Affiliated Students


Joshua Abreu

Joshua Abreu is a second year doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy Ph.D. program in the Department of Educational Leadership, with a focus on higher education. Joshua grew up in Lawrence, MA, and was the first in his family to obtain a college degree.  He holds a B.A. and a M.A. from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. After college, Joshua worked as a sworn police officer in New Hampshire and a licensed social worker for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. He was a founding member of the award-winning Student Success Center at Northern Essex Community College, where he worked as a Retention Specialist to collaborate with academic affairs and support holistic, strength-based advising.

Joshua is serving as a Research Assistant with Dr. Milagros Castillo-Montoya which includes research which focuses on culturally relevant pedagogy at a Hispanic-Serving Institution. He is also serving as a Teaching Assistant in Dr. Castillo-Montoya's course in the Higher Education & Student Affairs Program.

Joshua presented his manuscript on Fisher’s affirmative action Supreme Court case, “Why are we doing this? Critical discourse analysis of Fisher’s diversity rationales,” at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) annual conference in November 2016.  He is also completing a manuscript on community college English instructors learning and enacting culturally-relevant pedagogy, which will be presented at the 2017 American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual conference.



Chelsea Connery is a first year doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy PhD program in the Educational Leadership Department. Chelsea received her B.A. in Spanish, B.S. in Secondary World Language Education, and M.A. in Curriculum Instruction at the University of Connecticut. She then taught Spanish at Bulkeley High School. During her second year of teaching, she became TESOL certified through ARCTELL and began teaching English as a Second Language. She also co-led her school's Urban Gardening Club, collaborating with the Grow Hartford Youth Program.

Based on these experiences, her research interests include education equity and access, especially surrounding English Language Learners and immigrant students. She is currently a Graduate Assistant with Dr. Preston Green.


Robert taught for seven years as a social studies teacher at the Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies (MLC), an interdistrict magnet school intended to provide a high-quality education and promote racial, ethnic, and economic integration.  

After teaching high school, Robert has worked at Trinity College and before then was a Senior Policy Fellow in K-12 Education for CT Voices for Children where he published reports on Connecticut’s testing system, public school choice, and K-12 education data and policy. Robert continues to write about school choice and education policy at The Cities, Suburbs, and School Project.

At UCONN, Robert continues his work in the Ph.D. program in Leadership, Learning, and Education Policy and his advisor is Dr. Preston Green. He also supports the CEPA Director, Morgaen Donaldson, with media and outreach.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Mr. Cotto earned his B.A. degree in sociology at Dartmouth College and his Ed.M. at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. In 2014, he earned an M.A. in American Studies here at Trinity College. 



Marlyn Davila is a second year doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy PhD program in Educational Leadership. Marlyn received her B.A. in Human and Development Studies and M.S.W in Social Work-Community Organizing at the University of Connecticut. Before starting her doctoral program, Marlyn served as the Community Based Education Specialist for the Department of Health Careers Opportunity Programs at the University of Connecticut Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine.

As a graduate assistant working with Dr. Blanca Rincón, Marlyn has been engaged in conducting a systematic literature review of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) intervention programs, community colleges, and Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). She has also worked with Dr. Rincón to analyze assessment data and produce reports.


Monique Golden headshot

Monique Golden is a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership and Education Policy program with a focus on Leadership and Educational Policy. Monique is a proud New Jersey native, born and raised in Elizabeth. She holds  a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University and recently completed her M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University  of Connecticut. Monique launched her website,, in September 2015 to provide a virtual space for future and entry-level higher educators and administrators to engage in dialogue around shared and unique experiences as they develop in their professional journey and personal  identities. Her research interests include student leader success, quality in higher education, history of education (specifically, educational opportunities for African Americans), and girls of color in STEM programs.

Monique is a Graduate Student Fellow in Engaged Scholarship, a UConn Collaborative Graduate Student Research Grant Fellow, and a Crandall-Cordero Fellow. Her current research involves a qualitative exploratory study of high school choice preferences of eighth grade girls of color and their families, the intent to select a STEM magnet school, and how their school and home experiences influence their high school choices. Other projects include an Enrolled Graduate Student Satisfaction Survey through the UConn Graduate School and an ongoing study analyzing the relationships between perceived stress, perfectionism, coping styles, and mental health among undergraduate student leaders with the Department of Student Activities.

Monique is a Research Assistant to Dr. Shaun Dougherty and they are collaborating on two projects currently: one related to full-day kindergarten and the other related to preschool in Connecticut. In this role, she communicates with state officials, accesses state documents and compiles data, and analyzes data.


Shannon Holder headshot

Shannon Holder is a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy Ph.D. program in the Educational Leadership Department. Shannon received a B.A. in History and a M.T. in Secondary Education from Hampton University. Prior to coming to UConn, Shannon taught 10th grade government for 8 years at a CREC inter-district magnet school in Bloomfield, CT. She is originally from Hartford. Shannon has been selected as a Jackson Scholar by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA). She presented a paper with her advisor, Jennie Weiner, at UCEA in the fall of 2016. They presented a paper titled, “Why Lead?: Exploring the Motivations of Aspiring Principals”. Shannon will also be presenting a paper at the AERA conference in April of 2016. The symposium is titled, "The Pursuit of Equal Educational Opportunity for Students of Color and the Competing Purposes of Schooling in the U.S.: Colonial Times to Today";. Shannon will be presenting a paper on the Sheff v. O’Neill decision.

Shannon and a UCONN Ed.D. student, Linda Darcy, have begun producing a new podcast, Edu Culture. They are releasing new free podcasts every other week focused on various topics in education that connect to cultural competency, research-based strategies, and real life experiences.


Britney Jones headshot

Britney Jones is studying education quality and effectiveness and other issues related to equity and social justice as a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy PhD program in the Educational Leadership Department. Her doctoral work follows a B.A. in Education Studies and a M.A. in Elementary Teaching, both from Brown University. Britney worked for four years in an Achievement First charter school in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she served as a 4th grade teacher, as well as a curriculum developer.


Jeremy Landa headshot

Jeremy Landa is a second year doctoral student in the Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Program of the Educational Psychology Department. Jeremy holds a B.A. in Economics from Wayne State University and a M.A. in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University. As the Social Studies Department Leader at a magnet school in New Haven, CT, Jeremy was frustrated by how limited standardized assessment are for measuring a student’s overall achievement and improvement over time. Based on these experiences, Jeremy is working with Dr. Morgaen Donaldson and Dr. Kimberly LeChasseur to examine a new Professional Educators Program in New Haven. The study is funded by the U.S. Department of Education as an evaluation of a five-year, multi-million dollar investment in new leadership roles and systems for both teachers and school leaders. Jeremy is also working with Dr. Bianca Montrosse-Moorehead to study excessive evaluation anxiety as experienced by evaluators. Jeremy also is doing research on desegregation policies and Supreme Court decisions, working to examine the relationship between individual and group rights and how boundaries moderate those rights.


Shelby Little headshot

Shelby Little is a second year Master’s student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She has been working on Project School Organization and Science Achievement (SOSA), as a research assistant, for Dr. John Settlage. In her research, she has helped to gather data on school climate, teacher, and principal leadership and equity. This past summer, Shelby engaged in a professional learning community to learn how to create infographics that can make this data more accessible to educational practitioners and the public. Shelby hopes to continue her research with Project SOSA and work on her thesis project gathering data on curriculum design for teaching science coaches.


Liza Makuch headshot

Liza is a doctoral candidate in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy Program in the Educational Leadership Department. Liza holds a B.A. in Human Development & Family Studies from the University of Connecticut and an Ed.M. in Risk and Prevention from Harvard University. Liza's work in health education and policy has included positions with the Governor's Prevention Partnership, Eastern Connecticut State University, and, most recently, the Eastern Highlands Health District.

Early in her career, Liza developed an understanding of the transformative power of policy in shaping communities and addressing issues of social justice in health and education. Her personal and professional mission is to work for more equitable policy development and implementation in our society.
Currently, Liza is serving as a Research Assistant in the Center for Education Policy Analysis, where she is working to create empowering spaces for student engagement. She is currently conducting her dissertation research which uses an intersectional lens to understand the relationship between the experience of body-related stigma and academic and social success of female college students.