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University of North Florida Names New Holmes Scholars

University of North Florida logoThe University of North Florida is a proud partner of the AACTE Holmes Program and recently expanded its Holmes cohort to include five new doctoral students pursuing degrees in education. Read their bios below to learn more about the Holmes scholars’ backgrounds and research interests. 

 Crishana BentonCrishana “Crissy” Benton is in her second year of University of North Florida’s doctoral program in Educational Leadership. Benton received her bachelor’s in journalism from Florida A&M University and graduated from UNF with an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction. In the 15-year span of her career, Benton has taught elementary, high school, and adult education. Her current work as a program coordinator at Florida State College – Jacksonville aligns with her desire to widen access points for underrepresented student groups. Among her work and doctoral studies, Benton also represents her cohort on the Ed.D. Steering Committee and is a graduate assistant in both research and teaching. Benton is driven to infuse trauma-informed practices in higher education and her research interests are educational equity in the virtual classroom and whole-person productivity in faculty research output.

Shaneka FerrellShaneka Ferrell is a third-year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program at the University of North Florida. She received her bachelor’s degree from Edward Waters University and a master’s degree in Counselor Education/School Counseling at UNF. Ferrell has a rich 6 years of experience as a school counselor at one of the top performing and visual arts secondary schools in the nation. She is extremely passionate about exploring educational spaces from anti-racist, social justice, and advocacy lenses. Her research interests focus on advancing racial and ethnic diversity in the K-12 performing and visual arts teacher workforce.


Lindsay GallonLindsay M. Gallon is a third-year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction Program at the University of North Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida Memorial University in music and her master’s degree from UNF in Educational Leadership. Gallon was an educator for 12 years in urban Title I schools and has served as a teacher, mentor, math coach, and assistant principal before transitioning to higher education at UNF where she serves urban schools. As a resident clinical instructor in the Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum department, she supports a school within the UNF Professional Development School partnership and teacher candidates matriculating through the UNF elementary teacher preparation program. Her research interests focus on the impact that peer coaching models will have on teacher candidates’ professional growth by engaging in collaboration and reflexivity.  


Marlena Jenkins is a second-year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program at the University of North Florida. Jenkins is a board-certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA) with over 20 years of experience working with individuals with developmental and behavioral diagnoses. She holds a master of science in developmental disabilities with a concentration in leadership/advocacy and a bachelor of arts in K-12 special education. Additionally, Jenkins served on a committee responsible for revamping the Florida Educator’s Autism Endorsement. Her passion for serving students in the areas of inclusion and advocacy led to her current role as the lead clinician with the University of Florida Neurodevelopmental Pediatric and Autism Center. It is in this position, that she provides training to families, educational and community personnel, and individuals identified with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, and medical or educational complexities. Jenkins plans to focus her doctoral research on equity, specifically educator and peer beliefs and practices toward the inclusion of students with disabilities.

Dominique KeysDominique Keys is a third-year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program at the University of North Florida. Keys is currently serving his fifth year as an assistant principal at KIPP Impact Academy, a public charter serving youth in Northwest Jacksonville. Before this role, he worked as a 7/8th grade science teacher, grade level chair, and content lead. A native of Washington, D.C., he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tennessee State University. Keys is passionate about urban education, successful principal leadership practices; his current research interests include educational leadership, teacher development, quality instruction, and student achievement and its impacts on marginalized and urban youth. Keys is honored to be part of the Holmes Scholar Program and looks forward to learning from the scholarly community and partnering with others to increase the diversity, equity, and inclusion of minority voices in research. 

David Hoppey is associate professor and director, University of North Florida’s College of Education.