Wintrhop Economics Major Given One of Only Five NSF Grants for Public Policy

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Winthrop University senior LaRaven Temoney has been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program grant and will pursue her Ph.D in public policy at the University of Florida.

She was one of only five students selected in the public policy area and is the first from the College of Business Administration awarded this type of grant.

Temoney, an economics major and a McNair Scholar from Sumter, South Carolina, has worked with faculty mentor Laura Ullrich on research that focuses on the inadequacy and inequity of school funding across districts in South Carolina. The plight of the Palmetto state’s rural districts was captured in a 2005 documentary called "Corridor of Shame,” which included the county where Temoney lives.

She watched the documentary in school and was affected by the story of declining support of public schools from local governments due to plant closings and diminishing tax bases. She wondered how the school districts have fared recently, particularly since a court case prompted by the lawsuit Abbeville County School District v. The State of South Carolina has been settled after more than two decades.

Temoney found that many of the measures for the school districts have been removed, such as exit exams, so it doesn’t appear that any substantive changes have been made, leaving students to suffer. She has reported her findings at four professional conferences across the region and nationwide.

Temoney finished her undergraduate degree in only three years. She found a home in the College of Business Administration where she was inspired by Ullrich’s teaching, passion and attitude toward life.

In turn, Ullrich noted that Temoney is fearless. “She puts herself out there and pursues her goals vigorously. I am so very proud of all she has accomplished,” said the economics professor, who also is an assistant dean for innovation and productivity.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program will provide Temoney with upwards of $35,000 annually to pay for her graduate work. Instrumental in Temoney’s winning of the award were McNair Scholars Director Cheryl Fortner-Wood and Office of Nationally Competitive Awards Director Leslie Bickford.

After she receives her Ph.D., Temoney would like to work for a government agency or non-profit in research and then work in academics teaching economic or education policy. “My Winthrop experience has prepared me to follow my dreams,” she said. “I’ve had opportunities to do so many things, from networking with Charlotte officials to presenting at conferences to meeting successful professionals in my field.”