- About the Program
- Excellence in Research
- Research Awardees
- Professors in Action
This award recognizes degree-seeking graduate candidates nominated from among the current year's class of Distinguished Graduate Students whose achievements in both scholarship and service have had a documented impact on the discipline and the community. Recognition from the Graduate School includes announcement at the Distinguished Graduate Student Awards Ceremony and publication in the Graduate Journal of Scholarship.
“How long has she worked here?” That was a question fielded by Dr. Dawn VanGunten, Professor, Teaching, Learning and Foundations, after Samantha Phillips presented toa group of educational professionals just three weeks into the start of her educational journey at EIU. Dr. VanGunten, who had assessed after meeting Samantha that her, “... ability to listen and communicate her questions and concerns showed she had very strong critical thinking skills as well as being responsible and motivated.” These initial impressions have held true throughout Samantha’s graduate studies. Working with Dr. VanGunten to review a new State program, Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading standards (CRTL) and create a path for implementation, Samantha worked to create professional development modules for the College of Education faculty along with in-person presentations. The work ultimately led to the development of Samantha’s thesis entitled, An Exploration of Middle School Teachers’ Utilization of Culturally Responsive Teaching. Ms. Phillips presented her findings at the College of Education Research Fair, the EIU Research Conference, and the Illinois Association of Teacher Education Conference. Ultimately, the study was submitted for publication in the Journal of Midwest Educational Researcher.
Paired with Ms. Phillips admirable educational path, Dr. Daniel Carter, Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator, states Samantha’s fulfilment of her “...graduate assistantship duties has been excellent and impressive.” Dr. Carter continues by sharing that Samantha’s “...service to the profession, our college and the department is superior.” Ms. Phillips also served on the Teaching, Learning and Foundations’ Graduate Committee, the Council on Teacher Education (COTE), the Textbook Rental Service Committee, and the Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC).
As a research assistant Ashlee Robinson collected and analyzed data for the case study, Making the Most of Preservice Teacher Read-Alouds. She wrote the abstract for the paper, which has been submitted to the peer-reviewed journal, “Action in Teacher Education.” Presenting the research at the Association of Teacher Educator’s (ATE) annual conference earned her a Williams Travel Grant and a Graduate School Research/Creative Activity Grant. Ashlee serves on her academic department’s curriculum committee and on the Graduate Student Advisory Council. She has been a special friend for Special Olympic athletes for the past three years, and was a ministry leader for Immanuel Lutheran Campus Ministry. Ashlee is also a GSAC scholarship recipient.
A full-time family and consumer science teacher at Urbana High School, Cheyenne Warman-Neal combined her professional focus of food and education into two EIU graduate degrees while she works toward a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction and a Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, Option in Nutrition Education. Cheyenne earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in food science and human nutrition. She taught family and consumer sciences at Charleston High School before teaching in Urbana. Her graduate thesis is titled, “Investigation of the Implementation of Competency-Based Education in Central Illinois” and she presented some her initial findings at the Illinois Association of Teacher Education Conference as a lead presenter. Her thesis chair, Dr. Sham’ah Md-Yunus, writes, “Cheyenne embodies the qualities of an exceptional scholar who will continue to make a huge impact in the field of education.” Cheyenne holds memberships with the National and Illinois Education Association, the Association of Food Technologies, is a founding member of the Food Product Development Club, and the graduate student representative on EIU’s Committee for University Planning and Budgeting.
A 2019 Golden Apple recipient and five-time ACES Award winner, Amanda Newmes teaches science at Belvidere North High School. Amanda’s thesis project garnered funding from a College of Educational Development Grant and also support from her school district. Her research titled, The Effectiveness of Personalized Competency-Based Education on Student Engagement at the Secondary Level, won a Graduate School Master’s Thesis Award of Excellence for her college and has been submitted to the International Academic Forum Journal of Education. The Children Research Network in Japan has expressed interest in her study and its findings. Amanda worked closely with her district’s Innovation Team to develop Health Career Pathways and Endorsements and has been actively involved with training for teachers with KIDS, offering workshops for educators interested in adopting blended learning. She attended the National Blended Conference Rhode Island with the superintendents and administrators of District #100 in 2019. Amanda serves as adviser to the Green Club, an environmental- awareness group, and also to the Health Careers Club. Her thesis adviser, Sham’ah Md-Yunus writes that Amanda “embodies the qualities of an exceptional scholar who will continue to make a huge impact in education.”
An emerging scholar and former teacher from Ghana, Razak Dwomoh’s research holds the potential to positively impact Ghanaian curricula and pedagogy. He is working on a manuscript of his master’s thesis titled, The Development and Implications of Social Studies and History Curricula in Ghana, for publication with the Journal of International Social Studies. Razak has presented his thesis at the Illinois Council for Social Studies and together with his mentor, Dr. John Bickford, has submitted a historical inquiry with a local teacher to The History Teacher, a prestigious history education journal. His research has been supported by grants and earned him a Williams Travel Grant to present at the 2019 History-Social Sciences Teacher Symposium. Dr. Bickford wrote that Razak’s research and scholarship, “is both relevant and novel as I can find no comparable study that has been or is currently being conducted.” Razak’s campus engagement at EIU has included service to the Association of International Students as its vice president, member of the Graduate Student Advisory Council, committee member of the Graduate School Research/Creative Activity Grants, graduate student representative to the Library Advisory Board, and a graduate mentor for the Graduate Network for Undergraduates. He has served the local community volunteering to teach English with the Newman Catholic Center Amigos and Friends Program and has also volunteered with the Charleston Food Pantry. Gaining admission to several doctoral programs, Razak accepted Purdue University’s offer of the Frederick N. Andrews Fellowship which he will start this summer.
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