As a scholar-practitioner, Vanessa works at the intersection of education, access, and technology, especially as an Education Pioneers Fellow for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Through her various professional and academic endeavors, she continues to build her expertise in ed tech integration, social media scholarship, and web/app design in education. For instance, Vanessa is currently leading a mobile start-up project called College Knowledge LA focused on mapping college and financial aid resources in low-income communities to create greater access via mobile devices. In addition to her projects, she engages in scholarly pursuits as a HASTAC Scholar, an AAHHE/Ford Fellow, and serving on the AERA Graduate Student Council as Web Secretary. She is currently serving as AAHHE Social Media Chair while working as a Program & Policy Development Specialist for the Los Angeles Unified School District, contributing to education technology policy and research efforts.
Vanessa also holds an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation, Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her time at Harvard, Vanessa focused her research efforts on game-based learning. For instance, she developed a prototype mobile game called ‘FUNancial Aid’ aimed at increasing financial aid vocabulary comprehension. She also worked on a game development team that informed game play design around teaching players about morality and ethics called Quandry. Moreover, Vanessa worked in in a number of access capacities such as a College Advisor for The Education Resource Institute (TERI) and as a graduate student advisor to Latinas Unidas de Harvard.
As a first-generation college and graduate student, Vanessa owes much of her success to her mentors and her participation in the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program at Claremont Graduate University, which changed the trajectory of her personal, professional and academic path. Vanessa is currently pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State University, Long Beach.