BU Scholars

Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development



Alexandra Allen

Alexandra Allen is a doctoral student at Boston University, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Studies with a concentration in special education and a member of the Project TEAMS cohort. Alex earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Development from Virginia Tech University and masters degree in Educational Psychology in Applied Developmental Science at the University of Virginia. Before beginning her Ph.D. Alexandra spent time working as a preschool teacher as well as a Research Specialist. Her research interests include the intersection of trauma and emotional and behavioral disabilities, special education, and the development and evaluation of equitable school-based interventions.


Ayana Bass

Ayana Bass is a lifelong Rhode Island resident and a certified Elementary, Special Educator. As an adult learner, her academic journey took her on a non-traditional path through a traditional program at Rhode Island College where she completed her bachelor’s degree at the age of 39. As a “non-traditional” undergraduate student, Ayana became interested in engaging in research related to the nuances of being an adult learner in a “traditional” teacher preparation program. Through her opportunity as a McNair Scholar, she began to think more deeply about her own experiences as a pre-service teacher as well as the experiences of the students in her clinical settings. As a student researcher, Ayana explored her passion for education through work in the areas of equity, access, and diversity. More specifically, she was able to conduct a research project which explored the lack of diversity in the teacher (and teacher candidate) pool and alternative pathways to certification. Ayana focused on how access to an alternative pathway (in RI) can contribute to the conversation around teacher shortages, increased diversity, access, and equity within the teacher workforce. Ayana presented her research at both the regional and national levels, including:

Bass, A. (March 2021). Where is the Rhode Island pipeline? An exploration of interest and barriers for paraprofessionals in a large, urban district. Data blitz session at the Annual Convention of the Council for Exceptional Children, Baltimore, MD.

Bass, A. (April 2021). Where is the pipeline? An exploration of interest and barriers for paraprofessionals in a large, urban school district. Roundtable session at the New England Educational Research Organization, Portsmouth, NH.

Ayana is a proud Brown University Alum from the Department of Education, Urban Education Policy Program. She is an active member of the CEEDAR State Leadership Team, Steering Committee, and Rhode Island Blueprint Goal 3 Working Group which focuses on establishing organizational cultures, identifying protocols, and providing shared learning opportunities to ensure Rhode Island approaches education work with an explicit focus on equity and access.

She sits on multiple subcommittees within each organization as a means to deepen her understanding and commitment to education and students of all ages.

As she continues her educational journey to obtain her Ph.D. at Boston University in Special Education, she looks forward to continuing to examine and participate in research projects that align with her current interests within the field of education.


Ruchi Khanna

Ruchi is a doctoral student at Boston University, pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Studies with a focus on special education and mental health within the Project TEAMS cohort. She has earned a master’s degree in special education (students with severe disabilities) and a master’s in Behavior Analysis from Simmons University, Boston. She worked as a special education teacher and behavior analyst in the public school system for over ten years. Before moving to the US, Ruchi worked as an art designer with artisan organizations in India. Since 2018 Ruchi has curated and taught professional development workshops on education equity for public school educators, BCBA’s, and students in higher education settings. Her training and experience as an immigrant, parent, and educator are at the center of her research interest in designing teacher training that allows educators to reflect on systemic inequalities and their role in overcoming these in the classroom.


Manuel Angel Ramirez

Manuel Angel Ramirez is a latino, first generation, graduate student enrolled as a doctoral candidate at Boston University, pursuing study in the PhD in Educational Studies with a specialization in Special Education program. Manuel received extensive training in dual language/ bilingual special and general childhood education from Bank Street College of Education where he acquired a master’s degree in education. He also possesses post-master’s training and experience in Teaching English to Students of Other Languages (TESOL) from Queens College, the City University of New York, and the Department of Education in New York. Prior to his graduate studies, Manuel obtained his undergraduate education at York College, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Journalism. Additionally, Manuel received training in educational leadership and administration from the College of St. Rose with the purpose to comprehensively understand the educational infrastructure in which he has been a public servant in order to address the recurring challenges faced by the communities he continues to serve. He is a certified bilingual special educator in the state of New York, where he taught both multilingual and multicultural students with a range of learning disabilities and abilities. His experience includes teaching in therapeutic nursery settings, inclusive, progresisve dual language schools, and post secondary institutions. His motivation for teaching is derived from his desire to level the playing field in education for culturally distinguished and linguistically rich students and families.

Although Manuel navigated his experiences and channeled his passions as an educator and advocate for bilingual special education, he began to look more closely at his practice, communities served, and the quality of teacher performance in monoglossic and heteroglossic educational institutions educating students with disabilities from Spanish dominant families. His research interests elevated and began to specifically focus on understanding the equity of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and the language access that families have due in part to the comprehension they possess as well as the cultural contexts they receive this legal information. In particular, Manuel seeks to investigate and collaborate with Spanish dominant communities who come from SIFE/SLIFE backgrounds that have either compounded their own educational gaps or contributed to those of their children and how that hinders quality access and thoughtful participation in the IEP process. Manuel aspires to extend existing research and contribute to literature in the diversity, equity, and inclusion of multilingual and multicultural families in special education, as he actively identifies opportunities for intersectional collaboration. It is his hope to create a bridge between immigrant communities and western institutions that educate them.