Sikh mother makes moving doctorate graduation speech

“Being at the intersection of science and motherhood exposes one to new challenges and unique perspectives while also breaking stereotypes for female academics in the field.” - JALNIDH KAUR

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Jalnidh Kaur presenting her doctorate graduation speech at Teachers College, Columbia University in May 2024

By Asia Samachar | United States |

Jalnidh Kaur gave an impressive speech at the doctorate graduation speech at Teachers College, Columbia University.

She holds an MPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and a BA (Hons) in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.

In her doctorate, she said: “I am a development economist studying questions in the economics of education. My work focuses on the role of beliefs in driving educational outcomes, drawing on ideas from psychology and behavioral economics.”

In Fall 2024, she will join Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow as an Assistant Professor (Lecturer) of Economics.

When asked what inspires her, she told a university publication that her work as a teacher in rural India as well as her role and identity as a parent.

“Being at the intersection of science and motherhood exposes one to new challenges and unique perspectives while also breaking stereotypes for female academics in the field.”

As to how she makes a difference, she said her research focuses on understanding how information, beliefs and psychosocial tools can be leveraged to overcome adversity and enable people to realize their full potential. Through her work, she hopes to develop rigorous and actionable evidence to answer pressing policy questions that stand to improve welfare across the developing world.

A big part of Kaur’s dissertation research examines the role of teachers’ beliefs in shaping teachers’ efforts and student learning in low-income settings.

“I’m particularly proud of this work. It has been a meaningful pursuit and a labor of love for the last six years of my time as a doctoral student at TC,” she shares. “My work has been cited by the World Bank and has expanded our understanding of interventions that work to empower teachers.”

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