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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Outstanding Graduates of the College of Education's Class of 2017

outstanding graduates

Each year the College of Education recognizes a group of exceptional students as its Outstanding Graduates.  Outstanding Graduates are selected from each department at the Graduate and Undergraduate levels based on their academic performance and dedication to their field. In turn, these students then select the most influential faculty member of their academic career. Outstanding Graduates and their Most Influential Faculty members will be recognized at the COE Commencement Ceremony on May 14, 2017.

The Informed & Inspired Team caught up with the 2017 COE Outstanding Graduates to learn how they plan to go out and make a difference in their communities after graduation and also what their favorite SDSU memories are!

Stephanie Mathew
Stephanie Mathew

Department of Administration, Rehabilitation & Postsecondary Education
Program: Postsecondary Educational Leadership: Specialization in Student Affairs, MA
Most Influential Faculty Member: Dr. Marissa Vasquez Urias

After graduation, I will be working with Dr. Samuel Museus and his team at Indiana University-Bloomington. As part of the Sally Casanova fellowship, I will be fully funded to conduct research with him, particularly on the experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) students and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs). During this time, I will also be applying for outreach, recruitment, and student activities positions at two- and four-year institutions. Lastly, my goal is to take time to read more about issues in education, the history of API and Desi American people as well as the higher education experiences of students from these populations. From my master's program, I have realized how little I know about these students and their experiences. I want to spend some time intentionally learning and engaging with others in discourse around these topics.

My most memorable experience at SDSU has been the Asian and Pacific Islander Diaspora in Higher Education Summit. This experience allowed me to confront the truths about being an Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi American (APIDA) student for the first time. While it was really painful to be vulnerable about my experiences, this along with a couple of other experiences opened my eyes to the work that needs to be done for students who come from the same or similar backgrounds as me. This has developed a sense of urgency in my next steps as a scholar and potential doctoral candidate. I am so happy I was able to come across this experience and connect with colleagues and scholars who are facing similar experiences and doing similar work, respectively. It was the first time I felt a sense of community in terms of my cultural identity as a Desi American.

All of the faculty members have influenced me in one way or another. However, one faculty member that has been particularly impactful is Dr. Marissa Vasquez. She has been my supervisor, advisor, and professor for the past two years. Dr. Vasquez has always challenged and supported me in the work she assigns, setting very high expectations. She has given me opportunities to teach undergraduates, collect and analyze data, manage a scholarly journal, present at conferences, and more. She advertises and encourages me to apply to outside opportunities (awards, fellowships, conference proposals), even checking in with me about my applications and offering to assist with them. She has also connected me to scholars of interest to me. Dr. Vasquez has always taken a holistic approach in the ways she has taught and mentored me. She sees me as a human first, always asking how I am doing, how my classes are going, and then how my work is going. She even goes out of her way to ensure I am healthy--that I have eaten and am fully rested. I would not be where I am today without her unconditional love and support. She is so inspiring as a researcher who researches males of color in the community college, professor who teaches undergraduate and graduate students, and a robust advocate for the local and national Latino community. I am so grateful and fortunate I have been able to learn from her during my time here and would not have wanted my experience any other way.

Ashley Thomas Ashley Cassandra Thomas

Department of Child & Family Development (Undergraduate)
Program: Child Development, BS
Most Influential Faculty Member: Francesca Gallozzi

After graduation, I plan on attending a Master’s of Occupational Therapy Program in the spring. Once I obtain my Occupational Therapist license, I want to continue making a difference in the lives of the special needs population by becoming an advocate for their inclusion within society as I help them reach their personal goals. Throughout my experience here at San Diego State, I was given many opportunities to work hands on with diverse groups of children and developed a strong passion for helping those in need build the skills necessary to succeed in their academics. I am excited to carry the knowledge I have gained from the CFD Department and utilize it in helping me become successful in my later education and in my future career with children!

My most memorable experience while attending San Diego State was during the first semester of my senior year. I was given the opportunity to work in the Adaptive Physical Education Program at Casa de Oro Elementary School. Here, I was able to build strong relationships with a moderate to severe group of special needs children as we worked together towards achieving new developmental milestones. These children and the life lessons they taught me will forever reside in me as I move forward in this field. I am extremely grateful I was able to learn about the many capabilities these children hold and to be apart of their daily progress. I will continue to thank them as I work towards my goal of becoming an Occupational Therapist.

The ​most influential faculty member of my ​academic career at SDSU was Francesca Gallozzi. I was only able to take a couple classes with her throughout my college career, but those classes were the most impactful. When I first entered the major, I still felt lost when it came to deciding what I wanted to pursue as a future career. Her class CFD 275 confirmed for me that working with young children was the field for me. At the end of that class, she sent me an email congratulating me on my success and telling me I interacted with the children in a meaningful way. Although it seemed like a small gesture, it really made me feel competent and ready to tackle the rest of my CFD courses, and is a huge reason for my achievements thus far in the department.

Jillian Garrison
Jillian Garrison

Department of Child & Family Development
Program: Child & Family Development, MS
Most Influential Faculty Member: Dr. Alyson Shapiro

After graduation, I am attending the Human Development and Family Sciences doctorate program at Oklahoma State University. My plan is to receive my PhD over the next three years and become a research scientist specializing in prevention and intervention programs for children in need. I would like to work closely with teachers and parents over the next several years on how to improve the social and emotional development of their students and children for better emotion regulation and overall well-being.

I have loved living in San Diego these last 2.5 years, having the beach right around the corner and an amazing campus to come to everyday for school and work. The most memorable experience I have had here, however, was meeting my husband. Him, working at Edward Jones to become a financial advisor, and myself, working to attain my masters degree in Child and Family Development- we fell in love on Ocean Beach during my last year here and were married in November. I will forever associate my time here in San Diego with falling in love with my husband.

The most influential faculty member I had at SDSU was Dr. Alyson Shapiro. In my cohort, we all agreed she is amazing in helping her students from beginning to end. No task is too difficult for her, no student is not worth helping. She is kind, highly intelligent and extremely patient, but most of all she is passionate about her field. I once asked her if she had thought about charging more money for her program material, and she said “I did not enter this field to make money, I entered this field to help children and families.”

Nelida Ramirez
Nelida Ramirez

Department of Counseling & School Psychology
Program: School Psychology, MS
Most Influential Faculty Member: Dr. Katina Lambros

After graduation, I would like to get a job as a school psychologist. I have an interest in working with families and young people. I am excited to start working collaboratively within the community, with colleagues and empowering students. I plan to use the knowledge and experience that I have gained throughout my educational career to be the best that I can be!

My most memorable experience while attending SDSU was finding my way across campus and walking into my first graduate class. Opening the door into a new transition of my life and getting to make the some of the best relationships I have ever had. One can say “A new family”. These past four years of my life at SDSU will always be the most memorable moments!

Nelida chose Dr. Katina Lambros as her most influential faculty member.
It was hard to choose just one. Each SDSU faculty member has made me who I have become. They have all guided me and supported me through my educational career. Without their knowledge and experience, I would not be where I am today, and for that I am grateful and thankful.

Annika Nelson
Annika Nelson

Department of Dual Language & English Learner Education
Program: Dual Language & English Learner Education, MA
Most Influential Faculty Member: Ricardo Medina

After graduation, I plan to dig back into teaching for COTA (Collaboration of Teachers & Artists), an organization that helps teachers use the arts as a cross-curricular tool, incorporating lots of new ideas, strategies and enthusiasm. Specifically, I’d like to help other COTA artists work with teachers to use arts as an assessment component to provide a clearer, more dimensional sense of where their students are with their learning and comprehension.

We had some really good times during our program, it is hard to pick one particular memory. I really appreciated the efforts some professors made to get us out of the classroom and into nature.  Going out to Mission Trails to do printmaking and movement as well as participating in conversation, group work etc. rounded out our educational experiences in a deep and meaningful way.

The most influential faculty member of my academic career at SDSU is Ricky Medina. This was also a tough question to narrow down! I feel like the DLE program has a wealth of wise, dedicated, brilliant and compassionate professors who are supportive and inspiring. Ricky Medina does stand out as someone who truly started my graduate school experience off to an exceptional start. His comments and feedback on my assignments were exactly what I needed as someone who was going back to school later on in life and didn’t fit the typical profile of a student in the DLE program.

Brandi Sheppy
Brandi Sheppy

Department of Educational Leadership
Program: Educational Leadership (PreK-12), MA
Most Influential Faculty Member: Dr. Ian Pumpian

After graduation, I will continue teaching 6th grade at Finney Elementary in the Chula Vista Elementary School District.  I have a passion for working with kids, and I’m not ready to leave the classroom just yet.  Eventually, I do want to pursue more leadership opportunities in CVESD.

My favorite SDSU memory was getting the opportunity to work with Dr. Fisher and Dr. Frey.  They asked if they could film in my classroom while I was teaching for their Visible Learning Book.  I was so excited and nervous.  This was a moment in my career I will never forget.  

My most influential faculty member at SDSU was Dr. Ian Pumpian.

Sarah Jimenez
Sarah Jimenez

Department of Special Education
Program: Special Education, MA
Most Influential Faculty Member: Dr. Chris Brum

After graduation, I plan to continue working as a high school mod/severe special education teacher in the Grossmont Union High School District and encourage my students to increase their independence and self-determination to help prepare them for their futures and adulthood. I also plan to continue working towards taking the BCBA exam and hope to take it either in December or March.

It's hard to pinpoint one specific memory because my entire time spent at SDSU has been incredibly life changing and I have met so many influential people and had so many amazing experiences. I think if I have to pick just one memorable experience from my time in this program, it would be the ABAI conference in New Orleans. It was really inspiring to see so many professionals in the field who were sharing their knowledge with us along with realizing how many resources are available and people around the world who have the same passion to help people with autism and other disabilities.

Dr. Christopher Brum is my most influential faculty member of my academic career at SDSU because he has been my university support provider all three years. Dr. Brum has provided and continues to provide me with essential guidance in my classroom.

Amanda Sherman
Amanda Sherman

School of Teacher Education
Program: Liberal Studies, BA
Most Influential Faculty Member: Dr. David Weber (Mathematics Lecturer)

After graduation, I will be completing an internship at Walt Disney World in Florida. I am greatly looking forward to helping people of all ages experience Disney’s magic and feel inspired to follow their dreams. After, I will attend graduate school to obtain a Master’s Degree in Education, as well as a multiple subject teaching credential. I hope to use this education to travel to different countries and teach students from around the world.

I have had so many incredible experiences here at San Diego State University that it is hard to specify just one. Overall, it has been the people I have met here who have made my last four years so amazing. I was blessed to be randomly placed on a dorm floor my freshmen year with some of the women who have become my best friends. I will never forget the nights we would stay up way too late while sitting in the hallway simply talking about our lives. Now, I share a house with many of them, and I am truly appreciative of their constant love and support. I will always cherish the many adventures I have had with all of my friends here at SDSU.

My most influential faculty member is Dr. David Weber. The best educators not only teach their students the skills listed on the syllabus, but they also impart wisdom and prepare their students to become hard working and honorable adults. Dr. David Weber excels at this. He has influenced many of my peers and me to persevere even when the answers are difficult to find, to think creatively, to express our thoughts clearly, and to teach our future students as passionately and as proudly as he does.

Svetlana Cvetkovic
Svetlana Cvetkovic

School of Teacher Education
Program: Reading Education, MA
Most Influential Faculty Member: Dr. Marva Cappello

After graduation, my plans include a variety of ambitious goals. Growing up a second language learner and struggling reader myself, I plan to continue my exploration in discovering the most effective intervention systems for students who are most at-risk for reading failure. I am currently in the process of creating my own curriculum for close reading and text dependent questioning using high interest informational text for first and second grade students. Research from Dr. Nell Duke, introduced to me through the program, has inspired me to continue her groundbreaking work in informational text for elementary students, but transcend it into engaging technology platforms. These would include an extensive digital library of informative text, organized by text complexity level so that early readers may systematically move through the library. Another pursuit is to write children’s books that blend a hybrid of fiction and nonfiction elements. I may also continue my education in pursuing my doctorate degree very soon.

My most memorable experience at SDSU is the very first day I walked onto campus to meet with the lead advisor for the Reading Masters program, Dr. Marva Cappello. At the time, I was uncertain of whether or not SDSU was the place for me to embark on my new journey, but the moment I set foot onto the campus and walked through the doors of the Education building, it was clear as day, this was the exact place I was supposed to be!

Dr. Marva Cappello is my most influential faculty member at SDSU. I feel she is the reason that influenced my decision to begin my educational career at SDSU, and she continues to be the reason I have been inspired to soon begin my doctoral journey in the near future. Her passion for teaching and constant quest for innovative and researched based learning strategies has influenced my own current and future contributions to preventative literacy intervention systems. Through her belief in me, I now believe in myself, and am beginning to gain the confidence that is often hard for me to find. It is with great pleasure that I recognize SDSU’s program and Dr. Cappello when I credit my current and future accomplishments in literacy and education.