One Year Later: Knapp Fellow Kristen McInerney

I am drawing connections between their sense of belonging and creating a community of practice

“I am drawing connections between their sense of belonging and creating a community of practice within our school community to help affect their academic achievement.”

Kristen Mclnerney is a Knapp Fellow for the 2018-2019 school year. Her research is on newly arrived immigrant students’ experiences in high school and honoring their voices. She has some big takeaways from her Fellowship year. “I have learned so much this year, including survey development, utilizing quantitative and qualitative methods, and going through the IRB process. It has been a difficult but great year. What first started as just ideas, has started to come to fruition. I still have a lot to do but the research is coming together in a way that I never thought was possible. The Nashman Center connected me with the GW Art Therapy Department to build community connections for the school that I work at and also with Dr. Jordan Potash who has helped create a living mural lesson plan that will help our students and staff create a mural.”

The Knapp Fellowship made Kristen’s ideas possible and she completed a pilot study. “The funds have helped me get study items translated to Amharic, Dari, Spanish, and Arabic for my students and their families. Translation services are very expensive; the Fellowship enabled me to make the IRB and research process accessible in home languages.” Kristen recently presented her preliminary data at the CIES conference in San Francisco in April. She notes that this work will extend into next year, and data from the pilot study, will inform a larger study in the fall, Kristen’s dissertation study. Presenting at the Symposium provides her with the opportunity to receive feedback and connect with other students. She notes, “the opportunity to present at the community Symposium through the Nashman Center provides practice in presenting my data and opportunities to connect with other students and faculty. I even had a few students volunteer to help as research assistants in the Fall. The connection with folks and the questions they ask after they heard my presentation was a great opportunity to get feedback.” McInerney finds her two-year research process very rewarding. “Through the Nashman Center, I’ve connected the community with my school. There are doors being opened now with faith-based organizations and other parts of GW with my school. I’ve learned that our GW and local community is extremely generous and that there are bridges just waiting to be built. It’s absolutely worth taking the time to build those bridges and deepen those connections between the community and our school.”

Kristen has undeniably made great connections in her Knapp Fellowship year to propel her project even further. The Nashman Center is proud of Kristen’s community engaged scholarship!

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