Opening minds, hearts

Vajra Watson

Vajra Watson

Position: Director of Research and Policy for Equity

Unit: School of Education

Why is UC Davis the one for you? Diversity and opportunity. “UC Davis is a beacon of opportunity for the children, families, and communities throughout the Sacramento Capital Region and state. One of my best experiences is bringing 1,000 low-income, low-achieving middle and high school students to UC Davis for the annual SAYS Summit ( For most of these youth, it is their first experience visiting a university. As they engage in a university context, they begin to see college as part of their future and UC Davis as the ‘cool school’ they want to attend.”

What do you hope to be your legacy here at UC Davis – what marks have you made or changes that you hope will continue? “I am a critical scholar that seeks to close the gap between research and practice, and to actually heed the call to leave no child behind. My research focuses on the interplay between stratification and agency, with an emphasis on breaking the cycle of social reproduction by examining tools for social resistance. My legacy is to develop applied research models in students, teachers and the community.”

Tell us about one person at UC Davis who has enhanced your life or your work? “There is a proverb in Ethiopia which states, ‘In unity, a million threads can trap a lion.’ There is not one single person that has enhanced my work per se. Rather, it is the collective action, collegial support across campus, and interdisciplinary focus on social justice that has shaped my scholarship and propelled me in both work and life.”