MDRC Welcomes Selena Cardona, Postsecondary Education Applied Research Fellow


MDRC is hosting Selena Cardona, a Postsecondary Education Applied Research (PEAR) Fellow, for an apprenticeship in our Postsecondary Education policy area. The PEAR fellowship provides doctoral students with training in advanced quantitative analysis and the practical skills needed for a career in applied research in postsecondary education. A policy/practice apprenticeship is a key part of this training. The fellowship is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, with additional funding from Teachers College at Columbia University.

As part of her apprenticeship, Cardona will assess the validity of projection methodologies used in cost-benefit analyses to predict future earnings. Specifically, as part of the project that replicated the City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) in Ohio, Cardona will use the study’s three-year estimated effects on educational outcomes to predict six-year (and beyond) earnings impacts. She will then assess the alignment of those predicted impacts with the experimentally estimated impacts on earnings derived from Unemployment Insurance (UI) data at the six-year mark.

“We are really pleased to have Selena join MDRC as an apprentice,” said MDRC Senior Fellow Michael Weiss. “Selena is seeking to tackle an important question that we have often wondered about but have not had the resources to address. Selena’s rich set of professional and educational experiences are certain to enhance this work.”

Cardona is pursuing a PhD in education at Teachers College in the Sociology and Education program. She is also a senior research assistant at Community College Research Center, where her work focuses on issues surrounding community college finance. Prior to receiving the PEAR Fellowship, she served as a staff assistant in the New York City office of U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and worked as a research consultant for the Postsecondary National Policy Institute (PNPI) in Washington, DC. At PNPI, she was also a 2019 Summer Scholar.

She has taught English abroad on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Bogotá, Colombia. Her research interests include inequities in college access, financial aid policy, workforce development, and the evolving role of the community college. Cardona is a graduate of New York City public schools, where she was a 2013 recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship. Cardona holds an AB in sociology from Cornell University and an MA in education policy from Teachers College. As a master’s student, she specialized in data analysis and research methods and higher education policy.