Xavier Monroe, who graduated from UF in 2013, is the recent recipient of a highly competitive National Science Foundation Research Fellowship. Mr. Monroe went on to earn a master’s in education leadership and policy at the University of Michigan, and is now continuing his studies at the PhD level at Stanford University. He has written to express his gratitude for the head start UF provided.


Xavier Monroe in Kano, Nigeria, with children we met atop Dala Hill

First, I would like to thank Dr. Susan O’Brien for being a supportive and caring advisor during my time at UF and for her continued advice. She also provided me an invaluable experience to travel to Kano, Nigeria, to study the Chinese impact on the industrial- and manufacturing-trade economy in the region – this experience, and the preceding activities, were my introduction to scholarly research.

My proposal for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship focused on providing culturally responsive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities and interventions, in informal environments, to underrepresented minority youth. The goal of this research is to examine if the intervention motivates students to persists in and pursue STEM, while also enhancing their formal academic learning experience.

While my NSF research proposal is not a direct extension of the research I did as an undergraduate, the analytical, writing, and research skills for my senior thesis provided a strong foundation to obtain this fellowship. The combination of my history and engineering degrees, prepared me to transition to the field of educational policy where I continue to draw from both degrees as I focus on the disconnect between policy and practice, the role of family and community partnerships with schools, and issues of access and equity within STEM education.