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Author Archive

Azaria Cunningham

William Paterson University

Breahannah Hilaire Named Scholar of the Month

Breahannah HilaireCongratulations to Breahannah Hilaire, Holmes Scholar of the Month for July 2020. Hilaire recently completed the first year of her doctoral program at the University of Central Florida (UCF), where she is pursuing her Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision. 

Prior to attending UCF, Hilaire completed her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at Rollins College. She is currently a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern and holds counseling certifications in both clinical hypnosis and university and college counseling.

Shanett Dean Named Holmes Scholar of the Month

Shanett DeanCongratulations to Shanett Dean, Holmes Scholar of the Month for June 2020. Dean is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Her research interests include the school-to-prison pipeline, critical pedagogy, technology integration, and critical literacy. She earned a B.A. in English literature from the University of South Florida and an M.A. from New York University. Dean has 10 years of experience as a literature, philosophy, and research instructor, and has facilitated professional development sessions on the implementation and implications of technology in secondary classrooms. 

As a Holmes Scholar, Dean has presented her research at several national conferences, including the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. She is also the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including the FAU’s Provost Fellowship, the Broward Education Foundation Teacher Grant for her work on micro-narratives and project-based learning, and the Super Teacher Award received in March 2019 for her creative and fun learning techniques in the IB Literature class that she teaches at Boyd Anderson High School in South Florida. Dean has also created a website for her students, which can be found at deanintheory.com.

Phillandra Smith Named Scholar of the Month

Phillandra SmithCongratulations 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.

Francisco J. Ocasio Named Holmes Scholar of the Month

Francisco J. OcasiaCongratulations 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.

Gelawdiyos Haile Named Scholar of the Month

Gelawdiyos Haile 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.

Elizabeth Ayisi Named Holmes Scholar of the Month

Elizabeth AyisiCongratulations 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.

Claudine McLaren Turner Named Holmes Scholar of the Month

 

Claudine McLaren Turner

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.

Danna Demezier Named Scholar of the Month.

Danna DemezierCongratulations 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.

Dana Dunwoody Named Holmes Scholar of the Month

Dana DunwoodyCongratulations 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.

My Voice Still Matters: Its Resonance Can Still Elicit Change!

Azaria Cunningham in front of the US Capital.
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.

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