DeShawn Preston

Higher Education Research Fellow

Dr. DeShawn Preston serves as SEF’s Higher Education Research Fellow. DeShawn primarily researches issues pertaining to developmental education and advancing opportunities for historically marginalized groups in education. He has also helped coordinate a number of grant projects to advance students of color in higher education including: a social justice project, assessing student outcomes, new learning models for historically marginalized students, and ways to advance students in developmental education. His most recent publication, Untold Barriers for Black Students in Higher Education: Placing Race at the Center of Developmental Education, on addressing race in developmental education was featured most recently by Inside Higher Ed.

DeShawn has a special passion for examining how opportunities for historically marginalized groups may be enhanced to gain access and completion to both undergraduate and graduate school as well as how institutional effectiveness may be supported amongst the institutions that serve these students most often (Minority Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges & Universities.)

Prior to joining SEF, DeShawn worked as a summer intern for the White House Initiative for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. During his tenure, he was instrumental in preparing for the national 2015 HBCU conference and authored a number of blog posts advocating for strategies that support HBCUs’ optimization of federal funding. DeShawn has also served as a Graduate Research Fellow for the United Negro College Fund’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute. Through the fellowship he co-authored two policy briefs examining the contributions HBCUs make to STEM disciplines. Additionally, DeShawn also serves as a young scholar on the editorial board for the Journal of Negro Education.

DeShawn earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership (Higher Education) at Clemson University. His dissertation topic examines the role and influence HBCUs play in supporting African Americans enrolling into doctoral programs.  During his time at Clemson he served as a graduate assistant in the Charles H. Houston Center for the Study of the Black Experience in Education, where he worked on program evaluations for college access programs. He also received a policy certificate at the Strum Thurmond school of Policy. He also holds a M.A. in American History from Howard University and a B.A. in History from Oakwood University. 

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