Current Students

Meet Some of Our Current Students


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

Diana Cordova-Cobo
Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Diana Cordova-Cobo is a doctoral student in the Sociology and Education program and a research associate with The Public Good Project and the Center for Understanding Race and Education (CURE). She previously worked as the Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the NYU Furman Center, where she led projects on New York City’s public housing and the racial/ethnic diversity of New York City’s neighborhoods and elementary schools. She has also served as a research consultant for the New York City Department of Education and the New York Civil Liberties Union, and as a research assistant for the NYU Research Alliance’s High School Choice in NYC study.

She is interested in the relationship between housing and school demographic change- particularly as it relates to racial/ethnic stratification and inequality amid gentrification and segregation trends. Diana’s work aims to understand and center the experiences of communities of color through the application of critical race theory and spatial theory. Her dissertation takes a mixed-methods approach to understanding school enrollment trends for Black and Latinx students in the context of changing housing and education policies.

Prior to starting in the Sociology and Education program, Diana was a middle school social studies teacher in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. The lessons she learned from her students and the experiences they shared with her continue to motivate and inspire the work she does today.

Previous Education:

B.A. in Political Science and Women’s Studies from the University of Florida

M.A. in Social Studies 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

Ed.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

Yarimar Yari Gonzalez
M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Prior to attending Teachers College, Yarimar (Yari) Gonzalez obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Barnard College. Growing up in the South Bronx Yari felt the need to understand the effects of socialization on individuals, especially on youth, in a society. In her educational experience, she obtained an education outside of the norm; an education that did not match the research and statistics gathered for and experienced by those in her community. This experience shaped her interest in education reform and the racial impact on education.

In addition to her being a student at TC, Yari also works on the Program Readiness team at the Division of Early Childhood in the New York City Department of Education. In her role, she works to help prepare programs newly contracted within the NYC DOE as part of the Mayor and Chancellor’s initiative of free, quality 3-K and Pre-K for All services to families and children all throughout the five boroughs of New York City. She enjoys supporting and contributing to the efforts in ensuring that NYC children in underserved communities receive free, quality education.

Yari knows attending TC will further her understanding of the inequalities within educational systems among different communities and would help her reach new heights as not just a professional, but an advocate for educational equity.

Previous Education:

B.A. in Sociology from Barnard College, Columbia Unversity

M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Samantha Harrienger is an M.A. student in the Sociology of Education Program. She is passionate about urban education. In particular, the diverse populations that many of these schools serve and the policies that effect the students. Currently, she is teaching 2nd grade in Jersey City, NJ and has previously worked in Newark, NJ. She hopes that with her experience in schools and the knowledge gained, she will make meaningful changes for her students, school, and community. Additionally, upon obtaining her degree, she hopes to advocate for policy change so that all students are receiving an unbiased, quality education.

Previous Education:
Bachelors of Science in Elementary, Early Childhood, and Special Education with a minor in English from St. Bonaventure University.
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

Leeza Holguin is a Master's Student in the Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.  Leeza has formerly worked as an early childhood teacher, a special education teacher and a curriculum coordinator in both public and private schools.  Leeza has had the unique opportunity to observe many different educational systems as she has taught in New York City, Kuwait City, Tokyo, Honolulu and most recently in the remote town of Bethel, Alaska.  Leeza has an interest in studying social inequality as it relates to the US education policy; particularly within Native American and Latinx communities.

In her free time, Leeza enjoys traveling, power yoga and searching for the best diner in NYC.

Previous Education:

New York University, M.A. in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education

Hawaii Pacific University, B.A, in Human Services with a concentration in Non-Profit Management

M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Clinton Ikioda is a M.A. student in Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He earned his B.S. in Biology and Society with a minor in Education from Cornell University. Following his graduation from Cornell, Clinton spent a year teaching Pre-AP Biology at a Charter high school in New Haven, Connecticut. 

Originally from Queens, NY, Clinton observed how the effects of systemic racism and systemic oppression played a role in the educational attainment of Black and Brown students. While in the classroom, he saw Black students’ ability to achieve greatness was consistently hindered by the inequalities that are perpetuated within the education system. This sparked his intellectual curiosity to come to T.C. to ground himself in the historical, pedagogical, political, & sociological context needed for education reform in dismantling the structures that systematically oppress Black and Brown students. He is determined to continue advocating for equal access to educational opportunities, especially in communities with individuals who look like him. 

With his degree, Clinton plans on not only creating tangible steps for education reform for Black and Brown students, but also looking for/creating pipelines to increase the percentage of Black men in the education sector (including teachers, principals, assistant principals, and even superintendents). He is very determined to be a part of a newly reformed education system that includes, upholds and values Black and Brown students, including their lived experiences, history, and socio-emotional well-being. 

In addition to pursuing a graduate degree at Teachers College, Clinton is also a Middle School Math & Science teacher here in NYC. He is excited to continue to see the intersections of his studies, and his work in the classroom. He is also a proud brother of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc- a historically Black Greek-lettered organization dedicated to uplifting Black communities. In his free time, he loves to travel, watch Netflix, read, reflect, and look for great places to eat. 

 

Previous Education:

B.S. in Biology and Society with a minor in Education from Cornell University

M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Alexandria Lowe is an M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her passion for helping Black and Brown students in the United States’ educational system motivates her. Growing up in Queens, New York, one of the most diverse cities in the world, Alex was surrounded by people of varied races and cultures. However, during her undergraduate experience, Alex began to notice how the reality of certain inequalities affected children and families of color, especially within the realm of education. This realization encourages her to examine how the school system has viewed students of color and their ability to succeed, as well as how these students survive and thrive in school while battling negative self-fulfilling prophecies placed on them historically.

With her degree, Alex plans on creating actionable and meaningful change in the world for these students, and beyond. She is determined to be part of the reformation of a system that is finally inclusive of Black and Brown students.

In addition to her being a student at TC, Alex is a kindergarten teacher at a public school in Brooklyn. She enjoys working with these young students of color as they acquire the skills needed to succeed.

Previous Education:

Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education and minor in Sociology from the University of Miami

M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Ava is a Sociology and Education Masters Candidate at Columbia University, Teachers College. Driven by the pressing need for educational justice, her work is focused on the inequities of the American Public School System, from Funding Disparities to High Stakes Testing to the School to Prison Pipeline. She is an advocate for socially conscious, active, and engaged public education. Throughout her undergraduate education, Ava paired academic research with work in the nonprofit sector. Invested in the power of education in tackling racial and socioeconomic inequalities, she interned for Friends of WHEELS, an organization that provides college access and success support to predominantly First Generation students in Washington Heights, NY. Utilizing an interest for public policy, she worked as a Education Policy Intern at the Yeardley Love Foundation which promotes Healthy Relationship Education in schools across the United States. Ava currently works at the Catholic Charities of New York as a Board Relations Intern supporting the widespread social programming and services of the organization administratively. Ava is a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Class of 2020.  

 

Previous Education:

Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College

Eleanore Melaragno
M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Eleanore Melaragno is a first-year Master's student in Sociology and Education. Her main interests in the education sector include plugging the school-to-prison pipeline and fixing the problem of over-punishment and zero-tolerance policies in schools. This past year, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Habitat for Humanity in Lexington, Kentucky, where she enjoyed creating needs assessment surveys for the surrounding community in order to help LHFH target their services to where they will help the most. Eleanore also loves acting and participating in theatre.

Previous Education:

Eleanore received her B.A in Sociology (as well as an additional major in Spanish) from the University of Kentucky in 2018.

Jonathan Pérez
Ed.M. candidate in the Sociology and Education program

Jonathan Pérez, a Virginia native, is a first-year Master’s student in Sociology and Education. At the University of Richmond, Jonathan’s studies and community engagement encouraged him to explore innovative strategies that incorporate multiculturalism in education. Jonathan became a high school teacher for parenting and pregnant teenagers through his teacher residency program, Teach Kentucky. His experience working with such a unique demographic enabled him to observe the benefits of non-traditional education and the need for specialized curricula in mainstream schooling. To expand his pedagogy, Jonathan earned two consecutive Fulbright grants to teach English in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In addition to immersing himself into a new culture, his grant consisted of teaching at the university-level and collaborating with the US State Department’s project to build empowering curricula for various underserved communities throughout Rio.

Since returning to the United States, Jonathan has interned as a Program Specialist for The School of the New York Times and currently teaches middle school in Brooklyn. He intends to apply his TC education to learn how best to implement a sociological lens to both policy and education.

Previous Education:

M.A. in Teaching in Secondary Education from the University of Louisville

B.A. in Sociology and Latin American and Iberian Studies from the University of Richmond

Tiffany Tsung
M.A. candidate in the Sociology and Education program
Tiffany Tsung is a part-time Master's student in the Sociology and Education program and is an education administrator at Manhattan Country School. Her main research interests are how the "model minority" label have affected second-generation Asian Americans and how this label will continue to affect their children in regards to education and professional attainment. 
 
Previous Education:
B.A. in Education Studies from Steinhardt, New York University
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