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Meet the DDCE’s Fall and Spring Travel Grantees

Every spring and fall semester, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement awards a talented group of graduate students with a $250 travel grant so they can share their research with colleagues and scholars at conferences across the globe. Here we would like to introduce you to the fall 2018 and spring 2019 travel grantees. Read on to learn more about their research and how they plan to make a positive difference for underserved populations here in the United States and in developing nations around the world.

Spring 2019 Travel Grantees

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Jorge Burmicky
Educational Leadership and Policy, College of Education

image of Jorge burmicky Research Focus: How Latino male college presidents conceptualize their career pathways, leadership beliefs and intersections of race and gender within the context of work
Travel Destination: Toronto, Canada

“As a Latino man in the field of higher education, I am passionate about promoting the unique strengths and traits that Latinos bring not only to education but our society as a whole. For decades, the experiences of Latinos in education have been narrated through deficit-thinking frameworks, often missing the opportunity to highlight the systemic barriers that many have overcome in order to succeed.”

Jaimie O’Gara
School of Social Work

O'Gara, JaimieResearch Focus: The father’s role in child development and well-being
Travel Destination: San Francisco, California

“The goal for my research is to help parents learn how to meet their children’s needs, whether or not mothers and fathers are romantically involved. I also hope that my research helps to improve parenting education programs and interventions so that fathers become increasingly involved and feel more efficacious as fathers.

Yookyung Lee
Educational Psychology, College of Education

Lee, Yookyung LeeResearch Focus: The relationship between positive parenting behaviors (particularly fathering behaviors) and young children’s’ adjustment
Travel Destination: Baltimore, Maryland

“I hope to provide practical insights for families who are struggling with parenting (including fathering), family relationships (including father-child relationships), or family conflicts arising from intergenerational cultural discrepancies.”

Jorge Choy Gomez
Latin American Studies, College of Liberal Arts

Choy Gomez, JorgeResearch Focus: The consequences of the landscape of international humanitarian aid for asylum seekers and migrants in Mexico
Travel Destination: Boston, Massachusetts

“I was always attracted to the idea of helping, in any way, especially the most unprotected people. My research will be examining this broad idea and focus on the critical responsibility of humanitarian institutions to protect asylum seekers/migrants and to ensure their rights and entitlements on an everyday basis, as well as instances of best practice, I will provide important intellectual contributions to the scholarly literature on migration, as well as potential to improve policy and praxis.”

Hamza Iqbal
Comparative Literature, College of Liberal Arts

Iqbal, HamzaResearch Focus: Urdu poetics and South Asian cultural studies
Travel Destination: Washington, DC

“Since literature is one of the highest forms of human expression, I would hope that my research would allow the possibility of considering very pertinent experiences of suffering and dislocation that are expressed through literature and which might be foreign in terms of their whereabouts but are ultimately human and at least ought to be heard.”

Kari McDonald
School of Nursing

McDonald, KariResearch Focus: The lived experience and definition of safety among LGBTQ youth
Travel Destination: Washington, DC

“Findings from this research could be used to inform health care providers and school officials in ways that facilitate a healthy and respectful pattern of communication with LGBTQ people in need of services. Ultimately, I hope it will impact the rate of suicide and suicidal ideation in the LGBTQ community.”

Jacqueline Pinkowitz
Radio-Television-Film, Moody College of Communication

Pinkowitz, JacquelineResearch Focus: Popular media constructions of race, place and gender in relation to the industries producing them and their impact on mainstream cultural understandings
Travel Destination: Seattle, Washington

“Particularly, my research has explored how the co-construction of racial and regional imaginaries works to uphold national identities and ideals; establish the ‘us’ who belongs and the ‘others’ who don’t; and contain troubling national histories and cultural anxieties.”

Raksha Vasudevan
Community and Regional Planning, School of Architecture

RakshaVasudevanResearch Focus: The daily lived experiences of young adults living in informal settlements in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Travel Destination: Los Angeles, California

“Young people are not usually represented in community and regional planning initiatives. This project aims to center the everyday lived experiences of young adults so that we can more effectively and ethically shape the future of our cities.”

Fall 2018 Travel Grantees

Kaitlin Burns, Rama Hamarneh, Shuning Lu, Jing Wang

Kaitlin Burns
Spanish and Portuguese, College of Liberal Arts

Kaitlin BurnsResearch Focus: How performance acts can effectively serve to disrupt oppression and hegemonic narratives
Travel Destination: Santiago, Chile

I am passionate about seeing marginalized people claim societal power over forces that would name them “Other” and grant them non-citizenship. I cannot ignore the continued colonization of Latin American and Indigenous peoples, cultures and resources by imperial forces. I research for a socially applicable end, and while I strive to see my work reach an audience within academia, I also look for ways to disseminate it beyond institutional borders.”

Luis Fernandez
Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education

Luis FernandezResearch Focus: Pre-service teachers’ beliefs regarding diverse students’ mathematical abilities
Travel Destination: San Antonio, Texas

“Being born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, I was able to experience first-hand many of the academic challenges that many students go through, especially in mathematics. This, combined with insufficient emergent bilingual instructional practices, end up becoming an obstacle for many students’ academic trajectories.”

Rama Hamarneh
Comparative Literature, College of Liberal Arts

Rama HamarnehResearch Focus: Representations of indigenous identity and mobility in Jordanian and Canadian short narratives
Travel Destination: San Antonio, TX

“Both Canada and Jordan were considered ‘colonial successes’ in comparison to their neighbors, so digging deeper into that history, and seeing the similarities, has been really eye opening.”

Shuning Lu 
Moody College of Communication

Research Focus: The intersection between information communication technologies and political participation
Travel Destination: Baltimore, Maryland

“Citizens in authoritarian regimes often face barriers in engaging in politics. My research carves out the added values of new media in the civic processes and has the potential to help the citizens attain human potential in the political world.”

Hana Masri
Communication Studies, Moody College of Communication

Hana MasriResearch Focus: How national belonging is communicated in popular discourse
Travel Destination: Salt Lake City, Utah

“I am particularly interested in the rhetoric of borders. Most of my research has to do with the way national belonging is communicated in popular discourse, typically to the exclusion of certain groups of people.”

Gerald Pitchford
Theater and Dance, College of Fine Arts

Research Focus: Performing Post-nostalgia: Programming Nationalism Through Imagined Memory

Travel Destination: San Diego, California

Rubi Sanchez
Asian Cultures and Languages, College of Liberal Arts

Rubi SanchezResearch Focus: Women in the Mumbai Filmmaking industry
Travel Destination: Madison, Wisconsin

“It’s a fascinating time in Indian cinema right now when people are paying attention to the margins and the voices of women are getting louder. It is also a moment when we, as scholars, have the chance to revise the way that we’ve been teaching about Indian culture and Indian cinema.”

Jing Wang
Radio-Television-Film, Moody College of Communication

image of Jing wangResearch Focus: The cultural and social roles of contemporary independent documentaries in China
Travel Destination: Charlottesville, Virginia

“Investigating the process of cultural production can help us better comprehend how a media culture is conceived and developed, and how this culture further inspires social change toward a more sustainable world.”


More about the DDCE Travel Grant: Established in fall 2017, the grant supports doctoral students in schools and colleges across the university who are studying areas that promote diversity and social justice.