Meet Ciara! She is a data and evaluation volunteer for the Research & Evaluation team, and has been volunteering for five months, and will be with us until May doing a practicum. She is originally from Brooklyn and is in an applied developmental psychology doctoral program at Fordham. She helps analyze data about our early education programs, so that we can better understand how our programs are impacting the participants, and that we can determine outcomes. We are highlighting Ciara this month to show the variety of roles and skills that volunteers can bring to. Read about her experience in her own words:
“I work in the research and evaluation wing here. I have been doing two projects pretty much, one on the 2 gen program looking at the bridge to mobility data. Helping to analyze that and looking at how that is impacting child outcomes ( Language acquisition, behaviors, etc.). Then my second project that I just got into in the last few weeks has been helping to evaluate the integrated UPK, private pay and Head Start classrooms. That has been a really interesting project; we are talking about how we are going to get data from the program.
I am in an applied developmental psychology program, so I am really interested in parents and child’s outcomes around education. I am in a doctoral program and I am in my 3rd of 5 years. For me this is a practicum, Andrew Cavanagh (Educational Alliance’s Director of Research & Evaluation) is an alumni at Fordham where I am in school and had come back for an alumni panel and said he was interested in having a student and I was really interested in EA.
I am here at MCC for a year I’ll be done in May and would love to continue working on these projects.”
What has your experience been like here?
“I have loved it; it’s been really great working on research that actually impacts the people coming in and out of this building every day. It’s really rewarding to see them coming in and out and knowing that I am actually doing something that impacts people directly. A positive moment that I have from the year so far has been that I had worked on the previous years ‘bridge to mobility’ data and had set up a bunch of codes to analyze it and when we got this years and it was kind of just handed to me and it was really empowering to know that I could just do it on my own. I really got something out of that.”
What does volunteering mean to you?
“I think it means that you can give something back to your community and an organization but that you also get a lot from it and I think that’s not highlighted as much how much as a volunteer how much you get from volunteering. And I think that’s true from any type of volunteering, whether it’s mine that’s in an office all day or actually interacting with people in the center.
I get quite a lot for data and practice which is wonderful on its own. It’s giving me a sense of purpose in school and in my career goals and has really helped me cement what I want to do because it is, I’m in an applied program so we have the choice if we want to stay in academia and teach or actually be in an applied setting and I think being here has cemented for me that I really want to be in an applied setting actually dealing with people and stuff that affects people on a day to day basis.”
What’s a fun fact about you?
“I have a really cute dog name Ollie and I have dual American –Irish citizenship”
Volunteers are integral to the work we do at Manny Cantor Center, our spotlight series provides an opportunity to share the stories of why community members volunteer, what they gain from the experience, and the impact they are able to make. Thank you to all who choose to come through our doors to help build the community we want to live in.
If you are interested in volunteering with us here at Manny Cantor Center, we have opportunities available for a variety of schedules and interests. Learn more about serving at MCC here.