CEPWC Profile: Eva Galdo

Eva Galdo, a third-year MPP/PhD student, is in a class of her own.

Eva Galdo is in a class of her own, figuratively and literally. The pioneering student is the only third year in the growing Batten/Curry MPP/PhD dual degree program. Now a part of a robust graduate program, Eva’s experiences have been a testing ground for the kinds of mentoring and cooperative education the program strives to provide.  Galdo entered the Ed Policy PhD program before the formation of the MPP/PhD program after spending 3 years as a high school math teacher.  She is now part of the joint program and does research focused on early childhood education policy, choices she says have benefited from the professional and research mentorship she receives from program faculty.

Eva’s primary research mentor, Assistant Professor Daphna Bassok, has worked extensively with Professor Jim Wyckoff, Director of CEPWC and the Ed Policy PhD program, to craft a vision of the Education Policy PhD program in which students are exposed to a variety of research projects during their first years in the program.  Through this rotation model, Galdo began to work with Bassok, and her interest was piqued: “She really turned me on to studying early childhood education and brought to my attention all the opportunities in the field. There are a lot of holes in early childhood education research and it’s a really important part of public policy. A lot of money goes into it and there are a lot of questions about how we should spend that money – what works and what doesn’t?”  When asked what made early childhood an exciting field, she pointed to the potential to close the achievement gap, “We see the achievement gap so early on.  Early life experiences really matter, and I think that for some kids, they don’t have opportunities to have quality early education experiences and maybe providing more opportunities might make a difference.” 

She is currently working with Bassok and Assistant Research Professor Luke Miller to examine the effect of universal pre-k in Florida on the availability of public and private sector childcare. They will also look at quality changes and the effect of universal preschool on child outcomes.  The joint mentorship provided by Bassok and Miller has allowed her to see two different approaches to research and how the two might work together. “Daphna and Luke are very different in the way they approach things and I think it’s good to see the contrast because they’re both smart and thoughtful and I get twice as much out of our interactions. Daphna is more big picture, and Luke is more detail oriented. They are really good compliments to each other.”

In addition to the excellent mentorship opportunities, Galdo has also benefited from the coursework provided by the joint Batten and Curry MPP/Phd program.  When the MPP became available during her second year in her PhD program, she elected to enroll even though it would mean an additional year of study because she saw the value of the two approaches.  This decision didn’t surprise her mentor Bassok, who said Galdo “is very willing to go above and beyond what you ask her for, very thoughtful, very eager to learn skills. When you put an opportunity in front of her, she always goes for it.”  She has taken advantage of the opportunities presented by the dual program, using the coursework of the Batten program to explore a variety of policy career options, while using the research training of the PhD to develop her ability to examine questions with depth and rigor.

To read more about the work happening in the Center, please refer to our Working Paper series.