Dana Nickson is a third-year doctoral student and Rackham Merit Fellow at The University of Michigan in Educational Studies with a concentration in Education Foundations and Policy. Dana’s desire to obtain a PhD stem from her love for working with and learning from youth. Prior to Michigan, Dana worked as a college counselor at a high school in Philadelphia and as a student advocate in an all-boys charter school in Chicago. Additionally, Dana served as a Princeton in Africa fellow at Equal Education, a community-based education advocacy organization in Khayelitsha, South Africa where she supported youth organizers in school-based activism.
Dana’s research interests seek to center the experiences and meaning-making of Black youth in neoliberal urban education contexts. Given the ways in which privatization in education has reshaped how communities, families, and students work to meet their educational needs, Dana wants to better understand how these shifts impact youths’ present and future conceptions of their identities. Moreover, how are these identities raced, classed, and gendered by youth themselves, and other education policy actors. It is Dana’s hope that her research will contribute to increased understanding of Black youths’ communal and schooling experiences in order to promote more equitable K-12 urban education policy.