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.



Pauline Batista is a 1st year PhD student at the Educational Leadership Department (LLEP). She graduated in 2016 with her M.A. in International Studies (Latino & Latin American Studies), from the University of Connecticut, and holds a B.S. in Communication (Film Production) from Mitchell College. She currently works as a Graduate Assistant under Professors Erica Fernández and Kimberly LeChasseur on Nellie Mae’s League of Innovative Schools student-centered evaluation initiative. 

Her research interests include UNESCO’s power over educational curricula in Latin America. She also studies the exploitation of Paulo Freire’s Socratic method to reinforce standards for Heritage Studies in schools located in Latin American towns seeking UNESCO Heritage Site titles. She has been recently awarded a Pre-Doctoral fellowship through UCONN’s El Instituto to shoot a short-film in collaboration with Brazilian high school students titled “Alma e a Escola (The Soul and The School) in the Spring. She is also a 2018 Tinker Foundation grant recipient. 

Pauline has 9 years of experience as an ESL teacher in underrepresented communities (Brazil). With over 10 years of filmmaking experience, her credits include “Globo TV”, which is Latin American’s largest TV Network. She was also nominated by the International Olympic Committee to serve as a Summer Olympics Torch Bearer in 2016 due to her outstanding service to her community in Paraty, Brazil. 


Chelsea Connery is a second 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. 

Current research interests include: policy impact on equity and access to quality education, specifically among immigrant and undocumented student populations; social justice and human rights in the context of education for a democracy and citizenship education. 

She is a Graduate Assistant with Dr. Preston Green and a Teaching Assistant with Dr. Jennie Weiner. 


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 third-year doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership and Education Policy program with a focus on Leadership and Education 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 an M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include college student leader success, quality in higher education, history of education (specifically, educational opportunities for African Americans), and school choice.
Monique is currently a UConn Collaborative Graduate Student Research Fellow and Crandall-Cordero Fellow.  Her current research agenda includes a longitudinal qualitative exploratory study of high school choice preferences of eighth grade Black/African-American girls and their families and college student perfectionism, an multi-phase study that analyzes perfectionism as it relates to a variety of student mental health factors. 
Monique is a Research Assistant to Dr. Shaun Dougherty and they have collaborated on a number ofn two projects including MA's full-day kindergarten expansion program, early childhood education in CT, and Career and Technical Education (CTE). She also currently serves as the Teaching Assistant to Dr. Christine Wilson's Assessment, Evaluation and Research in Student Affairs course offered through the HESA program.
She has also collaborated with Girls for Technology, a community-based non-profit organization that seeks to increase access to STEM programming for young girls of color. Through GFT, she has led an after-school program, as well as develop evaluation and assessment instruments to capture participants' experiences and satisfaction with GFT programming. 
In her spare time, Monique enjoys playing rugby, listening to music, and of course--naps!


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.



Samuel (Sam) J. Kamin 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 Leadership and Education Policy. Sam grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and attended Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME) as an undergraduate, majoring in Mathematics, minoring in Teaching, and earning a secondary mathematics teaching certificate in the process. After completing his undergraduate degree, he began his career as a mathematics teacher in both charter and traditional public schools in Brooklyn, New York. He subsequently earned a M.S. Ed. in School Counseling from the City University of New York – Brooklyn College, and continued his career in the New York City Dept. of Education as a mathematics teacher/department leader, school counselor, data specialist, and technology integrator.

Sam currently serves as a research assistant for Dr. Shaun M. Dougherty, which includes supporting research in Career and Technical Education in both Connecticut and New York City, as well as examining other quantitative policy questions. He is also working with Dr. Kerri Raissian examining the relationship between gun policies and homicide rates, as well as Dr. Sarah Woulfin examining the role of assessment in state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) policies.

Sam’s personal research interests focus on quantitative policy analysis, including both descriptive and causal analysis. More specifically, he is interested in questions of school choice, school accountability, and school safety policy, each considered through the lens of social justice and equity, particularly in large, urban school districts.


Alex is a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy Ph.D. program in the Educational Leadership Department. Alex earned her B.A in Anthropology and Education from Bowdoin College and her M.A. in Teaching Social Studies from the Steinhardt School at New York University. She is a Dean’s Doctoral Scholar at UConn.

Alex is originally from Brooklyn, NY and taught lower, middle, and high school students over ten years before beginning her doctoral work. She primarily taught humanities, and was a middle school technology integrator, overseeing a 1:1 iPad program.

Alex’s current research interests focus on understanding technology programs at an organizational level to help schools and districts implement large-scale change initiatives. Alex is a graduate assistant to her advisor, Dr. Jennie Weiner. Alex assists Dr. Weiner’s work on shared leadership and organizational change.  


Jeremy Landa headshot

Jeremy Landa is a third year doctoral student in the Leadership and Educational Policy Program of the Educational Leadership 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. Jeremy is working with Dr. Morgaen Donaldson and Dr. Kimberly LeChasseur on an evaluation of a five-year, multi-million dollar investment in new leadership roles and systems for both teachers and school leaders. Jeremy also works with Dr. Shaun Dougherty and Dr. Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead on a study that examines the costs and benefits of Pre-Kindergarten programs in the State of Connecticut. Jeremy's personal research is focused on teacher labor markets and past desegregation judicial decisions and present desegregation practices.


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.