Brandon L. Crawford is currently a 3rd year Ph.D. student in Sociology at the University of Oklahoma’s Norman Campus. He is a research assistant at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ Office of Planning Research and Statistics, where he is working on a federal Youth at-Risk of Homelessness grant. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas and a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Prior to beginning his graduate work, Brandon was a Casework Specialist for the Texas Department of Family Protective Services. His research interests include the role of gender in child maltreatment case outcomes, risks of homelessness for youth formerly in foster care in Oklahoma, history of the death penalty, and abortion opinions. Concluding the completion of his Ph.D., Brandon intends to continue his research and teach at the university level. He has contributed a blog post on identifying the factors that place former foster youth at risk of homelessness.
Ryan Gentzler is a Master of Public Administration student and Research Associate for the Early Childhood Education Institute at the University of Oklahoma’s Tulsa campus. Previously, he worked as a Family Support Specialist at the Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center. He graduated from William Jewell College with a BA in Institutions and Policy in 2009, then served a year in AmeriCorps VISTA in Iowa, taught English in Ecuador, and worked for the Center for Global Education in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Ryan is currently studying trends in state and local education funding and has further interests in drug and criminal justice policy, especially examining the diversity of state approaches to these issues. He has contributed guest blog posts on the debate over regulating wind power; why Oklahoma’s school funding is especially threatened by state budget cuts; the importance of bilingual education (with Shannon Guss); and tax credit reform.
Ryan on what he got out of the Research Fellowship: “The singular benefit of the Fellowship is the opportunity to learn from and be challenged by the OK Policy staff, both to better understand the Oklahoma context and to more effectively communicate policy research to the public.”
Cassidy Hamilton is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma, concentrating on public policy. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics while minoring in History and Latin American Studies. Cassidy is an AmeriCorps member working alongside the Community After School Program, a non-profit after school program in Norman, where she coordinates the tutoring program, which matches tutors with at-risk students with low reading scores. She is particularly interested in health and housing policy, economic development, community lending in low-income areas, and the interconnectedness of fiscal and monetary policy. She has contributed guest blog posts on Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate and proposals for all voting-by-mail elections.
Cassidy on what she got out of the Research Fellowship: “After years of writing exclusively academically, I appreciated the opportunity to weigh in on current issues with real, observable implications for the community in which I live.”
Michael Thomas is a Master’s student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at Oklahoma State University. He works as a Graduate Research Assistant for the department of Graduate Studies, Outreach, and Research, focusing on the recruitment and retention of graduate students within the College of Education. Michael is also president of OSU’s Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) and mentors first generation college students. In 2013, he graduated Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration/Management. His interests include: the policy making process across public higher education; the impact of performance based funding on minority serving institutions; the role of service-learning in community-university engagement; and culturally relevant teaching. He aspires to become a Professor of Higher Education Leadership and Policy. He has contributed a blog post on the economic contribution of higher education in Oklahoma.
Michael on what he got out of the Research Fellowship: “Participating as an OK Policy Research Fellow was a solid introduction to and meaningful experience with Oklahoma’s public policy process. Learning about budget and taxes, education reform, healthcare, and the policy analysis of bills for the legislative session were all hallmarks of my experience with OK Policy.”