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Allie Bollella

7350

Bold Points

22x

Nominee

4x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

Hello! My name is Allie Bollella and I am attending Mills College pursuing a Masters of Public Policy with a focus in Education and Data Science, while continuing to work full-time. I am seeking financial support for my graduate studies. I work as a Program Coordinator II with the Workforce Development Group at WestEd. I am responsible for project implementation and oversee data analysis, and visualization across several higher education projects. In previous roles, I worked on community development grant evaluations and conducted qualitative interviews to evaluate nonprofit leadership program efficacy. In the future, I hope to tackle issues of educational funding and direct student support in the California Community College system. At each successive point in my career path, I have worked diligently to build on my knowledge and skillset to situate myself in a field of study that I am passionate about and that affects social change. This applied and theoretical area rests at the intersection of postsecondary education and workforce development, and within this, my interests lie in improving educational pathways to living-wage occupations. In the next step of my professional journey, I plan to pursue graduate studies and, specifically, to study and work across disciplinary areas as a way to deepen my understanding of equity frameworks and enhance skills bringing data to bear on applied questions of equity and policy. Thank you for your time reading my profile! in/alliebollella/

Education

Mills College

Master's degree program
2021 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Public Policy Analysis
  • Minors:
    • Educational Administration and Supervision
    • Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods
  • GPA:
    4

University of Redlands

Bachelor's degree program
2009 - 2013
  • Majors:
    • Women's Studies
    • Sociology and Anthropology
  • GPA:
    3.8

Palo Alto High

High School
2005 - 2009
  • GPA:
    3

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Economics
    • Political Science and Government
    • Public Policy Analysis
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Public Policy

    • Dream career goals:

      Research Director

    • Research Associate II

      WestEd
      2022 – Present2 years
    • Data Analyst

      Aldea Children and Family Services
      2013 – 20141 year
    • Project Assistant

      Social Policy Research Associates
      2014 – 20173 years
    • Research Coordinator

      BluePrint Research Group
      2017 – 20181 year
    • Program Coordinator II

      WestEd
      2018 – 20224 years

    Sports

    Cycling

    Club
    2014 – Present10 years

    Awards

    • Captain of race team 2 years
    • 3rd place NCNCA best all around Cat 2 female racer

    Swimming

    Varsity
    2005 – 20127 years

    Awards

    • All-American
    • University of Redlands MVP
    • Deans-List
    • SCIAC Conference Swimmer of the Year 2010

    Research

    • Comparative Politics - Turkey and U.S.

      Syracuse University — Student - Study Abroad Year
      2011 – 2012
    • Education Program Evaluation

      WestEd — Project Lead
      2018 – Present
    • High School Transition to Community College

      WestEd — Data Analyst
      2018 – Present
    • Community College Program Development

      WestEd — Data Analyst
      2019 – Present
    • Non-Profit Grant Impact Evaluation

      Social Policy Research Associates — Research Assistant
      2016 – 2017
    • High School CTE Program Evaluation

      WestEd — Data Analysis
      2019 – Present
    • Applied Economics and Workforce Development

      WestEd — Data Analyst
      2020 – Present

    Arts

    • Graphic Art
      2018 – Present

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Wheel Kids San Francisco — Trainer
      2018 – 2019
    • Volunteering

      University of Redlands — Volunteer / Student in Swaziland
      2010 – 2010
    • Volunteering

      Global Youth Connect, Inc — Volunteer / Student in Bosnia
      2010 – 2010
    • Public Service (Politics)

      CALPERG — Canvasser and Fundraiser
      2005 – 2009

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    Throughout my turbulent early childhood, I lived alone with my mother who suffered from schizophrenia. We often lived out of our car because she lived in fear of someone coming to hurt us. As a result, I couldn't fully participate in school or the extracurricular activities I loved. I was consistently struggling with coursework. I felt like I was not smart enough when in reality, it was the chaos at home that kept me from growing. I assumed, as a kid, that when her mental health deteriorated enough, my teachers or our friends would see us struggling. I thought someone would say something; someone would reach out a hand to help. No one ever did, even when I missed weeks of school at a time. The fact that no one reached out or said anything made me question if the issue was me. I felt alone, overlooked, and unsure if what I was experiencing was normal. One of my deepest scars was a distrust of my thoughts and feelings. I lived with someone who thought the neighbors were trying to kill us, who yelled at me when I asked to eat dinner, and who would punish me for trying to walk to school. I had to relearn how to trust my own intuition and gut feeling. Eventually, I moved to California to live with my father and stepmother. We only stayed a year, then moved to France for two years. By the time I entered high school in California, I was even more behind in coursework. It was difficult keeping myself motivated in a constant state of catch-up. During this time, I struggled with depression as I tried to recover from the trauma I had experienced with my mother. However, I had the support I needed and the prospect of long-term stability during this period of time. Suddenly, I had time and energy to pay attention to subjects that deeply interested me. In my junior year of high school, a feminist literature elective inspired me. Learning didn't feel like a chore; it was exciting. As I grew up, I developed a deep sense of empathy for others because of my own experiences of struggling in school and feeling overlooked. I believe in helping others without restrictions or conditions. Empathy is central to my moral philosophy and guides my current ethical reasoning when facing a difficult problem in my personal and work life. My own experience struggling with mental illness, including an uphill battle to improve my grades after a patchwork of early education has made me deeply committed to public service. I am passionate about ensuring that every student has access to the resources they need to grow. My allegiance to empathy as a strength drives me to improve our educational system for others. The shift in my personal experience, from a place of constant struggle to a place of security, has made me able to deeply empathize with others' experiences. I am acutely aware that the path to success in education and career is riddled with potholes for too many students. My career is now focused on building more effective support systems for students as they transition from high school to college.
    Athletics Scholarship
    Throughout my turbulent early childhood, I lived along with my mother who suffered from schizophrenia. We often lived out of our car because she lived in fear of someone coming to hurt us. As a result, I couldn't fully participate in school or the extracurricular activities I loved. I was consistently struggling with coursework. I felt like I was not smart enough when in reality, it was the chaos at home that kept me from growing. I assumed, as a kid, that when her mental health deteriorated enough, my teachers or our friends would see us struggling. I thought someone would say something; someone would reach out a hand to help. No one ever did, even when I missed weeks of school at a time. The fact that no one reached out or said anything made me question if the issue was me. I felt alone, overlooked, and unsure if what I was experiencing was normal. One of my deepest scars was a distrust of my thoughts and feelings. I lived with someone who thought the neighbors were trying to kill us, who yelled at me when I asked to eat dinner, and who would punish me for trying to walk to school. I had to relearn how to trust my own intuition and gut feeling. Eventually, I moved to California to live with my father and stepmother. We only stayed a year, then moved to France for two years. By the time I entered high school in California, I was even more behind in coursework. It was difficult keeping myself motivated in a constant state of catch-up. During this time, I struggled with depression as I tried to recover from the trauma I had experienced with my mother. However, I had the support I needed and the prospect of long-term stability. I had somehow kept swimming as a central organizing feature of my life. A regular schedule of exercise helped me manage my anxiety and motivated me to set goals for myself. Swimming saved my life because I had something in my life that brought me happiness, even in my darkest moments. I held onto that feeling that athletic competition gave me, and I followed that feeling despite all odds. Until one day, suddenly, I had time and energy to pay attention to subjects that deeply interested me. In my junior year of high school, a feminist literature elective inspired me. Learning didn't feel like a chore; it was exciting. My participation in swimming and all that I was able to achieve during high school and college pulled me out of a deep depression. It gave me the tools I needed to construct a healthy and fulfilling life where I could manage my anxiety and focus on the goals I set for myself. Athletics fundamentally changed the trajectory of my life.
    Elizabeth Schalk Memorial Scholarship
    Throughout my turbulent early childhood, I lived alone with my mother who suffered from schizophrenia. We often lived out of our car because she lived in fear of someone coming to hurt us. As a result, I couldn't fully participate in school or the extracurricular activities I loved. I was consistently struggling with coursework. I felt like I was not smart enough when in reality, it was the chaos at home that kept me from growing. I assumed, as a kid, that when her mental health deteriorated enough, my teachers or our friends would see us struggling. I thought someone would say something; someone would reach out a hand to help. No one ever did, even when I missed weeks of school at a time. The fact that no one reached out or said anything made me question if the issue was me. I felt alone, overlooked, and unsure if what I was experiencing was normal. One of my deepest scars was a distrust of my thoughts and feelings. I lived with someone who thought the neighbors were trying to kill us, who yelled at me when I asked to eat dinner, and who would punish me for trying to walk to school. I had to relearn how to trust my own intuition and gut feeling. Eventually, I moved to California to live with my father and stepmother. We only stayed a year, then moved to France for two years. By the time I entered high school in California, I was even more behind in coursework. It was difficult keeping myself motivated in a constant state of catch-up. During this time, I struggled with depression as I tried to recover from the trauma I had experienced with my mother. However, I had the support I needed and the prospect of long-term stability during this period of time. Suddenly, I had time and energy to pay attention to subjects that deeply interested me. In my junior year of high school, a feminist literature elective inspired me. Learning didn't feel like a chore; it was exciting. As I grew up, I developed a deep sense of empathy for others because of my own experiences of struggling in school and feeling overlooked. I believe in helping others without restrictions or conditions. Empathy is central to my moral philosophy and guides my current ethical reasoning when facing a difficult problem in my personal and work life. My own experience struggling with mental illness, including an uphill battle to improve my grades after a patchwork of early education has made me deeply committed to public service. I am passionate about ensuring that every student has access to the resources they need to grow. My allegiance to empathy as a strength drives me to improve our educational system for others. The shift in my personal experience, from a place of constant struggle to a place of security, has made me able to deeply empathize with others' experiences. I am acutely aware that the path to success in education and career is riddled with potholes for too many students. My career is now focused on building more effective support systems for students as they transition from high school to college.
    Pettable Pet Lovers Scholarship Fund
    Pettable Life Transitions Pet Lovers Scholarship
    Connie Konatsotis Scholarship
    Throughout my turbulent early childhood, I lived along with my mother, who suffered from schizophrenia. We often lived out of our car because she lived in fear of someone coming to hurt us. As a result, I didn't fully participate in the extracurricular activities that I loved, and I missed weeks of school. I was consistently struggling in coursework. I felt like I was not smart enough when in reality, it was the chaos at home that kept me from growing. This experience motivated me to want to change the world for other young women. Moving to California to live with my father and stepmother set me on a new path, one with the tangible and emotional support that made my goals feel achievable. I realized that access to resources is essential to educational success. The shift in my personal experience, from constant struggling to a place of security, has profoundly shaped my worldview. As a result, I am passionate about ensuring that every student has access to the resources they need to grow. I have dedicated my career to creating systemic change in our U.S. educational system to ensure every student receives the compassion, support, and tools essential for success. I currently work at an organization that focuses on improving educational and economic outcomes for students in the California Community College system. However, I want to do more; I want to implement state-level policies that improve students' daily lives— and address the unique barriers women face in accessing higher education. I want to be able to address the low enrollment of women in high-wage degree fields, many of which are STEAM degrees. I am excited to be setting a new path for myself through graduate school, which is an accomplishment I didn't think was possible ten years ago. My goal in graduate school is to develop expertise in specific types of data analysis and econometrics, that will directly support my continued work around economic mobility for women through education. I also plan to use my time in school to research alternative policy solutions to improve economic outcomes for women. This scholarship would help me pay for tuition for the next year and minimize the loans I take out. Once I graduate, this tuition support will provide me the financial freedom to choose a job most aligned with my vision of supporting students. After graduate school, I plan to continue advancing the work to improve pathways into higher education. However, this work is only one piece of the puzzle focusing primarily on program design. It does not allow me to influence institutional policy directly nor fully address the economic issues at play. In the future, I am interested in working at a university’s institutional research department. Ultimately I will seek a state-level position to shape economic policy that directly supports students' access and completion of their education path.
    High-Achieving Athletes Scholarship
    I began competitive swimming at the age of six. The routine of regular workouts became a vital organizing structure in my childhood and through college. But I wanted to continue competing after graduating. That’s when I found competitive cycling and the community of Hellyer Velodrome. I love the speed and tactics of racing on the velodrome, and I have been racing there for over six years. I have become a regular of the women’s peloton at Hellyer and continue to race while in graduate school. These photos are my proudest moments competing on the velodrome.
    Pandemic's Box Scholarship
    At the start of 2020, I had been at my company for almost three years. I was starting to feel stagnant in this job, and I wanted to move forward. But I didn't know how. Then, the pandemic happened, and we all went into quarantine. I felt trapped and claustrophobic—both literally and in my career. It felt like any doors towards progress had closed at my company. Changing jobs at a time of enormous unemployment also seemed impossible. Through the stress and anxiety of quarantine, I realized I needed to open a door for myself. I knew that it was time to take my future into my own hands and apply for graduate school as I had always dreamed of doing. I am happier than I have ever been in the past few years and have rediscovered my love of reading and learning. Everyone is on their journey, and I'm excited to be back on track for mine. The pandemic has taught me that I need to take ownership of my future and work to open doors for myself.
    #Back2SchoolBold Scholarship
    At the start of quarantine in the Spring of 2020, I was up for a promotion at work. It was poor timing, given a worldwide pandemic had exploded, but all signs pointed towards success. My supervisor wasn't worried about whether I would get this promotion-- he knew I would, nor was my department director worried. Yet, the months dragged on, and I heard nothing from HR about my promotion. Finally, by August 2020, I was told that I had received a slight salary increase but no promotion. I knew that it was time to take my future into my own hands, and apply for graduate school as I had always dreamed of doing. I am happier than I have ever been in the past few years and rediscovered my love of reading and learning. Everyone is on their own journey, and I'm excited to be back on track for mine.
    Bold Wise Words Scholarship
    I work on a small team focused specifically on creating equitable pathways through higher education as a means towards greater economic justice. Part of my mission is to help improve data collection and data collection systems to understand nuances in programmatic structure and student enrollment patterns. This work, in turn, will allow districts and regions to plan more strategically and fine-tune programs to better, more equitably serve students. On my most difficult days, when it's hard to step back and see the bigger picture, the words of Rebecca Solnit speak clearly to me, "hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency." I can get mired in the details and bureaucracy of the fundamental data work that needs to happen to build educational pathways. But these wise words always help me refocus and reflect on how my day-to-day work aligns with my vision. It reminds me that no change will happen unless I work to make it happen. That work is in the details. As complicated and challenging as the work is, someone has to do it, and it needs to get done. Hope is my ax to shape the vision of an equitable education system, and the data work is my hammer to build that system.
    "Wise Words" Scholarship
    I work on a small team focused specifically on creating equitable pathways through higher education as a means towards greater economic justice. Part of my mission is to help improve data collection and data collection systems to understand nuances in programmatic structure and student enrollment patterns. This work, in turn, will allow districts and regions to plan more strategically and fine-tune programs to better, more equitably serve students. Although I have a vision and hope for a more equitable education system, my day-to-day work is in the weeds. I spend most of my time analyzing program data and aligning programs to occupations in the labor market. Within this technical work, there are roadblocks regarding data quality and the politics and bureaucracy of different public agencies. It can be easy to lose sight of that vision and feel like you're digging a hole to nowhere. On my most difficult days, when it's hard to step back and see the bigger picture, the words of Rebecca Solnit speak clearly to me, "hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency." I can get mired in the details and bureaucracy of the fundamental data work that needs to happen to build educational pathways. But these wise words always help me refocus and reflect on how my day-to-day work aligns with my vision. It reminds me that no change will happen unless I work to make it happen. That work is in the details. As complicated and challenging as the work is, someone has to do it, and it needs to get done. Hope is my axe to shape the vision of an equitable education system, and the data work is my hammer to build that system.
    Pettable Pet Lovers Scholarship
    Doña Úrsula Mercedes makes her presence known every morning. Despite being only five months old, she is the master and owner of the household and won't let you forget. Her confidence emanates through the room like a halo of an angel, catching your mind, heart, and soul. This particular morning she showed some grace to her humans and allowed them to sleep until 7 am.
    3Wishes Women’s Empowerment Scholarship
    One severe issue facing women today is the gender pay gap, which has far-reaching implications for other inequalities women face in society today. Most recent statistics from 2019 show that on the whole, women are making only 82% of what men earn. The COVID pandemic has exacerbated this issue as women had a higher unemployment rate of 12.8% versus 9.9% for men. Further, over time in the United States, the pay gap has gotten smaller for White and Asian women but stagnated for Hispanic and Black women (AAUW, 2020). Economic equity is an intersectional issue at the heart of health and education equity for women. If we, as a society, can improve economic outcomes for women across the board, it would be a considerable step to empowering women in all aspects of their daily lives. While working as a research assistant at a public policy research and evaluation firm, I noticed a recurring theme. I found that access to economic resources influences individuals' capacity to engage with education. While I knew there is a connection between economic prosperity and educational outcomes, it was startling to see the ripple effect's far-reaching impacts. I realized that this is a critical issue underpinning most issues related to women's equity. I began to refocus my career to tackle economic equity head-on. Access to equitable education for women is a crucial driver of economic outcomes. One element of the gender pay gap is that women are often in occupations, such as childcare, that on the whole pay less than jobs men tend to choose, such as construction. Building clear educational pathways for women into occupations with higher median wages is essential in addressing the gender pay gap. These educational pathways need support for academic counselors who know how to connect with women and help improve retention. High schools and community colleges should invest in supportive services such as free or affordable childcare, food pantries, and better referral systems to public assistance. My goal in graduate school is to develop expertise in specific types of data analysis and evaluation methodologies, such as economic impact analyses, that will directly support my work around economic mobility through education. I also plan to use my time in school to research alternative policy solutions to improve economic outcomes for women. There is a lot of work to be done, but I believe it's possible to close the wage gap for women through thoughtful policymaking and the development of essential support services for women on school campuses. I fully believe that when women are financially independent, they are also empowered. Source: (AAUW, 2020): https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/simple-truth/
    Elevate Women in Technology Scholarship
    I currently work at an education nonprofit called WestEd dedicated to promoting excellence, achieving equity, and improving learning for children, youth, and adults. I work on a small team focused explicitly on equitable pathways to achieve greater economic justice through higher education. Data dashboards have been essential tools to quickly build creative data visualizations to communicate complex ideas or data patterns to educators. During graduate school, I will continue to research and develop innovative ways of using data to drive decision-making and create technology solutions to address systemic issues in education. My mission is to help improve data collection and data collection systems to understand nuances in programmatic structure and student enrollment patterns. This work, in turn, will allow districts and regions to plan more strategically and fine-tune programs to better, more equitably serve students. With tight deadlines, limited funding, and technology barriers in the education field, my growing experience in data analysis has made my dreams of innovative data tools possible! In 2019, I led a statewide scan of California's adult career technical education and workforce preparation courses. Currently, the state does not have a data repository for the types of courses offered by adult education schools. I developed a classification system that includes three broad course types, workforce preparation, occupational skills builders, and occupational training programs. I created an innovative google studio dashboard that demonstrates alignment between adult education occupational training programs and jobs in the labor market from this primary source data. This kind of dashboard has never been created in California, and we have projects lined up to continue its development and implementation. These classifications have helped practitioners in the field think more holistically about how their courses align to specific occupations or career pathways in the labor market. While creating graphics and charts can be useful for facilitating meetings, I wanted to build something adult educators could use on their own and customize to their needs. I created another interactive dashboard that demonstrates how adult education and community college courses align to occupations in pursuit of that mission. View the dashboard here: https://datastudio.google.com/s/hF7zWyfCXDU In other projects, I have used tools such as Displayr to develop eye-catching graphs to communicate complex data patterns quickly. No-code platforms make it easy to adapt to the needs of educators while creating graphics that communicate data patterns effectively. High impact visualizations are essential tools to inspire educators to take action and think strategically about enhancing their programs to meet the needs of the labor market. I've used products like Airtable in new and creative ways to build out data toolkits with interactive lists and explanations of resources that educators can take back to their school and stay engaged with data that drives better decision-making. By working on these data projects at WestEd, I have realized that building evidence-based tools for practitioners is an area where I excel and am personally passionate. My goal in graduate school is to develop technical expertise in coding, programming, and data analysis to create new tools that educators and administrators can use to make better data-driven decisions. Ultimately, my dream is to use this expertise and knowledge of technology to work at a community college institutional research department and directly influence policy that improves students' daily lives.
    Bold Mentor Scholarship
    I became interested in athletics at a young age, and I was lucky to find support and encouragement to stay involved in swimming. I started to compete at the age of six. The routine of regular workouts became a vital organizing structure throughout my childhood and adolescence as I struggled to deal with my parent's divorce and my mothers' schizophrenia. Despite difficult years with my mother, I learned to cope and eventually thrived. I credit my ability to grow and thrive in part to the support network and structure I had as an athlete. As a result of my positive experience in athletics, I have dedicated time to volunteering and mentoring. I wanted to help other young women to find and stay engaged with support networks in athletics. During high school and college, I volunteered for events aimed at introducing young women to swimming. As an adult, I have continued my participation in athletics through cycling and regularly volunteer at women's specific cycling events. I have planned and mentored activity days for girls week at Wheel Kids, a bicycle summer day camp for 12 and under youth. Because of my personal experience, I know how much a support network and thoughtful mentorship in athletics can change someone's life. It can help set them on a path to self-discovery, give them the confidence needed to excel in school, and help them grapple with personal conflict and trauma. By continuing my volunteering and mentorship outside of work, my ultimate goal is to help young women find success, not just in work, but in how they define success for themselves.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    Throughout my turbulent early childhood, I lived along with my mother who suffered from schizophrenia. She thought the neighbors were trying to kill us. We often lived out of our car because she lived in fear of someone coming to hurt us. As a result, I wasn't able to fully participate in the extracurricular activities that I loved, and I missed a lot of school. I was consistently struggling in coursework. I felt like I was not smart enough when in reality, it was the chaos at home that kept me from growing. I assumed, as a kid, that when her mental health deteriorated enough, my teachers or our friends would see us struggling. I thought someone would say something; someone would reach out a hand to help. No one ever did, even when I missed weeks of school at a time. The fact that no one reached out or said anything made me question if the issue was me. I felt alone, overlooked, and unsure if what I was experiencing was normal. One of my deepest scars was a distrust of my thoughts and feelings. I lived with someone who thought the neighbors were trying to kill us, who yelled at me when I asked to eat dinner, who would punish me for trying to walk to school. I had to relearn to trust that my perspective was in touch with reality. Eventually, I moved to California to live with my father and stepmother. We only stayed a year, then moved to France for two years. By the time I entered high school in California, I was even more behind in coursework. It was difficult keeping myself motivated in a constant state of catch-up. During this time, I struggled with depression as I tried to recover from the trauma I had experienced with my mother. In high school, when I lived with my dad, despite my depression, I had the support I needed and the prospect of long-term stability. Suddenly, I had time and energy to pay attention to subjects that deeply interested me. In my junior year of high school, a feminist literature elective inspired me. Learning didn't feel like a chore; it was exciting. I was enthralled and inspired by Alice Paul, her activism in the suffragist movement, and writing the Equal Rights Amendment; I knew that I wanted to pursue a bachelor's degree in Women's Studies. Although I still had work to do to catch up academically, I had a new goal to work towards. I supplemented my high school courses with summer school, online courses, and peer-tutoring, anything to keep moving forward. Moving to California to live with my father and stepmother set me on a new path, one with the tangible and emotional support that made my goals feel achievable. I realized that resources and access to support are essential to educational success, particularly mental health resources. As I grew up, I developed a deep sense of empathy for others because of my own experiences of struggling in school and feeling overlooked. I believe in helping others without restrictions or conditions. Empathy is central to my moral philosophy and guides my current ethical reasoning when faced with a difficult problem both in my personal and work life. My own experience struggling with mental illness, including an uphill battle to improve my grades after a patchwork of early education has made me deeply committed to public service. I am passionate about ensuring that every student has access to the resources they need to grow. My allegiance to empathy as a strength drives me to improve our educational system for others. The shift in my personal experience, from a place of constant struggling to a place of security, has made me able to deeply empathize with others' experiences. I am acutely aware that the path to success in education and career is riddled with potholes for too many students. Resources for students are inconsistent across districts, and limited mental health resources exist. That is why I am dedicated to creating systemic change in our US educational system to ensure every student receives the compassion, support, and tools essential for success. I am now pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree that will enhance the multidisciplinary skills I need to address complex and systemic issues facing our education system. This scholarship will allow me to stay focused during my degree. With this financial support, I can take more opportunities to grow and learn, which I will use to reinvest my skills back into our educational system.
    Mental Health Movement x Picmonic Scholarship
    Throughout my turbulent early childhood, I lived along with my mother who suffered from schizophrenia. She thought the neighbors were trying to kill us. We often lived out of our car because she lived in fear of someone coming to hurt us. As a result, I didn't fully participate in the extracurricular activities that I loved, and I missed weeks of school. I was consistently struggling in coursework. I felt like I was not smart enough when in reality, it was the chaos at home that kept me from growing. In high school, when I lived with my dad, despite my depression, I had the support I needed and the prospect of long-term stability. Suddenly, I had time and energy to pay attention to subjects that deeply interested me. In my junior year of high school, history courses inspired me and learning didn't feel like a chore; it was exciting. I knew that I wanted to pursue a bachelor's degree related to humanities. Although I still had work to do to catch up academically, I had a new goal to work towards. I supplemented my high school courses with summer school, online courses, and peer-tutoring, anything to keep moving forward. Moving to California to live with my father and stepmother set me on a new path, one with the tangible and emotional support that made my goals feel achievable. I realized that resources and access to support are essential to educational success, particularly mental health resources. As a result, I am passionate about ensuring that every student has access to the resources they need to grow. The shift in my personal experience, from a place of constant struggling to a place of security, has enhanced my ability to empathize with others. Resources for students are inconsistent across districts, and limited mental health resources exist. That is why I have dedicated my career to creating systemic change in our US educational system to ensure every student receives the compassion, support, and tools essential for success. We need to build institutions that deeply support students on every level.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    Throughout my turbulent early childhood, I lived along with my mother who suffered from schizophrenia. She thought the neighbors were trying to kill us. We often lived out of our car because she lived in fear of someone coming to hurt us. As a result, I wasn't able to fully participate in the extracurricular activities that I loved, and I missed a lot of school. I was consistently struggling in coursework. I felt like I was not smart enough when in reality, it was the chaos at home that kept me from growing. I assumed, as a kid, that when her mental health deteriorated enough, my teachers or our friends would see us struggling. I thought someone would say something; someone would reach out a hand to help. No one ever did, even when I missed weeks of school at a time. The fact that no one reached out or said anything made me question if the issue was me. I felt alone, overlooked, and unsure if what I was experiencing was normal. Eventually, I moved to California to live with my father and stepmother. We only stayed a year, then moved to France for two years. By the time I entered high school in California, I was even more behind in coursework. It was difficult keeping myself motivated in a constant state of catch-up. During this time, I struggled with depression as I tried to recover from the trauma I had experienced with my mother. One of my deepest scars was a distrust of my thoughts and feelings. I lived with someone who thought the neighbors were trying to kill us, who yelled at me when I asked to eat dinner, who would punish me for trying to walk to school. I had to relearn to trust that my perspective was in touch with reality. In high school, when I lived with my dad, despite my depression, I had the support I needed and the prospect of long-term stability. Suddenly, I had time and energy to pay attention to subjects that deeply interested me. In my junior year of high school, a feminist literature elective inspired me. Learning didn't feel like a chore; it was exciting. I was enthralled and inspired by Alice Paul, her activism in the suffragist movement, and writing the Equal Rights Amendment; I knew that I wanted to pursue a bachelor's degree in Women's Studies. Although I still had work to do to catch up academically, I had a new goal to work towards. I supplemented my high school courses with summer school, online courses, and peer-tutoring, anything to keep moving forward. Moving to California to live with my father and stepmother set me on a new path, one with the tangible and emotional support that made my goals feel achievable. As I grew up, I developed a deep sense of empathy for others because of my own experiences of struggling in school and feeling overlooked. I believe in helping others without restrictions or conditions. Empathy is central to my moral philosophy and guides my current ethical reasoning when faced with a difficult problem both in my personal and work life. My own experience struggling with mental illness, including an uphill battle to improve my grades after a patchwork of early education has made me deeply committed to public service. I am passionate about ensuring that every student has access to the resources they need to grow. My allegiance to empathy as a strength drives me to improve our educational system for others. The shift in my personal experience, from a place of constant struggling to a place of security, has made me able to deeply empathize with others' experiences. I am acutely aware that the path to success in education and career is riddled with potholes for too many students. Resources for students are inconsistent across districts, and limited mental health resources exist. That is why I am dedicated to creating systemic change in our US educational system to ensure every student receives the compassion, support, and tools essential for success. I am now pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree that will enhance the multidisciplinary skills I need to address complex and systemic issues facing our education system. This scholarship will allow me to stay focused during my degree. With this financial support, I can take more opportunities to grow and learn, which I will use to reinvest my skills back into our educational system.
    AMPLIFY No Code Scholarship
    Winner
    I currently work at an education nonprofit called WestEd dedicated to promoting excellence, achieving equity, and improving learning for children, youth, and adults. I work on a small team focused specifically on equitable pathways through higher education as a means towards greater economic justice. No-code environments have been essential tools to quickly build data visualizations to communicate complex ideas or data patterns to educators. Part of my mission is to help improve data collection and data collection systems to better understand nuances in programmatic structure and student enrollment patterns. This work, in turn, will allow districts and regions to plan more strategically and fine-tune programs to better, more equitably serve students. With tight deadlines, limited funding, and technology barriers in the education field, no-code environments have made my dreams of innovative data tools possible! In 2019, I led a statewide scan of adult career technical education and workforce preparation courses in California. Currently, the state does not have a data repository for the types of courses offered by adult education schools. I developed a classification system that includes three broad course types, workforce preparation, occupational skills builders, and occupational training programs. These classifications have helped practitioners in the field think more holistically about how their courses align to specific occupations or career pathways in the labor market. While creating graphics and charts can be useful for facilitating meetings, I wanted to build something adult educators could use on their own and customize to their needs. In pursuit of that mission, I created an interactive dashboard in the no-code environment of Google Studio that demonstrates how adult education and community college courses align to occupations. View the dashboard here: https://datastudio.google.com/s/hF7zWyfCXDU In other projects, I have used no-code tools such as Displayr to quickly develop eye-catching graphs to communicate complex data patterns. No-code platforms make it easy to adapt to the needs of educators while creating graphics that communicate data patterns effectively. High impact visualizations are essential tools to inspire educators to take action and think strategically about enhancing their programs to meet the needs of the labor market. I’ve used products like Airtable to build out data toolkits with interactive lists and explanations of resources that educators can take back to their school and stay engaged with data that drives better decision-making. I have excelled at creating easy-to-use data tools and visualizations for educators that align with a mission of economic equity. No-code environments have been essential tools in my work and supporting my career aspirations of building a more equitable education system. My goal in graduate school is to take my expertise in no-code environments a step further to create beautiful and interactive data visualizations that combine education data and labor market data. I hope that these no-code tools will inspire educators to build better educational pathways to high wage jobs.
    Brady Cobin Law Group "Expect the Unexpected" Scholarship
    I learned very early in my childhood that life often does not follow any plan. I grew up in North Carolina right outside Chapel Hill, and as a young kid, I loved playing in the woods with other neighborhood kids. I dreamed of working in a zoo or as a forest ranger, anything to get outside! I was so preoccupied with daydreaming about camels that I did not notice how bad my mother's mental illness had gotten. After my parents divorced, she went downhill quickly. I missed a lot of schools and spent most of my time trapped in my bedroom by myself. My far-off dreams slowly faded and were replaced by more realistic hopes. I set out determined to find a way to live with my father in California. Eventually, through some help from an uncle and a lot of persuading, we convinced my mother to let me get on a plane. It was one of the scariest days of life, getting on a plane to live with someone I had not seen in years and leaving behind the only place I had ever known. Life gets derailed, but we learn over time how to set the tracks straight or find a new set of tracks. I found a new set of tracks with the help of thoughtful teachers, supportive friends, and caring guidance from my parents. I was given a legacy of empathy from those around me. A directive to continue improving the lives of those in my community. I don’t need to leave the kind of legacy they make statues about. That kind of legacy makes deep impressions in history, but it is always the cumulative work of millions of people who really shape the world. More than anything, I want to participate in that work and leave a deeper, collective legacy that shapes our society. I want to leave a legacy of empathy and determination in the people around me and the people I work with; A legacy of caring for one's community and society that becomes a catalyst for change. I deeply believe in the words of Howard Zinn, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” I don’t need or want a legacy written in stone. I want to transform the world.
    Charles R. Ullman & Associates Educational Support Scholarship
    I grew up in a Quaker school that believed in the value of every single life, no matter what. Each living entity is important and holds value. Each of us has a gift to share with the world. One lesson that has stuck with me the longest is the Golden Rule; do unto others as you would have done unto you. I believe that empathy for others is a fundamental strength; it strengthens our communities and ourselves. Therefore, we have a responsibility to those who inhabit the world around us, a responsibility to our community, to ensure that each person can reach their full potential and live a life of quality. Helping your community does not have to be a sacrifice or a grandiose gesture. A simple, thoughtful act every day can change a community. I have decided to dedicate my career to helping our communities and strengthening our education system. I currently work in the Postsecondary and Workforce Development team at WestEd. Our team at WestEd is focused on a continuous improvement cycle of enhancing educational data systems, understanding student outcomes, and applying learnings to program implementation. In my role, I have led research projects, independently developed data dashboards, and deepened my facilitative skills. All of my work, and the work of our team, is focused on making a direct impact for students by improving organizational efficacy in the California community college system. This systems-level work is important to me because I believe that every time we allow someone to fall through the cracks; every time someone is unable to fulfill their potential - we as a society are poorer for it. In my role, I developed a methodology for an intersegmental data analysis using high school enrollment data, community college enrollment data, and occupational data. This proportional analysis of educational and labor market ecosystems is used to support practitioners' work building career pathways into living wage occupations. We also use this work to design student transfer support under federal funding and state grant funds such as Perkins V and K12 Strong Workforce. Earlier this year, I led a statewide scan of adult career technical education and workforce preparation pathways in California, developed a common categorization structure, and created an interactive dashboard of adult education course offerings aligned to occupational data. Collectively, this work has helped advance local educational institutions to be more responsive to student needs and guide them into the labor market. I have realized, that building evidence-based tools for practitioners is an area in which I excel and find great personal satisfaction. The next step of my career attending graduate school is necessary to enhance my technical skills related to economic analyses as well as deepen my knowledge of school funding policy. I also hope to take that expertise a step further, improving my ability to explain complex data analyses to practitioners who may not have a research background. After graduate school, I plan to continue advancing the work of our Postsecondary Education team at WestEd. In the future, I aspire to be a director of institutional research at a California community college, working more directly towards improving student employment outcomes. In my future work beyond graduate school, the Golden Rule will always stay with me. Acting as a guiding light to ensure policy recommendations and research I conduct will always be thoughtfully and equitably student-centered.
    Nikhil Desai "Favorite Film" Scholarship
    My favorite types of movies are the ones that I don't immediately find exciting. Movies that linger in my mind, movies that make me ask difficult questions about what it means to live a good life, are the ones I end up enjoying the most. I like movies that bother me a little bit, movies that don't have a clear beginning or a neatly wrapped up ending. For this reason, the movie Vengo is one of my favorite movies. It has ambled alongside me for a long time, slowly revealing its secrets when I least expect it. It is the story of a father, Caco, and the head of a powerful Gypsy family in Andalusia, Spain. He recently lost his daughter and is deeply heartbroken. Yet, during his time of grief, he must protect his family and resolve an age-old blood feud with another powerful gypsy family. Vengo is a visual and audio masterpiece, with panoramic views of the sweeping Andalusian valleys, sharp images of white houses on the rolling hills, and breathtaking flamenco music. Caco's grief and fear are punctuated by moments of joy. One memorable moment was an impromptu dance in the middle of the street with a brother and his nephew. Yet Caco is consistently drawn out of these moments, worrying about the past or the future. One aspect of this story that has stayed with me is the discord between your internal narrative about life and the life that continues around you. Caco's grief and fear are understandable, but there is still so much life worth living. Vengo has made a home in my heart. It reminds me, in moments of joy, to be fully present. To let go of my internal dialog and breathe deep the life I am living.
    AMPLIFY Mental Health Scholarship
    Throughout my turbulent early childhood living alone with my mentally-ill mother, I missed a lot of school. I was consistently struggling and felt like I was not smart enough when in reality, it was the chaos at home that kept me from growing. As a kid, I thought when her mental illness got bad enough someone would say something. No one ever did, even when I missed weeks of school at a time. I didn't understand why my mothers' mental illness was invisible to everyone else. It made me feel invisible. Eventually, I moved to California to live with my father and step-mother. We only stayed a year, then moved to France for two years. By the time I entered high school in California, I was even more behind in coursework. It was difficult keeping myself motivated in a constant state of catch up. During this time, I struggled with depression as I tried to recover from the trauma I had experienced with my mother. One of my deepest scars was a distrust of my thoughts and feelings. I lived with someone who thought the neighbors were trying to kill us, who yelled at me when I asked to eat dinner, who would punish me for trying to walk to school. I had to relearn to trust that my perspective was in touch with reality. In high school, when I lived with my dad, despite my depression, I had the support I needed and the prospect of long-term stability. Suddenly, I had time and energy to pay attention to subjects that deeply interested me. In my junior year of high school, a feminist literature elective inspired me. Learning didn't feel like a chore; it was exciting. I was enthralled and inspired by Alice Paul, her activism in the suffragist movement, and writing the Equal Rights Amendment; I knew that I wanted to pursue a bachelor's degree in Women's Studies. Although I still had work to do to catch up academically, I had a new goal to work towards. I supplemented my high school courses with summer school, online courses, and peer-tutoring, anything to keep moving forward. Moving to California to live with my father and step-mother set me on a new path, one with the tangible and emotional support that made my goals feel achievable. As I grew up, I developed a deep sense of empathy for others because of my own experience of struggling in school. I am acutely aware that the path to success in education and career has potholes for too many students. Resources for students are inconsistent across districts, and limited mental health resources exist. I want to create systemic change in our US educational system to ensure every student receives the compassion, support, and tools essential for success. I am now pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree to enhance the multidisciplinary skills I need to address complex and systemic issues facing our education system. With this financial support, I can take more opportunities to grow and learn, which I will use to reinvest my skills back into our educational system.
    Mental Health Movement Scholarship
    Throughout my turbulent early childhood living alone with my mentally-ill mother, I missed a lot of school. I was consistently struggling and felt like I was not smart enough when in reality, it was the chaos at home that kept me from growing. As a kid, I thought when her mental illness got bad enough someone would say something. No one ever did, even when I missed weeks of school at a time. I didn't understand why my mothers' mental illness was invisible to everyone else. It made me feel invisible. During high school, I lived with my Dad. I struggled with depression as I tried to recover from my trauma. One of my deepest scars was a distrust of my thoughts and feelings. I lived with someone who thought the neighbors were trying to kill us, who yelled at me when I asked to eat dinner, who would punish me for trying to walk to school. I had to relearn to trust that my perspective was in touch with reality. As I grew up, I developed a deep sense of empathy for others because of my own experience of struggling in school. I am acutely aware that the path to success in education and career has potholes for too many students. Resources for students are inconsistent across districts, and limited mental health resources exist. I want to create systemic change in our US educational system to ensure every student receives the compassion, support, and tools essential for success. I am now pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree to enhance the multidisciplinary skills I need to address complex and systemic issues facing our education system. With this financial support, I can take more opportunities to grow and learn, which I will use to reinvest my skills back into our educational system.
    Bold Moments No-Essay Scholarship
    I took a bold step and started track racing on the velodrome with fixed gear bikes and no brakes. During college my identity revolved around being a student-athlete, being a swimmer. I graduated and was excited to start a new chapter in my life, but also felt a little lost. I wasn't sure how to move forward with my career goals and I deeply suffered my imposter syndrome. I wasn't confident in myself or in my abilities. I took up high-stakes bicycle racing and started competing as an athlete again. With track racing, I found my confidence again.