Child Policy Research Certificate Alumni

Class of 2024

Gracie Blackburn, history major, creative writing minor

  • Project: Making Durham PreK Accessible for Homeless Families
  • Mentor: Dr. Katie Rosanbalm
  • Honors and Awards: Deans List with distinction
  • Quote: “The certificate program taught me so much, not just about children and families but also how to communicate effectively with researchers, policymakers, and community members.”


Imani Hall, neuroscience major, psychology minor

  • Project: Examining the Importance of Parental Involvement for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Successful Implementation of Child Policies
  • Mentor: Dr. Megan Golonka
  • Honors and Awards: Jacqueline A. Morris Fellowship, URS Small Grant Funding
  • Quote: “The Child Policy Research Certificate program has greatly enhanced my academic journey. As a STEM major, this program has provided a crucial component to the interdisciplinary nature of my studies. I greatly appreciate the supportive community within this program and value the practical insights into real-world applications that it offers.”


Maddie McCorkle, public policy major

  • Project: Interpretation and Implementation: The impact of ambiguous language used in federal laws protecting students with disabilities on the extent of services provided to deaf and hard of hearing students
  • Mentor: Dr. Kristen Stephens
  • Honors and Awards: ACC academic honor roll ('21,'22,'23), Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association Academic Honor Roll ('23)
  • Plans after Graduation: Pursuing a master's degree in public policy at the University of Virginia


Samantha Rubalcava, public policy major, economics minor

  • Project: Central Park students’ transition into high school
  • Mentor: Dr. Kenneth Dodge
  • Quote: "Thanks to the Certificate program, I was able to meet wonderful people who shared my passion for child and family policy. This experience helped shape my plans for after graduation."
  • Plans after Graduation: "After graduation, I plan to support public school students via service with City Year San Antonio."


Kenza Slaoui, statistics & analytics major, mathematics minor

  • Project: Using Advanced Computational Statistics to Support Child Welfare
  • Mentor: Dr. Katie Rosanbalm
  • Honors and Awards: Robertson Scholar; UNC Order of the Golden Fleece (inducted in Spring 2023), UNC Phi Beta Kappa (inducted in Spring 2024)
  • Quote: “The Certificate program was crucial in allowing me to continue exploring my passion for education, while also pushing me to think about broader issues facing children and families. Having majored in statistics, the flexibility of the Certificate allowed me to dive deeper into the intersection of statistics and child welfare, which I am hoping to pursue long term.”
  • Plans after Graduation: “I will be pursuing a Masters in Data Science.”