Current Students

Meet Some of Our Current Students

Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program
Fabiola Alba-Vivar is a PhD Student in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research is focused on education with an emphasis on gender and labor markets in developing countries. She holds an MA in Economics from Brown University and a BA in Economics from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. Previously, she worked as a research assistant at Princeton University where she supervised the implementation of large randomized control trials in multiple countries and studied the effects of unions on inequality in the US. She has also worked at The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in Latin America and the Peruvian Central Bank. Her current work includes measuring the effects of school expansion interventions on risky behavior in the Dominican Republic, the impact of a higher education reform in partnership with the Peruvian Ministry of Education, and the impact of STEM workshops for young girls in Peru. 



Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Mariel Bedoya-Guevara is a Ph.D. student in Economics and Education at Teachers College (T.C.), Columbia University. Her research is focused on biased beliefs in the fields of early childhood development and social networks. Prior to joining T.C., Mariel worked as a Senior Research Associate at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, where she was in charge of the implementation and evaluation of various interventions aiming to reduce informational frictions in the education market in Peru, Dominican Republic, and Chile. Previously, she also worked at Innovations for Poverty Action, The Ministry of Education of Peru, and the Group for the Analysis of Development. Mariel holds a master's in economics from the Barcelona School of Economics and a BS in economics from the Universidad de Piura (Lima, Peru). 

Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Saloni is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics and Education at Teachers College. Her research focuses on the impact of political and economic development on education policies and outcomes. She works along with philanthropic and non-profits organizations across India to understand the economic and educational impact for both public and private schools. In the past, she has worked with a couple of education start-ups focusing on low-income private schools and teacher training programs. She has also worked on education policy with various state governments in India. She was also a teacher with Teach for India in a low-income private school and in a juvenile home.

Saloni earned her Masters' in International Education Policy at Stanford University and Bachelors in Electrical Engineering at Thapar University.


Jalnidh Kaur
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Jalnidh Kaur is a Rhodes Scholar and graduated with MPhil in Economics from University of Oxford in 2015. After completing her Masters, she worked for two years with J-PAL South Asia where she provided field and data research assistance on large-scale randomized controlled trials evaluating the impact of adaptive learning interventions on student outcomes in low-cost private and public schools in India. Prior to her doctoral studies, she taught introductory economics to students of grades 11 and 12 at Akal Academy in Himachal Pradesh. Her experiences as a teacher and researcher in the classrooms of rural India fuel her research interests in exploring the role of teacher and technology inputs in improving learning outcomes in developing countries.

Previous Education:

M.Phil. Economics, University of Oxford

B.A. Economics (Honors), St. Stephen's College, Delhi

Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

CJ Libassi is PhD student and PEAR fellow in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also a senior research assistant at the Community College Research Center, where he focuses on college access and financial aid. Prior to joining CCRC, Libassi worked in research and policy at the College Board, the Center for American Progress, and the University of Michigan's Education Policy Initiative. Before that, he taught English in a secondary school in Madrid as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and foreign language in Prince George's County Public Schools as a Teach For America corps member. Libassi holds a BA in English, Spanish, and philosophy from the University of Scranton, a master of arts in teaching from American University, and a master of public policy from the University of Michigan. 

Isabel Munevar
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Isabela Munevar is a doctoral student in economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She also holds both an MS and a BA in economics from Los Andes University. Munevar conducts quantitative research on economics and education, with a focus on early childhood education, inequality and labor economics.

Before joining TC, Munevar was a research assistant and policy consultant in the social protection and health (SPH) and education divisions at the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB). At the IDB, Munevar actively participated in several impact evaluations and policy design interventions for the Colombian, Ecuadorian, and Brazilian governments, on topics related to early childhood development, education, and economic inequality. Prior to working at the IDB, Munevar was a research assistant at the Center for Studies in Economic Development (CEDE) at the School of Economics at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia.

Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Ifeatu “Ify” Oliobi is a Ph.D. student in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research examines access to education and labor market opportunities in developing countries, with an emphasis on gender and ethnicity.

Since joining Teachers College, Ify has worked as a research assistant with Prof. Alex Eble evaluating a behavioral intervention which targeted teacher performance in low-fee private schools in Africa, and with Prof. Peter Bergman at Learning Collider, examining the relationships between school rankings and housing markets in the United States. She has also worked as a teaching assistant under Prof. Alex Eble on two graduate courses - Microeconomic Theory Applications to Education (Fall 2018), and Education and Economic Development (Spring 2019); and with Prof. Elizabeth Ananat on an undergraduate course- Economics of Public Finance (Summer 2021) at Barnard College, Columbia University.

Ify has extensive professional experience leading and contributing to education research and evaluation projects in K-12 and higher education, and in both national and international contexts. She is currently a researcher at Ithaka S+R, where she leads the evaluation of a cohort-based scholarship program targeting first-generation scholars in U.S colleges. She has also worked as a mixed-methods research consultant with the New York City Department of Education, where she led the evaluation of a city-wide literacy initiative targeting elementary school students living in temporary housing. She also spent several years as an education (research) consultant at Oxford Policy Management, where she conducted research and analysis and large-scale data collection for the evaluation of several school-based interventions in low-income settings.

Ify began her career as an economist in the public sector, analyzing financial markets data to inform monetary policy decisions at the Central Bank of Nigeria. Subsequently, she supported the budget process and public financial management reforms while serving as an Overseas Development Institute (ODI) fellow at the South Sudan Ministry of Finance.

She holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Warwick, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Covenant University.


Julio Rodríguez
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Julio Rodríguez is a Ph.D. student of the Economics and Education program. Previously, he obtained a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Economic Analysis from Universidad de Chile. He is interested in quantitative research regarding segregation and inequality in the educational system. Also, he is keen on using administrative data aiming to better understand the impact of education on long term results, such as labor outcomes and social mobility.

Julio has previously worked as a consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank, where he participated in various RCT studies in developing countries. While there, he also conducted gender and school financing research. Furthermore, he has worked on labor and education research projects with the Universidad de Chile’s faculty.

Daniel Sparks
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program
Daniel Sparks is a doctoral student in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University and a senior research assistant at the Community College Research Center. His research interests center on higher education policy in the US with a focus on college finance, college to work transitions, and community colleges as transfer institutions.
Previous Education:
BA in Political Economy and BS in Environmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
MS in Education, Dominican University
Ed.M. candidate in the Economics and Education program
Joaquin Farina is an Ed.M. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds degrees in Mathematical Engineering and Applied Economics from the University of Chile, and a dual degree from Ecole Centrale Nantes.
Joaquin strives to improve the quality of education by generating high-quality evidence for decision-making. Before joining Teachers College, Joaquin served for two years at the Chilean Ministry of Education, working as Education Data Specialist and Data Management Officer.
As a researcher, Joaquin has studied parental expectations at PUC School of Government (Chile), teacher’s social and emotional skills at Laboratorio de Conexión (Teach For All Alumni-led initiative), and the dynamics of the Chilean school admission system at the Institute of Education (Chile).

In addition, Joaquin has been a consultant for the World Bank, a high-school teacher through the Enseña Chile Fellowship, and a research intern at the Central Bank of Chile and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
In 2022 Joaquin was chosen as one of twenty-five Iberoamerican Young Leaders by Fundación Carolina in Spain, and in 2021 as Teach For All Network Connector.  
Ed.M. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Brayan L. Rosa-Rodríguez is an Ed.M. candidate in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. With this degree he is interested in unfolding the intersection of education and poverty alleviation policy with a particular focus in government programs and interventions that can facilitate economic mobility to lift people out of poverty.

Currently, Brayan serves as the Senior Policy Analyst with the Economic Policy Project at UNIDOS US. In this role, he analyzes and advocates for economic policies that can improve the lives of Latinos living in the US. Prior to joining UNIDOS US, Brayan served as the Public Policy Manager at the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico. Over his career, Brayan has been able to work in favor of economic and education policies that can benefit those in most need. He has experience working with poverty alleviation programs, economic development policies, tax credits and incentives, and in program evaluation.

Brayan has a master's degree in public administration and policy from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and a Bachelor's degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Carolina campus in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. When he is not working you can catch him playing basketball or dancing salsa.  


Ed.M. candidate in the Economics and Education program
Before coming to Teachers College, Yuang (Connor) studied math and physics at Bucknell University, and later pursued a master’s degree in applied math and statistics at CUNY-Hunter College, where he also serves as an adjunct lecturer at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
A recipient of the Presidential Cup and Youth Employment Innovation Fellowship at International House New York, Yuang is keen on studying the relations between technology, education, and human developments. He is also interested in how broader fiscal, monetary, and trade policy can influence the agenda setting and implementations of education policy.
When not wired with code, he plays rugby with a New York City inclusive RFC, enjoys comedy TV shows, or occasionally, you can find him in a sailboat on Long Island Sound.


M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Morgan Barney is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. She also holds a B.A. in Economics and a Concentration in Global Financial Institutions from Smith College. As an undergrad, Morgan worked as a Research Assistant on an early-stage research project on European Fiscal Policy with prior Irish Fiscal Advisory Council Member, Dr. Roisin O’Sullivan, and on the forthcoming Intermediate Microeconomics textbook, Microeconomics: Competition, Conflict and Coordination by Drs. Samuel Bowles and Simon Halliday.

Prior to joining Teacher’s College, Morgan spent a year working on Wall Street as an Investment Banking Analyst in an Equity Capital Markets Group before deciding to pursue her long-term interest in economic research involving educational inequities and broader inequality. To reorient her career to pursue this interest, Morgan decided to spend a year in service as an AmeriCorps Education Fellow at an innovative urban public school in Central Falls, RI. Her goal was to both witness and help address some of the issues in which she was interested in researching firsthand, especially as they had been exacerbated by the pandemic. Morgan hopes to eventually use her degree and prior classroom experiences to conduct thoughtful and policy-oriented research exploring how the education system can be used to combat and correct for pervasive poverty and other systemic inequities.

In her spare time, Morgan enjoys listening to music, painting, and playing tennis.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Jonathan Beltrán is a second-year student in the M.A. program in Economics and Education. His scholarly work addresses teachers' formation, quality, and leadership and the impacts of violence on educational inequalities. He holds a B.A. in Literature, a B.A. in Philosophy, and an M.A. in History from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. He also obtained a graduate degree in Economic Evaluation of Projects at Universidad de Los Andes.

An experienced educator and school leader, Jonathan worked at a High School for several years as a Literature and Research teacher and the Head of the Literature Department. He has also designed workshops and interventions to impact internally displaced persons and marginalized populations affected by the Colombian conflict. Furthermore, Jonathan has written chapters for the books Trayectorias y proyectos intelectuales: el pensamiento social en América Latina y Colombia (2021) and Estética y modernidad en el pensamiento colombiano [1940-1960] (2018).

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Jonathan Chapman is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He graduated from Duke University in 2018 with a B.S. in Economics, a B.A. in Political Science (with a concentration in Political Economy), and a Certificate in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics from Duke University. While in undergrad, Jonathan worked as a research analyst on a team under Dr. Hans van Miegroet via Bass Connections and as a part of the Duke Art, Law, & Markets Initiative (DALMI). Their work focused on the intersectionality of the art community and economic and policy initiatives on the labor market in Durham County.

Before Teachers College, Jonathan completed a two-year stint with Teach For America (TFA) in Memphis, TN where he taught high school U.S. Government & Civics and Economics at Power Center Academy High School (PCAHS). In his third year of teaching, Jonathan taught AP Government, U.S. Government & Civics, and Economics at Bluff City High School (BCHS) where he served as lead 12th grade teacher for its first graduating class. During his third year, he was also selected as a Leadership Accelerator Fellow for TFA alumni where he crafted an initiative for the Greater Memphis Area. Jonathan hopes to use his prior classroom exposure, research experience, and degree to work with public and private institutions to help close the education gap.

As hobbies, Jonathan enjoys hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, playing tennis, performing community service, and assisting with local Boy Scout troops.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Qiulin (Jocelyn) He is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is interested in the intersection of education and labor economics, with specific focuses on how particular groups of students decide on college majors and how their perceptions of job market returns impacted the choices.

Jocelyn earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Melbourne, majoring in Accounting and Finance. Prior to joining Teacher’s College, she spent a year as a management trainee at an international bank. While she had extensive experiences in finance and consulting, she has been a long-term volunteer for teaching and educational events for K-12 students in the disadvantaged communities of Melbourne and rural China. She has also been a key founding member in a cross-sector partnership project that subsidizes agricultural insurance and provides educational supports for the rural areas in China. Witnessing the gaps in educational resources, she recognized her long-term interest in economic research on educational related programs and policies. With the degree, Jocelyn hopes to utilize the quantitative analysis skills and her prior experiences to conduct policy research and sector reviews that could eventually facilitate educational resource allocations for the developing world.

Jocelyn loves activities that engage one’s entire body, like hiking, dancing, and yoga. She has been a Chinese classical dancer since age 5.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Yanrong Selena Li is a master's student in the Economics and Education program and has been working as a part-time math teacher in an international school in China. She previously completed her undergraduate study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen. She is particularly interested in K12 education and social equality. In college, she used to be a tutor for two years in Shenzhen and participated in internships in an education technology company, focusing on K12 online education, and in an education group. Dedicated to alleviating poverty and educational inequality, she and her father established a volunteer organization aiming to relieve poverty and support education efforts in a small town in Southwestern China. During her experiences in poor areas, she realized the huge gap in educational opportunity and resources, which mainly resulted from the economic situation. Therefore, she has sought opportunities to further study the field of economics and education; and, using economic tools, she believes they will equip her to better evaluate education programs to put forward meaningful policies or projects.

She also has a passionate interest in ethnic art. Growing up in Yunnan, a province characterized by over twenty-six minority groups, she has been inspired by the diversity of art and culture in her community. Under her uncle's influence, who devotes his life to cultural heritage protection, she has tried to promote traditional cultures by introducing project-based learning courses that have integrated cultures and arts.

Selena loves travelling, which enables her to explore new cities and to make friends around the world. Yoga and climbing are her favorite sports that give her a peace of mind.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Zejun Li is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Zejun serves as the Economics and Education program student representative for the Student Advisory Council (SAC). She focuses on improving students' experiences on campus and supports the communication between TC faculties and students. She conducts quantitative research on educational economy in higher education institutions of the United States while studying at Teacher College.

Prior to attending Teachers College, Zejun Li completed her dual degrees in four years at the Ohio State University-Columbus. She studied in both Economics and Public Policy Analysis, one is B.A. from the College of Arts & Sciences, the other is B.S. from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Also, Zejun worked as the only undergraduate student researcher on a professional university research team. She collected and analyzed data in a team that has established history of publishing research in leading peer-reviewed field.

As hobbies, Zejun enjoys cooking and baking. As a result of her insistence and loyalty, her part-time job as the student assistant led her to being the only Asian female student manager in a culinary company during her undergraduate experience.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program
Dale is a graduate student in the Economics and Education M.A. program at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. His academic focus is on human capital investments in developed countries. Specifically, Dale is interested in the financing of tertiary education and correcting market imperfections in this investment market.
This academic research involves studying the accounting and opportunity costs of completing tertiary education programs. This includes better understandings of what students give up financially when they enroll and what their alternate options would have yielded. In addition to these costs, Dale focuses on the long run and short term financial gains from tertiary education.
Before coming to Columbia, Dale graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelors in economics with a secondary in government. While an undergrad at Harvard, Dale also studied at Yale College and Harvard Business School. As an undergraduate student, Dale’s research on the financing of K-12 education programs was published by the Undergraduate Economic Review.
Outside academia, Dale enjoys traveling both around the northeast region and across the pond. Additionally, while studying at TC, Dale founded a startup firm, Delta Analytics, with the goal of solving the student debt crisis. His work on this involves him working with universities, large financial institutions, and government agencies alike. Dale believes that the knowledge he has gained as a student at TC has given him the skills he needed to begin solving what is one of the largest financial crises of our time.
Dale hopes to use the opportunities provided to him by Teacher’s College and the greater Columbia community to improve the lives of students and decrease the financial burden of higher education on the global economy.
M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program
Meghana Mohan is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her Bachelor of Commerce degree from St. Joseph's College of Commerce in Bengaluru, India, were she ranked first in the Graduating Class of 2017-2020. She received the Joan Albaquerque Award for English and an Award for Contribution to the College Editorial Team. She was also one of the ten students selected to work as a Tax Intern at Ernst and Young (Global Development Services).
Meghana Mohan has previously worked as a Teach Manager at U&I, an organization focused on providing educational support to children from under-resourced backgrounds. With her calm demeanour and appreciable work ethic, she made her way to the position of a Teach Manager from the position of a U&I Teach Volunteer. She worked in the Child Development Team at U&I, where she oversaw the English and Library Programmes, as well as facilitated an after-school tutoring program in orphanages and shelter homes throughout Kerala and Karnataka. She introduced new initiatives such as a Virtual Library and a Project called Project Pink and Blue Are Just Colors. Project Pink and Blue Are Just Colors' main goal is to educate young pupils about Menstrual Hygiene, Gender Stereotypes and Myths, and The Importance of Relaxation and Unwinding for Kids and Young Adults. Meghana hopes to eventually use her degree and prior experience in the field of education to conduct policy-oriented research to address and combat the issue of educational inequality. 
Meghana Mohan is an avid reader and in her spare time, she enjoys baking, cooking and experimenting with fashion and styling.
M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Shivam Rawal is a Fulbright Scholar and an M.A. candidate in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a domain expert in education measurement, classroom assessments & evaluation and has extensive experience designing, implementing and managing several large-scale education projects in India.

Shivam’s first-hand experience of educational inequality inspired him to join the Teach For India Fellowship in 2017, where he taught 80+ students in a low-resource government school in India. The experience of working as a teacher in a government school for over 730+ days in an urban slum helped solidify his commitment to work towards the problems in his community. Leveraging this experience and creating an impact at scale, Shivam continued to work with multiple state governments, nonprofits, and schools to improve student learning outcomes through assessments and the capacity-building of education practitioners at various levels. He was nominated as a Global Girls Education Fellow in 2020 by Teach For All, where he learned about best practices in girls’ education as a part of the global cohort of fellows committed to improving educational outcomes for girls and women.

Prior to joining Teachers College, Shivam worked with Central Square Foundation, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) backed nonprofit venture philanthropy focused on improving the learning outcomes of disadvantaged children in India. As a part of the Classroom Instruction & Practices Team, he consulted several state government officials and nonprofits in India to improve the quality of their program design, assessments, and teaching & learning practices to effectively implement the National Mission for Foundational Literacy & Numeracy - NIPUN Bharat.

Shivam hopes to use his degree and on-ground experience to transition out as an Education Economist specializing in the development & social impact. He exhibits a deep passion and commitment to serving the public sector by researching, documenting and generating evidence of the best teaching & learning practices in low-and middle-income countries, leading to better policies and practices by the world’s top decision-makers.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Carolina Rivas Herrera is a master's student in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned a B.S. in Economics from Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), and her research interests include education and social policy, labor economics, and gender gaps.

Before joining TC, Carolina worked at El Colegio de Mexico. As a research assistant, she coauthored two peer-reviewed papers about skin tone discrimination and maternity penalties in the labor market.

She also worked as a policy consultant in the Social Protection and Health (SPH) division at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Her main project included measuring the Covid-19 effect on poverty and estimating conditional cash transfers and non-contributory pensions in 17 countries.

Prior to that, she worked in the Mexican Ministry of Finance as Deputy Director. She was responsible for designing public policy to increase economic productivity through human capital. She also led the OECD Skills Strategy for Mexico and was honored to be the National Government Representative at the OECD Advisory Group Meeting and the 21st Skills Strategy Workshop.

In her spare time, Carolina loves dancing and going for long walks.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Erika Valdez is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was born in the Philippines and grew up in the Bronx, NY. She earned a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University.

For Erika’s undergraduate senior thesis, she wrote about the causes and effect of Filipino migration on Filipino society and the Philippines as a nation. Utilizing economics as a lens, her writing maintained a particular focus on remittances and their overall effects socially and culturally. Currently, she is interested in studying the systemic and financial inequities within the U.S. education system, specifically in higher education.

Prior to attending Teachers College, Erika served as an Advising Fellow for Matriculate, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower low-income, high-achieving high school students to attend the country’s best colleges through peer advising. She also worked as an intern in the Ecommerce Department of a retail company, gaining experience in marketing, data analytics, and customer service.

In her spare time, Erika enjoys going for long walks, cooking new recipes, and rooting for the New York Mets and the New York Islanders. 

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