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Emily Parrott: Grad student Spotlight

SoHE HDFS graduate student Emily Parrott has been awarded UW-Madison’s prestigious Institute for Research on Poverty Dissertation Fellowship. Through the award, Emily is provided with a year of funding to work on her Ph.D. dissertation, which she is using to broaden the understanding of first-generation college students and their social capital investments post-graduation. As a first-generation college student herself, Emily is personally connected to the topic.

Does Higher Ed Pave the Path to a Better Future?
Graduate in cap and gown
Emily’s dissertation will focus on these first-generation graduates and their correlation to societal promises that education is the path to positive life outcomes. In addition to the graduates’ social mobility, the project will review the social mobility of the graduates’ families, asking the question: does the whole family experience social mobility and why?

Emily’s theory is that the whole families advance because college graduates choose to invest their capital accumulation in family members. She suggest one reason for this is that the non-financial support families provide to the students—such as emotional and physical support—develop unique bonds.

Emily hopes her dissertation can help shed light on ways to better support first-generation students before, during, and after college. “If first-gen students are investing their capital in their families, they are dealing with different types of stressors and challenges than other students,” she explains. Emily is seeking ways to combat these stressors through her research.

Institute for Research on Poverty

Emily is thankful to the Institute for Research on Poverty for their part in her education, from the seminar series they bring to campus to the networking opportunities. “We can meet with people one on one if needed, that really helped me with my dissertation,” she states. Emily started in the Institute for Research on Poverty’s Graduate Research Fellow training program and from there she was eligible to receive the Research on Poverty Dissertation Fellowship. Their training program is for Ph.D. students in the social sciences who are interested in studying poverty and expect to have a related dissertation. Their program includes free podcasts and webinars. About forty students are accepted each year with two being chosen for the Poverty Dissertation Fellowship.


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