Dr. Zirkel joins the design lab as an education designer focused on the Community College Growth Engine Fund initiative. She brings 13 years of experience working in, and along side, community colleges to create better opportunities for all students, regardless of their starting point.
Her work in higher education is deeply rooted in her own identity as a first generation, low income, transfer student who needed to work full time while pursuing her education. Within community colleges she has served as adjunct faculty, Director of Student Life & Athletics, Director of Admissions, Acting Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Acting Dean of Student Development, and Dean of Distance Education & Education Centers. In these roles she has championed opportunities offered via Job Corps, Trade Readjustment Act, Workforce Investment Act, TRIO, Title III projects,, and Guided Pathway initiatives.
Most recently, Dr. Zirkel led the national strategy for RaiseMe’s community college initiative. RaiseMe connects both high school and community college students with micro-scholarships that are awarded from four year colleges for reaching momentum points correlated with persistence, completion, and transfer.
Tara resides in Philadelphia with her spouse and is a proud member of Philly Roller Derby. She holds a Doctorate of Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.