Juliana Pearson is a CNA Education researcher who has expertise in education policy research—with an emphasis on college and career readiness, career and technical education, and workforce development—and experience in formative program evaluation data collection and analysis. She is currently earning a doctorate in education administration and policy studies from the George Washington University, and holds an M.A. in education policy from the George Washington University and a B.A. in sociology and anthropology from Earlham College.
Q: What made you want to become a researcher?
A: When I was 15 years old, I read Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol, which helped me understand the extent of the inequities in the U.S. education system and fired me up to want to do something about them. As a college student studying anthropology and sociology, I learned that education researchers can help educators and policymakers understand what's working and what's not. I also discovered that I enjoyed this type of work. My first job after my undergraduate studies was as a research assistant supporting work for the U.S. Department of Education, and the rest is history.
Q: Through your work, what is the most interesting/unexpected/important finding you have discovered?
A: I'm always excited when the study we are conducting reveals that a new policy or program is having a positive effect on participants. That means that the initiative is having a tangible effect on the people it is meant to help and changing their lives for the better.
Q: What is your favorite part of research/least favorite part of research?
A: I love qualitative research, which generally involves conducting interviews and focus groups and then coding the data to find analytical themes. Qualitative data collection allows me to get out into the field to talk to practitioners and students. It provides me the opportunity to understand a program or policy firsthand. I love hearing people tell their stories.
Q: If you were not a researcher, what would you do for a living?
A: Growing up, I wanted to write historical fiction for children. I would have probably pursued that path had education not piqued my interest. I'd set my stories in Minnesota and South Dakota, where my family lives.
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