Carolin Maney Purser, PhD
What is your role with The Center and what are you most excited about?
As the Director of Evaluation and Data, I support data-driven decision-making at the Center for Literacy and Learning by using existing research, evaluation best practices, and technology solutions. I develop logic models, evaluation plans, and data collection methods based in collaboration with colleagues and external partners. I am most excited to work with a diverse group of individuals, groups, and experts who all want to use data and storytelling to improve student outcomes in Louisiana and beyond.
What is your background?
I was born in Kerala, India, and have learned, lived, and worked in eight cities, across two countries. My childhood, my high school at United World College in Pune, India, undergraduate education at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and my graduate education at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia have all helped me be a rigorous researcher who is mindful to individual and collective stories that are intertwined in and captured through data. My eclectic personal and professional background guides me in the work I do.
What is your favorite childhood book or literacy memory?
Though I was a student with excellent grades, I did not develop much of a liking for independent reading until fourth or fifth grade. The relatively new school librarian started striking up conversations with me and suggested a few different books that I started enjoying reading for leisure. However, they were all relatively short. Eventually, she thought I should read the first of the Harry Potter books. Seeing the length, and trying out the first few pages, I was not very interested. I renewed the book a few different times before I read past the first 20 or 30 pages. Something changed about my relationship with that book and my interest in reading for pleasure after that point. I still remember my own surprise at the speed at which I completed the book, my investment in the characters of the book, and my impatience as I waited for the rest of the books in the series to be published. Though I have discovered and loved many books since, reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a striking literacy-related memory.
Flashback to when you were 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Architect or engineer
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
I would be in my childhood home in Kerala with my family, eating mangoes, jackfruit, guavas, and sapota.
What passion projects do you have outside of work?
Birdwatching, growing a vegetable garden, learning and enjoying as I co-parent my toddler, and capturing life’s fleeting moments through photography.
I have a hope of writing a few children’s books about Kerala, birds, and plants, but I have yet to find time for that.