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Analytics Graduate Student Will Finish Debt-Free with Grant from AAUW

Emi Behan enrolled in Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Analytics because she saw an opportunity to finally make a difference in education policy.

Now she’s earned a grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) that will pay for more than half of her degree and accelerate her graduation.

“The AAUW Career Development Grant provides me with the opportunity to pursue a degree outside of my current professional field that will allow me to approach education reform in a unique way,” said Behan, who has about 20 percent of her coursework under her belt. “This would not be possible without the support of the AAUW.”

Behan spent several years teaching in San Antonio but never felt like she could address what she saw as entrenched inequality in the educational system that prevented some students and teachers from succeeding.

“You will be hard-pressed to find someone who articulates a desire for a worse quality of education for our students, but the reality of the U.S. education system is that many choices lead to exactly that,” Behan said. “By viewing this issue through the lens of analytics, I hope to identify the disconnect between the perceived goal and the creation and implementation of policies that affect millions of children daily.”

Behan has been involved with Teach for America, City Year and other educational organizations over the last decade. Currently, she’s working for a nonprofit that supports people with chromosome 18 abnormalities and advances research about related conditions.

AAUW’s career development grants aim to help women who are preparing to change or advance their careers or to re-enter the workforce. The organization says women hold about two-thirds of student-loan debt, so one of its priorities is helping women develop their skills without borrowing money.

Behan said the grant will mean exactly that for her: she’ll be able to finish her degree debt-free.

“When I left the classroom for the nonprofit sector, it was because I did not see a way to impact lasting change in education policy. Through pursuing an M.S. in Analytics, I now see an opportunity to impact the U.S. education system at the organizational level and work toward a better quality of education for all students.”

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