The Gevirtz School names 6 Dean's Ambassador Circle Scholars

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Six outstanding graduate students at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE) have been named Dean’s Ambassadors Circle Scholars for 2012-13. 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 Acting Dean Gale Morrison. “These young people represent our best hope for the future of public education and community service throughout California and the nation.”

The 2012-13 GGSE Dean’s Ambassadors Circle Scholars, each receiving a $2,000 fellowship, are Anne Emerson, Mercedes Fernandez Oromendia, Victoria Harvey, Paula Sevilla, Ashley Smith, and David Young.

Anne Emerson is a student in the Department of Education, pursuing a Ph.D. in science education. She came to the GGSE in 2009 after finishing an undergraduate degree in physics at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and researching access to science education for girls in Cameroon, West Africa as a Fulbright Fellow. At the GGSE, she works with her advisor Danielle Harlow on technology and engineering education research to explore how students create and share ideas with technology and how young children learn computer programming. She also works with the Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships evaluating projects that support international research in science and improve access to science education for typically underrepresented populations. Emerson is currently living in Kenya and researching an after-school club that strives to help students learn science, health, and engineering while educating their community about water quality. In the future, she hopes to continue doing international development research that integrates education with engineering projects to improve sustainability and access to science education for children in developing countries.

Mercedes Fernandez Oromendia is a first year Department of Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology student, specializing in Counseling Psychology. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. As an undergraduate student, she worked at an Ethnic Identity Lab looking at identity development for international adoptees. Difficulties with identity development are not solely faced by adoptees. As an AmeriCorps member at a primarily Latino middle school in South Los Angeles, she witnessed many difficulties families face when migrating, including identity formation. This experience was instrumental in helping her decide to pursue her doctorate at UCSB, since the program has a particular focus on culturally sensitive practices. She is now part of Santa Barbara Wellness Project that provides mental health trainings, in Spanish, for the local Latino population. Her research interests, working with her advisor Collie Conoley, include positive psychology, strength-based interventions, culture and acculturation and developing culturally appropriate therapeutic practices.

Victoria Harvey is a student in the Department of Education, working on a Ph.D. in the area of Teacher Education, working with Jason Raley. After earning a B.A. in English, an M.A. in American Studies, and a teaching credential, Harvey taught middle and high school English and history for ten years. Though she loved working with energetic middle schoolers, she discovered an interest in teacher education through her service as a cooperating teacher for Pepperdine University. She currently works with teacher candidates in UCSB’s TEP and her research centers on how preservice teachers formulate the problems of teaching. She hopes to continue working in teacher education once she completes her degree.

Paula CT Sevilla is a teacher candidate currently working on her multiple subject credential in the Teacher Education Program. After graduating from UCSB with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, she spent six years living in Latin America. She taught English to upper elementary students in Central America and facilitated leadership training to university students in Mexico. After returning to California, Sevilla sought employment at Adelante Charter School, a dual-immersion elementary school on Santa Barbara’s Eastside. It was there that she came to see the benefits of primary language instruction through an additive bilingual education model. After receiving her teaching credential, Sevilla hopes to continue to help students of all backgrounds grow in their understanding of the strengths of speaking multiple languages and living in a multicultural world.

Ashley Smith is a first year doctoral student in the Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology program, working with Matt Quirk as her advisor. Smith graduated from UT Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Human Development. Following graduation she pursued her research at The University of Chicago and became involved with early childhood reading interventions for disadvantaged youth. Her work in impoverished neighborhoods inspired her research in early childhood interventions. While at UC Santa Barbara, she hopes to explore what motivates children in school with the hope of designing effective early childhood interventions.

David Young is a credential candidate in the Teacher Education Program, pursuing a Masters in Education and a single subject credential in World Languages (Spanish). His B.A. in Spanish and interest in community development led him to serve with the Peace Corps in Paraguay where he worked for two years as an educational advisor with elementary school teachers. He has also had experience teaching at a Waldorf high school, mentoring at-risk youth and translating loans for Kiva. He hopes to give legs to his idealism as he develops his teaching practice, seeking new channels for incorporating fundamentally different ways to look at language learning in schools. With his TEP education he hopes to challenge established assumptions about Spanish and draw students into meaningful communication with their Latino neighbors.

[The 2012-13 Dean's Ambassadors Circle Scholars are available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]