Amber Mason works as a graduate research assistant/project coordinator in the Urban Child Study Center and as a program evaluation and research consultant for Transformative Research and Evaluation (TRE). She is studying for her Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies with a concentration in research, measurement, and statistics.
What made you choose Georgia State University and the College of Education & Human Development over other schools in the area/country?
For me it was location. I love Atlanta. Georgia State University was the perfect place to engage with scholars who champion for urban education, as Georgia State sits right in urban Atlanta. We are literally the next door neighbor to several educational organizations that seek to improve education for all children. I chose Educational Policy Studies because I see policy as a strong vehicle to systemic change in education. As a former high school math teacher, I have witnessed how poorly written policy can get in the way of great teaching. When this happens, no one wins. My hope was that being accepted to the Educational Policy Studies, with a concentration in research, measurement, and statistics program would teach me how to use research to be an agent of change to better policy for education.
What fascinates you about research? What has surprised you about what you’re learning/have learned?
I am fascinated by the way research is able to tell a story. Be it quantitative or qualitative, research has the ability to give voice to many things. Our job as researchers is to tell that story in the best way possible, with skill and integrity. Research is such an important job, as many decisions are made based on recommendations from research and evaluation. I do not take this training lightly as it literally has the power to change the world.
Is there a professor you’d like to mention that helped with your studies?
I’ve learned so much from so many! I would like to thank Jennifer Esposito-Norris, Ph.D. She believes in me more than I believe in myself at times. Thank you!
How do you explain what you do (in school or for your profession) to your grandmother?
My grandmother doesn’t really ask what I do. She’s just excited that I’m working on my Ph.D. To others, I might say, “I help answer important questions about education,” or related to program evaluation, “I help educational organizations think about what works and what doesn’t”.
What tips can you give a student just starting to help them be successful?
Find a graduate research assistantship that is aligned with your research interests. If you are still trying to figure out your research interests, find a way to be engaged in some type of research. While we learn a lot going through coursework, you have to make sure that you are able to apply what you have learned. Through my graduate research assistantship I have learned so much from being able to work with multiple educational organizations in Atlanta and being able to apply the valuable research skillset that I have acquired from being a student in the Educational Policy Studies program.