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ICE Graduation

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Madelyn Gardner

Photo of Madelyn Gardner
Madelyn Gardner

As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to volunteer as a teacher to incarcerated students, an experience that sparked a strong interest in education and its potential to enrich individuals’ lives. This interest took a global turn during a semester abroad in Senegal, where I interned at a rural primary school and saw firsthand the existence of radical differences in access to high-quality educational experiences. By the time I graduated, I had come to regard education a powerful tool for addressing inequality in the US and abroad and decided to undertake a fellowship teaching at a Thai university.

After returning from Southeast Asia, I had a deep desire to pursue formal training that would orient me to education as an academic field while strengthening my analytical and research abilities; I was able to achieve both through the ICE/IEPA program. The program married my interests in education policy and global studies, presenting an opportunity to study educational issues through a variety of disciplinary lenses. ICE/IEPA also offered extensive coursework in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, providing uncommonly rigorous research training for a master’s level program. I applied these theoretical and methodological lessons to my MA paper, an analysis of UN rhetoric regarding refugees. Writing this paper, and receiving highly individualized support from my advisors and peers in the process, was one of the highlights of my GSE experience.

While at Stanford, I also had the privilege of meeting a host of thoughtful and engaged individuals with deep expertise and passion for education. The GSE is a vibrant community, with endless opportunities to attend events, volunteer in the community, and engage in extracurricular projects. I left the GSE with many lifelong friends and colleagues.

Since completing the program, I have begun working for the Learning Policy Institute, a new education think tank led by Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond. Working at LPI, I have the opportunity to contribute to high-leverage, policy-relevant research projects, including in early childhood education—the field I am most passionate about. Stanford’s MA in International Education Policy Analysis gave me a valuable skill set and orientation to the field, preparing me to help shape education policies for the better.