College of Education and Human Development

Institute of Child Development

ICD alumna uses summer research fellowship to support social justice in education

Magdalen “Maggy” Deschane (she/her)

Recent ICD graduate Magdalen “Maggy” Deschane (she/her) spent part of her summer at the RISE (Research Institute for Scholars of Equity) fellowship program at North Carolina Central University. She’s returning to ICD this fall as a Project Coordinator in Dr. Gail Ferguson’s Culture and Family Life Lab and continuing the year-long fellowship. Read more about Maggy’s time at ICD and what she has learned from this unique summer research opportunity.

Tell us a little about yourself and your time at the U of M.

I recently graduated from the College of Education and Human Development. I did the Integrated Degree Program, so I graduated with a Bachelor of Science, concentrating in Early Childhood Education and Social Justice, and a minor in Developmental Psychology. I grew up in northern Wisconsin on a small hobby farm.

During my time at the U of M, I have been involved in quite a few community-engaged learning classes. I really appreciated my experiences in these classes, as I had thoughtful professors who integrated the community work in a way that respected the community and also gave me a chance to try out different education styles.

How did you choose your major and area of study? 

Honestly, my relationships with other teachers and educators, and the relationships I have formed and continue to form with children. 

Both of my parents are educators, I grew up seeing the ins and outs of academic settings. I came to college and was influenced by an awesome preschool environment, and then I was also interacting with amazing scholars and professors here at the U of M – everything to me comes back to the relationships I have been able to form in proxy to or literally through education. I find a lot of joy in building relationships and this is something I hope to continue to draw from as I work with students and other educators.

Tell us about your work in Dr. Gail Ferguson’s Culture and Family Life Lab. 

Joining Dr. Ferguson’s lab has been one of the biggest blessings in my college career. I only wish I would have gotten involved sooner! Dr. Ferguson and my grad student mentor, Lauren Eales, have been beyond helpful in mentoring me in professional development, research methods, and post-graduate career options. I found out about this fellowship through them and am so thankful for the support they continue to give me. 

 Being a part of the Culture and Family Life Lab is so joyful. I really appreciate how interdisciplinary, intersectional, and transnational the work being done in our lab is.  I have always felt very welcome in the lab; the ICD grad students are all very supportive of undergraduates. They frequently share resources or opportunities that allow undergraduate students such as myself to feel involved and able to ask questions or contribute to the conversation. Some of my favorite memories in the CFL lab are attending the 2022 Minnesota Symposium and getting to hear Dr. Beale-Spencer speak, and all of the whole lab meetings.

Tell us about what you hope to do through the RISE fellowship. Any particular areas of focus for your research? 

I hope to continue to grow as a researcher through this fellowship by gaining skills in mixed-methods research, practicing developing research questions and carrying them out through research projects, and growing as a professional. I also am looking forward to meeting other people my age thinking about mixed-methods research and education.

There are so many things I am interested in when it comes to education research! I am inspired by scholars such as bell hooks, Bettina Love, and Akiea Gross. I want to research abolitionist early childhood education options and use this research to advocate for increased access to these alternative options. I also want to research white racial identity development in order to look more specifically at the implications for white teachers as socialization agents and use this research to develop interventions that help white teachers talk about race and develop more equitable academic environments. 

This fellowship is focused on addressing issues of social equity and improving schooling experiences and academic attainment of African-American and Latino students. How does this align with your goals for the future? 

In order to create improved schooling experiences and increase academic attainment for Black and Latinx students, we have to start by listening to them. As a researcher and educator, most of my work relies on these interpersonal relationships with students. It is my goal to make those relationships the best practice for all educators and researchers. By doing this, we can begin to think more expansively about our schooling techniques and environments, which will in turn promote academic attainment. 

What is next for you now that you’ve graduated?

I’m so grateful for the multitude of experiences and opportunities that unfolded this summer during my tenure as a fellow in the RISE Fellowship program. Drs. Lee and Smith’s warm welcome and unwavering support were invaluable, and becoming a part of the NCCU community was a rewarding experience. The fellowship not only allowed me to explore my research interests but also prepared me for the road ahead in graduate school. I’m appreciative of the chance to connect with peers and gain hands-on research experience through the fellowship, and the friendships formed within our scholars’ cohort were a definite highlight. Looking ahead, I’m excited to share that in addition to completing the year-long fellowship, I will also be serving as the Project Coordinator for The CARPE DIEM Study here at ICD, and fulfilling an educator position at Southside Family School. Finally, I’m aiming to apply for graduate school this term as well, focusing on a program that emphasizes Educational Leadership and Social Justice.