Officials with Rutgers University – Newark recently announced that Ana Sandoval, a University of Texas at El Paso Master of Public Administration student, had earned one of four fully paid slots into its doctoral program in Global Urban Studies.
Sandoval will graduate from UTEP in May 2019 and begin her doctoral studies this fall. The El Paso native earned her bachelor’s degree in brand engagement and promotion from Baylor University in 2015. She then entered the Teach For America program, where she taught economically challenged students in Memphis, Tennessee, for two years.
The El Paso native said that experience prompted her change to a career in social policy.
The Rutgers program builds policy-oriented, interdisciplinary and global knowledge about cities through innovative curriculum and research grounded in the social sciences. It is part of a joint Ph.D. program in urban studies with the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The program includes faculty-student research projects. Sandoval said the program’s interdisciplinary dimension would allow her to study urban policy at a global, comparative level that would enhance her research abilities. She said she planned to study how efforts to embrace and encourage multicultural identities can positively affect academic achievement at border schools in communities with strong, diverse ethnic identities.
Mara Sidney, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at Rutgers, and co-director of its Global Urban Studies program, said Sandoval’s application stood out among a competitive pool of candidates. She expects Sandoval to learn a lot through the program and that the program will benefit as much from her enrollment.
“We are looking forward to working with Ana and are confident that we have a depth of faculty to foster and support her intellectual growth,” she said. “It will be wonderful to have her with us.”
UTEP’s John Bretting, Ph.D., associate professor of public administration, called Sandoval a bright, exceptional student with a passion for social justice and a keen interest in public education.
“This is an extremely prestigious appointment to a high-powered Ph.D. program,” said Bretting, who added that an MPA often is a terminal degree for those in the professional ranks. “This is an unbelievable feat.”
Sandoval said she plans to continue her research into urban education after she earns her doctorate. She said location plays a significant role in the social and educational trajectory of students’ lives. Academic institutions in lower-income, minority communities often lack the resources and opportunities for mobility and success.
“I want to be in a position in which I can explore these issues on a deeper level to influence responsible and equitable policy aimed at addressing these disparities and closing the education gap in the United States,” Sandoval said.