Victoria Harman

Victoria Harman, '12
Sociology PhD Candidate

After graduating with a concentration in sociology, I traveled abroad on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Santiago, Dominican Republic. I worked part-time teaching English at a language institute in Santiago, where I had the opportunity to engage in English instruction in many different capacities. I led a creative writing extracurricular group, tutored students one-on-one or in small groups, and led classrooms. Outside of work at the institute, I also volunteered at a community organization that provided services to youth street workers—children as young as eight who spent their days selling fruit or washing cars and often did not go to school.

Upon returning to the United States, I started another adventure in education. I began teaching at a high-performing charter school in the low-income neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn through Teach for America. My first year, I taught general education in a 3rd grade classroom. My second year, I transitioned to special education, with a focus on reading instruction.

My undergraduate study of sociology framed all of my post-graduate experiences. I have been fortunate enough to work with students from all backgrounds—upper middle class Dominicans learning English as a second language, unemployed Dominican teens hoping to enter the labor force, low-income African American children fighting against the achievement gap. I saw systemic inequalities and the structural barriers to success come alive in the classroom and my students. I also started asking more and more questions about why and how education was the way it was.

That led me to apply to research programs. Once I have completed my TFA commitment, I will start a PhD program in the sociology of education at Stanford. I hope to tackle some of the many questions that have come up as I have worked with some of the most vulnerable youth in urban America.