Welcoming our new graduate assistants

Every year at City Connects, we are excited to welcome a new cohort of graduate assistants. The GAs, as we call them, come from different programs here at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development, and they bring passion and energy to our work.

“The GAs typically work with us for an academic year, and we want their experience to be a valuable part of their education,” Claire Foley, City Connects’ Associate Director, says. “Many of the GAs give conference presentations and they contribute to our multi-disciplinary team.”

This year’s cohort of new GAs bring a wealth of experience to City Connects. They are:

Elizabeth Dowgert, earning a master’s degree in School Counseling

Dowgert is working on City Connects’ policy outreach and communications efforts. She’s a former preschool teacher who brings insights from the world of early education, where there’s a strong interplay between “whole child” approaches and education, Foley says.

“Elizabeth is really drawn to the idea that school can be a place where you look at and address kids’ out-of-school needs.” She will be working with us to translate our experience implementing City Connects in early childhood settings into lessons and resources for practitioners and policymakers.

Kelly Nix, earning a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling

Nix is joining the survey team to work on data quality and to do some data analysis. She’ll also help conduct City Connects’ annual surveys of teachers and principals.

“She has about six years of experience in a market research firm, where she worked full time as a data analyst and as a project manager,” Foley says. “Her contribution is important because we really value the accuracy of the information we share when we talk about how many students we reach, how many services we deliver to those students, and how many community partners our schools work with.”

Kerry Simpson, earning a master’s degree in School Counseling

Kerry will be working on a number of projects, one of which is supporting City Connects’ expansion into Dublin, Ireland.

“This is a great match for Kerry because she actually studied in Cork, Ireland,” Foley says. “She’ll help us with some of the cultural adaptations we’re making.”

Kerry also understands some of the challenges that kids in City Connects’ schools face because she was a tutor in the Roxbury Youth Programs, an afterschool program that offers enrichment as well as academic support.

Max Xu, earning a master’s degree in School Counseling

“Max is going to be working on a lot of our online professional development materials,” Foley says. “He comes to us with a huge amount of technical and graphics expertise, and he’s worked with many different design software programs.”

Max also brings a great deal of insight about schools. He was a high school academic advisor and a program coordinator and he worked in Boston for City Year, a national nonprofit that promotes students’ success.

“They have made an enormous difference and their contributions endure,” Foley says of the GAs. “We still draw on the processes and ideas that our former graduate assistants have had. Their work is still in place even though they’ve graduated and moved on.”

“We’re really grateful that we have such talented collaborators come and work with us.”

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