Six outstanding graduate students at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE) have been named Dean’s Council Scholars for 2011-12. The School’s Dean’s Council, whose members provide leadership, counsel, and financial support, recognizes that many potential students, confronted with the rising cost of graduate education, are finding it impossible to follow their dreams of becoming teachers, psychologists, special educators, or educational researchers. To help these students, the Dean’s Council members pledge money to provide fellowships that enable students to dedicate themselves to full-time study and help the Gevirtz School continue to attract the best graduate students.
“Attracting and retaining the best and brightest graduate students to be the next generation of teachers, researchers, school leaders, and psychologists becomes more difficult every year. Without the special support from the Dean’s Council we would not be competitive in offering the very special Gevirtz School experience to deserving students,” says Dean Jane Close Conoley. “These young people represent our best hope for the future of public education and community service throughout California and the nation.”
The 2011-12 GGSE Dean’s Council Scholars, each receiving a $2,000 fellowship, are Joseph Bommarito, Robin Dodds, Jeremy Edwards, Bethany Ellis, Stephanie Lechuga, and Sheila Modir.
Joe Bommarito is a credential candidate in the Teacher Education Program, working on a single subject credential in World Languages (Spanish and Portuguese). His B.A. in Spanish and interest in social justice issues led him to serve with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in San Francisco where he worked as a legal assistant with Latin@ day laborers. He has experience teaching ELD in Asia and is interested in teaching English language learners here in California. One of his main goals for entering the program is to be able to help close the achievement and academic opportunity gap between privileged and financially disadvantaged students. With his TEP education Bommarito hopes to motivate his students to celebrate Latin American and international cultures. He also wants to inspire students to become bilingual in order to improve local and worldwide relations.
Robin Dodds is a first year student in the Department of Education, studying in the Special Education Disabilities and Risk Studies emphasis. She has eleven years of experience teaching preschoolers with special needs, and a son with Asperger syndrome. Dodds is a native New Yorker who has left the snowy weather behind for a kinder climate and intellectual growth at UCSB. She looks forward to engaging in research in the areas of Autism, Inclusion and Curriculum Development.
Jeremy Edwards is a graduate student in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology. “Striving to overcome serious family dysfunction and severe learning disabilities has helped me develop into a strong and determined person,” Edwards say. “I have learned valuable lessons through adversity and have dedicated myself to helping others achieve their own goals despite obstacles. Since I did not have a traditional upbringing and early educational experience, I researched many options to see where I would best fit.” The Gervirtz Graduate School of Education became his first choice because of its research focus on diversity and innovative projects. Edwards will be working under Dr. Jill Sharkey as a first-year student in educational psychology. His plan is to become a school psychologist and work in the public school systems, non-traditional settings, as well as non- profit organizations to help at-risk youth develop a sense of pride and determination that will enable them to achieve their dreams.
Bethany Ellis is a credential candidate in the Teacher Education Program, working on a Multiple Subject Certification and Masters in Education. She earned her B.A. at Messiah College in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where she worked with professors to create her own major in Peace and Conflict Resolution. Ellis has pursued the path to teaching through working as an environmental educator for the National Audubon Society, a preschool teacher in Philadelphia, and an Instructional Assistant in Santa Barbara. She has a particular interest in the intersection between her training in conflict resolution and her dedication to the pursuit of accessible and meaningful education for all children.
Stephanie Lechuga is a student in the Department of Education, pursuing a Ph.D. in the area of Child and Adolescent Development. Originally from Atascadero, California, Lechuga graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. During her time in the Bay Area, she became involved in K-12 public education in Oakland, and continued this after completing her baccalaureate studies. “Through my work as a Spanish as a Second Language Tutor for students in grades K-4, and an English Instructor for parents, I became interested in parent perspectives in elementary education, as well as diversity in the classroom,” Lechuga says. “I am especially interested in the parental role/relationship and the effect of the parental rapport on the academic achievement of Latino children. While at UC Santa Barbara, I hope to analyze international approaches to addressing issues of diversity and immigration in public education.”
Sheila Modir is a first year Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology student, specializing in Clinical Psychology. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Behavior from UC Irvine and her Master of Social Welfare from UC Los Angeles. Her previous research and clinical experiences have been focused on working with vulnerable populations such as sexual assault survivors, juvenile youth offenders, female ex-offenders residing in halfway houses, and foster youth. Recently, Modir completed a one-year clinical internship at the UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services where she was trained in the development of skills essential to clinical work with a variety of mental health issues. Her research interests include culture and acculturation, immigration and refugee youth, and identifying coping mechanisms and resiliency factors in vulnerable populations.
[The Dean's Council Scholars are available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]
photo captions: photo 1 (from l-r): two of the 2011-12 Dean's Council Scholars, Stephanie Lechuga and Joe Bommarito;
photo 2 (from l-r): four of the 2011-12 Dean's Council Scholars, Sheila Modir, Jeremy Edwards, Robin Dodds, Bethany Ellis
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