Student Perspectives on Diversity and Access

Place Matters: Roman Ruiz is researching spatial dimensions of college access

Roman Ruiz is a Ph.D. student in the Higher Education program at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. He is a member of Penn's Fontaine Society, which supports the education of the most underrepresented groups in Ph.D. education. Roman talks about his own educational and professional paths and his research trajectory.


Student Perspectives on Diversity

“I am most impressed by Penn GSE’s dedication to access and equity in education and experienced this commitment during a prospective students’ weekend the fall before I applied. Having attended a large undergraduate university, I knew that I wanted to explore the enterprise of higher education institutions at a smaller school, where I could receive mentorship and training from top scholars in the field. The coursework and opportunities to engage with faculty and students provide unparalleled experience in analyzing critical issues in education and create space for conversations to begin solving those problems in the future. "

– Gary L. Davis

Master’s student, Higher Education

Vanessa Williams

“After doing due diligence of surveying the top education schools in the country, I found that Penn GSE was the best place for me for 3 main reasons: 1) the kind, supportive, intellectually challenging, and brilliant world-class faculty; 2) the family-oriented style of relationships among our entire department, 3) and most importantly, the sociocultural focus and strong commitment to social justice within our local communities and global contexts. Ultimately, Penn GSE is a place where I can theorize from the mind and heart, a place for me to grow my scholarship and activism. The faculty, curriculum, and my colleagues here at Penn GSE truly understand how to support the development of a person holistically and I cannot imagine myself in any other program. ”


–Victoria Gill

Ed.D. student, Reading, Writing & Literacy



“I chose Penn GSE because at my core, I was attracted to the intimacy and connectedness that Penn GSE offered. Because Penn GSE is a relatively small school, with small-sized programs, the school offers me the chance to develop really strong relationships with world-class faculty, staff, and colleagues that other schools could not provide. Penn GSE also deeply values innovation and passion, having multiple partnerships with community organizations, entrepreneurship incubators, and schools within the Philadelphia community. Finally, Penn GSE is situated in an urban city that provides the appropriate and relevant context for both informing and reforming public education in the U.S.”

–Serrano LeGrand

Ed.D. student, Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education


“During preview weekend, I met peers in previous and current Penn GSE cohorts who were deeply invested in issues of equity and inclusion, and who actively called for a community-wide commitment to these issues, even within the Penn GSE Higher Education program itself. I knew these peers were who I would want to learn from and alongside."

–Frances Nan

Master’s student, Higher Education