Shivani is an educator and non-profit professional committed to elevating the voices of marginalized communities and advancing the opportunities afforded to children and families, particularly those in immigrant communities. Prior to her selection to the National Urban Fellows, she was the Education Specialist at La Plaza, the oldest and largest Latino-serving non-profit in central Indiana. In her role, she spearheaded education initiatives with the goal of addressing the low rates of Latino enrollment in post-secondary institutions by increasing access to critical information and resources for families navigating the education system. This included curating a bilingual web series with universities, guiding undocumented youth on the path to college, and providing direct service to over 200 Spanish-speaking clients. Her work at La Plaza was preceded by her selection as a Teach for America corps member, an experience which fortified her commitment to advancing educational outcomes for students. Shivani spent four years as an elementary educator, during which she also served on the leadership team and pushed for culturally responsive practices in the classroom. It was also during this time that she became involved with local policy through Teach Plus, a national organization that empowers experienced educators to impact policy decisions. Shivani was selected to be a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow, Innovation School Advisory Fellow, and then a Senior Fellow. During the fellowships, she conducted research on high quality early childhood education, the teacher experience in innovation schools, and the urgency of incorporating social and emotional learning in the classroom. Shivani is also a contributing author to the Handbook of Research on Teachers of Color by Dr. Gist and Dr. Bristol, to be published in late 2021, in which she highlights the importance of recruiting teachers of color. Shivani’s experiences in education and non-profit have led to a deep interest in better understanding the policies and infrastructures that disenfranchise communities of color. Through her direct service work combined with experience from policy fellowships, she has curated a skill set that includes conducting research, managing teams, building strong community partnerships and client relationships, and elevating diverse perspectives in decision-making.
Shivani received her Master of Arts in Teaching from Marian University and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Hispanic Studies from The University of Tennessee, both in which she graduated Summa Cum Laude. During her time as an undergraduate, Shivani interned for the Department of Children’s Services, the Knox County Public Defender’s Office, Youth Villages, and mentored children who were grieving the loss of a loved one. For her Honors Thesis, Shivani developed and carried out a quantitative and qualitative comparative analysis of two local neighborhoods, focused on assessing the impact of socioeconomic status on individual welfare and access to education, housing, and healthcare. The inspiration for her thesis came from the two years she spent tutoring at an after-school program at Pond Gap Elementary School, which she credits as being the first place where she saw students who reflected her identity and the experience that first pushed her to think critically about the injustices faced by communities of color.
Shivani’s passion for supporting the immigrant community stems from her personal background. Shivani was born in India and when she was eight years old, her family immigrated to the United States, where she navigated the American education system as a first-generation college student. Her parents’ sacrifices have instilled in her a relentless work ethic and a fierce passion for paying it forward and ensuring that she is contributing to a more just world for future generations.
As a National Urban Fellow and graduate student at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, Shivani hopes to gain the experiences, skills, and knowledge that will better equip her to lead impactful changes in the areas of education and immigration policy.