Community Learning Research Fellows Work with Hartford Partners

The Center for Hartford Engagement & Research is proud to announce the 2019 Community Learning Research Fellows! This is a competitive program that allows selected students with previous community engagement experience to challenge their learning and perspective by taking on a research or creative project. Fellows will spend their semester collaborating with faculty advisors and Hartford partners to design and execute their research projects. 

Community Consultant James Jeter and Professor Laura Holt

Fellows have access to a number of resources and great minds in the Trinity community– they’ll attend meetings with their faculty advisors and community partners, prepare questions and request feedback on their research design from various faculty and staff during monthly colloquium meetings, and attend weekly fellows seminars to learn about research design and methods with instructor Laura Holt and TA Samantha McCarthy and Community Consultant James Jeter. 

Each week the fellows are exploring a series of topics: identifying a question and designing a research project, communicating a research plan, developing good interview skills and techniques, analyzing and visualizing data, designing visual presentations and posters, and managing expectations and addressing challenges in collaborative projects. Instructor Laura Holt has a syllabus full of helpful resources, presentations from subject area experts in the Trinity community such as Instructional Technologist Dave Tatem and Liberal Arts Action Lab Director Megan Brown, as well as a number of useful public resources such as the Community Toolbox.

The Fall 2019 Community Learning Research Fellows are:

Emily Schroeder ‘20 – Parents Enrolled in College
Community Partner: CT Office of Early Childhood (CECA)
Faculty advisor: Jack Dougherty

  • CT Office of Early Childhood asked, “How do parents with young children attempt to balance their personal educational and career goals with their child care needs, and are there differences between parents currently enrolled in community college versus those who also desire to enroll but have not yet done so?” Currently, CT is one of only two states that does not allow parents in educational opportunities (higher ed, ESL, job training, adult education) to continue qualifying for childcare subsidies. Emily will conduct qualitative interviews with parents enrolled in community college and parents not enrolled, which will be made available on the web. This research and public presentation will play an important role in CECA’s lobbying efforts.

Isabelle Alexandre ‘20 – Maternal Mortality in Connecticut
Community Partner: YWCA Hartford
Faculty advisor: Dina Anselmi

  • YWCA of Hartford asks for research that compares maternal care and postpartum care for Medicaid and private insurance companies, with a particular focus on how this affects black women in Connecticut and the role of insurance coverage for doula care and midwife care. Isabelle will research the history of Medicaid in Connecticut and the prevalence of maternal mortality in Connecticut. Additionally, there will be the opportunity to conduct focus groups and interviews about people’s experiences throughout and after their pregnancies. This research will help the YWCA advocate for insurance coverage for doulas in Connecticut.

Alejandra Zaldivar ‘20 – Bilingual Education Programs in Hartford
Community Partner: City of Hartford Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez
Faculty advisor: Aidalí Aponté-Aviles

  • City of Hartford Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez asked for help to “Compare and contrast the bilingual education programs set up in place and their outcomes in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and today, focusing on the Spanish speaking population of Connecticut. Alejandra will conduct a literature review on the topic, draft a survey for relevant populations, and conduct several interviews with former teachers, students, and other people who started the bilingual education program in Hartford. This retrospective research will help the Councilwoman to reactivate bilingual education programs in Hartford. 

Jackie Monzon ‘20 and Brenda Ordonez ‘22 – Improving ESOL Programs
Community Partner: Jubilee House
Faculty advisor: Stefanie Wong

  • The Jubilee House asked, “How can we ensure students at the Jubilee House are getting the best quality education and resources? How can we improve our intake practice to understand needs, goals, and motivations? Specifically, how do a parent’s studies impact their children? What practices and supports could be added into the Jubilee Program to promote family literacy?” Jackie and Brenda will research intake processes at similar organizations and conduct qualitative interviews in-person with Jubilee House students. Their research in these areas will help improve the quality of the ESOL program.

Olivia Zeiner-Morrish ‘22 and Richard Perry ‘22 – Gun Violence Prevention
Community Partner: CT Against Gun Violence and Hartford Communities that Care
Faculty advisor: Sarah Raskin

  • CT Against Gun Violence and Hartford Communities that Care asked, “What are the origins or the firearms uses in Connecticut homicides?” Currently, there is no comprehensive public database that documents the firearms that are used, but this information is critical in order to understand the the flow of illicit firearms in and out of Connecticut and subsequently advocate for legislation to stem the inflow. Olivia and Richard will first work with local police departments to catalog gun homicides that have occurred across Connecticut in 2019, then they will examine gun violence legislation in neighboring states.

William Tjeltveit ‘20 – National Park Usage
Community Partner: National Park Service
Faculty advisor: Daniel Douglas

  • The National Park Service and City of Hartford asked, “How can we best estimate and model park usage for Coltsville National Historical Park/Colt Park? What are the various strategies that have been employed elsewhere and how can they best be used and adapted here?” Will will synthesize past data of  formal and informal park usage, research other areas’ and parks’ best practices for measuring and estimating usage, and help the City estimate visitation for Colt Park and shifts expected as it becomes part of a larger National Historical Park.

Eleanor Faraguna ‘21 – Advocating for Comprehensive Sexual Health Education
Community Partner: NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut
Faculty advisors: Erica Crowley and Jack Dougherty

  • NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut asked for a report on K-12 sexual health education campaigns in other states that have successfuly passed statewide legislation. Eleanor will create a report that will include best-practices organizing/advocacy models and resources, case studies on successful campaigns, and qualitative interviews with key stakeholders in case study sites and Connecticut to guide the Connecticut Healthy Youth Coalition as they build capacity.

Renita Washington ‘22 and Manny Rodriguez ‘20 – Factors Affecting Infant-PreK Child Care
Community Partner: Trinity College Community Child Care Center (TC4)
Faculty advisor: Jack Dougherty

  • TC4 asked, “What types of families (by geography, SES, Trinity or community membership, other demographic factors) has TC4 served/subsidized with scholarships over time? What factors do families, especially higher income families, look for when deciding on a child care center for their children?” Renita will examine existing data about families served at TC4 and conduct interviews with parents.
  • TC4 also asked, “How have state funding policy changes, such as the growth of pre-K magnet schools, affected the Trinity College Child Care Center and similar institutions?” Manny will archive information from the CT Legislature and other sources to understand changes to state funding policies related to childcare since 2003, and he will also conduct qualitative interviews with parents who have children in child care.

Congratulations to the Fall 2019 Research Fellows on a strong start to the semester. We are looking forward to working with you and seeing the results of your projects later this Fall.

To learn more about the Community Learning Research Fellows Program, visit or contact