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Education Researcher Awarded $350K as Grant Scholar

By Natifia Mullings

An assistant professor at the University of Maryland College of Education has been selected as a 2022 William T. Grant Scholar, an honor for early-career researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences that comes with a $350,000 award.

Sophia Rodriguez was one of five scholars that the William T. Grant Foundation selected nationwide for the annual program, launched in 1982. Scholars are expected to implement rigorous five-year research plans that stretch their skills and knowledge into new disciplines, content areas, or methods.

Rodriguez, who teaches in the minority and urban education specialization in the Department of Teaching, Learning, Policy, and Leadership, will explore how school districts and school personnel can facilitate the educational success and social inclusion of recently arrived Central American immigrant students.

In her three-part study, she will identify how newcomer immigrant youth define their educational needs and sense of belonging; investigate how the two immigrant-serving school districts manage and respond to the educational and belonging needs of newcomer immigrant youth; and identify the role of formal and informal community-based partnerships with the two districts in increasing or hindering newcomer youths’ educational access and sense of belonging.

She will also build mentoring relationships and further her research and professional development through annual retreats and workshops with fellow scholars, foundation staff and other senior researchers.

“Dr. Rodriguez has continually demonstrated a commitment to high- quality research,” said UMD College of Education Interim Dean Laura Stapleton. “She is also passionate about her work and has been unyielding in conducting research that will truly impact the lives of immigrant, Black and brown youth.”

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