Continuing with a great tradition, students and alumni in the International and Comparative Education program have obtained more than 40 awards and distinctions this 2023-2024 academic year. 


Starting with Teachers College awards, Marcella Winter and Paula Mantillo Blanco, recent graduates during this Spring 2023 semester, have obtained the Doctoral Dissertation Grant. Paula’s dissertation project focused on the role of non-formal spaces of education in memory- and state-building in Colombia’s transition to peace. Then, Marcella’s dissertation explored how the creation of stereotypes about the public school child has influenced the policy process and what happened when two of the most prominent Brazilian reformers, Paulo Freire and Darcy Ribeiro, challenged traditional assumptions about these children and public schooling.


Master students Alejandra Cespedes-Ormachea, Paola Abril, Alexandra Harakas and Yuqi Zheng obtained the Carmela and Marie F. Volpe Fellowship for International Service in Education. The Fellowship supports TC students interning or collaborating with such an NGO/agency with a single-payment award. 


Five students, Jonathan Beltrán-Alvarado, Victoria Jones, Sumit Karn, Sabrina Huang, and Tatiana Cordero-Romero, were awarded the George W. Perkins Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes students who show exemplary commitment to the International and Comparative Education Program and contribute to its collaborative spirit by working with students, faculty, and staff. 


The Martidante Scholarship is dedicated to students pursuing a degree in the International and Comparative Education Program focusing on languages. On this occasion, Alexandra Harakas, Camille Fabo Njia, Sabrina Huang, Talía Gonzalez, Courtney Martinez, and Zihan Hu obtained the award!


Three of our doctoral students received the Dean’s Grant for Dissertation Research: Darren Rabinowitz, Victoria Jones, and Camille Fabo-Nija. Darren will conduct fieldwork in South Africa and Norway, studying the linkages between climate change education and students’ knowledge and views; Victoria will be traveling to Greece to study the asylum process for displaced families and the barriers it creates for children’s education; and finally, Camille project focuses on … education for national identity and unity, especially in multilingual and multicultural countries affected by conflicts. This Summer, Camille will conduct fieldwork in Cameroon and explore how bilingualism and civics intersect in Anglophone and Francophone schools. 


Arnela Čolić, third-year Ph.D. candidate in C&IE received the EPSA Dissertation Fellowship for her project entitled: “Dividing the Demos: Parallel Schooling and Post-War Nation-State Development in Bosnia and Kosovo”. This study focuses on the phenomenon of parallel schooling, whereby different ethnic groups are educated in different school systems within the same country. Employing a mixed-methods comparative case study of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, Arnela studies how their parallel education systems developed in the post war period and shed light on the tradeoffs between unity and diversity in education policy and practice.


Likewise, Kemigsha Richards obtained the Student Research in Diversity Grant for her dissertation, entitled: “Reconceptualizing Inclusion through the Lived Experiences of Disabled Students in Contexts of Forced Displacement.” Kemigsha’s dissertation is a comparative case study in rural and urban refugee hosting districts in Uganda. The first phase of my data collection will be in Kyangwali, a rural refugee settlement in the country's western region, and the second phase will be in Kampala, the country's capital. The grant will support my data collection from January 2025 - May 2025. 



Students achievements

Some of our doctoral and master students award winner in 2023-24.



Furthermore, Paola Abril and Theo Ntwari will conduct research this summer thanks to the Center for African Education Summer Research Grants. Paola received the CAE grant to support her unpaid internship at the Life & Peace Institute (LPI) in Nairobi, Kenya. Then, Theo  will work for the 2-4-1 CARE, Inc. organization in expanding their Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) programming in Kenya and Zambia. 


To complete the list of Teachers College awards, twelve of our doctoral and master students received the ITS Summer Grant for conducting research in the following months, including Darren Rabinowitz, Theresa Cann Arnela Colic, Jonathan Beltran, Leonardo Arevalo, Sara Pan Algarra, Tomas Esper, Victoria Jones, Samaya Mansour, Jose La Rosa, Theo Ttwari, Courtney Martinez 


Our students also received different recognitions from Columbia University. First, Sara Pan Algarra received the 2024 Institute of Latin American Studies “Pre-dissertation Field Research” Travel Grant. Sara, a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Comparative and International Education,  will be traveling to Honduras this summer to conduct pre-dissertation fieldwork to study the barriers girls may face to access and remain in school in contexts of climate disasters, displacement, and mobility. Her work will contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between climate mobility, disasters, education, gender and childhood in the Sula Valley in Honduras.


Alexandra Harakas and Mala’ka Gillette received Columbia’s Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. The FLAS fellowship supports Columbia University students with a tuition grant and a stipend. Mala’ka will study Arabic in Jordan, and Alexandra will study Kreyole in Miami. 


Our doctoral candidate, Tomás Esper, was awarded the INCITE Doctoral Dissertation Grant to complete his research. Tomás’ dissertation looks at the diffusion of school autonomy with accountability reforms in Latin America, focusing on the cases of Argentina and Colombia. 


Beyond CU and TC awards, our students secured external awards this year. Last August, Ángela Sanchez Rojas received the International Fellowship of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The program supports women pursuing full-time graduate or postdoctoral study in the United States who are not U.S. and have worked on the advancements in women's rights. Similarly, Alejandra Cespedes Ormachea was awarded the PEO International Peace Scholarship for the 2024-2025 academic year. The P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship (IPS) Fund provides scholarships to international women pursuing graduate degrees in the U.S. and Canada to foster global peace through education. 


This April, Victoria Jones received the Fulbright/IKY PhD Research Award to do field research during the 2024-2025 academic year. Victoria’s dissertation project focuses on how the asylum process for displaced families creates barriers to education for children at the borders of Europe (Greece-Turkey maritime border) and the US (US-Mexico border). Thus, Victoria will conduct fieldwork between September 2024 and March 2025 in Greece and during March and June 2025 at the US-Mexico border. Finally, Darren Rabinowitz has received the CIES Education in Conflict SIG student paper award recipient for his article: "Peacebuilding Inc.: Neoliberal Influences on Rwanda’s Vulnerable Youth". Darren’s piece will be published in COMPARE later this year. 

Similarly, Whitney Hough obtained the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Minerva Research Initiative Peace Scholar Fellowship for pursuing her doctoral research. Whitney’s project, entitled “Teachers as Transformative Agents During Protracted Conflict: A Case Study of Cameroon”, is a qualitative case study that explores the role of teachers in conflict and peacebuilding across six secondary schools in the Anglophone regions of Northwest and Southwest Cameroon. The study aims to analyze what teachers perceive as their responsibilities in fostering peace in conflict-affected contexts, the opportunity and risk factors they associate with adopting those responsibilities, and how they use agency to adopt, adapt, and/or resist peacebuilding efforts.


Congratulations to all our students for their fantastic achievements!