Leadership and Education Policy Students

Joshua Abreu

Photos by Mike Dean                  www.mikedeanphotos.com

Joshua Abreu is a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Educational Policy PhD program in the Educational Leadership Department, 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 as a licensed social worker for Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. He was also a founding member of an 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.

This year, Joshua is serving as a Research Assistant for two faculty. He is working with his advisor, Dr. Milagros Castillo-Montoya, on a study focused on culturally relevant pedagogy at an Hispanic-Serving Institution. In a second research experience, Joshua is co-authoring a paper with Dr. Erica Fernández, Dr. Kimberly LeChasseur, and Dr. Morgaen Donaldson that examines the ways in which teachers used the parent component of Connecticut’s new teacher evaluation system to position parental authority.


Marlyn Davila

Marlyn Davila is a 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


Monique Golden is a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership and Educational Policy program with a focus on Leadership and Educational 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 recently completed her M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of Connecticut. Monique launched her website, goldenhighered.com, in September 2015 to provide a virtual space for future and entry-level higher educators and administrators to engage in dialogue around shared and unique experiences as they develop in their professional journey and personal identities. Her research interests include graduate student retention and success, graduate employee unions, supervision, mentorship, and quality in higher education.

Monique is a Research Assistant to Dr. Shaun Dougherty and they are collaborating on two projects currently: one related to full-day kindergarten and the other related to preschool in Connecticut. In her work she has been communicating with state officials, obtaining and scanning documents, compiling data, and coordinating communication for the purpose of original data collection. Monique is also gaining experience in compliance with ethical standards through Institutional Review Board procedures.


Shannon Holder

ShannonpictureShannon Holder is a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Educational Policy PhD 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. She is originally from Hartford.

Currently, Shannon is a Research Assistant to Dr. Jennie Weiner on a school district improvement study. Dr. Weiner and Shannon are examining the acceleration efforts of the Hartford Public Schools as the district works to even the playing field between urban and suburban educations. Shannon is also co-authoring a paper about how charter school teachers perceive institutional fit and its impact on retention.



Regina Hopkins

A native of New Haven, Connecticut, Regina is a third-year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership EdD Program and a graduate assistant under the guidance of Dr. Casey D. Cobb, Associate Dean. Her research interest is public schools’ racially disparate student discipline practice. Her Capstone will examine restorative practice as an approach to student discipline in a small school. She is currently a 2014-16 Barbara Jackson Scholar through the University Council for Educational Administration.Regina earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School and is admitted to the Connecticut Bar and United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. She has successfully argued three cases to the Connecticut Supreme Court. Regina received her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently employed by Connecticut’s State Department of Education as a Program Manager for Interdistrict Magnet Schools.Regina has two children of whom she is immensely proud. Ashley is an attorney who received her law degree from Western New England University School of Law and her undergraduate degree from UConn. Wesley is a senior at UConn majoring in economics. His activities include: Resident Advisor for UConn’s Residential Life, and notetaker for the Center for Students with Disabilities. Additionally, he is the proud recipient of a renewable Prince Hall Masonic Scholarship and a one-time Frank T. Simpson scholarship from Hartford, Connecticut’s Beta Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. 

Britney Jones

BritneyJonesBritney 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.

Britney is collaborating with Dr. Sarah Woulfin to launch a study of district leaders’ decisionmaking around professional development and, in particular, their use of external consultants or vendors. As part of this project, Britney is collecting demographic information on districts within Connecticut, assisting with sampling, as well as reviewing the literature on the district role in implementation and on non-system actors.


Jeremy Landa

JeremyLandaJeremy Landa joins the Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Program as a doctoral student in Educational Psychology. 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.

Based on these experiences, Jeremy is working with Dr. Morgaen Donaldson and Dr. Kimberly LeChasseur to examine a new Professional Educators Program in New Haven. The study is funded by the U.S. Department of Education as an evaluation of a five-year, multi-million dollar investment in new leadership roles and systems for both teachers and school leaders. Jeremy is also working with Dr. Bianca Montrosse-Moorehead, Dr. Shaun Dougherty, Dr. Jennie Wiener, Dr. Tamika La Salle, and Dr. Hannah Dostal on a study of preschool systems in Connecticut.


Shelby Little

ShelbyShelby Little is as first 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. 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


Liza is a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy PhD 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 Prevention from Harvard University. Liza’s work in health education and policy has included positions with the Eastern Highlands Health District, the Governor’s Prevention Partnership, and, most recently, Eastern Connecticut State University, where she served as the Coordinator of Wellness Promotion. Liza is also an instructor at Crossfit, where she tirelessly advocates for a strengths-based, holistic approach to understanding health as wellness.

Currently, Liza is serving as a Research Assistant in the Center for Education Policy Analysis, where she is working to create engaging spaces for student engagement in the Center and to build an affinity group around health and education policy. She will also be a Teaching Assistant with Dr. Sarah Woulfin in the spring as they teach an educational policy seminar.