The Mixed Methods Blog

Perspectives from our researchers, highlights from recent studies, and other news about CCRC

Seven CCRC Researchers Earn Degrees From Teachers College

Congratulations to our 2022 graduates

Despite the challenges of the past few years, seven CCRC staff members persevered and earned master’s or doctoral degrees from Teachers College this winter or spring.

The graduates show the impressive range of talents and interests that TC students bring to CCRC and the contributions they make to our research (and how lucky we are to have such a great pool of talent at TC to draw from).

“Students in TC’s master’s and doctoral programs bring much needed energy and fresh perspectives to CCRC’s research,” said CCRC Director Tom Brock. “We hope we have given them important background on the role of community colleges in the U.S. higher education system that will inform the work they do for the rest of their careers. But mostly, we want them to know how proud we are of their success.”

Several of the graduates are staying on at CCRC at least through the summer as they prepare to start PhD programs, postdocs, or new jobs in higher education. We wish all of them the best as they embark on the next stage of their careers!

CCRC’s 2022 Graduates

Nicole Cennamo, who earned a master’s in politics and education, was a research assistant at CCRC working on the Postsecondary Teaching with Technology Collaborative, a research center funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. She worked at CCRC from September 2021 to May 2022.

Cameron Diwa earned a master’s in sociology and education. As a research assistant at CCRC beginning in September 2021, Diwa worked on projects on the impact of COVID-19 on community colleges, on first-generation college students, and on support systems for Black, Latinx, and low-income students. He will continue working with CCRC this summer and expects to pursue a PhD in the future.

Teresita Martinez earned a master’s degree from the Economics and Education Program in February. She has been working at CCRC since September 2020 as a graduate research assistant and contributed to projects on Federal Work Study, community college finance, and the impact of federal policy on community colleges.

Martinez said her work at CCRC drove home the “power of practitioner-researcher partnerships to understand and combat inequality in complex systems.”

Martinez is working at CCRC through the summer and will start a PhD program at the University of California, Davis in the fall. She will contribute her research skills to the California Education Lab and Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research, both at UC Davis.

Theo Pippins earned his PhD in Economics and Education and is now a senior research associate at the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) in New York. He started at CCRC in September 2017 and contributed his skills to a project on the humanities and liberal arts education at community colleges, which he said taught him how to carry out a research project from beginning to end.

Tucker Reyes joined CCRC in January 2022 as a research assistant and graduated in May with a master’s in sociology and education. In the fall, he will start a PhD program in sociology at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

At CCRC, Reyes is working on projects on multiple measures assessment for college placement and on training for healthcare workers at community colleges. Studying community colleges has been inspiring, he said.

“One of the most encouraging things that I've learned and encountered in working at CCRC is the enthusiastic commitment from both researchers and college leadership to expand opportunities for disadvantaged student populations and adhere to the mission of the community college as a broad-access institution in higher education,” Reyes said.

Tatiana Velasco Rodriguez earned a PhD in the Economics and Education program at TC with a dissertation focused on financial aid in higher education.

She started as a graduate research assistant at CCRC in September 2016. Velasco worked on projects on advising and developmental education reform and said her time at CCRC taught her how to successfully develop and manage research projects, from inception through the final product.

“At CCRC, I learned to use templates and storylines to develop my research, and to brainstorm and iterate over ideas and drafts to get to a polished product,” she said. “I will take these tools with me wherever I go!”

Velasco will be joining Syracuse University as a post-doctoral fellow at the Maxwell School of Public Affairs.

Rachel Zhou, a senior research assistant, has also been working at CCRC since fall 2016 and is graduating with her PhD in the Economics and Education Program with a dissertation focused on college and career readiness.

Most recently, Zhou has done research with the CUNY Policy Lab team to understand socioeconomic mobility at the college-to-work transition. She has also worked with the Postsecondary Language and Literacy Learning (PL3) team to study reforms to developmental English, developmental reading, and ESL at community colleges and on projects studying financial aid programs, including summer Pell Grants and performance standards in need-based aid for community college entrants.

Next, Zhou will be joining the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University as a postdoctoral scholar with Professor Susan Athey and the Golub Capital Social Impact Lab. Working at CCRC taught Zhou about connecting academic research to real-world practices.

“I have gained many great opportunities to talk with practitioners at community colleges,” she said. “These opportunities helped me understand the most pressing issues at community colleges and how research connects with students’ experience in real life.”

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