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Paterson Youth Council Alum Presents Educational Research at Harvard University

Paterson Youth Council Alum Presents Educational Research at Harvard University

April 27, 2023

On Friday, April 14, Paterson Youth Council alum Jennifer Guizar Bello presented at Harvard University's 2023 Scholarship & Social Justice Undergraduate Research Conference. As Harvard says, the purpose of the annual conference is "to honor scholarship which focuses on challenges facing society with regard to equity and inclusion and historically marginalized and under-represented communities." Every year, undergraduate students from across the nation are invited to present their research in front of a panel. This year the conference was hosted both virtually and in person in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Jennifer is currently a junior at Barnard College, majoring in Urban Studies with a specialization in Education. She is also the Co-President of Mujeres—a historically Latinx-inclusive multicultural campus club at Barnard and Columbia—and a Laidlaw Scholar. The Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Program aims to develop a new generation of leaders who are skilled researchers and invests in highly talented and motivated undergraduates—giving them the knowledge, skills, and experience to become active global citizens and future leaders.

A Paterson native, as a Laidlaw Scholar, Jennifer focused her research on "How Segregation Manifests in Public High Schools across Passaic County." She conducted independent research on segregation in New Jersey Public Schools using qualitative and empirical research methods, examined relevant court cases, built relationships with community organizations, and interpreted data using a geographic information system.

According to her research, segregation in New Jersey public schools is ranked among the highest in the United States due to zoning laws. These zoning laws state that students must attend their designated school in their residential zone or the school nearest to them. These schools are then faced with double segregation, which is dependent on race and income isolation that leads to educational inequality.

After the presentation, Jennifer had the opportunity to make further comments and answer questions from the panel and other attendees. She explained, "Moving forward, I would like to meet and work with community members and nonprofit organizations to help address these issues. For example, the Latino Action Network Foundation has created programs such as the School Desegregation Project that aim to tackle educational inequalities." She continued, "I would also like to continue my research on undesigning and erasing the 'Redline' and finding more ways to diversify campus spaces!

If you would like to view Jennifer's presentation, please click here!

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