Catalina Vasquez


Catalina Vasquez is a doctoral student in Higher Education Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas-Austin, her research focuses on enhancing data-informed policy decisions regarding labor market returns and degree completion rates in postsecondary education attainment. In addition to her graduate studies, she examines dual enrollment pathways between high schools and community colleges, how community college students respond to state and institutional transfer policies, and labor market returns to different types of postsecondary degrees and noncredit programs. Catalina’s work involves both quantitative and qualitative research methods, with a strong emphasis on leveraging state administrative data to address key policy questions. Her research has been funded by the Greater Texas Foundation.

Prior to her studies at UT Austin, Catalina earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Policy from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The school’s learning philosophy of ‘Learn By Doing’ resonated with her, and she has since applied this approach in her work. With several years of experience as an analyst in the State of California, including her most recent role as a Strategic Enrollment Data Analyst for Cal Poly, Catalina has honed her skills in data analysis and strategic planning. During her master’s studies, she had the privilege of presenting her thesis on the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 at the Western Political Science Association Conference (WPSA) as a keynote speaker on Emerging Issues in Higher Education in San Francisco, CA.

Why are you in this work?

With a combination of my practitioner and academic background, I strive to bridge the gap between research and policy implementation by systematically enhancing the efficiency of post-secondary education. By cultivating systemic change through state and local policy, strategic planning, and accountability, we can enhance avenues for economic mobility.

Why ESG?

ESG is optimally positioned to leverage state, institutional, and philanthropic leaders, providing a unique opportunity for me to leverage and apply my research background to make a meaningful impact.

Connect with Catalina

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