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Educational Foundations & LeadershipStudent Profiles

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Student Profiles & Research Interests

Our program students come with a rich mix of academic, professional, and life experiences from various sectors of education, business, government, social services, and other professional domains. Check out their stories down below.




Community College Leadership

Most students in the Community College Leadership Program are mid-career professionals at community colleges located across the United States. Our students have a variety of academic and professional experiences as well as diverse scholarly interests.


GEROME BELL
Assistant Professor of Counseling | Suffolk County Community College, New York

Share an experience about Summer Institute

As someone who has never lived on campus, I was less than excited about living on campus as an adult learner. That quickly changed on move-in day. I began to meet faculty, staff, and fellow classmates who had been instrumental in my success in the program the academic year prior.
In addition to the class meetings, our professional development workshops with community college presidents, government officials, and Ph.D. students further along in their program were an invaluable part of Summer Institute.

Share an experience about your cohort.

Even before meeting in person, my cohort has been one of my greatest resources. As a first-generation student, many of my close friends and family do not understand the juggling act of being a working Ph.D. The shared experience among my cohort of managing various responsibilities has been key to my success in the program.
My favorite experience with my cohort was the gathering off campus during Summer Institute. It gave us an opportunity to get to know each other outside of our research interests and identities as a student.

What attracted you to Old Dominion University?

As an out-of-state student from Long Island, NY, I was attracted to the design for working professionals, the program includes scaffolding for your dissertation alongside your coursework. The classes meet synchronously and ODU is a reputable institution. The cohort model became the best thing that I never knew I needed.

KAITLYN CURRY
Associate Professor of Mathematics | SUNY-Orange, New York

Share an experience about Summer Institute

Since the rest of the courses are offered virtually, Summer Institute is a critical part of the doctoral program. I gained so much knowledge during my time on campus, well beyond what was learned in the classroom. The relationships that are built, conversations that take place, and networking that occurs at Summer Institute cannot be replicated in the virtual world.

Why are you seeking a Ph.D.?

I am enthusiastic about the community college mission. We make a difference in the lives of our students. The Ph.D. in Community College Leadership will not only prepare me for the next step in my career, but it will also help me be a better community college professor.

What attracted you to Old Dominion University?

The program at ODU was highly recommended by colleagues who graduated from the program. After looking into ODU myself, I was confident that the high-quality online program and affordable cost was unmatched at other institutions.

The program faculty are extremely supportive and genuinely want students to succeed. I have felt very welcome in the ODU community by all of the faculty and staff.

GERARD D'ENTREMONT

Community Innovation Lead | Nova Scotia Community College, Canada

Share an experience about Summer Institute.

The Summer Institute allows students to engage in critical thought through pertinent programs and to understand and practice research methodologies that can be focused and tailored to your research topic and used as part of your dissertation. The formal learning should not overshadow the informal interaction with your cohort, guest speakers, and other colleagues over the two weeks during the summer institute who share a wealth of experience in leadership that you can apply in your line of work. My classmates will become life-long friends.

Why are you seeking a Ph.D.?

Developing a critical understanding of leadership concepts and the issues that affect the advancement of community colleges was something I was deeply interested in learning. My career aspirations in a leadership position at a community college drew me to this program as it had all the essential elements to provide me with the knowledge and skills to advance my leadership role.

What are your experiences with program faculty?

The CCL program faculty mentor, lead and engage students in real-world experiences related to topics affecting community colleges. They are keenly aware of the work/life balance of the course workload and provide assignments and feedback that you can reflect on throughout your program.

GWEN HOUSTON (VA)
Student Resources & Career Services Advisor | New River Community College, Virginia

Share an experience about your cohort

As impostor syndrome tried to highjack my experience, my cohort members instantly reassured, supported, and helped me get back on track. The relationship-building and team bonding the cohort model offers are desirable aspects of ODU's CCL program.

Why are you seeking a Ph.D.?

As an aspiring community college leader, I seek a Ph.D. to help grow my administrative skills, enhance my community college leadership knowledge base, and conduct invaluable research on relevant issues that inform the development of future educational leaders.

What attracted you to Old Dominion University?

As a product of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), I am personally invested and wholeheartedly committed to the community college mission and philosophy of equity, open access, community outreach, and education and/or training options for all. Similarly, ODU's CCL Doctoral Program was attractive to me because of the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, accessibility through synchronous virtual classes, cohort model, outstanding reputation, and the community college focus.

My experiences with the CCL faculty have been extraordinarily pleasing. I have felt incredibly encouraged and supported since day one. I received first-rate guidance and assistance even before becoming an official CCL student. The program faculty genuinely cares about its students' success and the CCL program's reputation.

ERIN SHERMAN (TX)
Vice President for College Services | Northwest Vista College, Texas

Share an experience about Summer Institute.
The Summer Institute provided an environment for focused scholarship and fellowship. The coursework and activities encouraged inquiry, built upon prior knowledge and experience, and further developed shared communities of support. The relationships developed throughout the Summer Institute are central components of foundational programmatic and professional support.

Share an experience about your cohort.

I am blessed to share this adventure with Community College Leadership cohort 20! Throughout the Summer Institute, a diverse group of individuals came together to build structures of support and encouragement. Each member of the cohort is juggling multiple complex responsibilities, and the relationships we formed solidified that we are in this TOGETHER.

What attracted you to Old Dominion University?
I selected the Ph.D. CCL based on program reputation and academic rigor integrated with support structures. The program is designed to support practitioners engaged in personal and professional growth to tackle the complex challenges facing community colleges. The curriculum is engaging and challenges traditional concepts, thinking, and being.

What are your experiences with program faculty?

The faculty are passionate about the mission of the community college and tackling the wide array of complexities facing institutions. The faculty are encouraging and willing to challenge and support you to be better and do better. The comprehensive support of the faculty provides a foundation for challenging previous assumptions and growing personally and professionally to advocate for our communities.

BRENT VIA (VA)

Associate Director of Career Services | Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia

Share an experience about Summer Institute.

Connecting with classmates outside of formal classroom instruction was undoubtedly one of my personal highlights during Summer Institute! Learning about their institutions, the challenging work they take on daily, and their viewpoints about the current state of community colleges is something that I found extremely valuable and thought-provoking. I will keep what I heard and learned with me as I progress in my career.

Share an experience about your cohort.

I am in continuous awe of my cohort's dedication to improving the institutions at which they work, and the students with whom they have dedicated their careers to helping. I learn something new each time I have a discussion with a fellow cohort member and find myself constantly writing down ideas that I can implement. Moreover, they are all down to earth, fun people, who I will consider friends for life as we continue to engage in this important work.

Why are you seeking a Ph.D.?

I am seeking a Ph.D. to play a larger role in improving America's community colleges. Although these institutions play a vital role in the communities we serve, there improvement is needed. I want to use what I learn throughout this program to improve policies and assist in the ability for community colleges to maximize and further spread the impact of the important work being done on campuses.

What are your experiences with program faculty?

I was originally concerned that it would be difficult to form meaningful relationships with faculty due to the primarily online modality of the program. However, I have found the complete opposite to be true. The faculty are dedicated to ensuring each student is successful in the program and willing to support students at every step of the doctoral student journey.






Educational Psychology & Program Evaluation


KENDRA Y. HALL, COHORT '19

MS.Ed Adult Education/Human Resource Development, James Madison University | B.S. Psychology, James Madison University

"I always knew I enjoyed the study of Psychology, but I couldn't decide on a specialized area. It wasn't until my Master's program that I found my passion for adult education and learning, learning theories, and research. After a gap year, I was thrilled to join the Educational Psychology and Program Evaluation program as a doctoral student. This program allows me to expand my skills, sharpen skills I already possess, and support my career goals. I aspire to be a graduate faculty member and help students as my professors have supported me throughout my academic career."

Kendra is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Educational Psychology and Program Evaluation program. She is currently working as a research assistant with Tony Perez in the Motivation, Identity, and Learning Lab (MilLab). She received a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Adult Education and Human Resource Development from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.

Kendra works as an Instructional Systems Designer in Newport News, VA. She writes effective online curriculum and training for adult learners in various sectors. Kendra's areas of interest are adult learning, student motivation, and assessment practices.

Lucinda R. Wittkower, Cohort '19

MLIS, University of South Carolina, MME, Shenandoah University, BM- Music Education, Longwood University

"I discovered my love of doing research when I was working on my masters degree in Music Education. The primary reason that I became a librarian after teaching public school for ten years was because I loved helping others with their research as well as conducting my own. I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge and skills and contributing to the improvement of our educational systems."

Lucy is a first year Ph.D. student in the Educational Psychology and Program Evaluation Program. She works full-time at ODU as the Head of Teaching & Learning Initiatives at the ODU Libraries. Lucy is interested in how undergraduate students conduct research in everyday life and academic settings, assessment in academic libraries, and teaching information literacy, particularly in online environments.

ERIN COUSINS, COHORT '19

MS.Ed Adult and Lifelong Learning, University of Arkansas | B.S.B.A Business Management, University of Arkansas

​"​I found my inspiration for continuing my education in the EPPE program through the students I work with on a daily basis as an ODU employee and their own struggles and triumphs as they work to succeed in higher education. I'm excited to grow and learn with the great faculty of this program so that I can make a positive impact on students and institutions.​"​

Erin is a first-year doctoral student in the Educational Psychology and Program Evaluation program. She is an ODU employee of both athletics and the Office of Educational Accessibility.

Erin's research interests are in the areas of self-regulation and metacognition, focused on college student populations.

YUANYUAN YUE, COHORT 15

M.A. Sport Leadership Miami University, Oxford, OH | M.A. Educational and Developmental Psychology Liaoning Normal University, China| B.S. Psychology Liaoning Normal University, China

"My experiences as an international student and training in the Educational Psychology and Program Evaluation program at ODU has given me the global perspective and research skills that I need to successfully achieve my career goals."

Yuanyuan Yue is a third year Ph. D student in Educational Psychology in the Educational Foundations and Leadership department at Old Dominion University. She received a Master's degree in Sports Leadership at Miami University and a Master's degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology at Liaoning Normal University, China.

Yuanyuan is interested in motivation and student's learning. She is currently working on a NIH grant about undergraduate enrichment experiences and motivation toward STEM. She also researches a variety of factors related to international student's educational outcomes. Her research fits into a larger burgeoning research agenda focused on cross-cultural studies of student motivation, learning, and development.

WANDA BROOKS, COHORT 2016

M.S. Experimental Psychology, Old Dominion University| B.S. Psychology, Old Dominion University| A.A.S. Business Administration, Paul D. Camp Community College

"I decided to pursue a graduate degree because I wanted to give myself more options. After finishing my master's program, I realized that I really love doing research, but didn't have as much experience as I wanted. I felt that pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology would give me both the knowledge and experience needed, as well as make me eligible for employment opportunities in both research universities and research facilities. Old Dominion has a great reputation and was one of the schools to which I could commute without having to move out of the area."

Wanda is a third-year doctoral student in the Educational Psychology and Program Evaluation program. She is currently working with Tony Perez, Ph.D. in the Motivation Interventions in Learning Lab on a project concerning motivation in academic persistence and achievement. She also works with David Ayers, Ph.D. in the Higher Education department as a graduate research assistant.

Her current research interests are in the areas of self-regulation strategies, and motivation interventions in STEM. Following graduation, Wanda hopes to continue her research as a university faculty member.

MEL KUHN, COHORT 2017

Postgraduate Professional License in Elementary Education (PK-6), Virginia Department of Education M.A. Teaching in Early and Elementary Education (PK-6), Virginia Commonwealth University| B.I.S. Interdisciplinary Studies for Early and Elementary| Education, Virginia Commonwealth University

Mel is a doctoral candidate in the Educational Psychology and Program Evaluation program. She currently works for the Old Dominion University Research Foundation and the Center for Educational Partnerships as an Education Specialist. Mel's research interests are in educational measurement and validity, psychometrics, student and teacher identity, standardized testing, and STEM education.

MELANI LONEY, COHORT 2019

Ed.S. K-12 Administration, Virginia Tech| M.S. Secondary Education, Old Dominion University| B.S. Biology, Old Dominion University| B.S. Education, Old Dominion University| Graduate Certificate Integrative STEM education, Virginia Tech


Melani Loney holds BS degrees in Biology and Education and a MS degree in Secondary Education from Old Dominion University. In addition, Ms. Loney holds an EdS from the University of Virginia in K-12 Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Integrative STEM Education from Virginia Tech. Ms. Loney's work experience includes thirteen years as a science teacher and eleven years as a Secondary Science Coordinator at Virginia Beach CityPublic Schools. Ms. Loney's areas of expertise include science education, Integrative STEM education, teacher professional development, curriculum design, assessment design, Argument-Driven Inquiry, problem-based learning, project-based learning, and lab safety.






Higher Education


PRESTON REILLY, COHORT 2016

M.S. Higher Education Florida State University

"I was looking for a reputable program on the east coast that allowed me to continue working with students while pursuing my degree full-time. ODU's faculty were very accommodating and the program offers a strong balance of research, theory, and practice. The Summer Institute and interacting closely with the CCL Program was also a major draw."

Preston Reilly worked in student activities for five years prior to becoming a full-time Ph.D. He currently works as a GA in the Dean of Students Office advising Student Government Association.

Preston's research interests include: Belonging, campus traditions, student success, and student affairs professional development.

COURTNEY JANE BELMONTE, COHORT 2017

M.P.S. Clinical Psychology, Concentration: Higher Education

"Initially, I was hesitant about transitioning from the field of psychology to education; however, the program's cognate courses allow students to take courses offered by other departments relevant to education to suit student's personal interests."

Courtney Jane currently teaches at Christopher Newport University, and works as a Graduate research assistant at Old Dominion University.

Courtney Jane's research interests include: Adjunct faculty teaching quality and strategies and their impact on undergraduate student academic achievement.

AMY KURFIST, COHORT 2016

M.B.A. Marketing, Indiana University Kelley School of Business| B.S. Mass Communications Study, Boston University

"I chose to return to school for my PhD in higher education when I realized that I needed to change the course of my career and pursue my passion for higher education administration. I selected ODU for the opportunities I would be afforded in terms of class selection, GA work, and the overall community atmosphere of the program."

Amy spent the majority of her career working in the Investment Banking industry as a Corporate Access professional.

Amy's research interests include: Entrepreneurship education and the impact of entrepreneurship on economic development, Alumni relations, branding, marketing, and communications; Organizational strategy and change; Philanthropy, civic engagement, and fundraising.

JENN GRIMM, COHORT 2015

M.Ed. College Student Personnel, Ohio University | B.B.A. Marketing and Human Resource Management, Ohio University

"I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in higher education to further my knowledge base and open up future career opportunities in university administration. I chose ODU because I was excited for the opportunity to pursue a degree in higher education administration with a cognate in educational psychology and program evaluation. The knowledge I have gained through the program has made me a better and more intentional practitioner in my work for the university, and it has opened-up opportunities to pursue research interests in my career field."

Jenn currently serves as the Director of the Peer Educator Program in the Center for High Impact Practices at Old Dominion University, overseeing peer tutoring, peer academic coaching, and peer-assisted study sessions for undergraduate ODU students.

Jenn's research interests include: Peer education and Supplemental Instruction; Completion and transfer; Student success, well-being, and development; and Teaching, learning, and assessment.






Future Faculty Fellows (F3)


Camisha Parker, Community College Leadership
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Felecia Commodore

F3 Research Project - Equity-mindedness emphasizes institutional responsibility to create equity and directs practitioners to focus on what they can do to close equity gaps. Rather than attribute inequities in outcomes to student deficits, being equity-minded involves interpreting inequitable outcomes as a signal that practices are not working as intended. This research project will focus on the intersectionality of equity-mindedness and leadership.



Erin Cousins, Educational Psychology & Program Evaluation
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Linda Bol

F3 Research Project: My proposed research project is to complete a systematic review centered on the following research questions: (1) How enduring are the effects of self-regulated learning interventions? (2) What intervention designs lead to lasting improvement of students' self-regulation of learning? Many interventions targeting SRL have been completed; however, interventions vary widely in length of implementation and inclusion of delayed posttest and follow up measures. Given the benefits of SRL and its responsiveness to training, it is worthwhile to explore the longevity of improvements related to interventions, and how this may relate to timing and duration of implementation.

Minghui (Hannah) Hou, Higher Education
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Felicia Commodore

F3 Research Project: The study aims to address the following research questions:
What are the pathways for women to participate in governing boards?
What are the challenges or obstacles for women to be or being on governing board positions?
This study provides more insight into the existing literature on the role of women as governing board leaders in higher education and pathway in their positions.

Tabasum Wolayat, Higher Education
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Chris Glass

F3 Research Project: The proposed study aims to shed light on the impact of the Fulbright Exchange Program in Afghanistan on Afghan youth. Specifically, this study focuses on the impact of Fulbright on the Afghan students' personal and professional lives.

Kendra Hall, Educational Psychology & Program Evaluation

F3 Co-Chair

Research Interests: My research interests are centered around self-regulation, motivation, and how these influence achievement. I am also passionate about inclusion, multicultural education, and culturally responsive teaching. My current research involves exploring how culturally responsive pedagogical practices, in conjunction with self-regulation, can influence student engagement and achievement.


Learn more about F3 here.