The eleven 2022-2023 Gardner Fellows come from eight UC campuses (Berkeley, Los Angeles, Riverside, Irvine, Santa Cruz, Davis, San Diego and Santa Barbara) and represent a range of disciplines, including Sociology, Education, Anthropology, Economics, and Linguistics. Their dissertation research topics examine diverse student populations and their experiences on campus, as well as financial aid, college rankings, the transition from community colleges and gender diversity on higher education boards.
Irina Chukhray is a PhD candidate in Sociology at University of California, Davis. Her mixed-method research examines supports and constraints in accessing higher education among 1.5-generation immigrant youth (foreign-born students who arrived in the U.S. prior to age 18). Prior to graduate school, Irina was the Program Manager for an international collaborative study with OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) on students’ socioemotional skills and a Research Analyst for the Houston Education Research Consortium at Rice University. For the OECD study, Irina collaborated and negotiated with Houston school district partners, such as with the Assistant Superintendent of Research and Accountability and with international partners such as the OECD in France and the Australian Council for Education Research in Australia. The OECD study, in which Houston represented the United States, helped provide the Houston school district with its first survey tools to measure students’ socioemotional well-being. Overall, Irina’s long-term goals are to be a changemaker through her research on immigrant youth and college-going with the aim of establishing a research center that combines immigration and education research while developing community partner collaboration. Currently, in addition to the Gardner fellowship, Irina is a Fellow with the Penn-Birmingham Transatlantic Fellows Program (with the University of Pennsylvania and University of Birmingham, UK), she received Honorable Mention for her paper on 1.5-generation immigrant youth and college enrollment from the Society for the Study of Social Problems – Education Division, and she was awarded a 2022-23 Graduate Research Mentorship Fellowship supporting her research from the University of California, Davis.
Jesse Enriquez is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Education Studies at the University of California, San Diego. He is a first-generation college graduate and son of Mexican immigrant parents. He earned his B.A. in Kinesiology from CSU, Chico and M.A. in Postsecondary Educational Leadership from San Diego State University. His research agenda includes three strands: (1) understanding the transfer pathways of community college transfer students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, (2) critically examining the role of four-year universities in fostering a transfer receptive environment for students of color, and (3) exploring equity-minded teaching practices in college teaching contexts.
Dana Ernst is an Oral Historian (Master of Arts, Columbia University) and currently a Ph.D. student in Cultural/Medical and Linguistic Anthropology at UCLA. Her research focuses on the lived experiences of disabled and chronically ill individuals within academic and medical settings, specifically in Ph.D. programs and reproductive medicine. Ms. Ernst is a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the UC Berkeley Disability Laboratory and a David P. Gardner Fellow at the UC Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. For the past two years, she has worked as an NIH Research Fellow and Diversity Trainee focusing on disabled women’s reproductive health. She serves as a member of the Advisory Board for the NSF Convergence Accelerator program to teams developing innovative technologies to enhance opportunities for disabled individuals. Ernst draws upon diverse cross-cultural experiences, including the development of culturally appropriate healthcare through the Royal Flying Doctors Remote Health Service with Aboriginal Australian communities and a Fulbright Fellowship with Jewish refugees and their descendants, engaging with themes of migration, memory, trauma, and intergenerational transmission of cultural knowledge.
Nick Gebbia is a 5th year PhD candidate in economics at UC Berkeley. Nick’s research highlights various interactions across education, the labor market, and inequality. In one project, he brings novel administrative data to study the effect of the “college financial aid tax” on labor supply and savings decisions. In others, he studies how local labor demand during childhood and adolescence influences kids’ long-run education and labor market outcomes, and how a local preference in college admissions policy at the California State University system affects equity in college access. He is also interested in understanding how policy can reduce inequality through interventions in early life.
Hoyun Kim is a 3rd-year student in the Policy, Politics, and Leadership cluster of the Education Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley. Before starting her graduate studies, Hoyun earned her B.A. in Economics with a Minor in Chinese in UC Berkeley. Her research interests include the role of higher education, equity in higher education, and topics concerning the experiences of post-traditional students in higher education, such as the measurement of student agency and alternative admissions policies. Her current work focuses on the conceptualization of student agency in higher education, as well as the relationship between the working experiences of post-traditional students during and after undergraduate degree attainment.
XunFei Li's research interests focus on higher education pathways and tracking. Specifically, how policy, curriculum structure, and school context affect students' major/course choices and peer composition. Her current studies are about how corequisite remediation policy reform affects student success in community colleges, and how major choice and course choice affect students' classmate gender composition. Fei is a doctoral student at UC Irvine.
Elizabeth Martin is a 4th-year Ph.D. student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change program at UCLA. Her research interests include higher education accountability, higher education data and metrics, higher education policy, behavioral economics, and program evaluation. She is currently a research analyst at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, and Elizabeth also is an institutional research analyst in UCLA's Graduate Division. Before coming to UCLA, she worked at U.S. News & World Report and the Brookings Institution. Elizabeth has an M.S. in Public Policy and Management and a B.S. in Decision Science, both from Carnegie Mellon University. Outside of work, Elizabeth is involved in a variety of professional activities. Through the Carnegie Mellon Admission Council, she interviews students about their potential fit at Carnegie Mellon, and through the D.C. based organization College Bound, Elizabeth has served as a mentor for over 5 years. After graduation, Elizabeth wants to work in institutional research or in higher education policy.
Jamaal Muwwakkil is a sociocultural linguist and educator. Originally from Compton, California, he is a proud product of California’s public K-16 education system and advocated for greater access and equity as the University of California Student Regent. Jamaal is currently a PhD candidate in the department of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and his dissertation investigates language socialization of Black students within an elite public higher education model.
Fatima Raja is a PhD Candidate in the Education Department at UC Santa Cruz. Her dissertation research seeks to explore Muslim American youths’ experiences on university campuses and their perceptions of the university’s role in their understanding of belonging and broader notions of citizenship, looking at how they respond to and enact agency in relation to these experiences. She is originally from the South Bay Area where she went to community college in Santa Clara and then transferred to Berkeley to complete her bachelors in history with an emphasis on South Asian History. Her senior thesis discussed the ideas of sense of belonging and ownership during post-war conflict in South Asia through analyzing cultural productions such as film and poetry.
Renee White Eyes (Quechan Indian Tribe), is a doctoral candidate in the Social Research Methodology program at the University of California, Los Angeles. She holds a master's degree in counseling from the University of San Diego and a bachelor's degree in human development from California State University, San Marcos. She has extensive experience as a student affairs professional in higher education, including work with Native American serving programs. In her research, she draws on her expertise of admissions, recruiting, and community outreach to investigate questions about American Indian experiences in higher education. More specifically, her research focuses on the ways in which Indigenous student affairs professionals draw on their identities and cultural knowledge to engage in the work of recruiting as a form of native nation building.