Masi Faroqui, MPP ’13, reflects on college access research experience

Note: The Urban Initiative often looks for opportunities to work with classes or students on projects that do three things: support the mission of the UI, address a need in the community, and, most importantly, capture the interest of the student. During the Spring 2013 semester, we worked with Masi Faroqui, MPP ’13, on a project related to college access in urban SouthCoast for his capstone course, Applied Policy Research. We asked him to reflect on his project and experience by answering the questions posed below. All responses are Masi’s.

(Professor Chad McGuire & Masi Faroqui, MPP ’13. Photo credit: UMass Dartmouth MPP Program Facebook page.)

1.     Why did the topic of college access appeal to you?

College access is defined as “a field dedicated to the idea of all students graduating from high school and able to attain a college degree.”[1] However, being a first generation American minority, I struggled with the transition from high school to college and had very little insight into what these barriers actually were.  Therefore, I choose to select the topic of college access so that hopefully my policy findings can help identify, innovate, and promote better tools/ methods for improving college access for underserved minorities.

2.     What was the purpose of mapping assets?

The purpose of Asset Mapping is to appeal to neighborhood stakeholders creating collaborative opportunities that can help sustain and further assist the South Coast community. The ultimate goal was to develop a regional asset map that appealed to  parents, college access program directors, and school administrators, by mapping organizations programs and services that currently exist to support college access. Most importantly, this research will hopefully help assist the New Bedford and Fall River communities in achieving prosperous economic and educational attainment by highlighting what is going on inside and outside area high schools.

3.     How did this project challenge you?

This project challenged me in various ways such as overcoming bureaucratic blockages, survey design problems, and limited research on college access best practices involving parent/families.

4.     How did this project help build your skill set?

This research project on college access allowed me to take the different elements of my developed public policy framework and incorporate it all into one. This framework is comprised of identifying theoretical concepts and policy principles, analyzing these policy issues through learned research tools and methods, and making practical policy based solutions

5.     How did this project influence your thinking about education?

This project allowed me to delve into education policy using my expansive public policy framework which increased my thinking and problem solving effectiveness.  I was able to take theoretical concepts developed through my own personal experiences in education which helped me strengthen the understanding of learned policy principles. Additionally, I was able to use research method  to recognize problematic gaps to eventually suggest grounded policy based solutions.

 6.     In one sentence, what is the takeaway of your research?

 A paradigm shift is occurring in America and the minority is becoming the majority; for this purpose re-modeling college access best practices to be more parent/family focused is necessary in order to adequately and equitably meet the economic and academic demands of the 21st century.

 7.     What should the Urban Initiative do next when it comes to college access?

The Urban Initiative should utilize the community contacts established by this research to continue Asset Mapping college access programs in Fall River and New Bedford. Also, Urban Initiative should expand upon this research by using it as a base line for supporting the re-modeling of college access best practice models to be more parent/family centered by looking into other states for support. The hope is that vital community based organizations such as the Urban Initiative can use some piece of the college access research done to improve to the overall economic and academic well-being of the Fall River and New Bedford communities.

[1]Root Cause 2010

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