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Graduate Students Receive Dissertation Fellowships

May 31, 2024
Graduate students Karla Thomas (left) and Forrest Bruce received fellowships to support their research.

Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy graduate students Forrest Bruce (Ojibwe) and Karla Thomas have received highly competitive NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowships to support their research and career development.

Bruce, who earned his bachelor’s degree from the School of Education and Social Policy in social policy in 2017, is a doctoral candidate in learning sciences who studies land-based education and the design of community-based learning environments that support Indigenous ways of knowing and being.

He worked in Chicago Public Schools’ American Indian Education for a year before joining the Indigenous STEAM research project, first as a research coordinator then later as a graduate student.

Thomas, who is pursuing a PhD in human development and social policy, researches parent, teacher, and community acts of resistance, defiance, and dream-building in the face of anti-Black and anti-LGBTQ education policy. Her ongoing collaborative research efforts explore the invisible ways Black parents and communities participate in the struggle for a just Black education through activism, political advocacy, and educating educators and communities on issues of race and racism.

A member of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, Thomas also received the Multidisciplinary Program in Educational Science Fellowship, and is a member of the inaugural cohort of ARIS Scholars for Social Justice.

Thomas earned a master’s in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management and a master’s in human development and social policy from the School of Education and Social Policy. She received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Mississippi.

Bruce and Thomas were among the 35 young scholars who received the $27,500 award to research issues that can improve education. The fellowships support those whose dissertations show potential “for bringing fresh and constructive perspectives to the history, theory, analysis, or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world,” according to the National Academy of Education.