After receiving her BA in Communication from Wittenberg University in 2008, Kari spent a year volunteering with AmeriCorps VISTA. She was placed with a free legal clinic in Indianapolis, which at the time was the only legal clinic in the city to provide free immigration services to those who could not afford them. Because Indianapolis had a growing population of Burmese refugees, Kari worked as an outreach coordinator to determine the needs of the Burmese community and how the clinic could best meet them. Through conversations with Burmese community leaders and members, Kari learned that legal education–including basic rights of living in the US, driving and tax laws, and car seat and child transportation safety–would be most helpful to the community.

Kari’s experience working in legal education challenged her to think deeply about access to education more broadly. Who has access to the kind of education people need to be successful in the U.S.? What kinds of experiences or resources do different people have that enable them to be successful in education, even if they have access to quality education? Questions like these led to her current work, which specializes in how student demographics, schools and interactions within them, communities, and policies affect achievement disparities by race and socioeconomic status.

Kari completed her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016. She is now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern Mississippi. Check out her Curriculum Vitae for more information