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AACTE Welcomes New Holmes Scholars

The Holmes Program at AACTE has grown exponentially in recent months. AACTE commends its member institutions for their commitment to launch new and expand existing Holmes programs in spite of the institutional barriers caused by the coronavirus pandemic, including budget cuts, hiring freezes, and faculty reduction. AACTE recognizes that these are unprecedented times. Despite these challenges, members have pressed on to meet the needs of emerging scholars. AACTE would like to recognize their investment to provide mentorship, support, and professional development to graduate students of color during this difficult period.  AACTE is proud to introduce new Holmes Scholars at Kent State University, Syracuse University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Moreover, we are excited to welcome new institutions to the Holmes community, including the University of Connecticut, University of LaVerne, and the University of Portland.

New Holmes Scholars

 Stancy SykesStancy Sykes is a second-year doctoral student studying curriculum and instruction, in the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University. Her research interests include racially diverse student experiences in alternative licensure programs in urban school settings, culturally responsive pedagogy in teacher education programs, and mentorship of racially diverse students in teacher education programs. Sykes is currently an administrator of an elementary school in northeast Ohio. As a former special educator, she has taught students at both the elementary and secondary levels. Sykes has also worked in higher education and through the federal TRiO program where she supported secondary students and their families with planning for college. 

Kirsis DipreKirsis Dipre is a Dominican-born, AfroLatinx, queer doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at Syracuse University. She received her M.A. in mental health counseling from The Family Institute at Northwestern University and her B.A. in psychology from Ball State University. Dipre is a board-certified counselor and a recipient of the 2020 NBCC Minority Fellowship Program Doctoral Fellowship. Dipre is passionate about working with and advocating for those who are placed on the margins due to their intersecting identities including racial, ethnic, sexual, immigrants, refugees, and others who are impacted by systemic oppression and discrimination. She operates from a relational cultural stance in combination with other feminist and psycho-dynamically oriented counseling theories and techniques. Her research interests revolve around mental health service use and access for racial and ethnic minorities, particularly AfroLatinx immigrants. Additionally, she is interested in mentorship and advising practices of racial and ethnic minority students in counselor education programs. When not immersed in her professional work, Kirsis enjoys spending quality time with her loved ones, hiking, cooking, and exercising.

Christine PowellChristine Powell is pursuing a Ph.D. in special education and disability leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).  Powell is an experienced educator and professional. She previously taught in Richmond City Public Schools in Richmond, VA. In addition to being a doctoral student, she also works as a program assistant for the Minority Educator, Recruitment, Retention and Equity Center (MERREC) at VCU, and as a graduate research assistant for the Department of Counseling and Special Education. Given her former preparation in the Richmond Teacher Residency (RTR) program, Powell’s research is focused on improving student outcomes by supporting teachers who are prepared through alternative teacher preparation programs. Specifically, her research agenda examines organizational constructs that impact licensure attainment and retention of diverse special educators who choose an alternative route to licensure.

Artis GordonArtis Gordon is a second-year doctoral student at VCU’s School of Education pursuing a Ph.D. in education, with a concentration in Urban Services Leadership. His research agenda focuses on leadership identity of students and the impact that leadership development has on self-efficacy, confidence, and persistence in college students and youth from underrepresented groups. A proven leader with over 16 years of service at VCU, Gordon has been nationally recognized for building efficient programs geared toward promoting a positive experience for all students. In addition to being a scholar, Gordon is also the director of student-athlete development for VCU Athletics, where he provides professional and leadership development. Gordon enhances the life skills of student-athletes by challenging them to develop a strong sense of self while taking a servant leadership approach to engage the community.

Bisola E. DuyileBisola E. Duyile is a first-year doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at the VCU School of Education. Duyile’s research focuses on societal and cultural beliefs about persons with disabilities and how that impacts counselors’ and counselor educators. She is also interested in social determinants of health and equity. Prior to starting her doctoral journey, Duyile worked as a case manager and graduate counselor for women who experienced chronic homelessness. She received her master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of the District of Columbia and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Duyile is also a graduate research assistant with the Department of Teaching and Learning at VCU.

Michelle HicksMichelle Hicks is a current doctoral student in the Special Education and Disability Leadership program at the VCU School of Education. Hicks is an experienced educator having taught special education students in public schools in Maryland and Virginia. She received her master’s degree in Education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Hicks has teaching certifications in the areas of specific learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, and visual impairment. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University, a historically black college and university.

Sherol SoutherlandSherol Southerland is a second-year doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in educational psychology at VCU’s School of Education. With over 20 years as an educator, Southerland’s experience spans the classroom and school, division, and state level leadership. Her interest in educational psychology began in 2014 with the realization that the strongest organizational structure and the best curriculum will not yield the academic outcomes we desire if we don’t understand the students we serve, the teachers who teach them, and what they collectively bring to the learning environment that impacts motivation—and use that understanding to deliver high quality instruction that makes real-life connections with the content for students. Southerland is the interim co- director and lead state education agency VTSS systems coach for the Virginia Tiered Systems of Support-Research & Implementation Center, a project of the Virginia Department of Education housed within the VCU School of Education’s Partnership for People with Disabilities. In this role, Southerland coaches school and division level VTSS implementation teams in using data-informed decision making to identify and implement needed systemic changes and evidence-based practices that support all students academically, behaviorally, and social-emotionally through a multi-tiered system of supports. Her line of research examines teacher motivation and efficacy, specifically, teacher, student, and administrator perceptions of teacher efficacy, and how teacher efficacy influences planning for and delivery of instruction, and subsequent impact on student achievement.

Waleed SamiWaleed Sami is a second-year doctoral student in the Counselor Education program at VCU’s School of Education. His past clinical experiences involve acute care settings, locked residential facilities, group homes, and correctional settings for adolescents and their families. Sami research agenda examines how inequality and the political economy impacts mental health. He also is developing novel interventions through Rough and Tumble Play theory to help manage aggression in adolescents and children. Sami also has a keen interest in improving mental health professional’s ability to work with Muslim-American clients within the counseling profession.


Catina VenningCatina Venning is a doctoral student in the Education Psychology program at the VCU School of Education. Her professional background spans across academic justice and civil rights. Venning earned a B.S. in psychology and political science from James Madison University, a M.Ed. in special education from City University New York (CUNY) and a J.D. from Howard University School of Law. In addition to ensuring educational equity through responsible research, she is exploring through her research communication practices between students, teachers, families and how those practices inform power and achievement.


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Weade James

Director of Development and Research

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