Saving the Best for Last: GSE Celebrates Graduates

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  • It seemed for a little while that the May 20, 2017 College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) School of Education (GSE) Degree Celebration might not happen.  After all, University Commencement had run more than an hour longer than expected, eating into the turn-around time between ceremonies.  Doctoral students who should have been lining up with their dissertation chairs in the lobby were still inside Eagle Bank Arena being hooded.  Master’s candidates were milling in the parking lot, texting friends inside the commencement ceremony and trying to decide if there was time to run and grab lunch before lining up again for their Degree Celebration.  CEHD staff waited in the arena wings for the strains of Pomp and Circumstance to signal the end of University Commencement and cue them into action.  Before the last university graduate had processed out, crews began busily setting up for the GSE ceremony, rearranging the stage and bringing the color guard in to practice, placing programs on seats and speeches at podiums.  If George Mason University had “saved the best for last” in scheduling the School of Education Degree Celebration, then it was essential that those who were last received only the best.

    Eventually, of course, this day of celebration did straighten itself out.  Grads made the most of the extra time by sharing hugs and selfies with their cohorts and faculty.  Family settled into their seats and Pomp and Circumstance played one last time.  GSE Faculty Marshals in their colorful regalia led their students into Eagle Bank Arena for the final official celebration of their academic accomplishments. Despite the wait, there was real joy in that sea of green robes. Along with the usual messages of thanks to family and inspirational sayings, more than a few mortar boards were decked out like mini classroom blackboards, with messages in chalk.  Others sported #2 pencils, apples, and rulers.  Proud teachers and education leaders found their seats and then waved to family in the crowd.

    Dr. Mark Ginsberg, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development, serving as master of ceremonies for the event, stepped to the podium to warmly welcome the graduates, promising them that “Your work as educators will be life changing,” both for themselves and the students they serve.  He then called upon student speaker Sara Magdi Hussein to share her own transformation as a GSE student.  Sara, who came to the U.S. as a thirteen-year-old from Sudan, told the audience how, as a Mason undergraduate in Psychology, she had been shy and narrowly-focused on earning the education her family so highly prized. She described the risk she took when deciding, as a candidate for a Masters in Counseling and Development, to overcome her culture’s stigmas surrounding mental health and to give up her role as “the invisible girl” so that she could become an advocate for others.  In challenging herself, Sara discovered just what a strong woman she truly is.  She thanked her family, colleagues, and faculty for helping her to grow.  “I am grateful for the risks I have taken because they have brought me to where I always needed to be,” Sara told them. 

    When Dean Ginsberg stepped to the podium to thank Sara, the audience expected him to then introduce the celebration’s guest speaker, Dr. Daniel Domenech, Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators.  Instead they got the harrowing but humorous story of Dr. Ginsberg and Dr. Domenech exchanging text messages in the wake of Dr. Domenech’s last-minute orthopedic injury and his valiant efforts to attend the degree celebration despite pain, surgery, and doctor’s orders.  Disappointed not to be able to introduce his friend, but nonetheless undaunted, Dean Ginsberg delivered a powerful message to the graduates: “You might not become rich [as education professionals], but you will become, and forever be, enriched because you make a difference in the lives of others every single day.” He then presented the 2017 Distinguished Service to Education Award in absentia to Dr. Domenech before honoring retiring CEHD faculty members, Dr. Peter Barcher and Dr. Joseph Maxwell.

    Following the speeches, the dean progressed to the long-awaited highlight of the day:  the conferral of degrees and certificates.  Graduates of the Mason LIFE (Learning into Future Environments) Program led the way, proudly accepting their certificates for completing Mason’s post-secondary program for young adults with developmental and intellectual disAbilities.  The 21 candidates for Doctor of Philosophy in Education then came to the stage to be presented with the CEHD Academic Achievement Medal by their dissertation chairs in recognition of their scholarly accomplishments and degree completion. 

    The single largest graduate group consisted of the candidates for master’s degrees.  Nearly 500 students representing Counseling and Development, Curriculum and Instruction, Education Leadership, Educational Psychology, and Special Education, from all ages and walks of life, crossed the stage to cheers from family and friends.  One graduate even carried her baby with her.  As each master’s program was presented, Associate Dean Ellen Rodgers announced the names of the program’s award winners, who were recognized with a plaque in honor of their academic achievement.  CEHD’s largest group of graduates was followed by its smallest: the 5 students receiving GSE’s only bachelor’s degrees in Human Development and Family Science, a co-curricular program of study with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. When he had finished shaking the hands of all the graduates as they crossed the stage, Dean Ginsberg asked all students receiving master’s-level certificates to stand and be recognized. 

    In concluding the ceremony, and to “make it official”, Dean Ginsberg invited each graduate to turn their tassel to the left signifying their new status as Mason Alumni. He reminded them that today was not an end, but rather a beginning of their professional journey.  He urged them to show their Patriot Pride by wearing their lapel pin, giving back to Mason, and using the luggage tag that had been placed upon their seat.  “Take your university with you wherever life takes you,” he reminded them.  “Once a Patriot, Always a Patriot.”

    The School of Education 2017 Program Award Winners:

    Abigail Konopasky

    Doctor of Philosophy in Education

    Meghan Elizabeth Miller

    Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning

    Howard E. Eaves Jr., School Counseling

    Thu-An Trinh, Community Agency Counseling

    Counseling and Development

    Alanna Dawkins

    Early Childhood Education for Diverse Learners

    Kurt W. Soderstrom

    Early Childhood Special Education

    Sarah R. Whelan

    Education Leadership

    Elysia Howe, Assessment, Evaluation, and Training

    Grace Wingo, Learning Cognition, and Motivation

    Jun Ye, Learning and Decision-Making in Leadership

    Educational Psychology

    Charmaine Go Smith

    Amy Christine Wynant

    Elementary Education

    Leanna Panasethaned Moron

    Human Development and Family Science

    Todd Irvin, Instructional Design and Technology

    Learning Technologies

    Sara Anne Greenberg


    Karen A. Beir

    Mathematics Specialist Leader

    Lydia Erin Bradshaw, English

    Sara Louise Evers, Social Studies

    Amanda Marie Hoelscher, Science

    Jordan N. Koca, Mathematics

    Secondary Education

    Sarah B. Forgione

    Stacie Brady, Assistive Technology

    Jessica Caylor, Vision Impairment

    Blair Alexandra Kersh, Students with Disabilities Who Access the Adapted Curriculum

    Rachel Bunting McCain, Students with Disabilities Who Access the General Curriculum

    Taylor Lynn Morrison, Applied Behavior Analysis

    Special Education

    Harry L. Althoff, International Elementary

    Site Li, Foreign Language

    Bethany Anne Farrell, English as a Second Language

    Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and Exceptional Learners

    Brigid Kathleen Donlevie

    Transformative Teaching


    Kappa Delta Pi Welcomes New Members

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  • George Mason University’s Nu Alpha Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education inducted 16 new members on May 9, in a ceremony in the Johnson Center Cinema.  Dean Mark Ginsberg and Associate Dean Ellen Rodgers welcomed new members and presented Kappa Delta Pi’s history, mission, and vision. They charged inductees with upholding the high standards and commitment to education that had prompted faculty members to nominate them for Kappa Delta Pi membership.

    New members were chosen by current chapter members and CEHD faculty based on their GPA and coursework. In addition, all nominees have consistently exhibited worthy educational ideals, an intention to continue in the field of education, professionalism, and leadership attributes.

    Nu Alpha Chapter co-counselors, Dr. Jennifer Hathaway and Ms. Rebekah Flis, assisted in swearing-in the new members:

    Linsdey Carter

    Elizabeth S. Cox

    Stephen B. Dowell

    Rebekah Flis

    Renee Gokey

    Melissa Hill

    Melody Hoyt

    Anne Marie C. Infantino

    Benita J. Klein

    Mary E. Luckenbaugh

    Sydney R. Potter

    Brandon M. Quiles

    Kelly Scruggs

    Sian V. Stephan

    Mallika Thanasanti

    Lydia To 

    This year’s induction ceremony marked a reorganization and renewal for Mason’s Nu Alpha Chapter prompted by increased student interest in the many benefits of Kappa Delta Pi membership.  The organization offers a lifelong connection to its more than 40,000 active members and 1.2 million alumni from their early undergraduate years, through their professional progress, and even into retirement.  In addition to Kappa Delta Pi’s networking benefits, members have access to continuing education, scholarship and grant funding, and publication opportunities.

    The CEHD Office of Student and Academic Affairs congratulates the newest members of Kappa Delta Pi and looks forward to sharing more news from the Nu Alpha Chapter in the fall.  Please contact to learn how you can become a member of Kappa Delta Pi.


    Teachers of Tomorrow: Booked for Success

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  • Teachers of Tomorrow (TOT) may be an organization primarily focused on recruiting and promoting future educators among Mason undergraduates, but this spring, saw TOT members working hard on another aspect of their mission – service – in the form of their Annual Book Drive.  According to rising senior and TOT President, Bre’Ana Bryant, “The TOT Book Drive was our biggest event this semester.  The Teachers of Tomorrow have a strong belief in promoting literacy. “ 

    TOT Members kicked off the drive in the beginning of March, placing decorated collection boxes at locations all over campus, asking for donations of new and gently used books for readers of all ages and abilities.  By the end of the drive on March 31, TOT had received over 500 books!  The fun really began as TOT members hauled boxes and sorted stacks of books, readying them for distribution to appreciative schools, churches, shelters, and community centers throughout Northern Virginia and the greater Washington D.C. area. 

    In addition to hosting fellowship activities and professional development workshops, which the organization organizes regularly throughout the academic year, members hope to increase their service opportunities. “I want us to work toward making an even greater presence within our community and even increase membership along the way,” says Bryant. 

    Their efforts have not gone unnoticed.  TOT was nominated for a Distinguished Quill Award for Student Organization of the Year in April.  TOT is open to all Mason undergraduates, regardless of major, who are passionate about education or wishing to learn more about teaching. Learn more HERE.


    Getting the (Pencil) Lead Out: Writer’s Retreat Motivates Graduate Students

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  • The first College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) Writer’s Retreat was held on Saturday, February 25 at George’s in the Johnson Center. More than 20 graduate students gathered for an all-day retreat where they publicly committed to a day of high productivity. The retreat was open to CEHD graduate students only and provided an opportunity for students to make significant progress on conference proposals, theses, class assignments, portfolios, and dissertations as well as to form bonds with other graduate students currently “in the struggle.” The Writer’s Retreat started with a warm-up activity where students were encouraged to set realistic, achievable goals for the day. For example, one master’s student was determined to complete a literature review for a counseling and development class assignment, while another table of doctoral students were all determined to craft polished essays for their portfolio assignment. 

    Students also had the opportunity to participate in two, hour-length workshops during the retreat. The first workshop, “Conquering the Writing Process”, was facilitated by Dr. Ivory Berry, Director of Student Success for the College of Education and Human Development. During this workshop, Dr. Berry shared 10 tips he learned as a graduate student that could help current students better understand and conquer the academic writing process. Dr. Berry encouraged students to “find the passion in their purpose,” “know their audience,” and “find the writing groove and ride it out.” The second workshop was led by Dr. Erin Peters-Burton, the Donna R. and David E. Sterling Endowed Professor in Science Education and Director of the Educational Psychology, Research Methods, and Education Policy Division. Her workshop was titled “Strategies for Becoming a Productive Academic Writer,” and students were provided with a variety of strategies to help them convert their research idea into a publication.

    Consultants from the Writing Center were also on hand for the retreat. Students were able to schedule 30-minute one-on-one sessions with a consultant to get feedback on their writing as well as brainstorm projects.

    Are you a CEHD graduate student seeking group accountability among peers when it comes to your writing? Stay tuned! Planning for the next CEHD Writer’s Retreat is currently underway.


    CEHD Student Research Shines at Second Annual Symposium

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  • Over 60 students shared their research at the 2017 College of Education and Human Development Student Research Symposium held on April 25 in Dewberry Hall in the Johnson Center.   The symposium included seven Oral Presentations, four Roundtable Panels, and 29 Poster Presentations reflecting scholarship at all levels, from undergraduate through doctoral study, and disciplines within the School of Education and the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism. 

    Now in its second year, the annual symposium saw a dramatic increase in submissions, presenters, and guests.   According to Brandon Quiles, Student Engagement Coordinator for the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), the increased interest in the symposium reflects George Mason University’s strong commitment to valuing research.  “Students who engage in research are better equipped with critical skills that make them engaged citizens and well-rounded scholars and practitioners.”

    The entirety of the Student Research Symposium (SRS) was intended to introduce students to the process of conducting, submitting, and presenting their research at a professional conference.  The CEHD Office of Student and Academic Affairs put out the call for submissions in the fall and early spring.  Interested students submitted an abstract and chose a format for their presentations which were then reviewed by a faculty committee.  The presentation sessions were styled after what students might experience at a professional conference, albeit in a smaller and less intimidating setting.  Presenters even received written feedback forms from the audience to help hone their research and presentation skills.

    Faculty support for the 2017 SRS played a pivotal role in its success.  By mentoring students through the process, and with some faculty even integrating the submission process into their courses, students reaped the benefits of their professors’ experience as research professionals.  Faculty attendance at the event was high, and many encouraged their classes to attend as well.

    Congratulations to the following student researchers on their participation in this year’s event:

    Oral Presenters

    Sarah Prigmore – MEd, Curriculum and Instruction

    Tameka Parker – MSW, Social Work

    Samantha Hacherl – BS, Athletic Training

    Michelle Gnoleba – PhD, Education

    Patricia Kelshaw – PhD, Education

    Sara Birkhead – PhD, Education

    Ricardo Sanchez – PhD, Education

    Sarah Bogdewiecz – PhD, Education

    Megan Sims-Fujita – MEd, Special Education

    Round Table Presenters

    Beth Dalbec – PhD, Education

    Letty Guzman – PhD, Education

    Tami Carsillo – PhD, Education

    Heather Andrews – PhD, Education

    Ahmed Atef – PhD, Education

    Kudirat Giwa-Lawal – PhD, Education

    Melissa Hauber – PhD, Education

    Lily Lopez-McGee – PhD, Education

    Anthony Ray – PhD, Education

    Jessica Pope – PhD, Education

    Stuart McCrory – PhD, Education

    Mariel Crawford – PhD, Education

    Terrie Galantie – PhD, Education

    Monique Apollon Williams, PhD, Education

    Daria Gerasimova, PhD, Education

    Poster Presenters

    Karen Wrightsman – PhD, Education

    Amanda Estep – PhD, Education

    Gisselle Brown – PhD, Education

    Lauren Field – BS, Athletic Training

    Christie Byers – PhD, Education

    Jennifer Fields – PhD, Education

    Elisabeth Chan – PhD, Education

    Laura Tokarczyk – PhD, Education

    Diana Delfin – PhD, Education

    Thuy Thi-Minh Tu – PhD, Education

    Amanda Garrett – MS, Sport and Recreation Studies

    Sungshim Choi – PhD, Education

    Michele Colandene – PhD, Education

    Janelle Companion – BS, Athletic Training

    Doaa Dashash – PhD, Education

    Victoria Fauntroy – BS, Athletic Training

    Massa Gongbay – MEd, Counseling and Development

    Rachel Hammer – PhD, Education

    Melissa Hauber – PhD, Education

    Boshra Zawawi – PhD, Education

    Cassandra Hynus – MS, Exercise, Fitness, and Health Promotion

    Talisa Jackson – PhD, Education

    Christina Lee – PhD, Education

    Bryndan Lindsey – MS, Exercise, Fitness, and Health Promotion

    Greer Mancuso – PhD, Education

    Sean Martin – BS, Athletic Training

    Kathleen Matson – PhD, Education

    Daria Gerasimova – PhD, Education

    Hannah Park – MEd, Curriculum and Instruction

    Mirella Saldaña – MEd, Counseling and Development

    Matt Prebble – PhD, Education

    Burnette Scarboro – MEd, Education Leadership

    Jordan Goffena – PhD, Education

    Nicole Van Oort – BA, Mathematics, Kinesiology Minor