States. As with anything new, the environment is very fast-paced and entrepreneurial, and I am learning everyday what it takes to “bring research to life.” It has been very challenging –but that is one of the biggest reasons why I love the role.

    What was your favorite part of the Sociology of Education program?

    My favorite class was a Participatory Action Research class I took my last semester of graduate school. It is centered on popular education --a pedagogy for the liberation of oppressed peoples. That class forever changed me and I look up to Donna Nevel, the professor who facilitated the class.

    How did NYU prepare you for your current job?

    My graduate study in Sociology of Education has very well prepared me for my current role in educational research. For one, the program painted for me the “big-picture” in education --inclusive of processes that occur outside of the school setting. This allows me to contextualize and consciously reflect on how my role contributes to and/or resists the reproduction of inequalities in schools. Furthermore, it gave me the tools to make sense of, analyze, and critique research, especially ones that relate to education. It was very exciting on my first days on the job to read research studies informing my current position and truly understand what they were talking about!

    Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?

    Current students: Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box in your search to understand education/schools. Look for classes outside of Steinhardt, even if you’re the only one from outside of your department. Look for outside resources to guide you through your thesis and don’t feel limited to discuss education as it occurs in a school setting.

    Any last thoughts that you'd like to share with current or prospective students?

    I joined the program with a background and mindset in social justice. I have always had a strong belief in the power of education (inside and outside of schools) as a tool for community and youth empowerment. Before attending NYU, I searched for a program that would nurture my understanding of the complex processes at play in society (e.g., religion, economics, race, power, etc.), and would not limit what I identify to be the root causes of inequalities in schools. NYU’s Sociology of Education granted me that intellectual freedom as well as equipped me with invaluable research skills that are applicable for many settings. For this, I’m forever grateful for having been a part. If you’re anything like me, I encourage you to learn more about the program and apply!

Elizabeth Jose
Elizabeth Jose Elizabeth Jose is the founder and director of WE Bike NYC- Women's Empowerment through Bicycling. She graduated from the Sociology of Education MA program in 2012. Elizabeth states: "The toolkit I gained at NYU included skills in evaluation and statistics that really put me a cut above the rest in the grant application pool."
  • Undergraduate University: University of California, Santa Cruz

    Undergraduate Major: Politics

    Current Job: I’m the founder and director of WE Bike NYC- Women’s Empowerment through Bicycling

    What is your favorite part of your job?

    I love working with different kinds of people who I would probably not connect with in my regular life. Teaching bicycle riding and bicycle mechanics to women, and then seeing how they use this skill and organize their communities around bicycles is incredibly rewarding.

    What was your favorite part of the Sociology of Education program?

    My favorite part about the program was that it allowed me to pursue the things I was passionate about, and it was OK that what I was passionate about when I applied wasn’t what I was passionate about when I left. The professors helped me gain the skills I needed to launch my own organization and gave me the confidence to pursue a non-traditional career path.

    How did NYU prepare you for your current job?

    The toolkit I gained at NYU included skills in evaluation and statistics that really put me a cut above the rest in the grant application pool.

    Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?

    Follow your passions and use your professors as a resource. Make lots of meetings and ask as many questions as you can!

    Any last thoughts that you'd like to share with current or prospective students?

    WE Bike NYC is always looking for volunteers and participants. If you are a woman or female identifying person and like bikes, or think you might, contact us at info@webikenyc.org.

Eric Lam
A 2008 graduate from the Sociology of Education program, Eric Lam is currently working as a Policy Analyst/Coalition Organizer at the Advancement Project CA. Eric writes that the SOED program prepared him for his career by "giving me the analytical and research skills to understand systems and institutions while challenging my motives to understand why we studied what we studied."
  • Undergraduate University: University of California, San Diego

    Undergraduate Major: Double Major, Political Science, Urban Studies & Planning

    Current Job: Advancement Project CA, Policy Analyst/ Coalition Organizer

    What is your favorite part of your job?

    Seeing the policy and program impacts on communities served, witnessing community leaders rise and take charge with strategy and data in hand

    What was your favorite part of the Sociology of Education program?

    Leaning on my cohort and professors for feedback, discussions, and the occasional happy hour.

    How did NYU prepare you for your current job?

    By giving me the analytical and research skills to understand systems and institutions while challenging my motives to understand why we studied what we studied… for action and change.

    Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?

    Ask questions, lean on your classmates, and get into the field while in NYC to see and apply what you learn.