Student Profile

Claudia Escobar

Ph.D. Candidate


Ms. Escobar is a Ph.D. candidate in the School Organization and Education Policy emphasis area and a graduate student researcher with the California Education Lab and Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She is a former researcher and policy analyst for the University of California’s Office of the President. She is originally from Southern California but has spent most of her recent time in the Bay Area. She is the first in her family to obtain a bachelor’s and master’s degree and soon a doctorate.


Doctor of Philosophy in Education
University of California, Davis, Expected Spring 2020
Dissertation title: TBD
Advisors: Michal Kurlaender and Paco Martorell

Master’s of Public Policy
University of Chicago – Harris School of Public Policy

Bachelor of Arts in Government
Claremont McKenna College
Thesis: An Assessment of the Community Development Block Grant in Pomona

Research Interests

The goal of her research is to improve the persistence, retention, and rates of completion of first-generation college students within selective and broad-access institutions of higher education. More specifically, she examines student perceptions of their development of social emotional learning factors such as sense of belonging and motivation, and interactions between students, faculty, and peers within learning environments. She explores belonging and motivation through different constructs, theoretical perspectives (i.e., sociology, social psychology and cultural), and employs quantitative and qualitative research methods.


Research Experience

Graduate Research Assistant, Academic Diversity, UC Davis
2018 – Present

  • Conducted literature review for Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Task Force Report
  • Contributed to writing of HSI Task Force Report
  • Collected qualitative data, vis-à-vis interviews with UC Davis departments that support student academic success to inform HSI Task Force Report

Graduate Research Assistant, School of Education, UC Davis  2016 – 2018

  • Assisted with implementation of 2 randomized control trials of an intervention and managed relationships with partners at research site
  • Co-authored a survey instrument
  • Analysis of survey data
  • Developed qualitative research project
  • Secured IRB approval for research project
  • Developed interview protocols and conducted interview with study participants


Teaching and Mentoring Experience

Teaching Assistant, Issues in Higher Education, Schoo of Education, UC Davis
Spring 2016

  • Grade writing assignments and hold office hours

UCD Summer Poverty Research Engagement Experience (UCD-SPREE), Summer 2017

  • Mentored two undergraduate students through a seven-week intensive research program


UCD Summer Poverty Research Engagement Experience (UCD-SPREE), Summer 2017 & 2019

Mentored two undergraduate students through an eight-week intensive research program

McNair and MURALS Program, Fall 2017 & 2019

  • Mentored two undergraduate student towards graduate/professional school.

Graduate Academic Achievement and Advocacy Program (GAAAP), UC Davis, Winter 2016

  • Mentored 2 undergraduate students towards graduate/professional school.

Honors and Awards

Honorable Mention, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, 2017

Academic Distinction, UC Davis School of Education, 2015

STAR Award for superior employee performance, University of California, Office of the President, 2013

Publications, Reports and Conference Presentations


The Power of Experiences: Investigating Students’ Motivations in College
Author(s): Claudia Escobar, Marcela Cuellar, & Michal Kurlaender
(in progress)

Examining the relationship between student perceptions of their instructors and course performance
Author(s): Claudia Escobar
(in progress)

Investing in Rising Scholars and Serving the State of California: What it Means for UC Davis to be a Hispanic Serving Institution

Author(s): Raquel Aldana, Laura Cerruti, Claudia Escobar, March 2019

Conference Presentations

Paper Session: Examining the relationship between student perceptions of their instructors and course performance, American Education Research Association, April 2018

Roundtable presentation: The Power of Experiences: Investigating Students’ Motivations in College, Association for the Study of Higher Education, November 2017


Graduate Group in Education Scholarship, 2019                               UC Davis Award: $5,000

Graduate Group in Education Research Fellowship, 2017, 2018, 2019
UC Davis Award: $1,500, $10,000, $1,500 in support of research expenses

Cross Cultural Center and Graduate Academic Achievement & Advocacy Program, 2018
UC Davis Summer Research Award: $500

Graduate Group in Education Research Fellowship, 2017
UC Davis Award: $1,500 in support of research expenses

Graduate Group in Education Travel Fellowship, 2017 & 2019
UC Davis Award: $1,000 in support of travel costs for conferences 

Professional Experience and Service

Professional Experience

Senior Analyst in Institutional Research and Academic Planning, UC Office of the President Oakland, CA, 2009 – 2015

  • Produced analyses for policymakers on the Universities short and long-term enrollment plans.
  • Developed projections of public high school graduates in California.

University Service

Womxn of Color Graduate Panel, Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority, UC Davis Chapter, 2017 & 2018

President, UC Office the President Staff Assembly, 2012

  • Lead the organization through strategic planning and its implementation of staff engagement efforts between executive leadership and staff to improve employees’ opportunity for career advancement.

For Fun

Ms. Escobar likes to go on long bike rides, dances, and always enjoys a good conversation with colleagues. She also likes to meditate and finding easy to make but delicious recipes for her crock pot. 

Log in