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Julienne Ng

Head of Data, Change Machine, 2018 EP Fellow

What led you to apply to EP?
I had been working as a research biologist at a university when I became increasingly aware of the large disparity in acceptance and retention rates of students of color at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Although I worked towards creating an equitable and inclusive environment in the classrooms in which I taught, I continued to feel limited in my impact and remained frustrated about the systemic barriers students faced even before reaching college. I was therefore excited to learn about Education Pioneers and the opportunity to bring my expertise in data analytics and my passion for education to combat educational inequities at the K-12 level.

What projects or initiatives did you undertake as a Fellow?
I collaborated with schools from the Memphis-Shelby County Schools district to develop and test out different strategies to improve chronic absenteeism rates for African American and Latinx students. Using insights from data analyses to evaluate the different strategies, it was exciting to see that at all schools I supported, creating opportunities to connect more personally with students who were chronically absent from school led to increases in attendance. Beyond the quantitative data, it was especially powerful hearing stories from teachers and staff about the connections they made with individual students and the resulting personal successes.

How did EP shape your leadership growth and/or professional trajectory?
My experience with EP was incredibly transformative. Transitioning from a biologist to the K-12 education space was a huge learning curve and EP gave me the necessary support along the way, from providing the historical context needed to explore how power, oppression, privilege and supremacy have shaped the various systems in which students inhabit, to providing connections to EP Alumni both locally and nationally. I am so grateful for my experience as an EP Fellow that I have continued to stay connected with EP, through being a mentor for current Fellows and as an EP Alumni board member.

What were some key learnings or takeaways from your Fellowship experience

  • Building relationships and trust is critical for change to happen.
  • Being humble and willing to ask questions is key when stepping into a new space; you may enter a space being an expert in one thing but will grow learning from others and their experiences.
  • Self-reflection to understand our own biases and privilege is a key first step before tackling inequities at a larger scale.

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