2020 Education and Society Minor Graduating Seniors

Congratulations to the inaugural cohort of graduating seniors in the Education and Society Minor Program! 

Mark Treitel, a fourthyear majoring in History, explains that the Education and Society minor’s greatest advantage was the range of perspectives to which he gained exposure, including insights from both theoreticians and practitioners. He cites the fact that the program placed an emphasis on elements of critical theory necessary for understanding inequities in the US education system, while still providing crucial ground-level perspectives from practitioners working within the educational system.

Mark also expresses appreciation for the fact that the Education and Society program allowed him to collaborate with other students interested in education. He notes that the smaller class sizes in discussion courses offered by Education and Society were especially crucial for allowing him to make these connections, especially those whom he might not otherwise have encountered within his own discipline.

Mark has joined Teach for America and will be teaching on a Lakota reservation in South Dakota after graduation. He says that the EDSO minor “has made [him] better able to think about the structural biases inherent in the educational system, the structure of a classroom, or the kind of curriculum offered.” He hopes to “translate this knowledge into more effective, affirming, and empathetic teaching.”

Samuela Mouzaoir, a fourth-year majoring in Psychology and Comparative Human Development, found herself drawn to the Education and Society minor because of her interest in childhood development. Given this pre-existing interest, she found the minor program helpful in giving structure and depth to her understanding of child psychology as it is mediated by the institution of schooling.  

Samuela wrote a thesis about fifth and sixth graders’ academic buoyancy, that is, their ability to succeed in the classroom despite adverse situations. She studied students’ responses to stressful testing situations gain a better understanding of how they reason through their feelings of anxiety.

After graduation, Samuela will be pursuing a PhD in Educational Psychology. She credits her participation in the EDSO minor program for shaping her disciplinary focus in her graduate studies, saying that “I knew that I wanted to study the intersection of education and psychology, but I didn’t know nearly enough about the history of education in the U.S., the forces that mold it to the current moment, and the many ways it impacts students on an individual and societal level. The classes I took for the EDSO minor were indispensable in filling my knowledge gaps—and giving me even more to be curious about!”

Seychelle Mikofsky, a fourthyear majoring in Sociology, believes that the Education and Society program has yielded a better understanding of both the structural factors that cause educational inequity, as well as clarifying what is being done at multiple different levels to close those opportunity gaps. Given that the Sociology major program puts a focus on the structural causes of inequality, Seychelle finds that it was a great help to be able to approach these problems from the perspectives of other, related fields of social science in the Education and Society program. Seychelle also relished the opportunity to build community with students and professors with similar interest in improving the education system in the Education and Society program.

Seychelle’s thesis concerned the experiences of queer students attending a university run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, specifically with respect to their strategies for managing their queer identities (and the associated stigma) in a highly regulated religious environment.

After graduation, Seychelle will be teaching secondary English with Teach for America in the Miami-Dade region. Seychelle “look[s] forward to being able to apply the content, knowledge, and critical thinking skills gained through Education and Society classes, and will strive to foster learning environments that are culturally-responsive and…meaningful for students.”

Kelsey Yang, a fourth-year majoring in English, believes that “selecting the Education and Society minor was one of the most rewarding experiences in [her] college career!” As Director of Marketing for the Chicago Maroon, Kelsey first learned about the new minor while writing a Maroon article about the new program and was intrigued by the broad range of departments represented in the curriculum.

Eventually, Kelsey decided that participating in the EDSO Minor program would be a perfect way to supplement her major program in the humanities with training in the methods of social science research. She explains this interplay as having “helped her further understand human development, culture, behavior, and interactions using a mix of quantitative big data and qualitative evidence” to obtain a multi-faceted view of educational processes and problems.

Kelsey’s long-term plans after graduation include teaching English abroad, and hopefully working in education policy in the U.S. or an education-related field. Ultimately, Kelsey says that she is “passionate about public service and want[s] a career that involves helping people!”

Deirdre O’Callaghan, a fourth-year majoring in Psychology, says that the Education and Society minor offered the opportunity to complement her work in the Psychology major by offering a broader perspective on factors necessary for schooling success. While the psychology major provided opportunities to learn primarily about the individual, Deirdre found that the EDSO minor enabled her to better understand inequalities in schooling, as well how to conduct research to answer questions and improve the education children receive. She also reports that it pushed her to take on a bigger role in the education-related extracurricular activities she was already involved in, such as Jumpstart.

After graduation, Deirdre has been invited to serve in the Peace Corps in the education sector in Mozambique. Deirdre reports that the courses she took to complete the EDSO minor “really gave [her] a deeper understanding of the modern inequities in education and the opportunity gap across race and class. The classes [she] took within the minor furthered [her] motivation to engage in education-related service.”

Sanya Khatri, a fourth-year majoring in Public Policy, knew from the beginning of her time at UChicago that she wanted to focus on education policy, and says that the Education and Society Minor program “solidified a community around education” that she felt was sorely lacking for her first three years in the College. Sanya found the EDSO Minor Program an excellent supplement to the research methods and models of program implementation that she learned in the Public Policy program, reporting that her EDSO classes allowed her to pay closer attention to the human scale of programs implemented by policy makers. She further notes that these insights had a profound effect on her thesis project, making her much more aware of the importance of listening to and amplifying the voices of the people she interviewed.

Sanya’s thesis concerned the implementation of restorative justice practices in Chicago Public Schools, involving interviews with people on the front lines of implementing these programs, including teachers, deans of discipline, and nonprofit restorative justice coaches. Specifically, she “found that people are struggling to implement [restorative justice] as a philosophy in an education system and a wider world that [disproportionately] criminalizes and incarcerates students of color.”

After graduation, Sanya plans to work as a research analyst in education in Chicago, and she is eager to directly apply what she learned in the EDSO Minor Program to her job.