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College of Education


Sarah in New Zealand

Alumna Earns Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowship

Sarah Bolton, a College of Education alumna, recently traveled more than 8,000 miles to research ways to improve education equity right here in the United States. Her trip to New Zealand is part of a seven-month exploration made possible by the Ian Axford Fellowship in Public Policy, which awards fellowships to mid-career American professionals to research and gain firsthand experience of public policy in New Zealand.

My goal during this fellowship is to recommend policy changes that could improve education equity.

- Sarah Bolton

Bolton is one of just three Americans who received the fellowship this year, and she is hosted by the New Zealand Ministry of Education.

“I knew the fellowship would allow me to broaden my understanding by investigating how other countries are tackling issues of education equity. Ideally, my work will provide insights to help New Zealand improve their public education system and at the same time, I will learn about policies and practices that we can implement here in the US,” Bolton says.

The Raleigh, North Carolina native earned a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina in 2007. After interning for South Carolina U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, Sarah then moved to Washington, D.C. and worked on Capitol Hill for 10 years.

“I spent six of those years trying to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in hopes of reducing education inequities,” says Bolton. “I believed that through policy change, we could reduce the unacceptable opportunity and achievement gaps we see in many places around the country.”

It’s Bolton’s desire to close that gap that led her to apply for the New Zealand fellowship, and she’s interested to see if that country’s model improves or hinders policies aimed at reducing the opportunity and achievement gaps.

“As in America, New Zealand has students of certain ethnicities or socioeconomic statuses who do not perform as well as their peers. My goal during this fellowship is to recommend policy changes that could improve education equity for these students in New Zealand. And if those policies can benefit the US too, that’s a win-win for all students.”