Zackery Fernandez spent the semester considering social inequality in education. Zackery pursued a BDP certificate in Social Inequality, Health & Policy and researched the impact of charter schools relative to traditional public schools in increasing children’s access to higher education.
Please describe your project and how you came up with the idea
My connecting experience involved researching central Texas charter schools to find their benefits and drawbacks relative to traditional public schools, in order to make detailed recommendations on areas of future improvement. I accomplished this through an in-depth literature review of Texas Education Agency reports, articles from leading education experts, and by drawing from my experience both working in the KIPP charter school system and as a student in the San Antonio magnet school system.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
After all of the inspiration and passion non-traditional schooling instilled in me that helped me to reach this level of education, the most rewarding experience was knowing that I was using the skills I learned here at the University of Texas in order to give back to those kids who are now trying to reach those same goals I had.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
This research article was the culmination of my experience in the Bridging Disciplines Program, tying together my experience growing up in non-traditional schooling, my previous Connecting Experience working in the charter school system, and my classroom experience from my previous major in Sociology. With the help of some of my UT faculty, I am currently pursuing steps toward getting my research article published by an educational journal.
Discuss the relationship you had with your faculty mentor and how they helped you during this Connecting Experience.
Both my faculty mentor, Dean Richard Flores, and my Rapoport Service Scholars Advisor, Carlos Bowles, were widely knowledgeable in the field of charter school research. They were able to connect me with a variety of quantitative reports on school statistics as well as point me toward leading professors in the field to draw from. Along the way, they were helpful in directing my research to a point within the charter school debate that was specific enough for me to provide an effective response.