Current Students

Meet Some of Our Current Students


Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Leana Cabral is a PhD candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Sociology and Education Program. She is also a Research Associate at Research for Action in Philadelphia, where she is the Primary Investigator on an educator diversity study, examining the root causes of Black teacher attrition in Philadelphia. She previously worked as a researcher at The Public Good as well as Consortium for Policy Research in Education, and the Black Education Research Center, all at Teachers College.

Her research interests include the racial politics of public education, K-12 educational inequality, and historical perspectives on educational and social inequality. Her dissertation research centers the complicated interplay of history, racial politics, and community sensemaking to explore how racism and antiblackness are reproduced over time and in different public school contexts within Philadelphia. 

In addition to her research interests, Leana is committed to supporting youth activists and organizers as she was one herself--which greatly shaped her world-view and political consciousness. She is also a proud board member of the Philly Student Union. 

Leana holds a B.A. in Women's Studies from Spelman College. 

Yeonsoo Choi
Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Yeonsoo Choi is a Ph.D. student in Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in Education from Yonsei University, South Korea. Her research interests include the sociology of elite education, globalization and education policy, school choice, and critical policy analysis. Yeonsoo is interested in better understanding how broader social discourses shape education policies and students’ educational experiences. Prior to coming to Teachers College, she worked as a research assistant for education policy research projects funded by the Ministry of Education, South Korea, and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.

Previous Education:

B.A. in Education, Yonsei University and M.A. in Education with concentration in Curriculum and Instruction, Yonsei University

Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology and Education program
Siettah Parks Grant is a Ph.D. student in Sociology and Education and Research Assistant at The Public Good at Teachers College, Columbia University. Previously, she has worked in schools in New Jersey and New York City, and served as a Program Manager at an education support nonprofit. 
 

Siettah's research interests are all deeply informed by her own perspective as a Black woman and scholar, and her experiences working with Black and brown students. These interests include teacher education and preparation, sociocultural contexts of schools, teachers’ relationships with students, the role of love and care in the classroom, and Black students' lived experience with schooling in the U.S. She plans to explore these interests using methodologies that are aligned with Critical Race Theory and Critical Feminist Methodologies. Her goal is to conduct research that will contribute to improved educational experiences for Black students, while also empowering and respecting the participants. 

Previous Education:

B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.A. in Sociology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University
 
Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Anuraag Sensharma is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology and Education program.  He is interested in school and community structures that support student autonomy, and particularly interested in studying the prevalence and nature of those structures in high needs public schools.  The mission of empowering students from all backgrounds to direct and craft their own meaningful learning experiences while engaging with their communities is central to his work in education.

Anuraag taught high school physics for four years at the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington, VA.  Teaching at this public democratic alternative school had a profound impact on clarifying his mission, both as a teacher and as a researcher.  Prior to teaching, he majored in physics and participated in two physics research groups as an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA.  He is excited to unite his research and teaching experiences during his time at Teachers College.

Previous Education: 

B.S. in Physics and M.A. in Education from the College of William and Mary

Cami Touloukian
Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Cami Touloukian’s dedication to the collective effort to create a socially just and humanizing system of schools is at the heart of her personal and professional life. Formerly an elementary and early childhood educator, Cami has taught in many public, private and charter schools across the country. After years of teaching and learning with young people, Cami moved to higher education to work as a teacher educator. Her work with both classroom students and future teachers has allowed her to observe the many ways in which schools contribute to the social reproduction of inequity and injustice. As such, Cami’s research interests focus on better understanding and illuminating some of the barriers to building a more just and loving world through education. She is particularly interested in researching white supremacy in education, the sociology of whiteness in schools, and the potential for social change that lies at the intersection of critical race theory and sociology. In her free time, Cami enjoys spending time with the people she loves, being in nature with her dog, experiencing the world around her, and getting lost in a good book.

Previous Education:

Indiana University, B.A. in General Studies with a focus on Sociology, History and Education

Indiana University, M.S.Ed. in Elementary Education

Lewis and Clark, Certification in Teacher Leadership for Equity and Social Justice

Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Jose Luis Vilson is a doctoral student in Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to starting his doctoral program, he was a math teacher in New York City public schools for 15 years. He is the author of the best-selling This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, and executive director of EduColor, an organization dedicated to race and social justice issues in education. He is primarily interested in how the nexus of policy, practice, and research proliferate or inhibit the recruitment and retention of educators of color. He earned a BS in Computer Science from Syracuse University and a MA in Mathematics Education from City College of New York. 

Previous Education:

Syracuse University, B.S. in Computer Science

City College of New York, M.A. in Mathematics Education

Ed.M. candidate in the Sociology and Education program
Jenn Bueti is an Ed.M. student in the Sociology and Education program, with a concentration in Education Policy at Teachers College. She currently teaches middle school English in the Bronx and looks forward to applying what she learns at TC to real life applications with her students. She became interested in pursuing this degree during her first year teaching and getting involved in advocating for her community of students she has learned to love and work with. Jenn wishes to use this degree to eventually make life long impacts in public, urban education in NYC and across the country. She is excited to gain knowledge and develop a network of like-minded people in the TC family.
 
Previous Education:
B.A. in English & B.A. in Adolescent Education with a minor in Theater from Manhattan College

 

 

Ed.M. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

 Jordan Henry is an Ed.M. candidate in the Sociology and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University.  He earned a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (PreK-3) and a Master of Education in Transformative Education, with a concentration in Social Justice and Equity, from Miami University (OH).  Prior to Teachers College and moving to New York City, Jordan taught Kindergarten and Second Grade in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He currently teaches First Grade at The Allen-Stevenson School in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

During his time as a practicing educator, Jordan started to question the inequities and injustices embedded within the structures and organization of schooling.  His commitment to understanding the policies and practices that contribute to inequality within schools and society prompted his inquiry of social justice and equity to analyze educational problems in schools and teach for justice. This inquiry, empowered by classroom teaching experience, led him to pursue an advanced degree in Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University to actively address social inequities in schools and contribute to creating a more just society using the knowledge, concepts, and research methods of sociology.  Jordan’s research interests include anti-racist education, critical pedagogy, and abolitionist teaching in elementary school contexts.  His goals include decolonizing the curriculum and decentering whiteness in schools to educate students, teachers, and stakeholders toward racial justice.  He is also interested LGBTQIA2S+ topics in education.  Jordan hopes to develop an interdisciplinary and systemic approach to equip educators and students with a social justice lens to address inequities in their schools and communities.

Outside of his professional interests and goals in education, Jordan enjoys SoulCycle classes, exploring different neighborhoods in New York City, eating tapas style meals, and watching any franchise of the Real Housewives on Bravo! TV.  

 

Previous Education:  

M.Ed. in Transformative Education from Miami University

B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Miami University

 

M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Alicia is an M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a Paraguayan sociologist, educator, activist, and dancer; serving as Sociology and Education program representative at Student Advisory Council for the EPSA department. Alicia is currently a Fulbright International grantee and part of the research team of the Network for the Right to Education (Paraguay). Alicia has been related to education from various roles. She has worked as a dance, kindergarten, and high school teacher; and as a non-formal educator with activists and teachers from peri-urban communities in Asunción, Paraguay. Alicia also approached education as a research assistant, in qualitative studies related to teaching experiences in emergency situations, and gender relations in educational settings. As an undergraduate student, she was part of a student movement that advocated for student representation and democratic government in national and local education policies. Her work as a non-formal community educator brought her close to adaptable pedagogical experiences in low-income communities that despite adversities achieve important learning outcomes which go beyond the curriculum. These educational experiences are models of community pedagogy that inform her teaching philosophy and notion of education for democracy. Her academic interests include critical pedagogy, Educacion Popular, and understanding the emergent experiences of communities innovating in education and its potential to inform education policy. Her professional goal is to contribute to the consolidation of a theoretical framework and practice for a Paraguayan education with the capacity to creatively adapt to the pressing needs and interests of its protagonists and their communities.

 

Previous Education:

B.A. in Sociology from Universidad Catolica Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion

M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

I am pursuing my M.A. degree in Sociology and Education in the Department of Ed. Policy and Social Analysis.  As an educator and immigrant; I have come to realize that passion and perseverance is my driving force in pursuing this degree.  Both my sister and I were merely toddlers when my mother made the decision to leave the Dominican Republic and come to the States for a better life and opportunities.  That propelled my love to keep on learning and not take the life that I was offered here for granted. 

Education became the love that I was hungry to pursue and during my undergraduate time at Saint Peter’s University I came to a decision that teaching was where I needed to be.  Teaching offered me a place where I can gradually see the seeds that I plant at the beginning of the school year grow and thrive towards the end. That has been my most  rewarding experience. I currently teach 6th grade Humanities in an independent school in Jersey City. Though this role has given me an opportunity to learn and grow as an educator I have also seen the inequities that are built around a system that is supposed to motivate and love.  I began questioning my role not only as a teacher, but someone who needed to speak up and challenge this system that places BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people as an afterthought.  I found myself researching and T.C. was the first place that answered my questions and allowed me to feel connected.

With this degree, I want to work outside of the classroom and be part of a system that includes opportunities for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students within schools where their values and lives are appreciated and loved. My goal once I receive this degree is to work in an educational non profit organization or education reform to further understand why these things are happening. That will provide me with the tools and knowledge to help and guide schools, educators, principals, and everyone involved in that community to provide students with the necessary opportunities that rightfully fits their needs.

Previous Education:
 
B.A. in English & minor in Secondary Education from Saint Peter’s University
The Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS) in NJ: 6th-12th Grade in LAL
M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Katie Hetlage is an M.A. student in the Sociology of Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Katie has spent the last 5 years as a Social Studies teacher at a public high school in Indiana, where she developed elective courses such as Sociology and Ethnic Studies. In teaching these classes, she began to see the role of education as an institution that has simultaneously created and perpetuated social inequalities. What drew her to this program at TC is its focus on using the public education system as a tool for positive social change in marginalized communities. Katie is specifically interested in the relationship between school discipline and mass incarceration, as well as the intersectionality of race and gender and their impact on educational access and achievement.  

Previous Education:
 
B.A. in Secondary Social Studies Education with a minor in Spanish from Butler University
M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Olivia Keane is an M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her interest in education was sparked by her work as a volunteer with the Association to Benefit Children in New York City, where she assisted in Head Start and Preschool Special Education classrooms. Inspired by the importance of educational justice, and providing quality early educational experiences to all children, she earned her NYS Teaching Certificate in Childhood Education while attending Vassar College. She connected her study of education and sociology directly to her work with students from the Poughkeepsie community, in both preschool and elementary settings.

Olivia currently works as an Associate Teacher at the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights. She seeks to foster culturally responsive classrooms that act as spaces for reflection, where students feel safe and supported to process their particular social, political, and historical contexts. As a graduate of New York City public schools, Olivia looks forward to reconnecting with the public school system while at Teachers College, and examining the relationship between school organization and racial and socioeconomic inequality. 

Olivia’s previous research focused on the treatment of teachers as a social group and how the sociology of the teaching profession intersects with issues of educational inequity, particularly in urban public schools. Her other areas of interest include developing LGBTQIA2S+ affirming curriculum and school settings, and community-based schools. Outside of teaching and pursuing her graduate degree, Olivia enjoys reading poetry, writing music with friends, and exploring parks around New York City. 

 

Previous Education: 

B.A. In Sociology with a minor in Education from Vassar College 

M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Ruohan Li is an M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received her B.A. degree in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her high school and college years, Ruohan led a team of volunteers in the organization she founded in high school to help children from Bairin Left Banner, Inner Mongolia continue schooling. There, she witnessed firsthand how learning disabilities, poverty, and gender stereotypes denied access to schooling for girls in the village. During her college years, Ruohan also participated in research projects at Peking University and Beijing Institute of Technology. Before coming to TC, Ruohan had a couple of internship experiences. She worked as a curriculum design assistant at Westminster School in the UK and several international schools in China. These experiences helped her to develop academic interest in social inequality, gender inequality, and education policy. She hopes to gain more knowledge about educational inequality and education policy through her study at TC. After graduation, she aspires to become a researcher at a non-profit organization specialized in children with learning disabilities and from disadvantaged communities to help them get better educational opportunities.

M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Sarah is a recent graduate of the School of General Studies at Columbia University, completing her BA in Sociology in Spring 2021. She has a background working with student writers with various skill sets, both at the community colleges she attended in San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas, and most recently as an Undergraduate Peer Writing Fellow and Library Liaison at the Columbia University Writing Center. During her time in community colleges, Sarah developed an interest in helping students cultivate a sense of autonomy and empowerment through writing, often framing writing as a life skill that can be an effective tool in combating systemic inequalities in and out of the classroom. As a Supplemental Instruction Leader at Tarrant County College, Sarah developed invaluable relationships with her peers and mentors, and began to link sociological concepts with the lived experiences that shape the way students see themselves in educational settings and beyond. Rooted in her own experience as a non-traditional student who identifies as Tejana, Sarah hopes to establish a career in education policy with a goal of reconciling the profound and deeply personal social inequalities persistent in Texas public schools and nationwide. As a future policy maker, Sarah hopes to use social science as context to create policy grounded in a mission of equity and ethics. She is also a proud community college graduate, and member of several Greek letter organizations including Phi Beta Kappa.

 

Previous Education: 

B.A in Sociology from the School of General Studies at Columbia University

M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Diana Tiburcio (they/them) is an M.A candidate in the Sociology and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. As a critical race scholar and abolitionist, their current research interests in education examine the neoliberal structures and policies that undervalue the cultural assets of BIPOC students in school.

Their undergraduate thesis, "Challenging College Readiness at Passaic High School (PHS)," explored PHS alumni counter-narratives to their alma mater’s college-oriented curriculum. Diana’s findings demonstrated how first-generation, low-income students’ socioeconomic status, aspirations, and familial values shape their response and/or resistance to PHS’ lack of contextualized college access interventions. 

Today, Diana is the co-founder and COO of  LOGRO, an aspiring non-profit organization that supports the holistic development of Passaic City youth by drawing upon the cultural wealth and resistance of BIPOC communities. LOGRO’s focuses include youth empowerment programming, community-building initiatives, and social advocacy.

 

Previous Education:

B.A in Sociology and Education Studies from Amherst College

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