AACTE Introduces New Holmes Scholars

With 65 active member institutions, the Holmes Program continues to grow to include new members and diverse master, doctoral, and post-doctoral scholars who are advancing research and practice in various specialty areas. AACTE is proud to welcome new Holmes Scholars from Ohio University, the University of Connecticut, Cal State University – San Bernardino, Texas Christian University, Fordham University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Nayomi Gunasekara Field is a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction in the Department of Teacher Education at Ohio University’s Patton College of Education. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the Department of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka. After completing her undergraduate degree, she taught political science courses between 2010 and 2014 at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 2014, she completed her M.A. in political science at Ohio University and was awarded the “Outstanding Master of Arts Scholar” from the Department of Political Science for her thesis, entitled, “Making Extremism Pay? Centripetalism and Nationalism in Post-War Sri Lanka.” She subsequently taught Global Politics, International Relations, Comparative Politics, and American Politics at Ohio University for five years. Her current research focuses on how to foster globally and interculturally competent teacher candidates. 

Pablo Gutierrez is originally from Mexico City. According to Gutierrez, his life revolves around three pillars: God, family, and friends. He describes himself as a persistent individual with a strong desire for continuous personal and professional growth. Gutierrez is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership – Higher Education at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). He earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Actuarial Science from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) and a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) with dual focuses in Cyber Security and Marketing Management from CSUSB. While pursuing his doctorate, Gutierrez works full-time as an international admissions evaluator at CSUSB. Throughout his professional journey, he has gained experience working at Oracle as a business development consultant and as a sourcing recruiter. Some of his hobbies include watching movies and series, playing video games, and hiking. Traveling and exploring the world also holds a special place in his heart. He has been fortunate to visit many countries, but the most unforgettable experience occurred during his study abroad in South Korea, China, and Germany. Building friendships with individuals from various countries and backgrounds was a truly enriching experience.

Truth Hunter earned her Bachelor of Arts in Critical Social Thought with a concentration in post-colonial studies from Mount Holyoke College. Within this field of study, she examined how people of African descent reinvent their identities in the aftermath of enslavement and colonialism. After graduating, she pursued a career in educational advocacy and worked directly with low-income youth who would be the first in their families to pursue higher education. To take her work to the next level, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs at the University of Connecticut. While in graduate school, she researched how first-generation students develop resilience to successfully reach their educational goals. Hunter continued her advocacy for underrepresented populations by serving in the role of director of race and ethnicity programs at Connecticut College from 2017-2020. Currently, Hunter is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on decolonial autoethnography, equitable classroom practices for higher education faculty, intergroup dialogue, and embodied pedagogy.

Natalia Dominguez is a dedicated Texas Christian University (TCU) doctoral student pursuing a degree in higher education leadership. She is actively engaged in the academic community and is honored to serve on the College of Education Dean’s Student Advisory Cabinet for the 2023-2024 term. Dominguez also serves on the SiNaCa Studio and Arttooth boards and is a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce ambassador. With over a decade of experience, Dominguez is a formally trained and culturally responsive artist-teacher who has profoundly impacted Fort Worth ISD. Her expertise extends to various facets of education, including classroom management, curriculum design, action research, and teaching, all of which she approaches with a sharp equity lens. Her journey has taken her beyond the classroom and into the dynamic realm of the business equity industry. Dominguez has excelled in minority women-owned business enterprises, outreach and procurement, and senior contract specialist roles. Her remarkable ability to connect the dots and facilitate individuals systematically and authentically empowers them to achieve their personal and professional goals. Dominguez’s research concentration will be in arts entrepreneurship in postsecondary. Dominguez holds a master’s degree from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Melissa E Mendoza is the Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow in bilingual special education at Texas Christian University, where she is a core member of the Alice Neeley Special Education Research and Service (ANSERS) Institute. Her research focuses on inclusive education policy implementation, teacher education for inclusive learning environments, and the student transition from school to employment. Mendoza completed her Ph.D. in Comparative Education in the School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a former special education teacher and has worked in teacher education, supporting novice and pre-service dual language and general education teachers in the field, for over five years. She is a Fulbright scholar and was a fellow at the WORLD Policy Analysis Center twice, focusing on inclusive education for people with disabilities, gender equality in education, and approaches to special education services.

Anthony Easter is a doctoral student in counseling psychology at Fordham University. Easter received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California Davis in 2021 and his Master of Social Work from Boston College in 2023. Upon graduating from BC, Easter became a licensed master social worker in New York State. He is clinically interested in working with individuals across the lifespan from historically marginalized groups experiencing substance use and other co-occurring mental health diagnosis. He desires to pursue a career in academia while being able to work with individuals experiencing substance use and continuing research. Easter’s current research interest focuses on substance use in historically marginalized communities, concealable stigmatized identities, and implications of treatment for individuals with intersecting identities.


Marcela Chavez is a Holmes Scholar at Fordham University, where she is obtaining a Ph.D. in the faith-based supervision and administration program. Chavez is a lifelong native of Queens, New York, where she worked in the Diocese of Brooklyn and led middle school science classes at a Catholic elementary school in Brooklyn, New York. Since August 2021, Chavez has been serving as a Catholic elementary school principal in Long Island, New York. She uses that experience to build upon pedagogy and school leadership. She is a graduate of Molloy University where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology; Grades 7 through 12 in Secondary Education. She also earned her master’s degree in administration and supervision from Fordham University. Chavez is excited and honored to have this opportunity to be a Fordham Holmes Scholar and looks forward to working with and getting to know such dedicated professors, faculty, and students. She aspires to attain a professorship at a university contributing to research and programs that improve educational practices for students of all backgrounds.

Marcus Harris is a second-year Ph.D. student in the University of Connecticut’s Research Methods, Measurement, and Evaluation program. After completing a master’s degree in public policy and a master’s degree in educational policy at Arizona State University, he decided to explore his passion for methodological innovation and data-driven research. His research interests are DSEM (latent multilevel time series), Data Science, Psychometrics/Measurement Modeling (MLM, SEM, IRT, Time Series), Methodology (meta-research), and Simulations. Harris has conducted research that compared data science methodologies to traditional education and psychological approaches using simulations. Currently, his focus is on dynamic structural equation models (DSEM), which is a combination of latent variable models, multilevel methods, and intensive time series analysis. He is keen on utilizing data science techniques to explore causal relationships using DSEM models. Harris’ long-term aspiration is to become a research professor at an R1 university. He aims to contribute to the full cycle of methodological development, from theory to (software) application. His work lies at the intersections of psychometrics, data science, and public policy, where he seeks to create, evaluate, and propagate cutting-edge research and statistical methods.

Aisha Joseph is a first-year doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in counseling from UNC Charlotte. Joseph is a licensed clinical mental health therapist associate (LCMHCA) who specializes in working with marginalized populations with complex trauma. Her research interest focuses on Black women and postpartum depression, how differently postpartum depression shows up in Black women, and the need for more culturally appropriate interventions.