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Research Team

The Justice-oriented Youth (JoY) Education Lab


Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD

Ayana Allen-Handy - Drexel University Assistant Professor for EdD in Educational Leadership and Management
 Ayana Allen-Handy, Ph.D.
is an Assistant Professor of Urban Education and the Founder/Director of the Justice-oriented Youth (JoY) Education Lab at Drexel University’s School of Education. A native Philadelphian and former elementary school teacher and high school counselor, Dr. Allen-Handy's 19-year career has been dedicated to social justice urban education. She received a PhD in Education Curriculum & Instruction, Specializing in Urban Education from Texas A& M University, a MEd from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX, and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, double majoring in Management & Society and Spanish. She is also a former Post-Doctoral Fellow of The Urban Education Collaborative at UNC-Charlotte.

Graduate Research Assistants

Karena Escalante

Karena Escalante Drexel University School of Education PhD student
Karena Alane Escalante is a doctoral candidate from Los Angeles, California. Before attending Drexel University School of Education, she earned her B.A. in psychology from Grinnell College in Iowa and her M.S.Ed. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. After teaching for five years in Oahu, Hawai’i, Karena became interested in assessing the various ways in which ELL policies on a federal level impact rural learning communities. Her research interests involve advocating for non-native English students and illuminating their cultural relevance at multiple levels of the education system. As a woman of color and first generation Ph.D. candidate, Karena is passionate about dismantling systems of oppression within academia.  

Turea Huston

Turea Hutson Drexel University PhD in Education student 
 Turea Hutson is a first-year student in the Drexel University PhD program on the Education Leadership and Policy track. She is a graduate of Arcadia University, where she received her BA in Elementary Education and her MEd in Literacy Studies and TESOL. Social justice and equity were a primary focus of Turea's undergraduate and graduate studies, and she spent much of her time researching ways to make schools a more equitable space for marginalized students to learn. Turea's interest in policy as it relates to education led her to run for school board in her hometown. She served as president of the board for three years, and currently serves as the Norristown Area School District board liaison to the Pennsylvania School Board Association. Her research interests include: Equity in education, education policy, discrimination trauma, government, intersectionality, social justice, abolitionist teaching, student identity, and cultural proficiency in teaching.

Rasheda Likely, Ph.D.

Rasheda Likely Drexel University School of Education
 Rasheda Likely, Ph.D.
(JoY Ed. Lab Alumni) is a native of Pensacola, FL. She earned both her Bachelors and Masters of Science in Biology from the University of North Florida. Prior to her doctoral studies at Drexel University, she worked as a medical scientist for the Florida Department of Health where she performed testing during the Zika virus outbreak. While attending Drexel, she has been pivotal in the development and implementation of seven different science curricula across the Greater Philadelphia Area. Over 400 elementary and middle school students have participated in these science programs, two of which were grant funded by the US Department of Education. Dr. Likely's research passions include developing decolonized science curricula and culturally sustaining assessments. She recently defended her dissertation research titled "Lotions and Potions: Exploring Black Girls' Engagement in and Perceptions of Science Practices through Hair Care". She will begin as an Assistant Professor of Science Education at Kennesaw State University in the Fall of 2020. Dr. Rasheda Likely takes great delight in imagining and creating learning experiences that reflect the brilliance of minoritized students.

Ague Mae Manongsong

Ague Mae Manongsong Drexel University School of Education
 Ague Mae Manongsong
is a PhD. Candidate in the Educational Leadership track. Prior to her doctoral studies, Ague Mae earned her BA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Sacramento State University and an MA in Organizational Behavior and Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University. In addition to her research activities, she is also an editorial board member for SOE’s Emerging Voices in Education Journal, as well as lead the development of online feminist mentoring workshops. Her current research interests center on the different applications of mentoring for the purposes of increasing the likelihood of positive leadership and career outcomes for women and women of color, as well as other marginalized groups. Specifically, Ague Mae seeks to explore how these different populations utilize and benefit from mentoring.

Alysha (Aly) Friesen Meloche

Alysha Meloche Drexel University School of Education
 Alysha (Aly) Friesen Meloche
is a Ph.D. candidate and research assistant at Drexel University’s School of Education. Her research interests include formal and informal art education, creativity, and aesthetics in interdisciplinary contexts. She is currently completing a dissertation exploring how knowing the identity of an artist changes the emotions that one experiences while looking at their work, particularly when aspects of identity are shared. She would like to study approaches to art education and the history of art that instill creative confidence and identity in students. Some of the areas that interest her are the significance of learning about one’s cultural and identity-specific visual heritage, and the effect of being taught the creative process through examples from history. Before joining Drexel University, Meloche earned both her B.A. and M.A. in Art History from Temple University. Her Master’s focus was on Late Antique architecture. She then worked for five years as an adjunct Art History and design professor. She wishes to research ways that people are making Art and Art History education accessible and valuable.

Kimberly Sterin

Kimberly Sterin PhD student Drexel University School of Education
 Kimberly Sterin
is a Ph.D. student focused on Educational Leadership and Policy at Drexel University’s School of Education. After teaching middle and high school English in two Title I public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland for seven years, she decided to become a driver of the research that influences educational policy. Sterin earned a Masters degree from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education through their School Immersion Master of Arts in Teaching (SIMAT) program. She also holds two undergraduate degrees in English Language & Literature and Spanish Language & Literature, as well as a minor in Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry, from the University of Maryland, College Park. Sterin was awarded the Johns Hopkins Dr. Diane Tobin Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2017. As a member of the JoY Ed Lab, Sterin is committed to advocating for equitable distribution of educational resources.

Monique ‘Moe’ Woodard

Monique Woodward Drexel University School of Education
 Monique ‘Moe’ Woodard
is a third year PhD student in the School of Education. She earned her Bachelors' from Wilkes University, completing a dual major in Integrative Media and Theatre. She earned her Masters in Digital Media, and continues to integrate her digital media background in her research. She also has several years of experience working at summer outdoor and indoor camps, serving as a director. Her research focuses on facilitating creative processes in Black girls as they learn to design and code virtual reality environments.