Mary Kate Blake
Areas of Study
Sociology of Education, Stratification and Mobility, Race and Ethnic Identity
Mary Kate is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, and a research assistant in the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO). Mary Kate has completed qualitative and quantitative projects exploring organizational and individual obstacles facing low-income and minority students in educational achievement and attainment. Other work is situated on the racial and ethnic identification process of multiracial individuals. In addition to this work, Mary Kate’s teaching experience includes undergraduate statistics and a community-based course on Latino communities.
With generous funding from the W.T. Grant Foundation for her dissertation, Mary Kate is using an institutional logics approach to understand how the rules and guidelines of the school counseling field, and that of the high schools in which counselors work, determine how they allocate their time and attention to students regarding post-high school plans and social/emotional counseling. Mary Kate conducted daily observations of high school counselors and counselor-student interactions in two public high schools during the 2015-2016 school year. She embedded these observations with interviews with counselors, students, administrators, and counselor educators to provide a systematic investigation into the high school counseling profession. Mary Kate’s dissertation is also designed to identify how institutional guidelines of school counselors could be contributing to patterns of inequality in college access, especially among low-income and minority students.
Other recent work analyzes the positive and negative predictors of educational attainment, especially considering racial/ethnic and income inequality. One study explores racial differences in positive college-going behaviors. In it, she finds that black students are more likely than similar white students to take steps necessary for college enrollment, increasing their chances of being accepted to a college of their choice. This study reimagines the oft-studied occurrence of higher black student college enrollment compared to similar white students as something largely in the hands of the black youth who engage in these behaviors.
A second paper she is writing with a colleague uses matching and sibling fixed-effects models to determine how detrimental suspension and expulsion are for students, especially black students who are overrepresented in these exclusionary discipline actions. These actions serve as triggering events in the life course that increase the probability of negative events such as high school drop out, engagement in risky behaviors and incarceration.
She is also collaborating with colleague on a study of the importance of the alignment of educational expectations between parents, teachers, and the student to predict whether the student enrolls in college. Disagreement between parents, teachers, and the student on whether or not the student will go to college may be an indication of an unrealistic assessment of the student’s ability to enroll in college, or the student's ability to afford college.
Additional research by Mary Kate is situated on the racial and ethnic identification process of multiracial individuals. She two papers - one on the self-identification of multiracial/ethnic Asian and Hispanic college students, and another with a colleague on the perceptions of racial identification of those with multiracial/ethnic backgrounds. Each of these studies explores the complex multidimensionality of racial and ethnic identity, especially among multiracial individuals.
Mary Kate earned her Ed.M in educational policy and leadership studies, with an emphasis on higher education and student affairs from Virginia Tech. She received her B.A. from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.