Building a Career in Child and Family Policy: From Master’s to PhD and Beyond

Join us to learn from current MPP and PhD students about what their experiences looked like between undergrad and graduate work, why they decided to go back to school, how they figured out what to go back to school for, and what being a graduate student/postdoc is like. We will be joined by Gayane Baziyants, currently pursuing a PhD in public policy; Maya Escueta, postdoctoral associate at Sanford working on the NICHD-funded Baby’s First Years project; Liza Rodler, currently pursuing an MPP with a concentration in social policy; and Adam Stanaland, currently pursuing a joint PhD in psychology and public policy. Between them, they have work experience at the NYC Department of Education, Child Trends, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and MEF Associates, as well as international research experience.

Gayane Baziyants is a Ph.D. student at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. At Duke, she is examining the impacts of child and family policies. Specifically, Gayane is researching ways of interrupting intergenerational poverty and achieving economic self-sufficiency.  She received her bachelor’s degree in education and international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2017. Before matriculating at Duke, she worked as a research analyst at Child Trends. In this role, she conducted national, state, and community level research analyzing the impact of various early childhood policies and programs. Gayane engaged in study design to address specific research questions, collected and analyzed quantitative and qualitative data, and produced written reports to share findings with communities, states, and national stakeholders.

Maya Escueta is a postdoctoral associate at the Sanford School of Public Policy working on the NICHD-funded Baby’s First Years project and research applying behavioral insights to programs with Family Connects International. Her research focuses on leveraging rigorous quantitative methods and insights from psychology and neuroscience to investigate the role of trauma and adversity on the early developmental outcomes of vulnerable children. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Escueta worked in India for three years with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), where she oversaw a randomized controlled trial of a technology-based education intervention and worked with key decision-makers in the South Asia region to bridge the gap between policy implementation and research. Escueta holds a Ph.D. in economics and education from Teachers College, Columbia University; a Master’s in public policy from Duke University, and a B.A. in English and philosophy from Columbia University. She is a John Jay Scholar (Columbia University) and University Scholar (Duke University), both awarded for interdisciplinary achievement.

Liza Rodler is a second year Masters in Public Policy student at Sanford, concentrating in social policy. Prior to Duke, she studied economics at Yale and spent three years as a research assistant/analyst at MEF Associates, a small social policy research firm near Washington, DC. There, she worked on qualitative studies, conducted randomized controlled trials, and provided technical assistance to social programs serving low-income children and families. Specifically, these programs included Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), early childhood education programs (e.g., Head Start), child welfare and foster care, and refugee support programs.

Adam Stanaland is a fifth-year joint degree student in psychology and public policy at Duke. His research explores the origins of restrictive social and cultural norms; how these norms shape people’s identities, development, and behavior; and how to change them. To study this, he researches how restrictive gender norms shape children and adults in the U.S.  Prior to Duke, Adam worked for the NYC Department of Education, designing policy and programs to facilitate low-income student success. He attended Davidson College, where he earned a B.S. in psychology and intercultural communication studies.

This speaker series is for Duke students who want to learn more about careers in child and family policy. Meetings are designed to help students explore the wide range of job opportunities and careers available in the field of child and family policy while creating a network of students who share their professional interests.

At weekly meetings, we will discuss how to forge a career in policy by speaking with people doing policy work in education, health, juvenile justice, child welfare, economic security, and other areas. Learn from people who went straight into policy jobs, pursued law school, joined Teach for America, or have made a careers in academia. Speakers will talk about how they got started, about the turns they took along the way, and what they have enjoyed most. They will also share tips for launching your career and what they look for when hiring.