Sarah's experience was partially funded by the Sociology Undergraduate Program Fundng Opportunity which provides funding (up to $300) to facilitate academic experiences beyond the traditional U-M classroom. Check out the website to find out more information about this opportunity, 

Sarah is eager to share about her experience. Take a look!

I had an amazing time presenting and attending sessions with my mom (who was my co-presenter and also attended the conference with me). We gained a lot of great insight on future possibilities for our study, and I got to hear from some of the leading scholars in education policy, which is eventually the field I would like to pursue after undergrad. Some of the weekend’s highlights are as follows:

My mom and I arrived in the city on Thursday afternoon, and although we did not attend the conference on Thursday, I still had the opportunity to make meaningful conversation with my mom’s friends, who are all educators for NYC public schools. We discussed the challenges facing public school systems, particularly those in urban areas. Additionally, they emphasized how crucial the perspectives of teachers are to policymakers and encouraged me to never lose connection to teacher practitioners as I move forward in my pursuit of educational policy.

Then, on Friday, my mom and I spent the entire day attending various sessions pertaining to topics such as teacher preparation, early childhood programs, school of choice, and the impacts of neighborhood segregation. It was really fun for me to be able to see connections between the session themes and my sociology coursework! I walked out of the convention center on Friday night feeling exhausted but inspired.

Saturday morning was the day that my mom and I presented together. Our paper, “Undergraduate Music Students’ Developing Understandings of Social Justice in Music,” was selected to present as part of the Arts and Social Justice special interest group. The other papers in our session discussed the usage of theatre as a way to teach about race, how visiting artists can most successfully impact under-privileged arts programs, and how poetry writing can be used as a method of self-discovery for at-risk students. Following the presentation, my mom and I attended a lunch event for the board members of Arts Education Policy Review, the journal of which my mom is the editor. The rest of the day was spent attending sessions similar to ours – pertaining to social justice and/or the arts – and developing new ideas for future studies.

Finally, on Sunday, I attended a banquet for the American Institutes for Research, which is the organization that I will be interning for this summer. I was able to speak with the senior researcher in my department, and it was very rewarding to hear about all of the wonderful projects that the organization is involved in and that I will soon begin working on myself. The banquet was a perfect end to a very successful weekend, and I look forward to attending more American Educational Research Association Conferences in the future!

Again, thank you so much for your support – fiscally and otherwise – of this experience. I am so happy to be a part of the University of Michigan Sociology Department and am flattered to be able to represent our school at conferences such as these.