Congratulations to Phillandra Smith, Holmes Scholar of the Month for February 2020. Smith is a second-year doctoral student in special education, and is also pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Disability Studies at Syracuse University. She is one of two inaugural Holmes Scholars at Syracuse University, where she is also a board member on the School of Education Graduate Student Council. Smith serves as an American Education Research Association (AERA) peer reviewer for the Caribbean and African Studies in Education special interest group (SIG).
Originally from The Bahamas, Smith has taught in her home country and Japan. Her research interests include cultural reciprocity in the transition planning of culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities, the retention and recruitment of racially and ethnically diverse students to inclusive education teacher programs, and the experience of Caribbean migrant students with disabilities in U.S. schools.
Congratulations to Francisco J. Ocasio, Holmes Scholar of the Month for January 2020. Ocasio is pursuing a doctorate in Teacher Education and Teacher Development at Montclair State University (MSU). His primary doctoral research interests include the disadvantages of LGBTQ+ staff members working within schools. He is passionate about creating safe spaces for developing critical thinkers and providing opportunities for educational risks.
Ocasio began his Holmes journey as a Masters student in 2015 at William Paterson University. His many accolades include being a Fulbright-Hays Scholar in 2017 in Israel, the commencement speaker for the graduate commencement ceremony in 2017, and the NJ Distinguished Student Teacher State Award in 2010.
Ocasio has worked as a teacher for 11 years. He currently works as an English honors educator at Passaic County Technical Institute Vocational High School. Ocasio supports the LGBTQ+ community within his high school. He is consistently involved with helping teachers and students with extracurricular activities via Supplemental Educational Service (SES), the Hispanic Heritage Club, and the Teacher Talent Show. Ocasio is a board member on the Friends for the Hispanic Research Institute Center, a community group that partners with the Newark Public Library to support the New Jersey Hispanic Research and Information Center (NJHRIC) with funding. NJHRIC is a non-profit organization that fundraises to maintain and preserve Latinx historical records and resources for the state of New Jersey.
Congratulations to Gelawdiyos Haile, Holmes Scholar of the Month for December 2019. Haile is pursuing a doctorate in counselor education at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He currently works as a graduate research assistant, where he coordinates a mentoring program. Haile is also a registered mental health counselor intern with the state of Florida, and serves as a professional tennis registry adult development instructor.
His primary research interests include the process of addiction and recovery, multicultural counseling, human performance, and interpersonal neurobiology. He is currently involved in two empirical investigations that explore counselor preparedness, crisis work, and substance abuse in college students.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Ayisi, a Ph.D. student and graduate research associate in mathematics education in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Ayisi holds a bachelors of art degree in mathematics from The College of Wooster and masters of science in mathematics from John Carroll University. Prior to attending Ohio University, she taught high school mathematics, physics, computer science, and college applied calculus. Her expertise includes complex analysis, differential geometry, functional analysis, statistics, and the use of quantitative statistical analysis techniques (e.g., analysis of variance, linear regression, Monte Carlo simulation, structural equation modeling, research methodologies, etc).
Ayisi has presented a number of research posters and delivered presentations at local, regional, and national research conferences. She is also a native speaker of Twi, a common language in Ghana.
Congratulations to Claudine McLaren Turner, Holmes Scholar of the Month for October 2019! Turner is a Ph.D. candidate and a Holmes Scholar at the University of Central Florida. Her research interest resides in teaching in higher education, and is currently investigating professional access and equity in higher education.
Turner’s published works have examined the experiences of former foster care youth and Black male professionals in institutions of higher education, as well as institutional diversity initiatives in postsecondary education. Most recently, she completed the final revision of a co-authored book chapter titled “Still Lifting as We Climb: Sisters of the Academy on Being Queen Mothers.” The book is scheduled for publication in fall 2019.
Congratulations to Danna Demezier, Holmes Scholar of the Month for August 2019! Demezier is pursuing a doctorate in counselor education at Florida Atlantic University. Demezier’s primary research interest surrounds examining culturally responsive interventions for diverse ethnic populations and the impact of such interventions on treatment outcomes. Secondarily, she is interested in investigating the mental health seeking behaviors of ethnically diverse populations.
Demezier is a nationally certified counselor and a licensed mental health counselor. In 2016, she participated in a mission trip to Haiti where she served on the mental health team. She is also a member of the Human Rights Committee of the American Counseling Association (ACA). Demezier is the recipient of many scholarships. Currently, she serves as a clinical research assistant at the University of Miami and FAU.
An advocate for the Holmes Scholar Program, she believes it is an intricate part of securing a successful matriculation within her doctoral program and that the program provides a sense of community. Her future career goals are to serve as a university professor and supervisor.
Congratulations to Dana Dunwoody, Holmes Scholar of the Month for June 2019! Dunwoody recently completed her dissertation defense at Boston University and will graduate in September 2019. Her dissertation research examines “Practicing Critical Coaching: Disrupting traditional youth sport coaching with social justice and critical consciousness.”
Dunwoody served as the Holmes national president from 2017–2019, and implemented many positive changes during her tenure. Prior to that, she served as Holmes Scholars sergeant-at-arms (2016-2017), and organized and planned many conferences for the Holmes community as well as her institution.
Her service also includes her work with Ultimate Peace, where she facilitated discussions with leaders in training Middle East program directors on redesigning the curriculum for youth leaders and coaches. In this role, she has led discussions with Middle East staff on the implementation of cross-cultural equity, diversity, and inclusion within coaching programs.
Upon graduation, Dunwoody plans to continue her career at Boston University with the Associate Provost’s Office of Professional Development & Postdoctoral Affairs. In her upcoming position, she will work collaboratively with a team of associate provosts, postdoctoral associates, and graduate assistants across two universities: Boston University and Northwestern University.
The first time I attended the AACTE Day on the Hill in Washington, DC, was in 2015. At that time, I was one of two in the first Holmes Masters students’ program at William Paterson University (WPU). AACTE had just begun the implementation of adding Holmes Cadets, Holmes Honors, and Holmes Masters students. Before attending the “Day on the Hill,” Holmes held a Summer Policy Institute session, and upon entering the room, I immediately felt a sense of being home. The room was comprised of Holmes Scholars who were pursuing a doctoral degree. Having the chance to be surrounded by successful scholars who looked like me increased my internal drive. Holmes Scholars influenced me to believe that I could pursue earning a doctorate degree. A critical piece of information I learned and always carry with me is that representation matters on all levels, and the ability to see oneself in spaces to enact change is monumental.
Congratulations to Carlos D. Richardson, Holmes Scholar of the Month for May 2019! Richardson is currently a doctoral candidate at Bowie State University in Bowie, MD. His dissertation research examines “Factors that Influence Black Girls Participation in STEM. Richardson served as Holmes Scholars Council historian 2016-2017 and Holmes Scholar Council vice president 2017-2019, where he was influential in advocating for students from underrepresented populations.
Richardson teaches social studies at Friendship Collegiate Academy, an urban high school located in Washington, DC. He has served in a variety of roles over the years, including being a social studies subject area supervisor, extended learning coordinator, lead teacher, summer school principal and more. For the last 8 years, Richardson has also served as the coordinator of the Summer Enrichment Program, where students participate in over 16 extended learning programs that also serve as their summer job and receive pay as part of the Washington, DC Summer Youth Employment Program. Under Richardson’s leadership, the program has twice been named most outstanding school-led summer program by the Washington, DC Department of Employment Services.
In 2014, Richardson was named the Friendship Public Charter Schools Teacher of the Year, as well as being named the 2014 Washington, DC Public Charter Schools Teacher of the Year. Upon graduation, he plans to continue his career in the K-12 education system.
As participants in the William Paterson University (WP) Holmes Network–part of the AACTE Holmes Program–we have enjoyed many new and stimulating opportunities. Throughout the past year, we’ve received mentorship and other valuable support as Holmes Honors students (undergraduates in teacher preparation programs) and Holmes Master’s students (in-service teachers in graduate programs), and last month we capped it all off with an inspiring trip to AACTE’s Washington Week.