Growing up, Kendall Wulbrun always felt seen and safe to be herself in the classroom. Now she is interested in devoting her career in higher education and education policy to ensuring all students have the same opportunities that she has been afforded.
“I want all students to have those opportunities and to be able to discover their passions and dreams in fulfilling, supportive educational environments,” she said.
“What we look like, where we come from, or what we believe shouldn't dictate where we can go in life. I believe education plays a crucial role in shaping future opportunity, and we have a responsibility to ensure every child has access to a quality education at all levels of schooling.”
Motivated to learn more about educational equity, Wulbrun originally enrolled in graduate school at CU Boulder interested in the PhD program in Educational Foundations, Policy and Practice in the School of Education, but she discovered the master’s program was a better fit for her long-term goals as an educational researcher.
A former college admissions counselor, Wulbrun’s research interests focus on the intersection of higher education and justice. In her master’s capstone project, Wulbrun conducted an original empirical study of how admissions counselors evaluate applications, drawing attention to less visible criteria that can inadvertently reinscribe inequities between applicants. Her study also drew attention to institutional constraints that structure the work of admissions counselors —time, capacity, and considerations about the financial qualifications of families. Her project posed powerful questions about the less-visible processes and political economic pressures that subvert institutional commitments to equity and inclusion in higher education.
Following graduation, Wulbrun began work as a program associate and research assistant at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities at Stanford University and as a research fellow at the Campaign for College Opportunity. This fall, she will begin a doctoral program in educational policy at Stanford.
Her journey as an up-and-coming educational researcher is coming full circle with guidance and support of CU Boulder faculty mentors, particularly, Terri Wilson and Kevin Welner. Wilson and Welner described Wulbrun, this year’s Outstanding Graduate in Master’s in Educational Foundations, Policy and Practice program, as “an outstanding student… who deeply engaged in her classroom communities, thoughtfully contributing to different class discussions, meeting/collaborating with peers, and supporting new students.”
Wulbrun says she is indebted to their support and her experiences at CU Boulder for helping her get one set closer to her dream as an influential educational researcher and leader in advancing educational equity.