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Politics and Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Politics and Education

In the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis

Alumni & Student Profiles

Alumni & Student Profiles

The Politics and Education Program is dedicated to expertly training students for their professional careers. Many students become policy leaders and professors. As you evaluate this program, consider the perspectives of a recent graduate and a current student in the program.      

Current Students
Ryan Allen, M.A. student
Politics & Education program
Teachers College, Columbia University
I came to Teachers College after completing an MA in International Cooperation from Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea. While there, I attempted to merge my studies in international relations with education. This is why I targeted the Politics and Education program at EPSA, because it also attempts to bridge aspects in differing
academia sectors. During my time as a student in Korea, I worked as an editor at 'Diplomacy' magazine. I have also been lucky enough to present research at various conferences and I have a few upcoming publications due this year. Before starting the Korean MA program, I taught in a public high school in Incheon, South Korea. Since I have been at TC, I have done research with the Human Development Department and I currently work at Columbia University Medical Center's P&S
admissions office and as an intern at AIED Council.
Lauren McDade, M.A. student
Politics & Education program
Teachers College, Columbia University

I came into the Master’s program in Politics & Education after serving as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Washington, DC where I worked in a school in Northeast DC tutoring and mentoring high school students. Currently I’m interning with the New York branch of the organization doing research and supporting operations. My passion for education policy started as an undergraduate political science student at Towson University where I was actively involved in advocating for student voices to be considered in policy decisions.

I discovered the Politics & Education program in my junior year of college. I was attracted to the freedom the program gives students to study what facets of the intersection of politics and education they’re most interested in. After my experiences in seeing how politics can affect education policymaking in both K-12 and higher education settings, I was searching for a graduate program that would allow me to learn more. After three years of searching, I never found another program that fit what I was looking for. I started at TC in the Fall of 2011 and will finish my degree in December 2012. The thing I’ve most enjoyed about my time at TC so far is how much knowledge I’ve gained about education history and policymaking that I know will be valuable to me as I begin my career.

Kathryn Smeglin, Ed.D. student
Politics & Education program
Teachers College, Columbia University

I came to Teachers College, Columbia University in New York from Massachusetts where I was teaching art at Watertown Middle School and coordinating community partnerships for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. While in the classroom, I became interested in the broader goals and methods of education, and these interests have led me here to Teachers College. So far I have been enjoying getting a broader perspective through historical, legal, and organizational lenses. Education is such an exciting field, and I am happy to be working with so many talented peers here. 

I currently intern with the Museum of Art and Design to help bring art to students in the Manhattan Alternative Learning Centers. I also love traveling and have recently visited South Korea, New Orleans, and Montreal. (My picture was taken in Boulder, CO during a US road trip.) For my own artwork, I am hand sewing a Victorian-style crazy quilt made from old T-shirts and linens. It has been three years in the making and I'm hoping this year will see it complete!


Rebecca Jacobsen, Ph.D.    
Assistant Professor, College of Education   
Michigan State University   
Politics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, Ph.D. 2007                               

I entered the Politics and Education program at Teachers College while still teaching in the New York City public schools. While I enjoyed teaching, I was frustrated with the number of policies that seemed to trickle down and stop at my classroom door. These policies often made little sense for my students or the neighborhood community within which I worked. I realized that I needed to understand the larger political context of urban areas and the policy process if I wanted to really be able to make a difference in schools. I found that the P & E program at TC helped me do this and far more. 

I am currently an assistant professor at Michigan State University where I teach and conduct research on topics related to politics and education. The P & E program at TC prepared me to become a successful faculty member at a research institution because it allowed me to develop my own unique interests within the broader field of politics. The wide range of rigorous courses offered throughout TC and the larger Columbia University system enabled me to develop an expertise and strong research skills. I continue to work on a project about accountability systems with the Campaign for Educational Equity that began while I was at TC. I am also developing a research project on civic and political engagement that links the larger theoretical work in political science on this topic to the actual classroom practices of different schools.  

I continue to collaborate with my former TC doctoral cohort which was an amazing set of students to learn both from and with. The development of these relationships was made possible by the concerted efforts of our program advisor, Jeff Henig, who created special classes that brought us together. Developing these relationships has proved to be equally important to developing my skills and knowledge. They continue to provide me with critical but extremely useful feedback as I continue to pursue new research topics.      

Kenann McKenzie-Thompson, Ph.D.
Administrator, D.C. Public Schools
Politics and Education, Teachers College Columbia University, Ph.D. 2012

As a student at TC, Kenann broadened her appreciation for studying issues affecting urban settings and also deepened her commitment to issues of social justice. Through her courses and experiences, she discovered her deep passion for civic capacity building and community restoration. After several years into the program, her classes and research began to coalesce around these issues.

During her years of study, since 2007, Kenann worked on studies as a consultant to Georgetown University and the University of Arkansas.  In that capacity, she was able to serve as a co-author on the study entitled, “Satisfied, Optimistic, Yet Concern: Parent  Voices on the Third Year of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program."

Kenann McKenzie Thompson completed the Ph.D. program in November 2011. Her dissertation, titled “The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: The Politics of Accountability and Building Civic Capacity in Four Schools in Maryland” focused on civic capacity building for school and community engagement for reform. Dr. McKenzie-Thompson currently works as an administrator in DC public schools, is an adjunct lecturer at American University, and serves as President of Janyo LLC, a community-based group focused on sustainable community development and engagement. She lives in the DC area, is married and has two children.


Annika Many, M.A.
Politics & Education program
Teachers College, Columbia University, M.A. 2004

I graduated from Teachers College in February 2004. During my time TC, I was fortunate to study education politics and policy with some of the premiere faculty in the field, including Luis Huerta, Amy Stuart Wells, and Jeffrey Henig. I also had great practical experiences from participation in the Federal Policy Institute and an internship in government relations at AERA. 
Upon graduating from TC, I went to work for the College Board on an initiative in partnership with the New York City, Rochester, Buffalo, and Yonkers public schools to start new, small, public schools grade 6-12, focused on college preparation and success in high poverty areas across these districts. I worked on that initiative for 4 years, and then moved to a position at the College Board's Office of Strategy Management, where I had the opportunity to work on critical strategic initiatives across the organization and to manage large cross-divisional projects for the SAT program, Advanced Placement Program, and our Advocacy and Policy Center. In March 2012, I was promoted to a Senior Director of the Advocacy and Policy Center at the College Board. The Advocacy & Policy Center works to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. The Center makes critical connections between policy, research and real-world practice to develop innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges in education today across three portfolio areas - College Readiness and Access, College Affordability and Financial Aid, and College Admissions and Completion. In my job, I am able to directly influence policy in schools, school districts, states, and higher education institutions across the country- work for which my studies at TC well prepared me.
In addition to my master's from TC, I also hold a bachelor's degree from Carnegie Mellon University in psychology, a master's in Public Administration from Pace University, and I am a professionally-certified Project Management Professional.