Higher Education Data & Research Internship Program

About the Higher Education Data & Research Internship Program at EdTrust

The Higher Education Research Internship Program aims to train and build a diverse cohort of equity-minded data analysts and researchers to grow the field of higher ed policy research. Current academic and professional training in education research has a limited focus on data analytics, data management, or cloud-based data systems. This limits the capacity of people and data we can use to inform policymaking.

“Recognizing the gap in current academic and professional training, particularly in areas of data analytics and management, our program is a steppingstone toward building a diverse and equity-focused policy researchers interested in data informed policymaking. Our interns are at the heart of this initiative. Through hands-on projects, exploration of current research, and active engagement within the EdTrust community and beyond, these interns are not just witnessing change — they are advancing it.” – Wil Del Pilar, Senior Vice President

Program Goals

  • Increase awareness of higher education policy research, and best practices for data analytics in the field
  • Elevate student voice in higher ed access, affordability, and accountability metrics.
  • Provide skills training and continuing education
  • Connect with a wide range of professionals and collaborators to learn about career opportunities in the field

Core Competencies

  • Higher education research and data analytics
  • Policy content area expertise
  • Writing for policy and research audiences

Core Activities

  • Work on a collaborative data project and publication
  • Present research and data at a convening or conference
  • Network with EdTrust experts and advocates
  • Participate in community-based activities that focus on creating an inclusive research cohort

Recent Work

Meet the Interns

Higher education research interns support data management and analysis for the team’s data tools and deliverables with a primary focus on using publicly available data to create compelling narratives about the current state of access, accountability, affordability, and success for low-income students and students of color in postsecondary education.

Current Interns

Dylyn Turner-Keener headshotDylyn Turner-Keener graduated from Mills College in 2021 with a bachelor’s in PEPL (policy, economics, politics and law) with emphasis in politics and minor in urban education; and in 2022, she completed her master’s in public policy. She has worked with political figures such as state legislator Mia Bonta and was a fellow for EMILY’S List in 2022. Dylyn is further developing the Black Wellness Package, a Black DEI academic program that provides academic, mental, and emotional support frameworks and resources for Black-identifying college students using RIT (racial informed trauma), toward consulting and publishing.

Jae Crawford headshotJae Crawford is a fall 2023 intern who supports ongoing and new research projects aimed at identifying problems and advancing conversations surrounding equity, access, and success for all college students. Jae is especially interested in supporting students from low-income families and families of color. Born in Memphis and raised in Orlando. Jae earned a BA in ethnic studies from Brown University with a focus on the lived experiences of Black women. She is currently pursuing a master’s of science in college student personnel at the University of Rhode Island (URI). In addition to her graduate studies, Jae works in URI’s Center for Student Leadership Development as the center’s graduate assistant, where she supports URI’s undergraduate leaders in and out of the classroom. Prior to joining EdTrust, Jae worked at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where she assessed and evaluated RISD’s first-generation college student support programs.

Mia Elliott headshotMia Elliott is a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she is studying public affairs and political science with minors in education studies and global studies. She is a current member of an evaluation team for a longitudinal research study at UCLA, which studies the impact of a calculus intervention at a local community college. Mia recently finished an internship at Scholarship America.

omar ibrahim headshotOmar Ibrahim is our 2023-24 Nichols Fellow who recently completed his master’s of science in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. Before joining EdTrust, Omar was a student success coach with InsideTrack, working with first-year students at HBCUs across the country. Omar has also been a part of LEDA’s Policy Corps, advocating for equity in education policy. Omar is an Egyptian born immigrant who was raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and holds a BA in leadership studies with a minor in rhetoric and communication from the University of Richmond.

Former Interns

sabreyna reese headshotSabreyna Reese was our 2022-23 Nichols Fellow who recently completed her master’s of education in higher education administration at Vanderbilt University and began her full-time role as a research compliance program coordinator at Vanderbilt University. Before joining The EdTrust, Sabreyna worked at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission as the fiscal policy summer graduate assistant. From Kansas City, Missouri, Sabreyna holds a BS in psychology with a minor in child and family development from the University of Central Missouri.

gabriel montague headshotGabriel Montague was our first inaugural Nichols fellow and is a former research analyst at EdTrust. A North Carolina native, Gabriel earned his BS. in Statistics from North Carolina State University, and holds a master’s degree in Education Policy and Analysis from Harvard University.

olivia gunther headshotOlivia Gunther is an EdTrust intern alum and graduate of the MPP program at the Harris School of Public Policy – University of Chicago. At Harris, she completed certificates in data analytics and policy analysis. Olivia is passionate about using research to advance equity and justice for students in the higher education space. Olivia holds a BA from the University of Michigan in gender & health (women’s studies) and political science and has professional experience in admissions and politics on both state and federal levels. She currently works as a program associate at the Burning Glass Institute, where she sits at the intersection of learning and workforce research and on-the-ground community activations for the future of work and workers.

brianna wright headshotBrianna Wright is a higher education research intern alum and Ph.D. student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change program at UCLA. Her current research centers on how women of color use assets such as funds of knowledge and community cultural wealth to persist in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Brianna received a BS in mathematics education from BYU and a MA in higher education and organizational change from UCLA.

diana torres headshotDiana Torres is an intern alum and doctoral student at UCLA in the Higher Education and Organizational Change program. Diana’s research interests include college affordability, outcomes, and accountability, specifically in relation to Latino and first-generation college students. Her skills include quantitative and qualitative research methods, as well as data management. She received her master’s in higher education from UCLA and her bachelor’s in education and sociology from UC Riverside.

shytance wren headshotShytance Wren is an intern alum and doctoral student studying international education policy at the University of Maryland. As a graduate research assistant she is currently working on a team project with the Gates Foundation examining college and university transformational practices that ensure success for Black, Latino, Indigenous, and low-income students. Shytance received a BS in psychology from the University of Michigan and an MA in student affairs administration with a specialization in international development from Michigan State University.

naomi beckley headshotNaomi Beckley is an intern alum. Naomi is a graduate of Yale University, with a bachelor’s in global affairs and a certificate in education studies. Naomi spent time with the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project and serves as an AP alumni council member for the College Board, helping inform AP policies with a student and equity center lens.

michael grigsby headshotMichael Grigsby is an intern alum. Michael graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a major in public policy and a minor in education. As an intern, Michael worked on campus racial climate data, hate crimes data, university endowments, colleges costs, and other outcomes measures such as enrollment, retention and completion. Michael is now at the University of Southern California working towards a master of public policy and doctor of philosophy in education dual degree.

EdTrust’s Higher Education Research Internship Program is possible thanks to the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ichigo Foundation.