Research Associate

Areas of Expertise: Access to Higher Education, Investing in Single Mothers' Higher Education, Student Parent Success Initiative

Susana Contreras-Mendez is a Research Associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), working on student parent success and other postsecondary education issues as part of IWPR’s Center on Equity in Higher Education. Susana came to IWPR with expertise in increasing equitable access, opportunities and success in early and postsecondary education.

Prior to joining IWPR, Susana was a Policy Intern at Lumina Foundation’s Washington, DC, office where she supported efforts to increase the attainment of high-quality credentials and postsecondary education. During graduate school, Susana worked to support the recruitment of diverse graduate students through Minority Serving Institutional partnership initiatives and the Summer Research Opportunity Program. For over three years, Susana was a program specialist at Denise Louie Education Center, a Head Start and Early Head Start program in Seattle, WA. As a former Head Start child, first-generation college student, and McNair Scholar she has first-hand knowledge on the impact of educational inequities and the benefits of a postsecondary education.

Susana holds a Master of Higher Education with a concentration in Diversity and Social Justice from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's dual degree from the University of Washington in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education, Learning and Society.

Publications

Investing in Single Mothers’ Higher Education: National and State Estimates of the Costs and Benefits of Single Mothers’ Educational Attainment to Individuals, Families, and Society

Introduction   Earning a higher education is increasingly necessary for achieving family economic security. For single mothers, who are more likely to live in poverty than other women, earning postsecondary credentials can bring substantial benefits, from increased lifetime earnings and employment rates to better health outcomes and chances of success for their children (Attewell and…