Sophia Rodriguez, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Maryland College of Education, has been selected as a 2022 William T. Grant Scholar. Launched in 1982 by the William T. Grant Foundation, the Scholars Program supports the professional development of early-career researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences.
“I am honored to be recognized by the Foundation for my research to reduce inequalities in education,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve spent several years centering the voice of immigrant youth and telling their stories as a way to discuss the many inequalities they experience. I am excited about the opportunity to build on my content expertise and look forward to learning from the program’s amazing academic community.”
As a William T. Grant scholar, Rodriguez, who teaches in the minority and urban education specialization in the Department of Teaching, Learning, Policy, and Leadership, will explore how school districts and school personnel can facilitate the educational success and social inclusion of recently arrived Central American immigrant students. In her three-part study, she will identify how newcomer immigrant youth define their educational needs and sense of belonging; investigate how the two immigrant-serving school districts manage and respond to the educational and belonging needs of newcomer immigrant youth; and identify the role of formal and informal community-based partnerships with the two districts in increasing or hindering newcomer youths’ educational access and sense of belonging.
“As always, I am impressed with the original thinking and the range of important issues reflected in this new cohort of Scholars,” said Vivian Tseng, senior vice president of the Williams T. Grant Foundation. “We are proud to have these individuals join our community of dynamic early career researchers.”
Rodriguez was selected as one of only five promising researchers to join the program. Scholars are selected based on their potential to become influential researchers, as well as their plans to expand their expertise in new and significant ways. Scholars receive $350,000 to implement rigorous five-year research plans that stretch their skills and knowledge into new disciplines, content areas, or methods.
Trained as a sociologist of education and K-12 education policy, Rodriguez will develop her methodological expertise in longitudinal mixed-methods designs and scale development for survey research. She will also build mentoring relationships with experts in areas pertinent to her development, and further her research and professional development through annual retreats and workshops with fellow Scholars, Foundation staff, and other senior researchers.
“Dr. Rodriguez has continually demonstrated a commitment to high quality research,” said UMD College of Education Interim Dean Laura Stapleton. “She is also passionate about her work and has been unyielding in conducting research that will truly impact the lives of immigrant, Black and Brown youth.”