Nichols Fellowship

Andrew Howard Nichols Higher Education Research Fellowship

Andrew Howard Nichols, Ph.D., former senior director of higher education research and data analytics at The Education Trust, passed away in early 2021. Shortly thereafter, Ed Trust’s Board of Directors decided to honor Dr. Nichols’ legacy by establishing the Andrew Howard Nichols Higher Education Research Fellowship . The goal of the fellowship is to support higher education scholars who are committed to research on college affordability and improving access and outcomes for students of color.

Dr. Nichols dedicated his life work to fighting for equity in higher education — and demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to solid data analysis, research, and advocacy to push for college affordability and to improve outcomes for students of color as evidenced in his research publications. In addition to expanding the original College Results website, he also authored several seminal research papers:

In 2020, Dr. Nichols published his final research project, “ Segregation Forever? The Continued Underrepresentation of Black and Latino Undergraduates at the Nation’s 101 Most Selective Public Colleges and Universities.”

“Drew left an impact on all whom he encountered. He truly was a force of nature, but even the strongest storms lose their strength. We miss Drew but we will never forget his passion, his friendship, and his unwavering commitment to students who face the most injustices.”

—Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president

2023-24 Fellow: Omar Ibrahim

Omar Ibrahim headshotBeing a first-gen, low-income, two-time graduate, Omar recognizes the barriers and obstacles in accessing higher education, let alone being successful. His lived experience informs his passion in fighting for equity and opportunities for all students.

As Ed Trust’s 2023-24 Nichols Fellow for the higher education research team, he will support Ed Trust’s research, data, policy initiatives, and efforts to achieve equitable outcomes and opportunities for students nationwide.

Prior to joining Ed Trust, Omar was a student success coach with InsideTrack, where he supported students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly Black institutions, (PBIs) in their freshman years as well as students looking to re-enroll in college. Omar has also been a part of the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America’s policy corps, advocating for higher-education policy change.

Omar recently completed his M.S. in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania. While earning his master’s, Omar was also a research assistant for SAFELab, a research lab working at the intersection of social media, AI, Black grief, and gun violence. He also holds a BA in Leadership Studies from the University of Richmond.

2022-23 Fellow: Sabreyna Reese

Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Sabreyna Reese is dedicated to improving education access and retention of Black, Latino, low-income and rural populations. As the first Lead Campus Policy Fellow with the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, she studied and advocated for student-serving policies on college campuses across Missouri. During her time as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, she published research examining the factors that affect Black student success on campus.

Sabreyna holds a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Child and Family Development from the University of Central Missouri, where she served as a student-leader on the Postsecondary Equity Network (PEN), a coalition of over a dozen higher education institutions and community partners working to eliminate equity gaps in degree completion for Black, Indigenous, and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds in Missouri.

Prior to joining Ed Trust, Sabreyna spent as a fiscal policy summer intern at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, where she assisted the revision of the outcomes-based funding model for the state and examined tuition-setting and student demand for higher education. She was also a qualitative research assistant under the group EDEFI-led Dr. Ebony McGee, where she investigated the institutional and social factors that affect decision-making, career choices, and career satisfaction for engineering and computing doctoral students, candidates, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty who have been marginalized by race and/or gender.

Currently, Sabreyna is pursuing a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at Vanderbilt University. After graduation, she plans to continue her commitment to education and focus on using evidence-based policies, practices, and data to better serve under-represented populations and improve student retention in postsecondary education with a focus on economic development and prosperity.

Research Projects:

  • College Results
  • Segregation Forever: The Continued Underrepresentation of Black and Latino Undergraduates at the Nation’s Most Selective Private Colleges and Universities (Upcoming Brief)
  • MSI Infrastructure Spending Gap (Upcoming Brief)

2021-22 Fellow: Gabriel Montague

A North Carolina native, Gabriel Montague is committed to developing data-driven practices and policies that amplify experiences of students, educators, and families who have faced systemic barriers. In 2021, he earned his B.S. in Statistics from North Carolina State University, where he gained an array of higher education work experience, including university housing, new student programs, multicultural student affairs, enrollment management and services, and the office of undergraduate admissions. While working as an undergraduate admissions intern, he engaged with prospective students and families to ensure that perspectives from all students were thoroughly represented and considered in the recruitment and application process. As a student data and technology intern, he used institutional data to provide recommendations to university leadership that supported test optional admissions policies.

During his time as the inaugural Nichols Fellow, he earned his master’s degree in Education Policy and Analysis from Harvard University, where he was a diversity recruitment intern for the Harvard Graduate School of Education Office of Admissions. In 2023, he joined Ed Trust staff as a higher education research analyst.

Research projects: