Six outstanding graduate students at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE) have been named Dean’s Ambassadors Circle Scholars for 2013-14. The School’s Dean’s Ambassadors Circle, 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 Ambassadors Circle 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 2013-14 GGSE Dean’s Ambassadors Circle Scholars, each receiving a $2,000 fellowship, are Caitlin Conlon, Lindsey Liles, Hui-Ju Pai, Rachel Schindelbeck, Hala Sun, and Oscar Widales.
Caitlin Conlon attended UCSB as an undergraduate, and received her bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Spanish in 2010. Truly a lover of language and culture, she traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she received her International Diploma in English Language Teaching and taught for six months. After being inspired by her work abroad and receiving encouragement from her father, also an English teacher of 36 years, she returned to her alma mater to pursue her credential and masters in education through the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. She hopes that with her background in linguistics and training in the Teacher Education Program she can create engaging learning opportunities for California’s diverse student population, inspiring learners to pursue dreams they never thought they could achieve, and providing learners with the tools to pursue their academic and vocational dreams.
Lindsey Liles is a first year doctoral student in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, specializing in Clinical Psychology. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas and attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor for both her undergraduate and graduate studies. During undergrad, she pitched for the Crusaders and developed an interest in Sport Psychology. She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology in 2008 and returned to UMHB to pursue her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2009. During her graduate studies, she found a passion for clinical work and an appreciation for the power of the helping relationship. She completed a yearlong internship with the Gatesville Prison System, where she counseled mostly female inmates in group and individual settings. She also seized opportunities to conduct and present research on social justice and perceived exertion. After graduating in December 2011, Lindsey moved back to Austin and took a year off to travel the world before deciding to start her next chapter at UCSB. Here, she will be working with her advisor Dr. Steve Smith conducting research related to Sport Psychology. Her current research interests within the athletic population include anxiety, personality and perfectionism, self-talk, identity development, and coping with injury or illness.
Hui-Ju Pai, a doctoral student in Education, focuses her studies on research curriculum and instruction and possesses an extensive background in multicultural education and minority education. Her area of emphasis is culture and development with research interests in after-school programs, minority education, cultural perspectives, comparative education, and family-school and school-community relations. She holds a B.F.A. from National Sun-Yat-Sen University in Taiwan in music and a two-year elementary teacher's training program; her official elementary teaching certificate is from Taiwan's Ministry of Education; her M.S. from Kansas State University is in curriculum and instruction, focusing on multicultural education. Since returning to Taiwan in 2008, she has been doing a job related to enhancing education for disadvantaged children as a teaching instructor for the social welfare foundation, mainly assisting with the after-school education of minority students by teaching according to the individual needs of each student. Upon completion of her studies, Pai will devote herself to improving the educational curricula and policies of disadvantaged and minority children and teaching at the university level. She feels a special responsibility, as part of Taiwan's indigenous or minority population, to dedicate herself to apply whatever she learns to the execution and planning of educational policies involving the indigenous peoples of Taiwan.
Rachel Schindelbeck is in the Teacher Education Program at UCSB, working on obtaining her Multiple Subject teaching credential and Master’s degree. Having grown up in Orange County, Schindelbeck spent two year at junior college after high school, where she played two years of college golf and completed her associate’s degree. She then transferred to UC Davis where she completed her undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Education. She has been loving her time here at UCSB, where she is currently student teaching in a kindergarten classroom.
Hala Sun is a Ph.D. candidate in Education. She is a recent Magna Cum Laude graduate with a Masters of Arts degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL, 2013). In 2010, she obtained her first Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA), specializing in International Management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Sun aspires to use her education and experiences to help empower the lives of people through promoting sustainable education and development. Her research interests are heritage language maintenance, education policies related to racial equity, the impact of national/state language and education policies on immigrant students' academic performance, bilingualism/multilingualism, second language acquisition, parents' roles in children's education, ensuring social relevance in language classrooms, sustainable education policies and practices, immigration policies, income generating strategies, and sustainable development. Because she is a South Korean who grew up in the Philippines, attended a Chinese school, and has traveled to many Latin American countries, she is able to speak five languages fluently.
Oscar Widales-Benitez is a first year School Psychology Master’s student at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education under Dr. Erin Dowdy. His research interests include school-based mental health, resilience, and coping mechanisms. Widales-Benitez completed his undergraduate degree in Mathematics at Texas A & M International University in Laredo, Texas with highest honors. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical or School Psychology and work in a school setting or in private practice.