Zhuqian “Karen” Zhou emerged from her June 2019 Convocation ceremony with a Master’s Degree from Teachers College and first-hand experience at applying a TC education to pathways that guide young people to college and meaningful careers.
Zhou’s own path brought her to New York City from China, where an undergraduate program in management science had positioned her for employment as a highly specialized data analyst in the business world.
Motivated by values instilled by her parents – who emphasized the obligation of the educated to benefit the less fortunate – Zhou chose to move in a different direction.
“I wanted to pursue something beyond economics,” Zhou explains. “Companies are about maximizing profits. That’s not necessarily bad. But I needed something more. I want to have an impact and am best suited for a career in public welfare.”
Companies are about maximizing profits. That’s not necessarily bad. But I needed something more. I want to have an impact and am best suited for a career in public welfare.
Zhou identified the education sector as an ideal venue to direct data analysis toward the public good, a determination that led her to Teachers College and the Learning Analytics Program within the Department of Human Development.
Zhou was immediately struck by the spirit of collaboration in the program, which is helping schools and districts in the transition from paperwork to digitized analysis as a means to advanced learning.
“It’s not just faculty arranging the coursework," she marvels. "Students are also asked to contribute.”
Graduate Gallery 2019
Meet some more of the amazing students who earned degrees from Teachers College this year.
A gap year in China following her first two semesters at TC opened the door for Zhou to put her analytic skills to the test when she launched a small company in a partnership with a group of college classmates.
The start-up operated a summer camp for young people exploring career opportunities. The camp's psychological testing process dovetailed with the knowledge of learning analytics that Zhou brought to the business.
“I applied a specific skill I learned in a course taught by Dr. James Corter [Professor of Statistics & Education] on multi-dimensional data analysis of psychological tests to identify career interests,” says Zhou. “It was very useful.”
The Chinese name that Zhou and her partners chose for their start-up translates loosely as “The World of Always Trying.”
The name reflects Zhou’s philosophy that one should explore every available channel to “find your goals and callings.”
Zhou plans to do exactly that in the next phase of her academic career: as a TC doctoral student in the Human Development department’s Cognitive Science program.