College of Education Sitemap
Skip to Main Content

Education Policy Doctoral Program

Meet Our Students

Student Roster

To view a list of our current students and their biographies visit our Current Student Roster.

Student Gallery

We have selected a handful of Education Policy students to illustrate the range of interests and strengths of individuals recently admitted to the program.


Beverly, Bryan

As a lifelong Michigan resident, I take pride in the quality of education I received and am passionate about providing similar impactful experiences with students in today's urban schools. I am an Education Policy PhD student at MSU and also a Graduate Assistant with the College of Education's Office of K-12 Outreach – where my work is centered on school turnaround efforts and instructional leadership. Prior to returning to MSU for my PhD, I worked as an education consultant for the KRA Corporation and the Lansing School District. My previous professional experiences also include work with the President's Council of State Universities, Michigan; the State of Michigan, Office of the Governor; GEAR-UP, MSU; and the Michigan Association of Counties. I hold a bachelor's degree in Sociology/Anthropology from Olivet College and a master's degree in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education Administration from Michigan State University.


Bezem, Pablo

As a Fulbright Fellow, my research focuses on interactions between accountability, decision-making, and effective policy implementation. Currently, I am conducting an evaluation of expanded school inspection in the U.S.  This work assesses how inspectors decide on recommendations for schools and how these recommendations then influence school leaders to implement reforms. In addition, I analyze the impact of inspection on student performance. Both quasi-experimental and qualitative methods are applied in my research.

Prior to MSU, I served as a project coordinator for six years at CIPPEC, an influential think tank in Latin America.  Within the CIPPEC Education Program, I focused on educational inequalities and finance as a means to reduce economic and social disparity. My additional professional experience spans the public and private sectors, including the Argentine Ministry of Economics and GALLUP. Past teaching experience includes being an education finance instructor at UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning.

The Education Policy Program at MSU has provided an ideal setting to pursue my doctoral studies. The program benefits from engaging professors, strong support for student's professional development, opportunities for international work, and a collaborative research environment.


Casalaspi, David

Coming from the University of Virginia, I have found at MSU a warm and devoted community of scholars. I'm currently a fifth-year student interested in the politics and history of American education, and I'm extremely grateful for the support that the MSU Ed Policy Program provides all of its students. In addition to being generously supported as University Fellow, the Ed Policy Program provides me with a broad range of support – supplemental money for personal research projects, assistance for conference travel, gracious faculty support and encouragement, and countless other resources. The Ed Policy Program is set up to invest in you as a student in a way far different from most programs – something that made MSU my top choice for graduate study. If you're a driven and intrinsically motivated student, MSU is a place where you can truly flourish.

More detailed information about my individual research interests and academic background can be found on my student roster page ( Also, do not hesitate to send me an email asking about the program. I love hearing from prospective students.


Chavda, Jainisha

I am very grateful to the Ed Policy program for supporting me with the Erickson Research Fellowship. My diverse experiences in international development have helped me make most of the learning opportunities in the PhD program, and develop my strengths as a scholar. Before joining MSU, I taught senior year courses in International Relations as a visiting lecturer at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in India. I was also simultaneously working on important development projects with government and non-government organizations in different areas, such as environment education, slum rehabilitation, and women empowerment. I completed my master's program in International Development from University of Birmingham in United Kingdom, as a Commonwealth Scholar. My research interests focus on issues related to gender gap in education in India, particularly in secondary and vocational education. The Education Policy program at MSU provides me the ideal platform to pursue my research interests, because of its focus on understanding international and comparative issues, a strong match of research interests with my supervisor, and an excellent community of bright scholars working in similar areas. The department is extremely welcoming, and strongly believes in investing in students' overall development by providing not just academic support but also substantial financial and other types of support. I am very grateful for this great opportunity to develop myself as a researcher, and for the generous support from the department, in every form, to achieve this.


Frost Waldron, Sandy

MSU's Education Policy PhD program fosters an environment where I am encouraged and challenged to grow as a student and a researcher. I greatly appreciate the support that I receive from faculty in the program who are generous with their time and mentoring, from my student colleagues who are always willing to provide feedback, and financially from the program and university. I first became interested in education policy as an undergraduate student at the University of Miami, when I found the best practices I was learning in my teacher education classes were not always evident in my experiences in the school system. I spent much of my early career trying to balance my belief in high quality education with the value of equity. Professionally, I worked in college admissions, independent preschool through high school admissions, teaching in elementary and middle school settings, and academic research. During my time as a graduate student at the University of South Florida and subsequent research work with Dr. Susan MacManus and Dr. Steve Permuth, I became keenly interested in how the political landscape of education shapes both policies and the educational experience in the classroom. Currently, I work with the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative on primarily qualitative research focused on school turnaround efforts. My research interests center around issues of governance and federalism, as I seek to better understand the complex dynamics of power and capacity at different levels of government.


Grover, Vanika

I am interested in researching education policy solutions that improve learning outcomes of young children, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Michigan State's Education Policy PhD program enables me to pursue a brilliant mix of education theory, policy making and methodologically rigorous courses. As a recipient of the Dean's Scholar Award, I feel very supported academically and financially by the department and faculty. Rich discussions with peers and faculty who come from different academic and professional backgrounds have broadened my perspective of international education policy. Before joining the PhD program, I worked at Oxford Policy Management (India office), an international development consultancy. My work spanned the policy cycle, including quantitative and qualitative research design, analysis and policy diagnostic aspects of health, education and child protection evaluations. During this time, I had the opportunity to travel across India and understand some of the field realities in a middle-income country. These insights constantly push me to combine academic rigor with the policy perspective in my journey of being a better researcher. I also hold a Master's degree in Development Economics from the University of Sussex, UK and a Bachelors (Honours) in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, India.


Holden, Laura

I have a background teaching English and English education at the secondary and post-secondary levels. After receiving a BA and an MA in English literature from California State University, Fresno, my thesis being on Virginia Woolf and l'ecriture feminine, I worked for five years as a high school English and creative writing teacher. During this time I was involved with the San Joaquin Valley Writing Project, where I helped develop methods of writing instruction for the secondary level. I then served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, supporting teachers of English as a foreign language and designing workshops on resource development and teacher collaboration. Currently at MSU, I am studying the history of economics in Education Policy in the twentieth century, specifically how economic purposes and frameworks were central to the origins of Education Policy at the federal level.


Jansen, Kim

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to study Educational Policy at Michigan State University. As a part of this program, supportive professors and classmates have helped me develop and grow as a scholar. Through rigorous coursework and research assistantships, my experiences at MSU have exposed me to diverse policy topics and helped refine my research interests. One of the things I most appreciate about this program is its support and encouragement in helping students develop their own research agendas. Prior to MSU, I graduated from Knox College with a double major in Secondary Education and Spanish. I then taught high school Spanish for 5 years. As a teacher, I also served on the school improvement committee and began new school programs, such as ninth grade finals study sessions and running club. While teaching, I earned my M.S. from the University of Wisconsin in Educational Psychology. My research interests involve how schools as organizations can promote improved teacher work conditions and teaching practices through both formal policies and informal channels such as teacher collaboration. My research and studies are generously supported through the Dean’s Scholar Award, as well as through travel stipends for conferences and summer research fellowships.


Kim, Youngran

My research interests focus on how school autonomy and privatization affect the achievement of students from low socioeconomic status. My interests in education policy began through my work at UNCEF in Korea, where she was engaged with a number of projects aimed at providing educational opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. A Fulbright Fellowship provided an opportunity to teach Korean at Claremont McKenna College and to study education at the Claremont Graduate University. While studying at CGU, I became strongly intrigued by recent U.S. education reform movements such as incorporating market principles and increasing school autonomy. This interest led to my decision to start academic journey in the U.S.A. Before coming to Michigan State University, I completed a master's degree in Educational Psychology, Measurement, and Evaluation at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. My long-term goal as an educational researcher is to contribute to guaranteeing equal educational opportunities, especially for disadvantaged students.


Lavender, Amieris

I am a native Californian, born and raised in Long Beach, California. I relocated to Michigan to pursue my PhD at MSU and it has been an enriching and rewarding experience. The Education Policy Program as well as the College of Education at large is filled with dynamic faculty members who are invested in their students. I have found the coursework to be integral for my growth as an individual and scholar. I am currently working on a National Science Foundation (NSF) and Michigan Department of Education (MDE) funded project that allows me work in local schools to develop supplemental education programming. For me, of equal importance to my studies and research, is to build relationships with my peers. Luckily, I have been fortunate enough to foster great friendships with my colleagues throughout the College of Education, for which I am thankful. In addition to my studies and assistantship, I will be serving as the President of the Black Graduate Student Association as well as a Community Coordinator for Spartan Village for the 2015-2016 school year. I am grateful for the many opportunities that I have at Michigan State and I can think of no better place to be. It is my hope that you, too, find a graduate school community that challenges, grows, nurtures, and accepts you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Best of Luck in your journey!


Marshall, Stefanie

As an Ed Policy student, I could not be more pleased with the academic rigor, research opportunities, mentorship, and financial support that the Education Policy PhD program at MSU has provided me. After earning my B.S. in Biology at Oakland University, I worked in various capacities in education as a: teacher, district manager for a Supplemental Educational Service provider, Teach For America field instructor, summer school administrator. My experiences have enabled me to work in cities across the state such as Detroit, Lansing, Flint, Pontiac, Albion, and Grand Rapids to name a few. Working in these diverse communities unmasked the disconnect between policies and how they manifest in classrooms and in academic support programs, which inspired me to learn more about policy implementation. I then earned my M.A. in Educational Studies, with a concentration in Education Policy with administrative certification from The University of Michigan. I am currently a Graduate Research Assistant for a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project designing and implementing an integrated framework for genetics education to develop innovative curricula and assessments. As a University Distinguished Fellow, I am interested in understanding how policies can support science educational programming in urban educational contexts, specifically focusing on administrative supports.


McFalls, Douglas

After living in East Africa for ten years where I co-founded and directed the NGO ADEA which is dedicated to economic development, education, and cultural preservation and promotion, I applied to the MSU Education Policy program with a desire to improve learning opportunities in the developing world. I entered MSU with the unusual background of a master’s degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, my concern for marginalized communities, and professional experience in arts/culture festival and museum planning. The flexibility of the Ed Policy program, the breadth of MSU academic offerings, and the wide variety of funding support available for research and conferences has allowed me to shape the direction of my studies to suit my unique interests. My focus on “Learning In Informal Spaces” and culture-based education was enhanced by being awarded the 2015 Nelson Mandela Museum/Michigan State Museum Fellowship, and a 2015-16 FLAS foreign language scholarship to study Swahili. My coursework includes classes in education, anthropology, African Studies, and Museum Studies. As a student with a non-traditional academic background, the exceedingly supportive faculty and staff of MSU, and the variety of resources available to help students succeed and excel has made MSU an excellent choice for my PhD studies.


Morley, Alyssa

I feel very fortunate to be a part of MSU’s Education Policy PhD program. Through this program, I have had a chance to connect with fascinating and supportive scholars, learn volumes from my peers, and pursue my curiosities around how policies intersect with individual livelihoods. These curiosities arose from my experience teaching in the U.S. Peace Corps (Malawi). During my time at MSU, I have benefited from several international and interdisciplinary opportunities, such as helping lead a group of pre-service teachers to Tanzania, participating in a doctoral student trip to Vietnam, and conducting pre-dissertation research in Tanzania and Malawi. I also have had the chance to teach a course at MSU designed to encourage pre-service teachers to reflect on the way power and privilege are reinforced in schools. These various experiences have informed my goal of discovering how I can support teachers in their intercultural work. My experience at MSU has been deeply enriched through pursuing interdisciplinary specializations in International Development and Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change.  My dissertation ethnographically explores the complexity of teaching in Malawi, and was selected for funding through Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship.   


Sakamoto, Jutaro

As a recipient of the Dean's Scholar Award, I conduct research into Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in education to demonstrate how private sector engagement can be leveraged for meeting the growing demand for education, address the inequality, and improve the quality and efficiency of education services in impoverished nations. I joined the Education Policy Doctoral Program at Michigan State University with over 10 years of experience of leading international education initiatives. I implemented education reform in low and middle income countries as diverse as Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Tanzania and Vietnam as a monitoring and evaluation expert for international development organizations including the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). I also coordinated the development, implementation and evaluation of global education programs and strategies at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters in France. I hold a master's degree in international education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA, and a bachelor's degree in education from Sophia University, Japan.


Sanderson, Danielle

I feel very supported by the MSU Educational Policy Program and I feel that my background laid a great foundation for my success in the program. As a J. Ollie Edmunds Distinguished Scholar at Stetson University, I was able to pursue my interest in education by serving as an education intern at the National Archives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, tutoring first year economics students, and writing an undergraduate thesis on persistence in STEM majors with Dr. Alan Green. After studying abroad at the University of Oxford, I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude with degrees in history and economics as well as a mathematics minor. Right after graduation, I moved to New Orleans to participate in teachNOLA, an alternative certification program. For two years, I taught Algebra II and Pre-Calculus at a low income charter school. Currently, my research interests focus on the areas of student and teacher mobility which include transportation, enrollment, teacher distribution, and teacher compensation. I work as a quantitative analyst for the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative answering questions concerning how far students travel to school in choice rich environments, where students enroll, and the effects of teacher labor market reforms on teacher compensation. I am generously supported by a University Distinguished Fellowship.


Stamm, Alexandra

As a native Michigander, I am excited and thankful to pursue my PhD in Educational Policy at Michigan State University with the support of a Dean's Scholar Award. I graduated from Albion College with a B.A. in English, psychology, and secondary education. While at Albion, I piloted an international research practicum in Noisy-le-Roi, France, which sparked my interest for educational research. After graduation, I began teaching high school English in a rural, public school where I worked for eight years as a teacher, yearbook adviser, and tennis coach. After my fifth year of teaching, I completed my M.A. in Teaching and Curriculum from MSU. My coursework helped me become a more effective teacher and reignited my interest in research. While teaching, I often found myself grappling with issues that I could not solve within the walls of my classroom, and I decided to work for change through a doctoral program. The support and opportunities MSU provides is the perfect setting for me to explore my research interests and work towards equitable educational opportunities for all students.