Meet Our Researchers: Joselyn Angeles-Figueroa

BlogHealthy SchoolsMay 7 2024

Joselyn holds one of her catsJoselyn Angeles-Figueroa is a research analyst at Child Trends.

Joselyn, can you start by telling us your research activities and responsibilities at Child Trends?

I support and facilitate research and technical assistance on topics like positive youth development for juvenile justice youth, early childhood workforce systems, out-of-school time, and equity-centered practices. My work includes qualitative data collection and analysis, facilitating cross-team collaboration, project management, and designing technical assistance activities and approaches.

Can you tell us about your primary research interest(s)?

My research centers equity and community-based participatory research, ensuring that historically marginalized groups have access to necessities such as food, water, and housing, as well as high-quality public services like education and health care. I am committed to exploring and addressing disparities to promote social justice and improve well-being for individuals and communities. I’m also interested in out-of-school time opportunities for children and youth, youth-based participatory research, culturally relevant curriculum development, and integrating community with schools to foster caring and supportive environments.

What sparked your interest in equitable access to services?

In Philadelphia, I attended a magnet middle school with a rigorous curriculum in a supportive environment. This experience exposed me to the transformative power of high-quality education and a nurturing school community.

In Central Florida, I attended a Title I high school with a majority Black and Latinx population. My school was overcrowded and a lack of support from teachers and administration affected student motivation and engagement. In comparing my experiences in middle school—a predominantly White institution with few low-income students—I considered how sociodemographic factors can influence life outcomes and access to opportunities.

As an undergraduate, I reflected on my family’s experiences with food and housing insecurity and how we faced barriers with language, siloed systems, and discrimination. I recognized how disparities in access aren’t limited to education but extend throughout systems.

In my work, I’ve met community members and stakeholders who reflect my personal history with disparities and barriers to accessing services. These interactions fuel my commitment to research that supports access to comprehensive, high-quality services for historically marginalized populations.

What books or journal articles have most influenced you?

Books that have influenced my perspective and approach to research include Michelle Fine’s Just Research in Contentious Times, which explores ethical research practices in contentious contexts. Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed also shaped my understanding of oppression in society and how education is a tool for liberation and empowerment. Lastly, bell hooks’ All About Love: New Visions has informed my views on the power of love for fostering personal and societal change.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of research?

I love being outdoors where I frequently hike and kayak.  Living in Florida, I’ll often spot alligators and snakes on land and water trails. One time, I came across a huge rattlesnake! On quieter days, I like to go birdwatching. My favorite Florida birds to spot are anhinga and roseate spoonbills.

When indoors, I enjoy arts and crafts, including painting, drawing, sculpting, and crocheting. I’m also an avid baker and cook, and I frequently experiment with new recipes. I love sharing what I cook with friends and family!

To wrap up, can you tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself or your family?

While studying in Minnesota, I lived in a campus housing option focused on green living where my housemates and I cared for six chickens. That year, Minnesota experienced a polar vortex. To protect our chickens, we built them a home in our basement for three days—I heard clucking even in my dreams! Despite the stress on their caretakers, our chickens loved their warm vacation, laying 22 eggs in three days.

Since caring for chickens, I have rescued three pets—two cats (Chestnut and Melon) and one dog (Walnut)!

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