ASHE 2018 Graduate Student Session – Scholars Who Lunch: Newly Minted and Early Career Scholars

Saturday, November 17, 12:00-1:15pm, Grand Salon E

Description: The purpose of the roundtable session is to engage graduate students in productive and practical conversations about completing the dissertation, searching proactively on the job market, and the variety of transitions that occur from graduate to postgraduate life. Graduate students will choose roundtables based on their career/research interests and engage in conversation with scholars over lunch. To learn more about our featured scholars, click on the Twitter handles or see the full bios below.


  • Jamal Adam, Minneapolis Community and Technical College (@DrJay2019)
  • Meredith Billings, University of Georgia (@BillingsMer) 
  • Tangela Blakely Reavis, Tulane University
  • Jasmine D. Collins, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (@jazzco11ins)
  • Rachel Friedensen, St. Cloud State University (@REFriedensen)
  • Sarah Hurtado, University of Denver (@SSHurtadoPhD)
  • Marvette Lacy, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Amanda Mollet, University of Iowa (@AmandaMollet)
  • Molly Morin, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) (@DoctoraMorin)
  • Federick Ngo, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (@FederickNgo)
  • David J. Nguyen, Ohio University (@DaveNguyen191)
  • Renata Opoczynski, Michigan State University (@Renata_highered)
  • Erich Pitcher, Oregon State University (@scholactivist)
  • Jonathan Pryor, California State University Fresno (@jonathantpryor)
  • Gianna Ramdin, Florida Atlantic University
  • Delma Ramos, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (@DrDelmaRamos)
  • Nydia C. Sanchez, University of Texas at Austin (@nydia_sanchez)
  • Callie Womble Edwards, North Carolina State University (@drcallie_tweets)
  • Katherine Wheatle, Lumina Foundation (@DrKWheatle)
  • Varaxy Yi, California State University Fresno (@Varaxy)


Participant Bios:

Dr. Jamal Adam (@DrJay2019) has over 15 years of experience in leading, teaching, advising, counseling, researching and evaluating in both community college and four-year college settings. He has a Masters in Counseling and Psychology and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Policy with a program track on Higher Education and Doctoral minor in Educational Psychology. Currently, he is counselor, faculty and coordinator of Counseling Department at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minneapolis, MN.

Dr. Adam was a 2009 National Endowment for Humanities Fellow in the “American Immigration Revisited” teaching seminar sponsored by the National History Center; a 2011-2012 Humphrey Policy Fellow at Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; a Phi Theta Kappa Faculty Scholar; a 2012 British American Project Fellow and 2012-2013 University of Minnesota DOVE Fellow. Adam serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Meredith S. Billings (@BillingsMer)  is a Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Associate at the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia. She completed her PhD at the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation focused on nine promise programs in Michigan, which offer free or discounted tuition and fees to all eligible students within specific geographic locations. Using a quasi-experimental research design, Meredith evaluated the effect of scholarship eligibility on college enrollment, choice, persistence, and degree completion. Meredith has worked for six years in higher education administration in such roles as an admission counselor, academic adviser, and institutional researcher. In her current position, Meredith teaches the introductory quantitative methodology course to graduate students and is leading research projects related to college affordability, college access and success, and state higher education financing and tuition policies.

Dr. Tangela Blakely Reavis is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the Milwaukee College Access Project at Tulane University. Her research interests focus on the role of social inequality in higher education. She is especially interested in examining the ways in which race, class, gender, families and school context influence college access and completion for students of color and low-income students. Reavis is also a consultant for the California College Promise Project at WestED where she provides professional development, technical assistance, and research and evaluation to support College Promise programs throughout the state of California.

Reavis also brings several years of experience as a practitioner in the field of higher education and student affairs. She was the Career Program Manager in Chicago for The Posse Foundation, a comprehensive national college access program and the Director for RISE, a campus diversity program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison designed to foster undergraduate student success for underrepresented students. Reavis earned both her Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a minor and Educational Policy Studies. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Spelman College.

Dr. Jasmine D. Collins (@jazzco11ins received her Ph.D. in Educational Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and remains there as Assistant Professor of Agricultural Leadership Education. As a leadership educator, Dr. Collins cares deeply about the development of leaders who are self-and-socially aware, multiculturally competent, and unafraid to tackle big social issues. This comes across in her research which uses critical theories to understand personal, sociopolitical, and campus racial climate factors that influence the ways leadership is understood, taught, and studied in higher education contexts as well as how students’ develop in their leadership capacity through their collegiate experiences. Additionally, she teaches a number of courses related to leadership theory and practice including Group & Team Dynamics, Leadership Ethics & Social Justice, and Adaptive Leadership.

Dr. Rachel E. Friedensen (@REFriedensen) is assistant professor of higher education administration at St. Cloud State University. She completed her Ph.D. at University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2017 and spent a year as a postdoctoral research associate at Iowa State University. Her research interests include the experiences of individuals with disabilities in higher education, discourse analysis and poststructuralist theory, and STEM.

Dr. Sarah Hurtado (@SSHurtadoPhD)serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Higher Education at the University of Denver. She received her Ph.D. in higher education in 2018 after five years at Indiana University Bloomington. While at IU, she worked with the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) at the IU Center for Postsecondary Research. She also has experience working as an Assessment Consultant with the IU Division of Student Affairs and as a Coordinator of Student Development at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Sarah’s research agenda is focused in two areas: critically investigating the replication of rape culture within colleges and universities and leveraging faculty members to address issues of inequity. Her dissertation is titled Addressing Sexual Violence on Campus: Exploring the Role and Responsibility of Faculty Members.

Marvette Lacy, PhD (@marvettelacy), is the founder of Qual Scholars where she helps doctoral students understand the qualitative research process so that they can successfully complete their dissertation and graduate.  Her research focuses on using critical theories to explore identity development of college women, the dynamics of power and privilege in sexual violence and response movements, and the intersections of race and gender in student activism. Marvette currently lives in Milwaukee, WI where she also works as the Women’s Resource Center Director at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Prior to coming to Milwaukee, Marvette has also served in areas of residence life and housing, student conduct, campus-based women’s centers, and first-year programs.

Dr. Amanda Mollet (@AmandaMollet) is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa in the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in May 2018 from the University of Iowa in Higher Education and Student Affairs. Her research centers traditionally and historically minoritized college students by examining questions of their development, experiences, and outcomes in higher education. Rooted in constructivist and critical paradigms, she implements a both/and approach with research by examining students and the contexts of power and inequality that contribute to and influence students’ ecological environments. With nearly a decade of prior student affairs experience, she engages research focused on eliciting systemic and individual transformation. Much of her present research exists at the intersections of students’ sexual identity (e.g., asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay) development and campus contexts including a grant-funded study of LGBQ student veterans, and an exploration of identity disclosure for asexual students. Her work is published in journals including:Journal of College Student Development and Teachers College Record. She has served on the ACPA Governing Board and presented nearly 50 papers and presentations at national and international conferences.

Dr. Molly Morin (@DoctoraMorin) currently serves as the Program Manager of the Leading Informatics for Tomorrow Scholars Program, an NSF-grant funded program through IUPUI and Ivy Tech Community College for students who demonstrate financial need and aspire to a career in information technology. Molly’s professional experiences span the areas of academic advising, program development/assessment, first-generation student support programs, academic support services, and study abroad. She is also an alumna of the AAHHE Graduate Student Fellows Program and the AERA Division J Emerging Scholars Program. Molly is a proud first-generation college student and native Californian who is committed to serving underrepresented and underserved students as a scholar-practitioner.

Molly earned a B.A. in sociology and elementary education from the University of La Verne, participated in the McNair Scholars Program at Claremont Graduate University, and completed an M.Ed. in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland. She completed her Ph.D. in Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy from the University of Maryland in May 2018. Her dissertation research focused on better understanding the career pathways and lived experiences of Latina/Chicana senior student affairs officers. Molly’s research interests focus on the experiences of underrepresented/underserved populations in higher education, especially Latina and Women of Color administrators.

Dr. Federick Ngo (@FederickNgo) is an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His research examines how higher education policy affects college access and success, with a focus on under-represented and under-served students. He has studied issues in college remediation, college mathematics, financial aid, and the transition to college, and this work has been published in a number of scholarly journals. The most recent publication is an analysis of the California DREAM Act, which provided financial aid for undocumented students attending public colleges (forthcoming in Educational Researcher). Other work can be found in Research in Higher EducationEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, The Review of Higher Education, Teachers College Record, and Community College Review. His scholarship has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Spencer Foundation, and he was an AERA dissertation fellow. He was awarded the 2017 University of Southern California Ph.D. Achievement Award, the highest honor given to USC Ph.D. graduates. He was formerly a high school math teacher in Oakland, CA.

Dr. David J. Nguyen (@DaveNguyen191) is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education & Student Affairs at Ohio University. His research agenda leverages theoretical insights from behavioral economics, organizational theory, and sociology to examine issues of access and equity in postsecondary education. Two interrelated strands of inquiry anchor my research agenda: (1) examining how individual and organizational factors promote success for underserved and underrepresented students; and (2) exploring how financial aid policies and circumstances shape student decision-making towards academic and social outcomes, such as high-impact practice participation, campus employment, and postgraduate career choices.

David completed his doctorate at Michigan State University’s Higher, Adult & Lifelong Education program. He holds a master’s degree in Accounting from Syracuse University and in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University. He completed his undergraduate degree in Accounting and Marketing.

Dr. Renata Opoczynski (@Renata_highered) has 15 years of experience in higher education in both Student and Academic Affairs including Student Activities, Strategic Planning, and Assessment and Accreditation. She currently serves as the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) Fellow and Director of Student Success Research at Michigan State University. Renata has a deep commitment to social justice and is passionate about improving the enrollment, completion, and success of underserved students in higher education.  She is a mixed methods researcher and her research takes a social justice lens to policy and institutional decision making. She has explored how state policy and institutional decision making influences enrollment and success for underserved students including foster youth, student veterans, underserved minority students, and low income students at both the national and campus level. Her BA is from the University of Florida and she is still a proud and loyal Gator fan! Her MA is from the Ohio State University and her PhD is from Michigan State University.

Erich Pitcher, PhD (@scholactivist) currently serves as the Program Lead for Adult & Higher Education in the College of Education at Oregon State University. Their research engages critical and organizational perspectives to understand the lived experiences of transgender academics and the success of minoritized student populations. Well-versed in LGBTQ+ issues and processes of racialization, Erich uses critical perspectives to engage in qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods inquiries to advance social justice. As a non-tenure track academic, they can speak to issues of precarity within the academy.

Jonathan Pryor, PhD (he/him/his) (@jonathantpryor), is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at California State University, Fresno, working with Master’s students in the Higher Education Administration and Leadership program. He received his PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri. His scholarship explores staff leadership, LGBTQ equity, and the experiences of LGBTQ college students.  Prior to Fresno State, he worked in student affairs for 10 years, most recently managing the LGBTQIA Programs & Services at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Dr. Gianna Ramdin is an adjunct faculty member in Education Leadership and Research Methodology, Florida Atlantic University, and Associate Editor, Community College Journal of Research and Practice. She  currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the Education Leadership and Research Methodology Department at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and is the Associate Editor of the Community College Journal of Research and Practice (CCJRP). Prior to teaching at FAU, she taught Biological Sciences for over 12 years at Broward College, Florida. She designed and taught over 25 natural science courses ranging from Microbiology and General Biology to Human Anatomy and Physiology. In her role as Associate Editor, Ramdin provides support to the CCJRP’s Editor-in-Chief, the editorial team, contribution authors, and reviewers to ensure the editorial processing of manuscripts are streamlined. She also copy edits all manuscripts before they are sent to the publishers. In addition, she has conducted natural science and social science research, which included biological field research in the Big Cypress Seminole and Brighton Reservations, Florida, and quantitative research focused on higher education enrollment, and the community college baccalaureate and teacher preparation. Her primary research area is the study of campus greening and sustainable initiatives implemented on university and college campuses. Her scholarship is published in Community College Journal of Research and Practice and Universal Journal of Educational Research and she has presented at various conferences.

Dr. Delma Ramos (@DrDelmaRamos) is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the Teacher Education and Higher Education department in the School of Education at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her research focuses on college success, specifically examining the role of family, community, and culture in empowering students to navigate college. Her work engages historically marginalized populations and employs critical methodologies and theories to uncover systems of oppression that perpetuate inequity in education. Her work has been presented at annual national meetings of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, NASPA, and the American Educational Research Association and in journals including the ASHE Higher Education Report Series, JCOT, and JCSCORE.

Nydia C. Sánchez, Ph.D. (@nydia_sanchez), is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research uses qualitative research methods and critical framework to explore the democratic outcomes of higher education for historically-underrepresented populations, specifically Latinx students and their families. Her dissertation research titled “Educational Uplift Along the U.S.-Mexico Border: How Students, Family, and Educators Cultivate a College-Going Culture in Contested Terrain” was funded by the 2016-2017 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship and received Honorable Mention from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Hispanic Research Issues Special Interest Group in 2018. During her academic career, Dr. Sánchez has been recognized as a Gates Millennium Scholar, an AERA Carlos J. Vallejo Research Fellow, and an American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) Multidisciplinary Graduate Fellow. She was born and raised in the border town of Brownsville, Texas and is a first-generation college student. Dr. Sánchez received a B.S. in Economics from Texas A&M University and an M.S. in Higher Education, as well as a Ph.D. in Higher Education, from the University of North Texas.

Dr. Callie Womble Edwards (@drcallie_tweets) is a first-generation college graduate and a Gates Millennium Scholar from Durham, North Carolina.  In February 2018, Callie completed her Ph.D. in Educational Research and Policy Analysis, with a specialization in Higher Education Administration at North Carolina State University.  Her dissertation title was “Investigating Black Male Intersectionality: Counternarratives of High-Achieving Black Male Engineering Undergraduates at a Predominantly White Institution”. Later, in April 2018, the North Carolina State University higher education program faculty selected Callie’s dissertation study for the 2018 Higher Education Dissertation of the Year Award.  While at North Carolina State University, Callie was an avid researcher and instructor. During her dissertation phase, Callie began her career with state government.  Callie is currently Research Associate at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University.  In her free time, Callie enjoys reading, watching movies, and volunteering.  She is also a newlywed and enjoys spending quality time with her husband Shawn.

Dr. Katherine Wheatle (@DrKWheatle) is Lumina’s strategy associate for finance and federal policy.  Wheatle previously served as a research analyst at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and as a research associate at the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University, and consulted for the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) of the U.S. Department of Education. Her past work has included examining how the Higher Education Act interacts with minority-serving institutions and how finance and financial aid policies can impact these institutions.

In addition to her doctorate, Katherine holds an M.S.P.H in health policy and health service research from Emory University and a B.S. in African and African American studies from The Pennsylvania State University. She recently completed her Ph.D. in higher education at Indiana University

Dr. Varaxy Yi (@Varaxy) is a first-generation Khmer American college graduate and faculty member at California State University Fresno. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. Born and raised in Modesto, CA, she is thrilled to return to the Central Valley and to contribute to the Fresno community and the region. She conducts research to advance equity, access, and opportunity for historically underserved communities, such as racially minoritized, Southeast Asian American, and refugee populations. Her dissertation was a phenomenological exploration of the racialized experiences of Southeast Asian American community college students. Dr. Yi earned her doctorate in Higher Education from the University of Denver. She also holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University and bachelors’ degrees in English and Business Administration from the University of the Pacific. Outside of academia, she enjoys hiking, mountain biking, traveling, and playing escape room games with friends and family.







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