2018 National Awardees
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that several Texas State graduate students have recently been awarded highly competitive external fellowships.
Aarthy Palani, master's student in healthcare administration, and Rosa Perez Vallejos, master's student in communication disorders, have been awarded the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) International Peace Scholarship, which provides funding for women from other countries pursuing graduate-level study in the U.S. or Canada. Aarthy is from India, and Rosa is from Bolivia.
Dillon Lohr, incoming doctoral student in computer science, was awarded a highly competitive fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), STEM education, and NSF-supported social sciences.
Alisa Hartsell, doctoral student in geography, received the prestigious Boren Fellowship. This fellowship provides funding opportunities to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. Alisa will be studying Mandarin in Shanghai, China, in 2019.
Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, external funding coordinator in The Graduate College, has worked closely with these students, recruiting them to apply and advising them throughout the submission process. In the past two and a half years, Dr. Hilkovitz has helped Texas State graduate students apply for almost $4 million in external funding.
Congratulations once again to these students on their well-deserved accomplishments! Read more about their stories below.
The accomplishments listed here represent only a small portion of what the graduate community at Texas State has discovered, created, and innovated. If you have an achievement that you would like to share, please contact us!
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Jane Heffelfinger, currently in the history program, has been selected by Chapter IW (Horseshoe Bay) of the P.E.O. Sisterhood to receive a $1,500 grant through its Program for Continuing Education. P.E.O. stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization, and its mission is to support educational opportunities for women. The Program for Continuing Education provides need-based grants to women whose education has been interrupted and who return to school to complete a degree that improves their marketable skills for employment. This is the first time students from Texas State have applied for and received these grants.
Jane was the first in her family to attend college at the age of 49. Now 56, she is currently examining the African-American experience in Texas during the late 19th century through the mid-20th century as it relates to the lost and forgotten histories of African-American military servicemen interred in a local cemetery. Jane learned of this opportunity through our Shop Talks professional development series (and recommends these workshops to all grad students!) and applied shortly thereafter. She’ll be using the grant to visit museums and archives, purchase a new computer and other supplies, and attend two conferences. Congrats, Jane!
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Dana Minney, currently in the family and child studies graduate program, has been selected by Chapter IW (Horseshoe Bay) of the P.E.O. Sisterhood to receive a $1,500 grant through its Program for Continuing Education. P.E.O. stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization, and its mission is to support educational opportunities for women. The Program for Continuing Education provides need-based grants to women whose education has been interrupted and who return to school to complete a degree that improves their marketable skills for employment. This is the first time students from Texas State have applied for and received these grants.
Dana is currently working as an evaluator for social-emotional learning in a local after-school childcare program as part of her practicum. She heard about the award through The Graduate College’s external funding coordinator, Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, reaching out to her shortly after she started her graduate program. Though she is grateful that she will be able to upgrade her computer with her grant money, the award means more to Dana than financial support: it also means she is part of a sisterhood of successful, wise women who are working on and unified by the idea of helping women improve their career and life possibilities. Congrats, Dana!
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Monica Swift, currently in the interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in occupational, workforce, and leadership studies graduate program, has been selected by Chapter IW (Horseshoe Bay) of the P.E.O. Sisterhood to receive a $1,500 grant through its Program for Continuing Education. P.E.O. stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization, and its mission is to support educational opportunities for women. The Program for Continuing Education provides need-based grants to women whose education has been interrupted and who return to school to complete a degree that improves their marketable skills for employment. This is the first time students from Texas State have applied for and received these grants.
Monica, a current employee at Texas State as well, is studying the contract capabilities in research and sponsored programs at Texas State University for her applied interdisciplinary research. She appreciates the support of the Texas State community, especially Dr. Hilkovitz, who guided her through the application process, and the late Dr. Matthew Eichler, who encouraged her to attend graduate school and nominated her for the Graduate Merit Fellowship. To future P.E.O. applicants, she recommends completing the application quickly as applications are reviewed as they are received. Congrats, Monica!
Samantha graduated with a B.A. in psychology and criminal justice from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2011. In addition to her selection as a Fulbright semi-finalist, she was also chosen to be one of 40 people in the country to take part in the United Nations Young Professional Programme (YPP) exams. With a background in teaching — she taught math for two years in Title I schools in Austin, TX — she looks forward to teaching abroad at schools where she can gain a global perspective to pedagogical practices. As for her future plans, she will continue to study criminal justice as a doctoral student at Texas State. She is thankful for the Fulbright campus committee members, Dr. Valentina Glajar and Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, for helping her rework her application to showcase the experiences and qualities that make her a competitive Fulbright applicant. Special thanks to Dr. Donna Vandiver, Samantha’s study abroad professor who supports her love of travel, for her continued encouragement and recommendation to the program.
M.F.A., Creative Writing
Fulbright Program: English Teaching Assistant, France
Texas State Faculty Member: Drs. Peter Golato and Carole Martin from Modern Languages and Mr. Jason Coates and Dr. Kathryn Ledbetter from English
Patrick, a former Marine and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, overhead a conversation in French while deployed and, captivated by its cadence, decided to pursue French academically, eventually graduating with a B.A. in English and French from Texas State. Now, as a first-year student in the M.F.A. program, he's searching between the lines for the minds behind them: his Fulbright Statement of Grant Purpose proposes to develop novel opportunities for English-language learners to read, comprehend, and analyze Southwestern short stories and other American fictions that share common images and themes in French and American culture. Additionally, he would like to emphasize writing not only as a means of building their capacity with the written English word but also as an opportunity to discover a Texan or American perspective through the creative exploration of character, setting, and theme. He plans to infuse his thesis narrative with the experiences and perspectives gained by time in France should he receive the Fulbright award.
Meagan graduated with a B.A. in languages, literatures, and cultures from Colorado State University. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin from 2007–2009, after which she earned her M.A. in cross-cultural and international education at Bowling Green State University as a Coverdell Fellow. Meagan’s goal is to develop college readiness indicators for a college preparatory program in a refugee camp in Rwanda. Her research project will explore students’ understandings of literacy and education, as well as the skills and strategies —often acquired outside of formal schooling— that serve them in the degree program. After completing her Ph.D. program, Meagan hopes to continue researching education for international refugee populations. Meagan is appreciative of the support provided by Texas State, which ranges from helping with countless rounds of application revisions to offering encouragement and guidance.
Congrats are in order for Dr. Katherine (Katie) Lewis, recent graduate from the Ph.D. program in School Improvement, on her Social Justice Dissertation of the Year Award from the Leadership for Social Justice (LSJ) Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)! The award recognizes an exceptional dissertation that expands knowledge of the complexity of social justice issues.
Katie’s dissertation, TOWARD TRANSFORMATIVE GENDER JUSTICE: LISTENING TO GENDER NON-BINARY INDIVIDUALS’ EXPERIENCES OF SCHOOL, had two goals: to understand gender diverse individuals' retrospective accounts of their experiences in K-12 schools and to use these experiences to inform a model of gender-inclusive education. Her findings from individual interviews and focus groups showed that participants felt little sense of belonging and safety in K-12 schools and that working toward gender-inclusive schooling (and Transformative Gender Justice) requires providing continuous educational opportunities (focused on learning about gender diversity) for all members of a school community.
She is honored and excited to receive such wonderful recognition for her research and scholarship but is even more thrilled to bring the issue of gender diverse students in K-12 schools to the forefront. This validation confirms that supporting gender diverse students and building gender-inclusive learning environments are important components of leading for social justice.
She is now working at Dominican University of California in San Rafael as a tenure-track assistant professor of education, teaching both undergraduates and graduate students who are either seeking education degrees or working toward teacher certification requirements.
We are excited to announce that that Rafael Perez has been awarded the Stars Scholarship! The Stars Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to academically talented and highly motivated students who intend to pursue full-time undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degrees the accredited college or university of their choosing.
Rafael, a first-generation college student from the Rio Grande Valley, is currently finishing up his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science at Texas State and will be continuing on with the Doctor of Physical Therapy program in June. As an undergrad, he was awarded the Henrietta Avent Endowment and worked as a supplemental instructor with SLAC (Student Leaning Assistance Center) and as instructor assistant (IA) position in a lab. He has also been actively involved in the physical therapy community as Vice President and Secretary of the Pre-Physical Therapy Organization, a student worker position for the Texas State PT Clinic, and a volunteer at numerous clinics in central Texas and in the Rio Grande Valley. Eventually, Rafael would like to open his own clinic where he plans on doing pro bono work with patients who are not able to afford physical therapy treatments.
After having applied for this award every year since high school, Rafael is thrilled to have received it because it lessens the financial burden on his parents and keeps his educational and professional dreams alive. Rafael also has a few tips for future applicants: be timely with your paperwork, take the time to stand out with your professors by getting to know them, and make connections whenever possible!
Congratulations to this year's Texas State Net Impact team on winning first place in the Future of Energy Challenge! The team includes Nikita Demidov (undergraduate in Finance), Cedrik Chavez (undergraduate in Digital Media and Innovation), Milad Korde (doctoral student in Geographic Information Science), Muhammad Abdullah (Graduate in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan). Read the university's official press release for additional details.
Congrats are in order for Naina Adhikari, a first-generation college student from Nepal, who was recently awarded a scholarship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCSWL).
Naina earned her B.S.W. from Salem State University in 2016. It was there that she first heard about NCCSWL and AAUW. She applied for the AAUW scholarship to attend the 2016 NCCSWL and was delighted to receive a full scholarship. The conference experience left her energized and inspired and gave her a new network of amazing women with whom she is still in touch today. Having such a positive experience two years ago, Naina decided to apply as a graduate student in the International Studies program, again securing the scholarship. She is also getting additional funds through The Graduate College’s Graduate Student Travel Funds program. Once she returns, she and a fellow graduate student are planning to open an AAUW student organization at Texas State so other women can benefit from the same support, empowerment, and opportunity that she has received over the years.
She especially wants to thank Dr. Sandy Rao for writing an amazing recommendation letter for the conference scholarship. Naina is looking forward to her second trip as she feels it will further enhance her networking, people, and leadership skills.
Congratulations to Audrey Webb (pictured left), winner of the Judith Barlow Prize! The prize, offered by the non-profit organization History Matters/Back to the Future, consists of $2,500 cash award plus a public reading at the legendary Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City.
Audrey, a M.F.A. student in the theatre program for dramatic writing, started her career at Texas State as a publications writer for the Office of University Marketing. She decided to take advantage of the educational opportunities on campus and earned her B.A. in English in 2014. A radio play she wrote for a playwriting course was eventually produced by Shoestring Radio Theatre in San Francisco. She began her graduate studies in literature, but switched gears to pursue her true passion — playwrighting. Over the course of her studies, she has had short plays produced in New York City and in Houston and was named a semi-finalist in the prestigious Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference for one of her full-length plays (Imagine That, which will be produced by the Department of Theatre and Dance in October 2018).
Certainly, one of the biggest highlights of her academic and writing career has been receiving the Judith Barlow Prize. As part of her application, Audrey wrote a one-act play in response to a script written by an historic female playwright, inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. Her play, The Only Hills We’ve Ever Had, focuses on the dreams of a mother for her college-bound boy and her attempts to help him escape the snares of the housing project in which they live.
She is tremendously grateful to the organizers of the Judith Barlow Prize for this chance to have her voice heard and to be introduced to the theatrical community there. Her goal after graduation is to write as much as possible, whether for stage, television, or film — which she feels well-prepared for given the rigorous education she’s received in her master’s program.
Congratulations, Audrey — we can’t wait to see what’s next!
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Nakia Edmond has received the Critical Language Scholarship. She is the first-ever graduate-level awardee at Texas State University. The CLS is a fully-funded, intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program under the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She will be studying Mandarin this summer in Changchun, China.
Nakia began studying Chinese as an undergraduate student at Prairie View A&M University. In the summer of 2016, her Chinese professor encouraged her to study abroad in China. She was the first student to study abroad in Shanghai, China, through CEA Study Abroad. She later became an ambassador for CEA to advocate for other students to invest in study abroad and to learn a new language. After graduating with her BSCJ in 2017, she started her graduate studies in the International Studies program at Texas State. She plans on getting her Ed.D. in international education with an ultimate goal of becoming an education abroad director for a university. In this role, she hopes to create partnerships with foreign universities that will increase opportunities to study abroad for both undergraduate and graduate students and to inspire college students to travel the world to gain a global perspective.
In applying for the CLS, she has learned the importance of teamwork, revisions, and honest self-appraisal. Nakia advises other students interested in applying for funding to get personal with essays, use all resources available on campus for guidance during the application process (even if it means multiple revisions), and, finally, to send it off with hopes and prayers!
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Aarthy Palani, master’s student in the healthcare administration program, has received the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) International Peace Scholarship (IPS). The IPS provides up to $12,500 for women from other countries to study at the graduate level in the United States and Canada. Members of P.E.O. believe that education is fundamental to world peace and understanding.
Aarthy is from Chennai, a city in southern India. She received her Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University. Part of her goal after her studies was to spread awareness about cancer prevention and healthy habits, especially among women in rural, underserved parts of the country. While participating in CAN-STOP, a cancer support program in India, she realized how critical the leadership role is — especially for women — in making an impact in the community. With her M.H.A., she hopes to ascend the ranks in healthcare leadership as her clinical background and administration skills will help in developing strategies for providing quality healthcare at affordable prices and spreading awareness about oral cancer and prevention methods.
Being the first girl in her family to pursue higher education abroad, she hopes to be a role model for other women by encouraging them to break any stigmas that prevent them from taking the steps needed to achieve their own goals; however, as an international graduate student, Aarthy faces financial limitations. Initially learning about the IPS through The Graduate College’s GradBulletin e-newsletter, she received encouragement to apply from Jonathan Tyner (coordinator in the Office of International Affairs) and application guidance from Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz (external funding coordinator in The Graduate College). Receiving the International Peace Scholarship has boosted Aarthy’s confidence and reinforced her goals of not only reshaping the healthcare landscape, but inspiring other women like her to advance their own careers.
Congratulations are in order for Alisa Hartsell, doctoral student in geography, who recently received the prestigious Boren Fellowship! A Boren Fellowship provides up to $24,000 for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. She plans to study Mandarin at Shanghai International Studies University in Shanghai, China, during the 2019 calendar year.
Alisa received her B.A. and M.A. in history at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her doctoral research, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Sarah Blue, focuses on Chinese migration through Latin America across the United States-Mexico border. Her Boren study plan focuses on intensive language study of Mandarin in order to communicate and connect more effectively with migrant interviewees. Further, the opportunity to study and to live in Shanghai bears significant weight for two reasons: it is the city through which many migrants from China leave the country, and it is located near migrant-sending communities. Upon completion of her doctoral program, Alisa intends to apply her language skills, research background, and knowledge about U.S. immigration policies and practices to real-world problems by working for the federal government in the national security arena.
Alisa heard about the Boren Fellowship through one of The Graduate College’s Shop Talks hosted by Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, external funding coordinator. Alisa recommends taking advantage of the amazing resources provided by The Graduate College, including Dr. Hilkovitz, who Alisa calls a “powerful asset” in formulating plans and budgets for external funding.
We are pleased to announce that Dillon Lohr has been selected as an awardee in the 2018 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) competition! The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. This year, NSF received over 12,000 applications, and Dillon’s selection as one of only 2,000 awardees is a testament to his extraordinary academic achievements, promising research capabilities, and exceptional academic goals and aspirations.
Dillon, who will be starting his graduate studies this fall in Texas State University’s Computer Science doctoral program, has been interested in computers from a young age, teaching himself the basics of C++ and creating his own computer games at age 10. He attended Texas State for his undergraduate degree in Computer Science. As an undergraduate, he received the Terry Foundation Scholarship, received multiple university awards, published papers, and presented his research at multiple conferences and events. He even worked as a research assistant on a Google-sponsored project under Dr. Oleg Komogortsev, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Dillon’s future advisor. (A tip from Dillon: ask your favorite professors what they are researching. Not only can research help improve your resume for such awards as the NSF GRFP, but it also provides a fun and rewarding way to get involved in the cutting edge of our collective knowledge.)
During his doctoral studies, Dillon wants to make a significant contribution to the scientific world by developing his research in eye movement biometrics in virtual reality. After receiving his Ph.D., he plans on continuing his career in academia so he can pay forward the mentorship he received at Texas State. From adding to the scholarship of the human visual system to inspiring future generations to become involved in STEM fields to mentoring future students as a professor—his dreams are closer to becoming a reality thanks to the NSF GRFP.
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Rosa Perez Vallejos, master’s student in the communication disorders program, has received the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) International Peace Scholarship (IPS). The IPS provides up to $12,500 for women from other countries to study at the graduate level in the United States and Canada. Members of P.E.O. believe that education is fundamental to world peace and understanding.
Rosa, born and raised in Cochabamba, Bolivia, became interested in the study of communication disorders after learning about it from an American missionary. The practice is not wide-spread in Bolivia; in fact, there is no equivalent of “speech language pathologist” in Spanish. The exposure led her to realize that close members of her community, like neighbors and friends, were suffering from challenges caused by loss of hearing, birth defects, post-stroke issues and other disorders.
She decided to pursue the field, earning her undergraduate degree at Harding University. Throughout her studies, she has not only been a stellar student, making the Dean’s list, joining honor societies, and earning scholarships, but she has also been an exemplary member of her community by continually dedicating herself to service. She decided that she wanted to open the first Speech Language Hearing Clinic in Bolivia to provide a much-needed service to her city and country. By working with children and adults who are defined by their limitations, she hopes to empower them by providing them and their families with the therapies and resources they need to live up to their fullest potential and have a brighter life.
Rosa chose Texas State University to pursue her master’s degree because of its status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and the opportunities to obtain clinical experience with Hispanic patients in a variety of settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and pediatric clinics. Having heard about the scholarship in a Graduate College Shop Talk, she recommends that all eligible international students apply. She is hopeful that by having the second year of her studies funded by the IPS, she will be able to open her clinic immediately upon returning home to Cochabamba.
Congratulations are in order for Sarah J. (Saj) Zappitello, M.S. '16 in aquatic resources, who was recently selected as a finalist for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program! Her commitment to service and science made her a perfect candidate for the PMF Program, a flagship leadership development program run by the U.S. government that recently broadened its inclusion of STEM participants. The Program, designed to develop a cadre of potential government leaders by providing sustenance during the first years of employment and by encouraging leadership capabilities, instills the spirit of public service, ultimately leading to a career in the government.
As a water scientist, Saj believes that the most important task in this field is communicating relevant research and information to the public, land managers, and policy makers. Her master’s research is already helping to shape policy: through her delineation of aquifer sources of the Pedernales River in central Texas, groundwater regulating authorities and policy makers are able to inform management strategies for water usage during drought conditions. In participating in the PMF Program, she hopes to attain a position in the federal government where she can work as a technical expert to apply current research to real-world situations — much like she did at Texas State.
True or false: northern Texas is home to a rat that jumps around like a kangaroo?
Texas Parks and Wildlife on PBS recently featured research on the Texas Kangaroo Rat conducted by faculty member, Dr. Randy Simpson, and graduate student, Silas Ott, from the Texas State University Wildlife Ecology graduate program! To learn more about their efforts to understand this threatened species, watch the segment.
The Texas State School of Social Work is being recognized by the Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA) for Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Distance Learning by an Organization in the 4 Year Higher Education Category at the 2017 annual conference.
This is testament to everyone’s dedication to ensuring access while developing an educational platform that ranks the online M.S.W. program of the best in the country.
We are pleased to announce that Jared Coplin has been selected as an awardee in the 2017 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) competition! The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. This year, NSF received over 13,000 applications and Jared’s selection as one of only 2,000 awardees is a testament to his extraordinary academic achievements, promising research capabilities, and exceptional academic goals and aspirations.
Jared, a current master’s student in the computer science program, has already made substantial contributions to ongoing research by co-authoring two book chapters and four scientific papers, which he has presented at professional and academic conferences. Further, he has won numerous scholarships as well as academic and research awards, including the title of Computing Research Association’s (CRA) 2016 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher.
His current research, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Martin Burtscher, professor of computer science, focuses on developing general strategies for increasing the energy efficiency on modern processors by studying hardware features, code transformations, and algorithmic implementations that maximize performance per watt. Even a small increase in performance per watt will greatly reduce the fiscal and environmental cost of computing.
A veteran of the Army, his excellence in military service demonstrates his ability for problem-solving, critical thinking, self-motivation, and perseverance in the face of strong adversity. As a veteran and nontraditional student, he aspires to add to the diversity of his graduate program as well as the ranks of faculty researchers.
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Lina Padegimaite, doctoral student in the physical therapy program, has received the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) International Peace Scholarship. The International Peace Scholarship Fund provides scholarships of up to $12,500 for women from other countries to study at the graduate level in the United States and Canada. Members of P.E.O. believe that education is fundamental to world peace and understanding.
Lina comes from Kaunas, Lithuania. She has been in the US since 2011 when she began undergraduate course work in exercise science and played tennis (she was even a member of the Lithuanian national tennis team at the 2011 Fed Cup!) at the University of Texas at Austin. With her clinical courses still ahead, Lina is not certain which specialization she will choose, though she is leaning towards sports, orthopedics and women’s health specialties.
One thing Lina is certain of, however, is that she can fulfill the mission of P.E.O and be a role model for her community by empowering women to take care of their bodies and helping them stay healthy throughout their lifespan. This scholarship is a tremendous resource for her (especially as an international student with limited access to funding opportunities) to achieve her goals and make a difference in her home country. She aims to inspire a generation of confident and educated women to stand up for themselves and use their energy to create peaceful, equal communities.
Congratulations are in order for Kathryn Burns, master’s student in international studies! Kathryn was recently awarded the highly coveted Boren Fellowship. A Boren Fellowship provides up to $30,000 for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. The award gives students the opportunity to have an experience that they otherwise would not.
Kathryn graduated from Howard Payne University with a double major in psychology and political science and was a member of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy. An avid traveler, she decided to study Arabic in Jordan because of past experiences studying in Amman with the Consortium for Global Education and the Kelsey Arabic School. While abroad, she will continue her graduate studies online. She hopes to work for the State Department in the Middle East once she graduates.
The Graduate College is happy to congratulate Brittany (Mari) Landgrebe, master’s student in business administration, on her American Association of University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellowship. This marks the first time a Texas State student has received this award! The AAUW is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls and provides a myriad of programs, including funding, to help support students. The Selected Professions Fellowship provides up to $18,000 for women in fields where their participation has traditionally been low – and for M.B.A. programs, AAUW supports women of color only.
Since only 24 Selected Professions Fellowships are awarded annually, Mari’s award is a true tribute to her passion, creativity and dedication to her studies: fostering entrepreneurship among women and minorities in the video games industry. Throughout her undergraduate studies at Texas State University, Mari consistently found ways to apply her course work to video games or the industry, eventually culminating in her honors thesis, “Collaborative Game Design: An Interdisciplinary Video Game Production Team.” Acting as a producer for the honors project team, she realized that she had a natural aptitude for the business elements of the project and decided to pursue her M.B.A. She is especially passionate about diversifying the video games industry by fostering entrepreneurship among women and minorities as reflected in her current research.
After graduation, Mari intends to continue her career in game development, focusing on strategic planning for independent game studios and publisher/studio relations.
The Graduate College is excited to announce that Alfredo Ramirez, master’s student in international studies, has received the prestigious Boren Fellowship! A Boren Fellowship provides up to $30,000 for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. The fellowship also provides students with an opportunity and experience they otherwise would not have. Alfredo will study Portuguese at the University of Chicago in summer 2017 and at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Brazil, during the 2017-18 academic year.
Alfredo earned his B.A. in Spanish from Texas State, and, as part of his program, studied in Spain for a semester. During this trip, Alfredo recognized his deep interest in international relations and decided to explore this field further by pursuing it at the graduate level. Receiving the Boren Fellowship will allow him to supplement his master’s degree program with long-term experience abroad. His goal is to return from Brazil functionally trilingual in all major Western hemisphere languages — Spanish, English, and Portuguese — in order to work in federal bureaus where his language proficiencies, IT skills, and academic expertise can intersect.
For the first time in the university’s history, two Texas State graduate students received the prestigious Boren Fellowship. The fellowships, which provide funding opportunities to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, were awarded to Kathryn Burns, master’s student in international studies, to study in Arabic in Jordan and to Alfredo Ramirez IV, master’s student in international studies, to study Portuguese in Brazil.
Jared Coplin, master’s student in computer science, was awarded a highly competitive fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), STEM education, and NSF-supported social sciences.
Brittany (Mari) Landgrebe, master’s student in business administration, received an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellowship, which supports women in underrepresented fields. In MBA programs, only women of color are eligible. Mari’s award marks the first time a graduate student from Texas State has received a Selected Professions Fellowship.
Lina Padegimaite, doctoral student in physical therapy, was awarded the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) International Peace Scholarship, which provides funding for women from other countries pursuing graduate-level study in the U.S. or Canada. Lina is from Lithuania.
Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, external funding coordinator in The Graduate College, has worked closely with these students, recruiting them to apply and advising them throughout the submission process. In the past year and half, Dr. Hilkovitz has helped Texas State graduate students apply for more than $2 million in external funding.
"We are very excited that these exceptional students have been awarded highly competitive and prestigious fellowships. These awards have a significant impact on the students’ careers by allowing them to pursue their educational goals and research interests," explains Dr. Andrea Golato, dean of The Graduate College. "They also serve to strengthen Texas State’s reputation for outstanding academic performance and contribute to the university’s goal of achieving Tier One status as a research university.”
Congratulations to these students on the academic achievements that merited these awards!
If you are interested in applying for external funding, we offer a variety of resources, including a Graduate Funding Opportunities databasedesigned specifically for Texas State graduate students, free access to Pivot™, an online database filled with national and international funding opportunities, and workshops to understand the overall funding landscape as well as individual opportunities and tools. Contact us to get started!
We are pleased to announce that Elizabeth LeBlanc, doctoral student in the Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization program, is a recipient of one of the first Solar Graduate Student Research Internships. The Solar Graduate Student Research internship provides qualified students an opportunity to conduct research and to access research expertise and state-of-the-art equipment available at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Elizabeth has cultivated her research at Texas State, earning her B.S. and M.S. in physics and winning the Physics Department’s Excellence in Graduate Research Award for her master’s thesis work. Her thesis focused on characterizing the material properties of Cadmium Telluride (a material that would provide a more efficient and cost-friendly alternative for solar cells and panels) and has earned her multiple publications and awards. She has continued her research into this potentially solar industry-changing material, working to resolve current challenges of mass producing this material for solar devices. Elizabeth’s time with NREL will be focused on understanding some of these difficulties. After she obtains her Ph.D., she would like to go work in R&D for a large solar panel manufacturing company, putting her passion for alternative energy solutions into practice.
We are pleased to share that TX2O, a company created and run by the Texas State graduate students, has won third place in the Challenge Round of the 2017 Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice University!
The team consists of
- Archana Gujjari, chief executive officer and doctoral student in the Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization (MSEC) program
- Michael Opoku, chief operating officer and doctoral student in the Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization (MSEC) program
- Conor Brantley, chief marketing & sales officer and master’s student in the Business Administration program
- Thi Nguyen, chief creative officer and master’s student in the Communication Design program
The Rice Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition. 42 teams from around the world compete for more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes. The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product.
The competition presented the perfect opportunity for the multidisciplinary team of TX2O to pitch the product they have developed — a cost effective, eco-friendly, reusable, regenerative polymer media that can remove oil from contaminated water that has the potential to change the oil and gas industry.
The team of TX2O not only took third place in the challenge round, but also networked with major industry players and angel investors. Through the team’s networking, they applied for and received a Stage 1 grant from VentureWell’s E-Team Student Grant Program. The team is using their $5,000 grant to attend entrepreneurial workshops, to present investor pitches at conferences, and to develop pilot-scale manufacturing. The team has successfully incorporated TX2O as a C-corp in Delaware and plans on demonstrating their technology in the field.
We wish them the best in their future endeavors!
We are pleased to announce that Christian Lopez, M.S. ’16, has been named a National Wildlife Foundation EcoLeaders Labor Economist Research Fellow. The fellowship lasts for 4–6 months and comes with a $3,000 stipend, professional development assistance and networking opportunities, and the possibility of academic credit for successful completion of the project. Christina’s fellowship will focus on researching green job trends in large metropolitan areas, and she plans on completing it by January 2018.
Christina, who graduated from Texas State with her master’s in geography, researched how eco-villages in Texas contribute to sustainability. During her studies, she taught physical geology labs and created a field trip for her students to visit McKinney Falls State Park. She also served as a volunteer environmental educator and eco-event organizer for the Colorado River Alliance. She is currently a research assistant at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment studying water conservation potential in Texas. Christina is starting a doctoral program in geography at Texas State this fall and plans to continue researching conservation and sustainability through human-environment interactions.
Congratulations on this accomplishment, Christina!
We are thrilled to announce that Shijun Chen, master’s student in instrumental conducting, has been awarded the Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award. The $500 award helps active Phi Kappa Phi members fund post-baccalaureate professional development pertaining to their graduate studies, doctoral dissertations, continuing education, career development, and travel related to teaching, research and/or learning.
Shijun, who has already received a master’s in music in violin performance from Texas State, has received multiple awards and scholarships for his work. He has a robust performance background, playing in solo, ensemble, and orchestral environments not only in Central Texas but also in Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. Now honing his skills as a conductor, he served as the concertmaster of the Texas State Symphony Orchestra for the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 terms.
Because Shijun plans on continuing his education in conducting after graduating from Texas State, his award will help defray the cost of future application fees. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors!
Congratulations to Irma Pedraza, specialist student in school psychology, on receiving the Texas Outstanding Graduate Student Award at the Specialist Level from the Texas Association of School Psychologists! This award recognizes students who demonstrate evidence of impact upon graduate education in school psychology and display strong leaderships and interpersonal skills and professional competencies.
Irma, who has an extensive career as a bilingual educational diagnostician, left her job to pursue her lifelong ambition of becoming a school psychologist. Dr. Sue Hall, clinical assistant professor, says that she has “used her background to strengthen the learning experience of herself and her classmates” since entering the school psychologist program at Texas State in 2014. During her graduate studies, Irma earned a spot as a Project SUBERB scholar, won multiple scholarships, presented her work at conferences, and recently received the designation of Outstanding Graduate Student. She aspires to continue her work as a bilingual school psychologist to serve the growing population of Spanish-speaking children as well as all children. Ultimately, she would like to assist in training school psychologists, specializing in bilingual school psychology, to pay forward the education she received.
For Irma, winning the award has been a truly validating experience. She describes that she grew up in a small south-Texas town without the support of bilingual education and faced prejudice and discrimination along the way. She states, “I hope to inspire others to never give up and to continue pursue their dreams, even when there are obstacles in their path. It’s never too late to pursue your career goals!”
Congratulations once again to Irma on her accomplishment!
Congratulations are in order for Kevin Ambrocio, master’s student in communication disorders, who was accepted into the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Minority Student Leadership Program (MSLP)! The MSLP is a leadership development program established for historically underrepresented students enrolled in communication sciences and disorders higher education programs. The program provides focused educational programming and activities to build and enhance leadership skills. In addition, the MSLP also offers student leaders the opportunity to interact with leaders in the professions of audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech, language, and hearing sciences.
Kevin, with an undergraduate background in communication and language disorders, was selected as one of 40 out of 213 applicants. His primary interests in the field of speech-language pathology are stuttering or fluency disorders, as well as multiculturalism. While his short-term plan includes pursuing his Ph.D. in speech-language pathology, he would also like to continue working with some of the faculty in the CDIS program to conduct research related to multicultural diversity in student leadership roles at the state and national levels in speech-language pathology and audiology fields. His goal is to determine if the findings affect student representation and decisions made in these disciplines and how it affects service delivery to clients/patients.
He says, “To me, this award is a catalyst for change in the way I view thoughts and ideas, as well as how I will serve my clients/patients as a future speech-language pathologist. The MSLP has taught me that diversity serves a purpose in our society. Individuals of minority backgrounds can be the agents of meaningful change if they take risks and share their unique perspectives with the world.”
We wish Kevin the very best in his studies and in the MSLP!
Congratulations to Mary Swearinger, master’s student in the anthropology program, on receiving the Golden Key Graduate Scholar Award! The Golden Key Graduate Scholar Award is offered by the Golden Key International Honour Society, whose mission focuses on enabling members to realize their potential through the advancement of academics, leadership, and service. The organization strives to harness the power of their membership make a significant difference in their communities through a variety of means, one of which is to fund students in advancing their knowledge through foundation-backed research.
Mary’s current work certainly exemplifies all three pillars of the Golden Key Honour Society — her research aims to aid in the identification of border crossers who died during their migration across the U.S.-Mexico border in examining various methods used to estimate age-at-death in U.S.-Mexico unidentified Latin American migrants. Short-term, Mary hopes to complete missions in post-conflict regions to identify the victims of genocide, eventually completing her Ph.D. and working on human rights investigations in Peru and Somalia.
Despite winning several other awards throughout her academic career, she says that “receiving the Golden Key Graduate Scholar Award is one of the most remarkable things to have happened to me. There are truly no words to express the joy and motivation I have received following the news of receiving this award.” She also encourages other students interested in funding opportunities to “look up scholarships and grants every chance you get and give yourself plenty of time to research what the organization is looking for, so you can market yourself to them. It all pays off in the end!”
Congratulations once again to Mary on her accomplishment!
We are pleased to announce that four Texas State students have received Phi Kappa Phi’s Love of Learning Award in the 2017 Session B competition!
- Tajudeen Basiru, master’s student in public administration
- Joslyn Johnson, doctoral student in adult, professional, and community education
- Christina Lopez, doctoral student in geography
- Khan Siddique, master’s student in engineering
This $500 award helps active Phi Kappa Phi members fund post-baccalaureate professional development pertaining to their graduate studies, ranging from costs associated with doctoral dissertations, continuing education, and career development to travel expenses for teaching, research and/or learning. Texas State students took advantage of the flexibility in the award criteria: Khan applied for the research category and will use the funds to help build a cyber-security testbed in which he can implement the results of his work, whereas Joslyn will be using her funds to help defray the cost of her dissertation transcription fees.
Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, external funding coordinator in The Graduate College, says that Texas State students have continued success in securing the Love of Learning Award. “This is the third year in a row that Texas State students have received this award. The Love of Learning Award is a great external funding opportunity because it can be used to fund many different activities and has a relatively straightforward application process.”
Khan also comments on the ease of applying. “The application process is very simple. To apply, you must be a member of …Phi Kappa Phi…members log in to the website, and follow some simple instruction to apply for this award.”
Despite the straightforward application process, Tajudeen advises prospective applicants “[to pay attention to] the timeline and the eligibility criteria, and – most importantly – format your resume in a professional manner.” Joslyn mentions that she created a document to help keep track of the application components. Christina recommends to “be specific with your action plan [as] funds will not usually be offered if the research/travel plan is not fully developed. Demonstrate the significance, explain what you (and others!) gain from receiving this support.” Dr. Hilkovitz also advises prospective applicants to utilize the resources on the Phi Kappa Phi website, such as the sample applications, as well as to make an advising appointment with her if needed for additional assistance.
Congratulations to all on earning this award!
Skyller Walkes describes her time researching in Chile with the Adult, Professional, and Community Education Ph.D. program in her blog post: A Combination of Passion, Experience, Work, Learning and Legacy.
The Graduate College is very pleased to announce that Dr. Anne Li Kringen, who earned her Ph.D. in criminal justice, has been selected to receive The 2016 Graduate College’s Outstanding Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences. Her dissertation, “Understanding Barriers that Affect Recruiting and Retaining Female Police Officers: A Mixed Method Approach”, was directed by Dr. Joycelyn Pollock, Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice.
As the winner of this year’s competition, Dr. Kringen will receive $1,000 and be recognized at the annual Graduate College’s Awards Ceremony. Dr. Kringen’s dissertation has also been entered into the Council of Graduate School’s national competition for best dissertation in the above mentioned category.
Congratulations to Dr. Kringen for her outstanding work! A special mention also goes to Professor Pollock for her exemplary mentorship and commitment to her students.
We are pleased to announce that Mariana Ocampo, doctoral student in the Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization program, has been awarded an NSF-funded travel grant to attend the ASSIST Early-Career Faculty Development Symposium at the 2016 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC). The travel grant, awarded by Great Minds in Science (GMiS), in partnership with Latinos in Science and Engineering (MAES), will cover expenses incurred traveling to and attending the symposium and conference, up to $2,000. The symposium, held for traditionally under-served early-career and aspiring faculty in engineering, has a tremendous line-up of engaging seminars and networking opportunities intent on increasing the diversification of the engineering professoriate by helping attendees navigate the academic hiring and tenure and promotion pathways.
You may already know of Mariana as the first-place winner in Texas State’s 3MT® Competition in April 2016. A first-generation college student (and the first to go into a STEM discipline as well as pursue a Ph.D.), she is passionate about organic chemistry, sustainability, and renewable energy and hopes to discover environmental solutions through chemistry and engineering. One of her aspirations is to become a faculty member in the predominantly male-dominated science and engineering field. We wish Mariana an informative, beneficial time spent at HENAAC and continued success in her doctoral studies and beyond!
Cari Gray is a graduate of the political science graduate program and a high school social studies teacher at New Braunfels High School. She was recently awarded the Frank R. Kemerer Award for her teaching. Hear her speak about the experience in this video!
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Thomas (Thom) Marshall, graduate student in the population and conservation biology program, has been awarded a fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and STEM education. With almost 17,000 students applying for this prestigious fellowship, Thom’s selection as one of only 2,000 awardees is a testament to his excellent academic achievements and his promising research capabilities.
Thom, working with advisor Dr. David Rodriguez, is investigating a species of chytrid fungus, Batrochochytrium dendrobatidis, that infects amphibians worldwide. Because the results of the infections are varied – some areas have high mortality rates while infections are completely benign in others – he is working toward isolating and examining strains in the state of Texas, a region where no amphibian mortalities have been reported. Through genotyping and genome sequencing, he hopes to understand the evolutionary history of this strain and its recent emergent virulence.