Elena Serna-Wallender
Operations Associate
Postsecondary Education

Serna-Wallender joined MDRC in 2014 and specializes in managing projects, providing technical assistance, and developing relationships with postsecondary research partners. In addition to her work at MDRC, Serna-Wallender also served as the founding deputy director at the Urban Education Institute at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her work centers on postsecondary education, highlighting ways to improve college access, persistence, and success for first-generation students, students from low-income families, and nontraditional students. Serna-Wallender’s current and recent projects focus on evaluating and building comprehensive student supports programs, testing text message support for adults returning to college, and improving offerings for students assessed as needing developmental (remedial) education. She works out of San Antonio, Texas, and holds a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Trinity University and a master’s in public affairs from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.



Putting Evidence to Work for Student Support

Issue Focus

GIFs and Memes as Tools for Engagement


Early Findings from a Study of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways