Department of Education

Student Spotlight: Abigail McClain, UEP'24 and TFA RI Corps Member

Abigail McClain is an educator and Teach for America RI Corps Member who enrolled in the Urban Education Policy program to gain a better understanding of the systems and policies that impact her students' educational experiences.

Name: Abigail McClain
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Program: UEP '24, enrolled part-time through our partnership with TFA RI
Undergraduate Institution and Major: English and Art History, Fordham University


What drew you to the UEP program at Brown? 

I was drawn to Brown’s UEP program because of the opportunity it provides to gain a deeper understanding of education systems and policies that impact both my work as a teacher and my students’ educational experiences. As an educator, I value building relationships and creating personalized learning experiences. The UEP program aligns with these values by offering meaningful classes, projects, and collaborative spaces that have challenged my thinking and helped me develop a better understanding of how to advocate for students at a system level.

What has been your favorite UEP class and why?

My favorite UEP class has been Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation, which is the second statistics course in the program. Prior to UEP, I had never taken a statistics class and felt quite intimidated by the subject. However, I found the quantitative courses to be highly relevant and informative. The classes provided me with a new skill set and perspective to engage with quantitative research which often informs policy decisions. In this particular course, I not only developed statistical analysis skills but also gained the ability to critically analyze and contextualize data.

What do you hope to accomplish through the UEP program?

Through the UEP program, I hope to improve my teaching practices and gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate workings of school systems. I believe in providing personalized, meaningful, and challenging educational experiences that enable all students to reach their fullest potential and access diverse post-secondary opportunities. While I am currently focused on my growth as an educator, I am also intrigued by the possibility of pursuing work at the school administration or district level in the future. 

What is your favorite part about living in Providence and being at Brown?

I love the city of Providence and the different areas to explore. I especially love how walkable the downtown and Brown area are. One of my favorite community events is Water Fire. I get to check out a bunch of local restaurants, artists, and businesses that participate in the events. And during the summertime, I love taking the Newport Ferry with friends from Providence for a day spent at the beach or marina.

What is one way you center yourself or work on your mental health while being a graduate student with many other responsibilities?

Balancing coursework with work responsibilities can be quite challenging. To help center my mental health, I make a conscious effort to create a healthy balance between self-care activities, work, and school. While my graduate student responsibilities are my top priority, I also make sure to set aside time for friends and family, as well as activities that support my physical and mental well-being. With competing priorities each week, I’ve found that maintaining a healthy balance is key to feeling motivated and engaged in all aspects of my graduate work.