Educational Psychology Assistant Professor
“The UHM COE celebrates diversity of opinion, background, and experience. It also has a powerful reputation as a place where outstanding scholars tackle real-world problems using the most advanced research techniques available.”
Santa Rosa, CA
Where did you go to college?
I earned a PhD in Education and MA in Economics from Stanford University, an MA in Education from the University of New Mexico, and a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan.
Where did you work before joining the COE?
I was a PhD student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education affiliated with the Center for Education Policy Analysis and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. Before my doctoral studies, I worked for the New Mexico Legislative Education Study Committee, the California State Assembly Committee on Education, and the Zuni Public School District.
Briefly describe your own road to higher education.
While teaching middle school in rural New Mexico, the educational inequities that persist within and across communities in the U.S. became poignantly clear. The lack of adequate policies to respond to these inequities led me to seek opportunities to improve educational policies through civil service. Working as a legislative analyst, I observed how education research can frame and influence key decisions and lead to improved policymaking. Thoughtful educational researchers were some of the few who could translate their findings into implementable solutions and effectively persuade lawmakers to address often overlooked educational inequities. Seeing this potential for long-term, meaningful, positive impact inspired me to pursue a PhD in Education and to continue working in higher education.
How did you become interested in the field of educational psychology?
My interest largely stems from my time as a teacher when I had the chance to observe effective and ineffective educational policies and programs firsthand. Educational psychology emphasizes the use of rigorous inquiry methods and is deeply concerned with how context affects student learning. Program evaluation, a key sub-field of educational psychology, aims to directly assess whether particular educational interventions, programs, or policies are yielding their desired effects. This sub-field fostered my interest in educational psychology because a primary scholarly interest of mine is to identify programs and policies that work to improve educational equity.
Why did you select the UHM COE?
The UHM COE celebrates diversity of opinion, background, and experience. It also has a powerful reputation as a place where outstanding scholars tackle real-world problems using the most advanced research techniques available. The opportunity to join an academic community with these combined strengths was incredibly appealing.
How would you describe the educational psychology program to prospective students?
If you are passionate about conducting educational research, UHM COE’s educational psychology programs are worth investigating. EDEP provides outstanding training for students interested in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Plus, the variety of programs offered appeals to students at all different stages of their academic and professional careers. Finally, we are a small department with a strong community where frequent faculty-student interactions are expected and encouraged.
Who was your biggest inspiration along the way in your education and career?
My students. I taught 5th grade in Arizona, 8th grade in New Mexico, and graduate students in California. In each unique setting, I’ve been consistently amazed by my students’ strength, creativity, and range of perspectives. I have also seen the incredible persistence and perseverance many students have for attaining their educational goals, often in the face of substantial obstacles. My students’ determination continues to inspire me to work hard to identify promising educational programs and interventions.
What are your current or future plans?
As a new member of the UHM COE community, I plan to listen to and learn from others in the community during my early days on campus. UHM is a special place and I look forward to building strong relationships with others in the COE as well as with educational stakeholders here in Hawai‘i. I also intend to work closely with UHM COE graduate students, particularly those with an interest in program evaluation.