Maller Chosen as CLAS Commencement Speaker


Rachel Maller, intern in the Public Policy Center’s Social and Education Policy Research Program under director Dr. Sarah Bruch, was selected as the speaker for the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) commencement on Saturday, December 16.

Maller's introduction starts at 21:08.

Over the past year, Maller has worked with Bruch on the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD)’s Equity Implemented Partnership, which aims to create more equitable experiences and outcomes for students in the district. Over the summer (2017), she co-authored a program evaluation of a restorative justice initiative being piloted in three of the ICCSD schools, assisted with the writing of numerous policy briefs and reports on student experiences in the schools, and helped with qualitative data analysis. She spent the fall semester as an “embedded intern”, working with the district’s Director of Equity, Kingsley Botchway. In this role, Maller provided assistance and support with the writing of internal reports and memos, provided liaison support for the program, and helped to facilitate meetings with teachers, staff, and students. Her work with Botchway has significantly strengthened the Partnership’s work in the District.  

Maller is graduating with highest distinction at the top of her class. As such, she was invited to apply and audition for the speaking role. She will graduate with a BA in Sociology, with minors in Philosophy and Communication Studies, holding a 4.02 GPA and membership in the International Sociology Honor Society. Maller also works part time as a supervisor at the Iowa Social Science Research Center. 

She is applying for a PhD in Sociology to prepare for a research career in examining how systems of stratification and inequality impact educational outcomes. Her research interests were sparked under Bruch’s mentorship. According to Maller, “This internship has provided me with research training, experience, and mentoring in the context of research-practice partnership with the Iowa City Community School District.

“Dr. Bruch has been a mentor to me by modeling how to leverage social science and education policy research to improve students’ educational opportunities and outcomes. Her mentorship has been invaluable and has inspired me to continue in this research to address educational disparities. My experience at the Public Policy Center has been the highlight of my time at the University and has shaped my future plans tremendously. Understanding student experiences and school climate is a rapidly developing topic of interest in educational research and earning my Ph.D. will allow me to contribute to this research in aim of reducing disparities in academic outcomes. My career goal is to bridge sociological research and public policy by providing evidence-based solutions to reducing educational inequality.”