MDRC Welcomes Summer Interns and Fellows Participating in the Gueron Scholars Program


MDRC’s Gueron Scholars Program offers paid internships for undergraduates and master’s-level students and doctoral fellowships (with stipends) for students engaged in dissertation research. The program is designed to introduce students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the education and social policy research communities to MDRC

“After pausing the master’s operations internship and doctoral fellowship for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are thrilled to be able to welcome master’s and doctoral students to MDRC once again,” said Crystal Byndloss, MDRC Director of Outreach, Diversity, and Inclusion. “We’re also pleased that we’ve been able to increase the number of scholars receiving paid internship and fellowship experiences that expose them to the field of social policy in general—and to MDRC, in particular. We’re also excited to be able to work with The Policy Academies in developing and implementing programming for the 2023 cohort of the Gueron Scholars Program.”

The following interns and fellows have joined MDRC this summer:

Undergraduate Interns

David Alvarracin David Alvarracin, born and raised in Queens, is a rising senior at the University of Rochester, where he majors in financial economics. David is passionate about the intersections of economics and life outcomes with a special interest in supporting students in the public education system. He previously worked at Legal Outreach as a college access intern, where he tutored rising high school seniors for the SAT and provided them with insights to the college process. In the future, David would like to pursue a military career and earn a PhD in Education Policy. David is the recipient of the Gueron Scholars Program undergraduate internship named in honor of the late Rebecca Blank, former member of the MDRC Board of Directors. David will be working on projects in MDRC’s Postsecondary Education and Economic Mobility, Housing, and Communities policy areas.
Michael Guerrero Michael Guerrero is a rising senior at New York University’s College of Arts and Science, where his academic pursuits encompass psychology, business studies, and Spanish. With a passion for research, Michael has gained experience in aiding dual-language learners in preschool settings and implementing motivational strategies to foster positive adolescent development. He has worked for America Reads, Proud to Be First, and the Social Perception Action and Motivation Lab. His keen interest in data analysis and behavioral research further highlights his dedication to understanding the workings of human behavior in the social policy field. Looking ahead, Michael envisions a future in public interest law, aspiring to pursue this path at NYU Law. Michael will be working on projects in MDRC’s Family Well-Being and Children’s Development policy area and Youth Development, Criminal Justice and Employment policy area.
Rachel Pena Rachel Pena is a rising senior at Barnard College majoring in sociology and education. Rachel is passionate about pushing for systemic change through the creation of more equitable systems within our society, particularly in improving education policy that support schools in reflecting the needs of marginalized students. Before coming to MDRC, Rachel worked with other nonprofit organizations, such as Make the Road New York and College Access: Research and Action. In the future, Rachel would like to attend law school where she hopes to use her degree to help create and defend equitable policies. Rachel will be working on projects in MDRC’s Family Well-Being and Children’s Development policy area.
Bryan Thomas Bryan Thomas is a rising senior at Pomona College, where he studies sociology and biology. Bryan recently interned in immigration law and wrote asylum applications for Afghan refugees. In 2021, he worked with the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City on its annual Inner City 100 Award. Bryan has a passion for conducting research and is interested in developing skills and exploring careers in research this summer. In the future, he hopes to explore his passion for the intersections of sociology and geography. Bryan will be working on projects in the Youth Development, Criminal Justice, and Employment and the Economic Mobility, Housing, and Communities policy areas.

Operations Interns

Selena McLurkin Selena McLurkin is pursuing a master’s in public policy at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has a strong passion for finding ways to achieve racial, social, and economic equity. She has experience with community organizing with Community Coalition, conducting research at the Psychology Applied Research Center at her alma mater, Loyola Marymount University, and was most recently a teacher’s assistant for a Black Labor Organizing Class. Selena will be working on projects in the Postsecondary Education and the Family Well-Being and Children’s Development policy areas this summer. 
Jackie Xu Jackie Xu is enrolled at Columbia University, pursuing a master of social work degree. With a deep passion for promoting equitable access to affordable education and mental health services, Jackie has dedicated herself to making a positive impact in these areas. In her work as a case manager within a mental health setting, Jackie gained experience assessing client needs, communicating those needs to a clinical team, and engaging in outreach to support clients’ housing, access to food, and behavioral health needs. Jackie will be working on projects in the K-12 Education and Economic Mobility, Housing, and Communities policy areas.

Doctoral Fellows

Pierre Lucien Pierre Lucien is a DPhil Candidate at the University of Oxford studying the effects of college and career pathways in secondary schools on educational attainment for students historically underrepresented in higher education. Pierre is also a policy analyst at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Doctoral Teaching Fellow for Introduction to Quantitative Methods and Intermediate Quantitative Methods courses at the Oxford Education Department, and a Junior Dean at St. John’s College, Oxford. Previously, Pierre was a research analyst at Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research. Pierre earned master’s degrees from Brown University and the Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in Queens, NY.
Gabrielle Smith Finnie Gabrielle Smith Finnie is a doctoral candidate at Old Dominion University, where she is studying the experiences of Black justice-involved individuals pursuing higher education after justice involvement. Gabrielle has an M.S. in higher education and administration from Florida International University and experience in educational and justice-related settings. She has also served as a correctional education intern for the Virginia Department of Corrections and as a research intern for the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Gabrielle is very passionate about making radical change in higher education and beyond.