Sarah Hakani

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Sarah Hakani grew up in Atlanta among a diverse, multilingual, predominantly immigrant community. Although she loves to paint, make music, and delve into Islamic history and literature, she always knew that she wanted to create impact through education, particularly for the marginalized communities that she herself grew up with. During her undergrad at Duke, Sarah studied neuroscience, child policy research, and education. Currently, Sarah is a Curriculum Developer at Girls Who Code, where she is examining the roles of technology and innovation in increasing access for women, particuarly low-income women of color.


During her journey into the field of education, Sarah has contributed research, curriculum design, and coaching in several projects domestically and internationally. During her time at the Jordan River Foundation in Amman, she presented on topics including psychosocial impacts of child abuse, trauma-sensitive schooling for Syrian refugees, neural factors surrounding youth empowerment and mental well-being and more for various youth development projects.


In her neuroscience independent study at Duke, she drew connections between attention and working memory research and subsequent clinical and educational translations of this understanding, including multi-modal lecture presentations in classrooms.  She also completed a second, self-designed independent study for Durham Public Schools teachers on the interactions between trauma and bilingualism and how this cognitive combination may impact learners.


At The Refugee Center Online, she worked on increasing accessibility of their website to refugees and immigrants, stemming from multimodal initiatives and research on the bilingual brain. Additionally, in her work with the Aga Khan Education Board, Sarah has designed a free, one-year college preparation program geared towards Muslim immigrant students and parents to better understand the college process and seek out appropriate mentorship.


For Sarah, educational neuroscience is a form of social justice. It is a form of community building, development, and equity. It is recognizing the nuanced and unique experiences that different individuals carry with them and shifting how they are approached and educated.