Christina Ciocca Eller is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Columbia University.  Her research focuses on inequality in higher education in the United States, with a particular emphasis on public colleges and universities. Her mixed-methods dissertation research examines the issue of persistence in such settings, investigating the institution’s role in structuring successful pathways to timely degree completion in four-year schools, in particular.  As part of this work, and with the generous support of Graduate NYC, Christina completed a yearlong qualitative study of first-year students’ integration experiences within three CUNY colleges, including both freshmen and transfer students. Before beginning her doctoral work, Christina served as the chief speechwriter and communications director for the current president of Georgetown University, Dr. John J. DeGioia.  She hopes to continue examining and addressing key practices and policies impacting college student success following the completion of her dissertation.