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San Diego State University

Joint PhD Program in Education

Summer 2016 Newsletter

Summer 2016 Newsletter

Cho, DeJohnette, Falcon, Kovats, Vang and Villareal Chosen for CDIP

Six students in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education were recently chosen for the California State University Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP): Wonyoung Cho, Michelle DeJohnette, Vanessa Falcon, Ana Gabriela Kovats, Melissa Vang, and Anthony Villareal.

The CDIP aims to increase the number of promising doctoral students applying for future CSU faculty positions by offering financial assistance in the form of a loan and mentorship by CSU faculty. Established in 1987, the CSU CDIP is the largest program of its kind in the United States. As of June 2015 the program has loaned $47 million to 2,050 doctoral students enrolled in universities throughout the nation. More than 1,200 participants have successfully earned doctoral degrees, and about half (705 participants) have subsequently obtained employment in CSU instructional faculty positions. (Link to CDIP source)

The SDSU/CGU Joint Program has an outstanding record of participation in the program. In 2015, Melissa Navarro and Cassandra Singh were chosen for the program.

Wonyoung Cho is a recently licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in trauma work with children, youth, and families. She worked at Rady Children's Hospital for a few years as a clinician before returning to student life, and is continuously active in providing training and education for therapists in training. She is active in the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program at SDSU as a graduate assistant, part-time teacher, and clinical supervision coordinator at the Center for Community Counseling and Engagement in City Heights, San Diego. She was also involved in designing and launching the online M.A. in Education with a concentration in Counseling program offered through the Department of Counseling and School Psychology with Dr. Gerald Monk, and will be involved in developing and teaching courses in the program.

Wonyoung's academic interests include theories of therapy and learning; cultural influences and professional cultural proficiency in schools and mental health care systems; as well as trauma-informed health care and education. She hopes to continue working and developing in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural ways to facilitate more practical, effective, and ethical mental health care and education for the next generation. Wonyoung's mentor for the CDIP is Dr. Gerald Monk.

Michelle DeJohnette is a new student in the program. For the past 18 years, she has been the owner of Village Kids Family Child Care. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Child and Family Development from SDSU and a Master of Arts degree in Human Development and Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks College.

Michelle is passionate about changing the educational outcomes of children who are underrepresented in higher education. She plans on researching the academic achievement gap in an effort to guide higher education practice and curriculum development targeted to child development students and pre-service teacher education. Her research interest is the academic achievement gap of students of color in early childhood.

Vannessa Falcon is a third-year doctoral student. She has lived a transborder lifestyle since the age of 12 and her background has inspired her research on transborder students in higher education. In her research she has explored the concepts of transborder identity, hybrid identity, hybrid habitus, male transborder identity and action research, and has presented her findings at local and national conferences in the United States.

Vannessa is also a graduate research associate for the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3), where she manages and facilitates qualitative research on men of color in community college at various institutions in Southern California. Through M2C3 she has conducted research on the transborder experiences of Latino men in the community. Vannessa aspires to become a faculty member and continues to serve as a change agent for underserved student populations in higher education through research and practice. Vannessa's CDIP mentors are Dr. Frank Harris III, Dr. Marissa Vasquez Urias, and Dr. J Luke Wood.

Ana Gabriela Kovats' program emphasis is in higher education and her research focuses on disaggregating the experiences of Mexican indigenous immigrant youth from the larger pan-Latinx student context. Gabriela's CDIP faculty mentor is Dr. Felisha Herrera Villarreal, who she is currently assisting on a national study that examines STEM pathways for students of color attending community colleges.

Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Ana Gabriela worked as an educator for 10 years. In her most recent professional role, she served as the Director of College and Career Success at Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI), a local college prep non-profit organization in San Diego. She developed a structured college prep curriculum for BLCI's College Success Program, tailored specifically for Latina/o, first generation college students. She worked closely with students and their parents and provided Spanish language support throughout the college admission and financial aid process, as well as the transition to college.

Melissa Vang's program emphasis is in Higher Education & Student Affairs. She is a graduate research assistant for the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3) at San Diego State University and investigates factors affecting the success of Southeast Asian men in the community college. As a graduate research assistant, Melissa oversees the work flow and data collection for qualitative research. In addition, her roles include managing the assessment tools within M2C3 in providing accessibility to colleges to utilize the instruments on their campuses.

She is actively engaged in research that addresses disparities in college student outcomes, particularly for Southeast Asian students. Melissa's research is focused on the ethnic identity development of Southeast Asian American students in post-secondary education encompassing campus climate and culture and sense of belonging. Melissa has presented at the National Consortium on College Men of Color leading a discussion on Southeast Asian Males and on food insecurities and unstable living among men of color in the community college. She's also presented at the Hmong National Development Conference (St. Paul, Minnesota) and at the Teacher Education and Mental Health Conference (Fresno, California). In addition, she is a reviewer for the Journal of Applied Research in the Community College at San Diego State University.

Melissa continues to support the Southeast Asian community through actively engaging with the Southeast Asian Education Task Force in Fresno, California serving as a graduate representative and serves on the Supporting Southeast Asian Student Success as a committee member. Her role as a committee member is to support the peer navigators and freshmen in the program. Melissa's CDIP mentors are Dr. Frank Harris III and Dr. J. Luke Wood.

Anthony Villarreal is a second year doctoral student. His passion and work in education stems from his personal experience as the eldest son of immigrant parents from Nayarit, Mexico, the first in the family to go to college, and the proud father of two daughters. He earned a master's degree in Counseling from Lewis and Clark College and a bachelor's degree from Portland State University. He has over seven years of experience working with youth in K-12 schools and postsecondary education institutions. Anthony is currently a high school counselor at Gomper's Preparatory Academy and his personal, profession, and research interests focus on college access, retention, and completion for underrepresented, low-income, and first generation students. His research agenda has recently emphasized understanding the educational experience for Latinos in "New Latino Destinations" and STEM pathways for underrepresented students. Anthony's CDIP mentors are Dr. Rafaela Santa Cruz and Dr. William Perez.

Congratulations Wonyoung, Michelle, Vanessa, Ana Gabriela, Melissa, and Anthony!


Mentoring the new recipientsCassie shares an anecdote with the group

Mentoring the new recipients
(L to R): Falcon, Vang, Villareal, Kovats,
Navarro, and Cho

Cassie (center) shares an anecdote with the group.
(L to R): Falcon, Vang, Villareal, Kovats,
Navarro, and Cho
Villareal, Kovats, Navarro, Singh, Cho, Falcon and Vang2016 CDIP Recipients
(L to R): Villareal, Kovats, Navarro, Singh,
Cho, Falcon and Vang

 2016 CDIP Recipients
(L to R): Falcon, Cho, Vang, Kovats and Villareal (Not pictured: DeJohnette)

Studying for a Ph.D. isn't all hard work!CDIP Recipients
Studying for a Ph.D. isn't all hard work!2015 and 2016 CDIP Recipients
(Clock from Right): Singh, Villareal, Navarro,
Falcon, Cho, Vang and Kovats

Xiong Elected as President of CCPA, Publishes and Presents

Soua Xiong, a third-year student in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, was recently elected as President of the California College Personnel Association (CCPA). CCPA is the state division of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and is a comprehensive Student Affairs organization that meets the unique and specific needs of higher education professionals in the state of California.

Soua also recently published a peer-reviewed journal article in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice. The article entitled "Male Program Assessment for College Excellence (M-PACE): Content validation summary" was co-authored by Dr. J. Luke Wood, Dr. Frank Harris III, and Duane O. Reid Jr.

Soua also presented his research at the CSCC Conference. Read more about this accomplishment here. (Link to CSCC article)

He was also the recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award sponsored by the California College Personnel Association and was invited to attend the NCES Data Institute: Using IPEDS, Sample Surveys, and Federal Datasets to Support Research on Postsecondary Education, sponsored by the Association for Institutional Research.

Soua's emphasis is Higher Education/Student Affairs and he maintains an active research agenda on student success in postsecondary education with a focus on factors that affect the experiences and outcomes of diverse student populations. More specifically, his research addresses the racial/ethnic disparities in college outcomes for Southeast Asian students in postsecondary education.

Currently, he is Co-Coordinator of the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3) at San Diego State University. M2C3 is a national research and practice center that provides capacity building for community colleges across the United States to advance success outcomes among men who have been historically underserved in postsecondary education.

Congratulations, Soua!


Soua Xiong


Pictured above: Soua Xiong 

Valentini Publishes Two Articles

Brian Valentini, a recent graduate of the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, recently had two articles accepted for publication. The first article was a literature review of current postsecondary programs specifically designed for moderate to severe disabilities. The article explored reviewed programs for effectiveness, evidenced based practices, and connections to the community. The article is entitled "Universities and the Community: Including Autism" and will appear in an upcoming issue of The Journal of the World Universities Forum.

The second article is entitled "Are Residential Settings the Modern Institution?" and will appear in an upcoming volume of The Journal of Journal of Educational Controversy.

Brian also holds an M.A. in Moderate to Severe Disabilities from Teacher's College at Columbia University and a B.A. in Special Education K-12 from the University of Cincinnati. His primary research interest focuses on the transition from high school to adulthood for people with developmental disabilities. Brian hopes to continue this line of research and focus on competitive employment and quality of life for those who exit the special education system.

Congratulations, Brian!


Brian Valentini 

Pictured above: Brian Valentini 

Rozich Publishes in Schools: Studies in Education

Elizabeth Rozich, a student in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, recently published an article entitled "Teach Them How: An Autoethnographic Narrative Documenting Critical Pedagogy Implementation" in Schools: Studies in Education, vol. 13, no. 1, (Spring 2016).

This publication was a project that came out of the publishing course with Dr. Pang.

Elizabeth has been a multiple-subject teacher for eight years in general and special education in grades 4, 5, and 7 for students from a variety of language backgrounds. She is dedicated to supporting all students in both content and language learning. Elizabeth's research interests include effective social justice leadership in Title I schools, parent engagement in Title I schools, and critical pedagogy implementation. Elizabeth worked as a graduate assistant at SDSU and as also recently finished the Education Leadership credentialing program and earned her ELD Certificate of Academic Literacy at SDSU.

Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Rozich 


Pictured above: Elizabeth Rozich 

Davis Publishes Book Chapter and Report

Lisa Davis, a candidate in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, recently published a chapter entitled "Liminal Learning: A Theoretical Framework for Reconceptualizing the Digital Space" in Deconstructing the Education-Industrial Complex in the Digital Age published by IGI Global. She also co-wrote "The Beacon Schools Project, San Diego: Impacts of the CoTA Model on Teachers," published by the Centers for Research on Creativity.

Lisa is a practitioner and researcher focused on transformative versus transactional education experiences. Her research interests include: learning in liminal spaces including out-of-school time; play, and internships; metaphoric brain; multicultural identity development; and qualitative research utilizing visuals as narrative. Lisa is currently the Director of Community Partnerships at High Tech High in Chula Vista, California.

Congratulations, Lisa!


Lisa Davis 

Picture above: Lisa Davis 

Yenpasook Publishes and Presents

Marissa Yenpasook, a recent graduate of the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, along with Dean Johnson and a small team at the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST), recently coauthored a report entitled "Increasing Access to Effective Teachers for All Children in California: Research Review and Policy Recommendations." This report offers policy recommendations for California state legislators with regard to teacher tenure, dismal, and lay-off policies. The report emphasized best practices and policies to ensure that all of California's children have access to effective teachers. The report can be accessed here. (Link to Yenpasook report)

Marissa was also the lead author for a book chapter entitled "Defiant: The Strength of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women" in a book titled Killing the Model Minority Stereotype: Asian American Counter-Stories and Complicity, edited by Hartlep and Porfilio, for Info Age Publishing. Her co-authors were Annie Nguyen, recent graduate of the program, Chia Her, current student in the program, and Dr. Valerie Pang, Professor at SDSU.

Marissa was also accepted to present at the National Association for Multicultural Education's (NAME) annual conference in November 2016. Her presentation is entitled "Creating An Academic Space for the Mixed Race (Multiracial/Multiethnic) Experience."

Marissa is exceptionally passionate about multicultural counseling and social justice work, particularly serving underserved individuals and communities and dissolving inequities in education.

Congratulations, Marissa!


Marissa Yenpasook
Picture above: Marissa Yenpasook

Falcon, Iffland, Villareal, and Xiong Present at CSCC

Four students in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education participated in the 58th Annual Meeting of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) in Plano, Texas in April.

The Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) is an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and a project of the Center for the Study of Community Colleges. Council members include university-based researchers and community college practitioners who further scholarship on the community college enterprise. (Source: CSCC website)

Vannessa Falcon presented her paper entitled "The Experiences of Latino Men in the Community College Who Live Transborder Lifestyles in the San Diego, CA and Tijuana, Mexico Border Region." Vannessa was also recently chosen for the CSU Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program. Read more about Vannessa's accomplishments here. (Link to CDIP article)

Aaron Iffland presented his paper entitled "Comparing Measures of Financial Aid and Earnings at Two-Year Not-For-Profit and For-Profit Institutions." Aaron was also a recipient of the CSCC Graduate Student Registration Award.

Anthony Villareal, along with Dr. Felisha Herrera and Maria-Jose Zeledon of SDSU, presented their research entitled "Diversifying the STEM Pipeline: Emerging Student Pathways" in a roundtable session. Anthony was also recently chosen for the CSU Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program. Read more about Vannessa's accomplishments here. (Link to CDIP article)

Soua Xiong participated in a symposium entitled "The Male Program Assessment for College Excellence (M-PACE): Development and Utility of the Instrument for Programs Serving Men of Color in Community Colleges."Read more about Soua's accomplishments here. (Link to Soua's Article)

Congratulations Vannessa, Aaron, Anthony, and Soua!

Opperman Presents at Multiple Conferences and Authors Blogs

This year, Amanda Opperman, a candidate in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, presented her research at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Annual Conference, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) Annual Conference, and the NISOD International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence. She also had proposals accepted for the following upcoming conferences: the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities (ASPCU) Annual Convention, the California Association for Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) Annual Conference, and the National Council for Workforce Education (NCWE) Annual Conference.

She also was invited to write guest posts/articles on the Association for Talent Development website (Link to ATD posts) and on the Grads of Life microsite on

Amanda is the Senior Institutional Effectiveness Specialist with Wonderlic where she leads initiatives to help institutions improve the efficiency and utility of effectiveness planning and reporting.

Amanda has a wealth of experience in various capacities throughout the postsecondary sector, including: accreditation monitoring, the scoring and design of placement assessments, institutional and programmatic effectiveness consulting, and classroom instruction. Amanda started her career in higher education as an English and Rhetoric & Writing Studies professor at SDSU, eventually moving on to become English Program Director at Hancock International College and Assistant Vice Chancellor at Southern States University. Before taking on her leadership role at Wonderlic, Amanda served as Academic Director at the California University of Management and Sciences where she developed faculty training, delivered compliance reporting, updated curricula, and led ongoing improvements to student learning outcomes. Amanda holds a B.A. and an M.A. in English from San Diego State University.

Congratulations, Amanda!

Amanda Opperman
Pictured above: Amanda Opperman

Navarro Presents at Dual Language Conference and Receives Travel Grant

Melissa Navarro, a student in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, was recently awarded the California State University Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP) Travel Grant to attend the La Cosecha conference with her mentor, Dr. Cristina Alfaro.

The CDIP Travel Grant Program offers travel support to CDIP Scholars and their CDIP Mentors to attend professional meetings and workshops. Applications are accepted twice a year, for Fall/ Winter travel and Spring/Summer travel. Scholars can apply for both Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer funding, up to $1,500 per trip per application. Mentors can request travel support for one trip a year when accompanying their scholar, up to $1,500. (source: CDIP travel grant application)

In March, Melissa presented her research entitled "Circuitos: demostración y discusión de una lección de ciencias" at the Dual Language and English Learner Institute held in San Diego, California.

Melissa has completed her second year in the program. Her research interests revolve around the need to prepare critically conscious dual language educators. Her work and research focus on the sociopolitical, ideological, cultural and linguistic aspects of teacher preparation in the content area of science. Melissa is the Spanish Science Methods Course instructor for the multiple subject credential in the Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education (DLE) at SDSU. This spring, she was accorded honorable mention status in the 2016 Ford Foundation Fellowship Program.

Congratulations, Melissa!


Melissa Navarro 

Picture above: Melissa Navarro 

Falcon Presents at Urban Affairs Conference and National Consortium

In March 2016, Vannessa Falcon presented her research on the transborder identity formation process at the 46th Annual Urban Affairs Conference in San Diego, California. Additionally, during the 2015-2016 academic year, she guest-lectured on the topic of transborder students in higher education at San Diego State University, Claremont Graduate University, San Diego Mesa College and Southwestern Community College.

Vannessa was also recently chosen for the CSU Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program. Read more about Vannessa's accomplishments here. (Link to CDIP article)

Congratulations, Vanessa!


Vanessa Falcon 

Pictured above: Vanessa Falcon 

Villareal Presents at AAHHE Conference

Anthony Villareal, a student in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, recently presented his research paper entitled "Two- and Four-year Pathways for Latinas/os in STEM" at the American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) Conference held in Costa Mesa, California. Anthony also recently presented at the CSCC Conference (Link to Article) and was chosen for the CSU Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program. Read more about his accomplishments here. (Link to CDIP article)

Congratulations, Anthony!


 Anthony Villareal 

Pictured above: Anthony Villareal

Dr. Silva Diaz Presents at Conference and Awarded Counselor of the Year

Dr. Liliana Silva Diaz, a recent graduate of the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, was awarded the SCGA Counselor of the Year Award by the Sweetwater Union High School District School.

Along with Dr. Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, faculty member at SDSU, Dr. Silva Diaz also presented at the first annual Supporting Access to Higher Education for Immigrant & Undocumented Students Conference held at SDSU in April. The title of the presentation was "Policy & Processes for the Identification, Placement and Reclassification of English Learners" which focused on current state policy and practices, as well as the counselor's role, on the identification, placement and reclassification of English Learners in K-12 classroom settings.

Dr. Silva Diaz has been a school counselor for the 11 years serving students at Sweetwater High School, and strives to provide access and equitable schooling practices. Her research interests focus on the acquisition of social and cultural capital with Latino parents, and how school counselors' can create stronger partnerships with parents to improve college access for all students.

Congratulations, Dr. Silva Diaz!


 Dr. Silva Diaz 

Pictured above: Dr. Silva Diaz 

Belisle and Kovats Receive Awards at SDSU SRS

Nicole Belisle and Ana Gabriela Kovats, students in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, received awards at the SDSU Student Research Symposium (SRS) held in March.

The Student Research Symposium is a two-day event to recognize the outstanding scholarly accomplishments of SDSU students. The SRS provides a public forum where SDSU students present their research, scholarship, or creative activities. Presentations, oral or poster, are organized by academic disciplines with divisions for undergraduate, master's and doctoral students.

Ana Gabriela received the College of Education's Dean Award for Research and Scholarship for her research entitled "Reclaiming Indigenous Identity: Coping with Stigmatization and Discrimination in School." Her research mentor was Dr. Felisha Herrera Villarreal. Ana Gabriela also was chosen for the CDIP program this year. Read more about her accomplishments here. (Link to CDIP article)

Nicole received the SDSU President's Award for Research and Scholarship for her research entitled "Developmental Assets as Predictors of Multiracial High School Students Identity Development & Academic Achievement." Her research mentor was Dr. Andre Branch.

As a recipient of a President's Award, Nicole was invited to represent SDSU at the CSU Student Research Competition (CSURC) held in April 2016 at CSU Bakersfield. The CSUSRC is held to promote excellence in undergraduate and graduate scholarly research and creative activity by recognizing outstanding student accomplishments throughout the twenty-three campuses of the California State University system. Student participants from CSU campuses conduct oral presentations that are judged by experts from corporations, foundations, public agencies, and colleges and universities (Link to CSUSRC source).

Nicole has a B.A. in sociology with a minor in education from UC Santa Cruz. After taking some time to work with elementary youth in the Bay Area, she went on to pursue her M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University in sociology and education with an emphasis in education policy. Nicole identifies as multiracial and has dedicated much of her higher education studies to furthering the legitimation and support of the multiracial identity. After completing her Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Higher Education and Student Affairs, Nicole plans to work in higher education administration in order to better support the diverse populations of students they serve, particularly the rising population of multiracial students.

Congratulations, Nicole and Ana Gabriela!


Nicole BelisleAna Gabriela Kovats 
Pictured above: Nicole Belisle Pictured above: Ana Gabriela Kovats


Madrigal-Chinolla Receives Program Achievement Award

Paula Madrigal-Chinolla received the CGU/SDSU Joint Program Achievement Award at a ceremony held in April at Claremont Graduate University.

The SDSU/CGU Joint Program Achievement Award is presented to a SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program student whose work and scholarship exemplify the mission of the program to develop scholars who are committed to research on democratic schooling, social justice and equal educational outcomes for all students, and the improvement of educational systems serving diverse communities.

Paula is a fifth-year student and has presented at various educational conferences including the International Council Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) and the American Education Research Association (AERA). She is currently employed at the Sweetwater Union High School District and serves as an Assistant Principal at a high school whose community is primarily second or third generation Latino immigrants and low socio economic status (SES) families. Her background as a Special Education teacher provides a perspective for always thinking about students who belong to subgroups that have been historically underserved in our educational system.

Her research interests surround issues of social justice and democratic schooling for groups such as Latinos, English Learners, and Students with Disabilities (SWD). Her dissertation topic is an analysis of high performing Hispanic schools (middle school and high school) within San Diego County and evaluation of the most predictive values of math within pre-algebra or algebra classrooms, based on the Dynamic Model of Educational Effectiveness developed by Kyriakides and Creemers. The analysis in her dissertation also includes the review of the schools' system and to what extend it is similar to other schools of High Performing Hispanic Students, based on the framework developed by Reyes, Scribner, and Paredes-Scribner.


Congratulations, Paula!


Paula Madrigal-Chinolla 

Pictured above:  Paula Madrigal-Chinolla



Card Receives 2016 Hermes Creative Award

Polly Card, a student in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, received a gold award at the 2016 Hermes Creative Awards for a video series she and the Instructional Technology Services Video Production team produced. The video series entitled "Artists in their Element" showcases the artistic endeavors and teaching philosophies of the faculty of San Diego State University's art department. The films serve to introduce teaching artists and feature their courses, work, passions and interests. The films celebrate: Richard Keely, sculptor; Richard Burkett, ceramic artist; and Arzu Ozkal, graphic designer.

The videos compliment the 'Arts Alive' initiative as part of the arts-rich, robust educational community at SDSU. The Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals recognizing the achievements of creative professionals who contribute their unique talents to public service and charitable organizations.

Polly is a British producer who lives in California. She specializes in creating visual media for education, art and communities. Polly's current work on a Ph.D. in Education is central to her practice is the application of theory and research-led design. An understanding of diversity and a clear sense of audience is at the heart of every film. Currently Lead Video Producer and Media Coordinator at San Diego State University, she mentors students and works with faculty to design and develop award-winning instructional media and writes documentaries for the Spanish Ministry of Education. Operating across a wide range of disciplines, recent work includes serving as Panel Chair for California Arts Council 'Arts on the Air' Program, winning the Enterprise Video Award presented by Sonic Foundry and curating 'Visualising Affect', an art exhibition in partnership with Goldmsiths University of London and the International Visual Sociology Association. She worked as a film and radio Producer with the BBC for 8 years and freelances for various clients including The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, European Union, Runnymede Trust and Lord's Taverners.

Congratulations, Polly!


Polly Card

Pictured above: Polly Card 

Vang Receives Scholarship and Selected to Attend Training

Melissa Vang, a student in the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education, received the Cherzong V. Vang Memorial Scholarship from the Hmong American Education Fund. She was also selected to attend the Leadership Advocacy Training in Education in Washington D.C. on behalf of the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center.

Melissa was also recently chosen for the CSU Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program. Read more about Melissa's accomplishments here. (Link to CDIP article)

Congratulations, Melissa!


Melissa Vang

Pictured above: Melissa Vang 

2015 Graduate Reception

On May 15, 2015, the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education held a reception to honor the recent and soon-to-be graduates of the program immediately after the graduation ceremony. Dr. Rafaela M. Santa Cruz, director of the program welcomed the attendees and Dr. Joseph F. Johnson Jr., Dean of the College of Education, offered his congratulations. The graduates and soon-to-be graduates spoke about their research and their experiences with the program.

Congratulations to the recent and soon-to-be graduates of the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education:

    Thomas De La Garza – Summer 2016
    Mary Jo Doan – Summer 2016
    N. Cecilia Fragoso – Summer 2016
    Jennifer Garza – Summer 2016
    Aaron Iffland – Summer 2016
    Christine Keaney – Summer 2016
    Olga Maritza Koeppen – Summer 2016
    Karen Elizabeth Lafferty – Fall 2015
    David Charles Martin – Summer 2016
    Francisco Manzano – Spring 2016
    Annie Thanh Nguyen – Summer 2016
    Brian Valentini – Summer 2016
    Marissa Siriwan Yenpasook – Summer 2016
Dr. Gomez, Marissa Yenpasook, &  Dr. SantosDr. Casesa, Christine Keaney,  Annie Nguyen & Elizabeth Rozich
(L to R): Dr. Gomez, Marissa Yenpasook, & 
Dr. Santos
(L to R): Dr. Casesa, Christine Keaney,
Annie Nguyen & Elizabeth Rozich
Brian Valentini & Dr. KraemerDean Johnson & Dr. Santa Cruz
(L to R): Brian Valentini & Dr. Kraemer (L to R): Dean Johnson & Dr. Santa Cruz
Cecilia Fragoso & Dr. HallDr. Monk & Christine Keaney
(L to R): Cecilia Fragoso & Dr. Hall(L to R): Dr. Monk & Christine Keaney
 Dr. Cappello & Karen LaffertyDavid Martin & Dr. Clement Lamb
(L to R): Dr. Cappello & Karen Lafferty(L to R): David Martin & Dr. Clement Lamb
Annie Nguyen & Dr. PangMarissa Yenpasook & Dr. Butler Byrd
(L to R): Annie Nguyen & Dr. Pang(L to R): Marissa Yenpasook & Dr. Butler Byrd
Dr. Santa Cruz & Aaron Iffland Maritza Koeppen & Dr. Santa Cruz
(L to R): Dr. Santa Cruz & Aaron Iffland(L to R): Maritza Koeppen & Dr. Santa Cruz
(L to R): Yenpasook, Fragoso, Keaney, Martin, Valentini, Dr. Santa Cruz, Lafferty, Iffland, Nguyen, & Koeppen

Students Participate in Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

Several Ph.D. students participated in the 2016 Rock 'n' Roll Marathon held in San Diego in June. Melissa Navarro and Soua Xiong both competed in the half marathon. Nicole Belisle completed the half marathon relay and placed 3rd out of 196 teams in the division. Brian Valentini, a Ph.D. candidate in the program and avid runner, volunteered with the San Diego Track Club at the expo and at water station.


Melissa Navarro, Nicole Belisle,  and Soua Xiong

Pictured above: Melissa Navarro, Nicole Belisle,
and Soua Xiong


Wood Named as New Program Director

After 11 years, Dr. Rafaela Santa Cruz has stepped down as the Director of the SDSU/CGU Joint Ph.D. Program in Education. She is now the interim Director of the School of Teacher Education at SDSU. In her place, the program welcomes Dr. J. Luke Wood. Dr. Wood Luke Wood is also Associate Professor of Community College Leadership and the Director of the Doctoral Program in Community College Leadership at San Diego State University (SDSU). Dr. Wood is also Co-Director of the Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3), a national research and practice center that partners with community colleges to support their capacity in advancing outcomes for men of color. He is also Chair of the Council on Ethnic Participation (CEP) for the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), Director of the Center for African American Research and Policy (CAARP), and Co-Editor of the Journal of Applied Research in the Community College. Dr. Wood's research focuses on factors affecting the success of men of color in the community college.

Thank you, Dr. Santa Cruz and welcome, Dr. Wood!


dr santa cruzdr wood
Pictured Above: Dr. Santa Cruz Pictured above: Dr. Wood