Motivated by a desire to heal the world and ensure a just society, our lab uses research to understand inequalities in educational opportunities by race/ethnicity, immigration, and language and to evaluate policies and practices that can expand equity and access in the college transition.

We always welcome motivated students to join our lab. Please email Dr. Holzman for details on current opportunities.

Current Members

Irina Chukhray, M.A. (pronounced: Eereena Chooh-Righ)

Irina is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of California, Davis, specializing in immigrant-origin youth (1.5-Generation youth who arrived to the U.S. before age 18) and their college-going experiences. Irina has earned several awards for her research, including fellowships from the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, Berkeley. Her research has been supported by the Immigration Initiative at Harvard University, the Penn Migration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Originally born in Ukraine and being a first-generation college graduate, Irina has dedicated her research to understanding what factors help immigrant-origin students follow their college-going dreams. In 2023, Irina was selected by the Ukraine Global Scholars nonprofit organization to mentor low-income high-achieving Ukrainian students aspiring to attend college in the U.S. For more information, please visit

Jee Sun (Jasmin) Lee, M.A.

Jasmin is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department at Rice University. Her research interests lie at the intersection between education, race/racism, and immigration. Some of her research projects include examining how private, supplementary education has shaped post-secondary inequality, the role of supports designed to support newly-immigrated students, and how the interplay between state and local entities influences educational opportunities and experiences of students, families, educators, and community members. Jasmin found her start in research within the research-practice partnership model, which has been integral to how she wants to show up as a scholar and as someone who strives to bridge research and practice. In her spare time, she is usually knitting, finding new places to eat, or pestering those around her to let her dog-sit for them. Her correct pronouns are she/hers.

José I. Valdez, M.S.

José is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Higher Education Administration program at Texas A&M University. He has an M.S. in College Counseling and Student Development from Azusa Pacific University. His research interests include Latinx students in PK-20 education, identity development, critical pedagogy, & testimonios (storytelling for social justice). José firmly believes that college should be accessible to anyone who wishes to pursue it because of the transformative qualities it holds. College provided him with a second chance to rewrite his personal narrative by engaging in a process of self-discovery and developing a life purpose. José aims to do the same for others who have the aspiration to pursue their dreams.

Jacqueline White, M.S.

Jacqueline is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Higher Education Administration program at Texas A&M University. She has a B.S. in Biomedical Science and M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M University. Her research interests include Latina experiences in higher education, first-generation college students, rural and low-income student access, and university practices to promote student success and persistence. Jacqueline has held past positions on the A&M campus focused on program development, alumni relations, student leadership development, and student academic success. Some of her personal interests include spending time with her husband and children, reading, and visiting museums.

Jinhua Zhao, M.P.A.

Jinhua is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University. Her interests lie in PK-12 education policy, underrepresented groups in STEM, immigrants and education, parental engagement, and high school STEM education. Her dissertation will explore the diverse modes of participation in high school STEM education with a focus on encouraging immigrant students to pursue STEM academic and career pathways. As a learner and a future educator, she believes that education can empower individuals to flourish in their unique ways akin to letting flowers bloom as flowers and trees grow as trees.


Weiqi (Connie) Guo, M.S.

Connie is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University. She completed a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on English as a Second Language. Her research interests lie in second and foreign language acquisition, pragmatics study, as well as bilingual and heritage language development, and her dissertation focus is on pragmatics instruction. Her experience as a Graduate Hall Director in the Department of Residence Life has triggered her interest in teaching and mentoring college students. She enjoys gardening and crafting in her spare time.