Karen graduated in 2005 from Pomona College with a degree in psychology. Her senior thesis examined the impact of positive stereotype expectations on academic performance of Cambodian American students. She also edited for publication an assessment of a community health intervention within an immigrant community, created a best-practices guideline for non-profit capacity building programs, and evaluated Kids Café programming as part of the United Way staff. Karen’s community–based involvement includes volunteering as a caseworker to assist single mothers in obtaining services, employment and housing; serving as a day camp teacher for low income children; ministering to women recovering from substance abuse; and leading discussions among college students about race, class and gender.
Field placement: Hunger Task Force
Karen conducted an assessment of a universal school meal (Provision 2) pilot program in its first year at six low-income Milwaukee elementary schools. Through interviews with students, parents, school officials, and district officials, she examined the effect of the Provision 2 pilot on factors such as student learning, behavior, and health. Furthermore, Karen gathered data to analyze the impact of the pilot on breakfast participation rates. In addition to conducting this evaluation, Karen collaborated with school and district officials in outreach efforts to ensure a high return of school meal applications, used toward reimbursement funding for the program.
Policy placement: Volunteers of America
Karen worked to evaluate the federal homeless assistance grant program. She analyzed federal data regarding the utilization of these federal monies to fund programs serving the homeless. Karen also interviewed service providers across the country to assess the relationship between the current federal grant policy and impact on local homeless programs' ability to assist all homeless populations.