Ryan Donaghy entered UCLA's Social Sciences and Comparative Education division as a doctoral student in the fall of 2011. Before coming to the program, she received a master's degree in Higher Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a master's degree in Communication from Arizona State University. In 2006, she worked with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, in the Department of Refugee and Migration Affairs. Following her time in Geneva, she spent a year in Ankara, Turkey on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Grant. While receiving her master's degree from Harvard University, she served as an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University and Emerson College, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Most recently, Ryan received a 2013 Critical Language Scholarship, and won the Fulbright Research Grant and the Boren Fellowship to study at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey for the 2013-14 academic year.