PSU student achievement awards announced

[left to right] Candyce Reynolds, Susan Sugarman, Pat Burk and Esperanza De La Vega

[left to right] Candyce Reynolds, Susan Sugarman, Pat Burk and Esperanza De La Vega

Portland State University will recognize its 2013 outstanding students at the annual spring awards event in June. The GSE is proud of the remarkable group of GSE honorees listed below, who are also eligible for top university-wide honors. Those honors will be presented prior to commencement at a special awards event on June 13. The following are this year’s Graduate School of Education awardees. 

Academic Achievement | Master’s

Michelle Cabrera—Michelle is earning a master of arts in Educational Leadership and Policy, with a certificate of completion in Training and Development: Management of Training. She was also selected to participate in the Russian Flagship Program at PSU and is fluent in Russian, having spent time in Russia in multiple programs ranging from nonprofit administration to teaching at a multilingual, multicultural international school. Last year, Michelle worked on a simple exercise (which started as homework) to use Russian vocabulary words in sentences. Before she knew it, it became a book– The Giant’s Wealth, based on a Russian folk tale, published by Ooligan Press and adopted by Kelly Elementary School in Portland. She is working on providing support to refugees and immigrants in Portland and is developing a training guide for people who are working with these populations.

Sonja Steinbach—Sonja is completing two master’s degrees: Special Education Visually Impaired Learner in the GSE and a master’s in mathematics through CLAS. This is particularly noteworthy, because Sonja is blind. While working on her degrees, she also provides leadership as a coach in a blind athletic league and heads up a “Goal Ball” team that competes on a national level. She is always the first to volunteer and mentor other students when necessary. She has a positive attitude, and advocates for herself and others. Above all, by just being “Sonja” she breaks down many of the stereotypes that people have of blind people.

Academic Achievement | Doctoral

Audrey Lingley—Audrey is completing a doctoral degree in Education Leadership, focusing on curriculum and instruction. Her dissertation, Seeing Crucibles: Legitimizing Spiritual Development in Middle Grades Education through Critical Historiography, which she successfully defended on April 18, is described as brilliant and innovative. Audrey has also been an important contributor to the school of education as a member of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction LGBTQ Task Force and as a course instructor. Her academic achievement, while participating in the EdD program, earned her a 4.0 GPA for the entire program. Her advisor says, “Audrey stands at the very pinnacle as an extraordinary academic. She is clearly deserving of the Dean’s Academic Achievement Award.”

Community Engagement | Master’s

Juanita Mejia—Juanita is graduating with a master of science in counseling. She has been involved with the Portland community in numerous ways, for example, participating in the Metro Toy Drive and Child Hero Program; she assisted a Child Hero and his family in their Christmas toy drive and in organizing and distributing toys to several local families in need. Juanita conducted an action research project in a middle school that focused on educating and increasing students’ motivation to gain a high school diploma, specifically focusing on minority and first-generation students. She is a victim’s advocate through the Beaverton Police Department who takes on-call shifts responding to incidents of domestic violence, and assists police with other situations where victims are present.

Community Engagement | Doctoral

Susan Shugerman—Susan is completing an EdD in Educational Leadership with a concentration in curriculum and instruction. Like many others, she juggled a full-time position at work, a family life, and PSU coursework for several years. She was one of the first to join a newly formed GSE research team as an intern in the summer of 2011. During her internship, she found her dissertation topic and chose to use Closing the Achievement Gap (CTAG) data to focus on understanding the intersection of after school programs and a K-8 school in the Portland area. Susan not only developed skills as a researcher, but soon became a contributing member of the CTAG research team, collaborating on the intellectual process and direction of the study. Susan is the Assistant Vice Provost for Education Outreach and Collaboration at the Oregon Health and Science University and as a PSU graduate student, the alignment of her dissertation study with her commitment to community outreach is reflective of Portland State University’s mission to let knowledge serve the city.

University Service | Master’s

Stefanie Randol—Stefanie is completing her master of science degree in Educational Leadership and Policy: Postsecondary, Adult and Continuing Education and will earn two graduate certificates: Student Affairs in Higher Education and Teaching Adult Learners. Stefanie provides support to students in the GSE doctoral program. She serves as an advisor, admissions counselor, and one-stop information source for students in all phases of their experience with the program. She is preparing for a career in student services, and her work with the students in the EdD program illustrates why this is the perfect career for her. Many faculty and students comment that Stefanie is someone who cannot be replaced.

University Service | Doctoral

Jolina Kwong-Caputo—Jolina is completing her doctorate in Educational Leadership from the GSE and holds two other PSU degrees: a master’s in Postsecondary Continuing and Adult Education from the GSE, and a bachelor’s in psychology from CLAS. Her master’s thesis and dissertation offer compelling insights into how to improve retention, persistence, and academic excellence among first-generation, low income, and underrepresented students at PSU and urban commuter universities. Her research findings have helped the PSU McNair Scholars Program, where she is the associate director, revise and refine its processes, pedagogy, and curriculum. Her efforts have resulted in her students achieving exceptional successes in graduation rates (95-100%) and successful entry into graduate and doctoral studies at Oxford, London School of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Columbia, and PSU. Jolina is dedicated to her scholarship and further research into how to improve the university experience for her students. She recently coauthored two successful McNair grant proposals totaling over $2 million dollars.


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