Wheelock Welcomes AACTE Holmes Postdoctoral Associates, Set to Begin in Fall

This fall, Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development will welcome two postdoctoral associates to the nation’s first and only Holmes Postdoctoral Program in Education and Human Development. Funded by BU, this postdoctoral program strengthens Wheelock’s partnership with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

Dr. Jeana E. Morrison and Dr. Shana Rochester will join BU for a two-year residency running through August 2020. Their research focuses on issues of race, higher education policy, and language and literacy development. Prior to joining BU, Dr. Morrison received her PhD in Educational Leadership Development and Learning Technologies from Drexel University’s School of Education. Dr. Rochester received her PhD in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan School of Education.

A main goal of this program is to further the development of early career scholars whose research centers on issues of equity, justice, and diversity in education and human development. Offering academic mentoring, peer support, and professional development opportunities similar to AACTE’s Holmes Scholars Program, postdoctoral associates are also provided with two years of full-time funding in support of their research, academic publications, grant applications, and professional conference travel. Postdoctoral associates are expected to teach one course per year at Wheelock as well.

We spoke with Dr. Morrison and Dr. Rochester to learn a bit about where their research is rooted, why they became involved with the Holmes Postdoctoral Program, and what they look to achieve while at Boston University:

Wheelock: In which area(s) is your current research based?

Morrison: My research sits at the intersection of higher education, race, and policy. More specifically, I study the experiences of underrepresented students in universities as well as policies that support and at times hinder their post-secondary success. For my dissertation research, I examined how Black students in Brazilian universities navigate the complicated terrain of racial negotiation in the face of shifting affirmative action policy.

Rochester: My scholarship focuses on how schools and family-based educational programs can support the language and literacy development of prekindergarten through third-grade learners. I am particularly interested in supporting children of color and children from under-resourced communities. My work investigates the multiple contexts in which development takes place (e.g., home, school, community) and explores how children’s cultural knowledge and out-of-school experiences can be leveraged in ways that improve their learning.

W: Why did the Holmes Postdoctoral Program appeal to you?

Morrison: I see myself and my research reflected in the mission of the Holmes Scholars program. I participated in similar programs prior to coming to BU and know first hand the value of not only what they stand for but what they actually do to assist underrepresented students. Continuing to take advantage of this kind of support as well as being able to give back is exactly why I wanted to be involved.

Rochester: I wanted to become involved in the Holmes Scholars program because of its focus on supporting and mentoring students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. I owe a great deal of my success to mentors who guided me through my undergraduate and graduate programs. Education is a far-reaching discipline and educators can impact the broader community by pursuing a variety of careers (e.g., teachers, administrators, librarians). However, our collective educational community could be strengthened by including greater representation from diverse perspectives within these careers and developing pipelines to provide underrepresented early career professionals with ongoing support. As an inaugural Holmes Postdoctoral Associate, I look forward to actively supporting and learning from the next wave of educators.

W: What will you look to accomplish during your residency at BU?

Morrison: Of course I want to be productive in my writing and research like any postdoctoral associate but I think it is equally important that I strengthen my skills as a scholar and connect with an academic community that is growing and shifting according to the current local, national, and global landscape. I feel that it is through these connections where I will be able to find a way to have the most impact. The postdoc is only for two years so I would like to be able to make a significant mark at BU in that short amount of time.

Rochester: During the two-year residency, I intend to 1) develop collaborative research-practice partnerships in the Boston area, 2) strengthen my methodological skills in designing and evaluating effective educational programs, 3) disseminate my research to various audiences (e.g., academic, practitioner), and 4) teach and mentor students. Serving as a Holmes Postdoctoral Associate will help me pursue my long-term career goal: developing language and literacy initiatives that leverage children’s lived experiences at the local, state, and federal levels.

To read our previous articles on AACTE’s Holmes Scholars and Postdoctoral Programs, please click here.