Distinguished Student Achievement Award Recipients 2019

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SF State Graduate Hood Recipient

Graduate Hood Jenny Levine-Smith

Jenny Levine-Smith

Master of Arts in Education, with a concentration in Equity and Social Justice

Jenny’s research, as well as her work in the community and schools, focuses on working alongside marginalized and minoritized students and families to disrupt systems of dispossession impacting them. Specifically, she studies the Discourse surrounding students of color, and in particular, Latinx and bilingual students, through a Critical Race Theory and LatCRT lens, and the power of discourse to both produce and perpetuate inequitable outcomes and to disrupt and transform them. Jenny’s thesis titled "Separate and unequal education under one roof: A grass-roots fight for the soul of a community and the future of its children" engages an examination of discourse via critical ethnography to decipher intricacies of the unjust educational system. She as awarded Graduate Student Research Award in 2018 by California Educational Association (CERA). She has presented at conferences and scholarly work at California Assn of Professors of Educational Administration (CAPEA), CERA, and American Educational Research Association (AERA)—the largest educational association with over 20,000 members. Lastly, Jenny has co-authored several publications while attending SFSU, one entitled, "The Web of Reclassification for English Language Learners—A Cyclical Journey waiting to be interrupted: Discussion of Realities, Challenges, and Opportunities" was selected as a feature article for the journal of Educational Leadership and Administration: Teaching and Program Development.

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Graduate Student Distinguished Achievement Awards

Alexander Blum

Ph.D, Special Education (Joint Doctoral Program with UC Berkeley)

Alexander’s dissertation examines underlying processes in social-cognition and their relationships to social understanding and literacy of autistic and neurotypical school-age students. Using visual narrative (through the high-interest medium of comics), this cutting-edge research has direct implications for developing effective and meaningful practices that are consistent with a neurodiversity paradigm.

Flordellyn Castillo

Master of Arts in Elementary Education

Flordellyn conducted a year-long self-study of literacy instruction in her seventh grade English classroom. She studied the impact of introducing culturally relevant, young adult novels as primary texts in her class on students’ engagement with literature, reading fluency, and depth of comprehension.

Isabel Craik

Master of Science in Communicative Disorders

Isabel’s thesis examines whether peer facilitation of personal narratives supports overall communication and social development for young adults who muse augmentative and alternative communication. Isabel developed and taught creative writing workshops for students in a free public afterschool program.

Lacey Dickinson

Education Specialist Credential Candidate, Early Childhood Special Education

Lacey has consistently demonstrated dedication to supporting the learning and development of all young children, including those with disabilities while earning her Preliminary Educational Specialist Credential in Early Childhood Special Education. This includes her commitment to inclusion, the desire to meanfully partner with families, and her strong advocacy for the field.

Laurynn Gould

Master of Arts in Special Education

Laurynn has consistently supported the learning and development of young children while earning her Masters in Special Education. Laurynn created a music handbook for adults working in early childhood setting that included accommodations for young children. She maintains a strong commitment to meaningfully partnering with families and promoting inclusive environments.

Landon Hill

Ed.D., Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Landon conducted a qualitative study that explores how African American students make sense of the various language practices they must utilize across various academic and social contexts. He works with youth in East Oakland, in his local church community, and mentors younger future scholars.

Cassandra Nicole Lane

Master of Arts in Education, with a concentration in Educational Administration

Cassie is teaching multiple subjects, 5th grade at San Pedro Elementary School in San Rafael and she is a full-time student in Educational Administration Program. Her culminating experience research project is titled "Disproportionality of English Learners in Special Education: California Reclassification Policies and Effects on Intersectional Students" and examines district reclassification policies and administrative decisions around intersectional students who are classified as both ELL and Special Education.

Jeffry Larson

Master of Arts in Education, with a concentration in Instructional Technologies

Jeff brought industry level skills in digital arts and VR to the ITEC program, and has expanded his work designing an equity-based VR/AR training environment. He has won recognition for his work and those of his Balboa High School students. His culminating project in immersive augmented media instruction defines a model for learning in virtual realities. Jeff is currently developing a faculty/student learning center in mixed media for GCOE and he has taught technologies in the digital production studio course.

Rosemary Medeiros

Master of Arts in Education: Early Childhood Education

Rosemary used literature to incite critical discussions about gender with her class of 30 4-year-old children. She also reflected on her experience discussing gender with adults, especially parents.

Lindsay Miller

Master of Arts in Secondary Education

Lindsay’s research sought to answer the questions: Are high school chemistry teachers ready to implement the new school district curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)? How does chemistry teacher involvement in professional development on the NGSS have an effect on their classroom practice? Lindsay is also an NSF Robert Noyce Teaching Scholar, currently teaching Chemistry at Phillip and Sala Burton High School in the San Francisco Unified School District.

Rebecca Moore

Single Subject Instruction Candidate, Secondary Education

Rebecca’s pedagogical content knowledge and creative, inquiry-oriented lesson plans have engaged and piqued the curiosity of her high school students at Lincoln High School in San Francisco. Her skill at developing critical thinking skills in high school students has been noted by her mentor teachers and school-site administrators.

Sucheta Sanedi

Master of Arts in Special Education

Sucheta has maintained a 4.0 gpa throughout the program, demonstrating excellence with regard to her graduate degree coursework. She has also volunteered with school-age children with disabilities in inclusive classrooms. She has obtained a position as a Special Education teacher working with 4th and 5th grade students.

Quinn Solis

Master of Arts in Education: Special Interest

Quinn conducted a qualitative research study investigating ways in which transgender students of color build resilience in navigating their post-secondary education at SFSU. In January 2019, Quinn was hired as Associate Director of LGBT Resources at UC Santa Barbara, where they develop and implement educational, social, and cultural programs, events, and workshops on campus.

Elizabeth Tait Wade

Master of Arts in Education, with a concentration in Equity and Social Justice

Tait’s thesis focused on purposeful identity development curriculum in independent schools. She found that students who have been traditionally under-represented in affluent independent schooling environments face covert and overt barriers to belonging and academic success. Tait also served as a TA in ISED 740: Education and Globalization. Her prior work in South Africa as am international educator helped her to make multiple impressive presentations, offer thoughtful guidance to students, serve as a conduit for student queries and concerns as well as assist the Professor during class-related discussions.

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Graduate College of Education Undergraduate Student Hood Recipient

Undergraduate Yusra Mohamed Ali

Yusra Mohamed Ali

Bachelor of Science in Communicative Disorders

Yusra Mohamed Ali draws her inspiration from her parents, who brought her and her siblings to the U.S. from war-torn Yemen when she was a baby. Their encouragement to pursue an education led her to become the first in her family to attend college. Her experience as a translator for her family as they navigated through disability services for a family member on the autism spectrum showed her the value of speech-language therapy and the need for more bilingual and bicultural service providers. She is graduating with a B.S. in Communicative Disorders, the culmination of her childhood goal of becoming an educator and her desire to make a difference in children’s lives.

While at SF State, Ali served as a tutor for incoming juniors in Anatomy and Physiology courses and volunteered at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Center to teach creative writing to fourth- and fifth-grade students. She was invited to the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and also nominated to represent California at the National Young Leaders State Conference. She has also worked as a teaching assistant in SF State’s Early Childhood Education Center working with 3- to 5-year-old children. Ali will return to SF State in the fall to work toward an M.S. in Communicative Disorders. She says, "My childhood of growing up in Yemen, a poor developing country has prepared me for the reality that clients come from all walks of life. People come with different economic, political, and cultural backgrounds. I want to be the bilingual speech-language pathologist who was not available for my own family.”

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Undergraduate Honors

Graduate Honors Lesley Peng

Lesley Peng

Department Honoree - Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

Ms. Flo Kimmerling, a senior lecturer in the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SLHS) department wrote of Lesley, “Once in a while a student comes a long who has so many assets, does so well, is so thoroughly liked by all, that she seems perfect. Such is the case with Lesley Peng.” Those who know Lesley are likely to agree. During her two years at SFSU, Lesley has made a significant number of contributions to the department and her fellow students. As the Secretary of the SFSU chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA), Lesley helped organize Continuing Education events, Brown Bag presentations, oversaw NSSLHA administration, and fundraised. Because of her excellent performance in the major, she was invited to serve as a tutor for several core courses, including: Anatomy and Physiology of Speech, Neurolinguistics, Audiology, and Audiometry. Lesley served as a research assistant in Dr. Teresa Gray's Gray Matter Lab and has taken lead roles in numerous lab projects. She presented a poster as a first author at the 2018 California Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention. Lesley will be starting her graduate studies in Communicative Disorders at SF State in the Fall where she plans to continue her research on aphasia in bilingual individuals with Parkinson’s.

Graduate Honors Allison Comroe

Allison Comroe

Academic Achievement - Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

Allison Comroe achieved a grade point average that placed her among the top 1.5% of the Graduate School of Education’s graduating class and qualified her for the Dean’s List four years in a row. In addition to her high academic performance, Allison has distinguished herself in many other ways. In 2018, Allison was awarded one of the six national scholarships for junior recipients by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She was recognized as a CSU EduCorp Outstanding Educator in Spring 2018 and Fall 2018. She was also invited to serve as a tutor for Anatomy and Physiology of Speech class because of her excellent performance in that class. Allison also stood out in volunteerism. She has been volunteering at SF General Hospital and has also taught English in Indonesia. As the Treasurer of the SFSU chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA), she organized several local NSSLHA chapters to send school supplies to Indonesia and to create activity books and curricula for use by future volunteers. Allison will continue her graduate studies in Speech-Language Pathology next Fall at the University of Washington.

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