Skip to main content

Search NYU Steinhardt

Steinhardt Alum Pamela D’Andrea Martínez Wins NYU Outstanding Dissertation Award


Pamela D’Andrea Martínez (PhD ’23, Teaching and Learning) won for dissertation work exploring educational belonging for teenage immigrants.

Pamela D’Andrea Martínez is a recipient of the 2024 NYU University-Wide Outstanding Dissertation Awards. Her dissertation, titled “Transnational and Immigrant Youth Belonging and Their Entryways to an Anti-Oppressive Education,” explores educational belonging for teenage immigrants.

Each spring, NYU schools are invited to submit up to three total nominations for University-wide outstanding dissertation awards for the academic year. D’Andrea Martínez was one of two winners in the Social Sciences category and one of eight winners overall; see the rest of the winners here.

D’Andrea Martínez immigrated to the United States from Venezuela with her family when she was seven years old, making the topic of education for young people who have recently come to this country a long-standing one for her.

“There is a bewilderment around this population in the educational system, as well as a mad dash to get them to graduate without a lot of consideration about their lives or needs,” says D’Andrea Martínez, who is now an assistant professor of education at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. “I’ve always been attracted to questions that stump people, which is why I decided to devote my research to this area of inquiry.”

D’Andrea Martínez’s research took place in an Internationals Network “newcomer school” – a four-year public school that focuses on young people who have arrived in the US within a few years of enrollment – in New York City. She focused on a group of 12th graders who immigrated from 10 different countries, as well as interviewed several educators who the students responded positively toward.

Pamela D'Andrea Martínez

There is a bewilderment around [immigrant students] in the educational system...I’ve always been attracted to questions that stump people, which is why I decided to devote my research to this area of inquiry.

Pamela D'Andrea Martínez (PhD ’23), winner of a 2024 NYU University-Wide Dissertation Award

By listening to students’ immigration stories, D’Andrea Martínez developed a theoretical framework to think about their experiences. One main idea surfaced by her work is that these students aren’t necessarily “new” to the United States in the ways society may imagine.

“I found that students encounter some new elements of culture, systems, or language when they arrive here, but the prospect of coming to the United States had often been part of their families’ identities since before they were born,” says D’Andrea Martínez. “Their lives were already structured in transnational ways, and they are already a part of the United States’ imagination and responsibility.”

D’Andrea Martínez also discovered that access to opportunities – jobs, networking, research, and more – is incredibly important to this population. 

“Where [young immigrants] put their biggest stake is also a place of the most adversity for them,” says D’Andrea Martínez. “There’s a story here for teachers: plugging students into opportunities is one step, but if you’re not helping them interrogate where they can find their belonging and advocating for them to have access to even more opportunities, then we’re just treading water.”

D’Andrea Martínez’s dissertation work is currently being turned into a book. She is also continuing her research in the Boston area, which entails working with slightly different groups of young immigrants and different sets and circumstances of needs and challenges.

Related Articles

Study Shows How Higher Education Supports Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Students Through Culturally Relevant Courses, Programs, and Research

Analysis of minority-serving institutions on the East and West Coasts demonstrates layered processes to build students’ capacities.

NYU Steinhardt Teacher Residency Wins Multicultural Education and Diversity Award

NYU Steinhardt's Teacher Residency was recognized by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

The Center for Policy, Research, and Evaluation (PRE) at NYU Metro Center Examines the Design of Equity Focused Summer Learning Programs

How do school districts design high-quality, equity-centered Summer Learning Programs? The Center for Policy, Research, and Evaluation (PRE) analyzes how summer learning programs support young people, particularly those from historically marginalized communities.

Related Department

A student teacher teaches secondary school students

Teaching and Learning

Department of Teaching and Learning 
239 Greene Street, Sixth Floor
New York, NY 10003
Tel: 212 998 5460