College:College of Community Innovation and Education
Degree Programs:Curriculum and Instruction EdD
Educational Leadership MA
Research Focus:Interrupting the achievement gap ideology: exploring the academic achievement and lived experiences of black students taking college-level mathematics courses
Lauren Thomas made her way to UCF to earn a Curriculum and Instruction EdD because of the flexibility that her program offers. As a mathematics teacher at Valencia College, both her career and education were important to her and she wanted a place where she could pursue both without sacrificing the other. “One of the reasons I wanted to pursue my doctorate was because I wanted to do more for them and I realized I didn’t have all the tools and knowledge that I needed. The more skills and experience you have, the more influential you can be,” she says.
Thomas has done just that and has been an influence during her time at UCF by winning first place in the 2020 3MT Competition. Here, doctoral students communicate their research in three short minutes to non-expert judges while competing to win scholarship awards. On placing first, Thomas says, “Even though my name is on the certificate, I know this win is bigger than myself…By just participating in the competition, I hope more people are aware of a critical issue that exists within our educational institutions.”
The research dissertation Thomas presented is titled, “Interrupting the Achievement Gap Ideology: Exploring the Academic Achievement and Lived Experiences of Black students Taking College-level Mathematics Courses.” This research investigates the factors that affect the successful completion of college-level mathematics courses by Black students. Thomas feels a personal connection to her research saying, “I would consider myself to be a high-achieving Black student who persevered in educational environments that were not always welcoming, lacked diversity, and valued cultural capital that I did not possess.” She believes that it is her responsibility to produce light on the issues that exist within the field of education.
After graduation, Thomas plans to continue doing what she loves through teaching at Valencia College.
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