Before enrolling at the NC State College of Education, Alessandra Dinin worked at the American Society for Engineering Education in Washington, D.C., managing a U.S. Department of Defense sponsored scholarship and fellowship program for students pursuing graduate and undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She was continuously tasked with increasing the representation of African American, Hispanic, Native American and white female students in the programs she managed. This inspired her to pursue a graduate degree of her own.
“I became interested in better understanding and improving upon the experiences of these groups in higher education STEM programs,” Dinin said. “I was also interested in methods to study and evaluate higher education.”
Dinin will graduate from the College of Education on Dec. 15, 2017 with a Ph.D. in educational research and policy analysis and higher education administration. Her three-article dissertation focused on the experiences of undergraduate women studying engineering.
“My greatest challenges during my time in the College of Education were those associated with balancing my education alongside the normal challenges of life. My daughter was born before I defended my proposal, and I had to give up my time with her and my partner to work on my dissertation,” said Dinin. “Finishing my dissertation seems like my greatest success.”
When Dinin was not working on her dissertation, she kept busy with a research assistantship at the National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness (NILIE), co-teaching with College of Education Professor Audrey Jaeger as part of the Preparing the Professoriate program and also co-editing a book with Jaeger.
“Dr. Jaeger helped me make the most out of my Ph.D. program and her mentorship and friendship extends beyond my academics,” said Dinin. “She’s taught me how to be present in everything I do, even when I may be over-extended.”
After graduation, Dinin plans to continue in her role as a research analyst at the Trinity College Office of Assessment at Duke University.