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College's highly ranked graduate programs prepare students for challenging issues in education

by the College of Education at Illinois / Oct 23, 2017

Graduate students at the College of Education at Illinois

Caliber of programs best realized through commitment and talent of students

The College of Education's highly ranked programs in Curriculum & Instruction, Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Education Policy, Organization & Leadership prepare master’s and doctoral students to deal with the most challenging issues in education. And the caliber of the programs is best realized through the commitment and talent of students in the College. The following four doctoral students are prime examples of the excellent scholars that the College trains and nurtures. 

Student Profiles

Gabriel RodriguezGabriel Rodriguez is a doctoral student in the Deparment of Educational Policy, Organization & Leadership who also received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Illinois. He is a recipient of the prestigious National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship. His research examines Latina/o youth who attend a well-resourced, predominately white suburban high school in the Chicagoland area and the ways in which they “perform” their ethnic identities given the spaces they inhabit. His use of theories of performativity adds intersectional means of analyses across race, gender, and class. The integration of critical youth studies adds an additional layer that complicates the ways youth wrestle with their own multiple identities. Part of the significance of his dissertation comes in light of the increasing national demographic shifts of Latina/o populations in the last three decades from urban to more suburban locales. The increasing diversity within Latina/o communities also points to the myriad ways that youth conceptualize and perform their identities that are relevant for them and their peers. He conducted an ethnographic study during the 2014-2015 academic year, followed by additional observations and interviews during the Fall 2015 semester. Gabriel’s research breaks new ground that examines youth activism, academic achievement, and racial identity performance in (ethno)suburban sites, an area sorely lacking in education and social-science research.

Katrina KennettKatrina Kennett defended her Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction with a specialization in writing studies in August of 2017. During her four years at Illinois she stayed engaged with the community by co-founding EdCampCU, leading the University of Illinois Writing Project, and participating in local social justice efforts. Katrina was recognized for her work through the Letitia Walsh Fellowship; the 2015-2016 Fred S. Bailey Fellowship for Community Leadership, Service, and Activism; and the YMCA 2017 Leadership Award in Education. She taught in the undergraduate program in C&I and courses in writing studies. Her dissertation on teacher planning was pioneering, rekindling a dormant field of research and developing a theory that enabled researchers and practitioners to attend to the complexity of this core professional practice. In the fall of 2017, Katrina moved to Montana to take a position as the director of curriculum and research at America Campaign, a nonprofit organization that works with youth, teachers, and adult learners to enable computer science learning in rural communities. Her role combines the development of comprehensive curriculum strategy for all programs with a robust research agenda that seeks to understand the intersections of rural education, computer science education, and teacher planning. 

Chung eun LeeChung eun Lee is a third-year doctoral student in Special Education. As a sibling of an individual with autism spectrum disorder and an experienced special education teacher, she spent many years working with children with disabilities. She taught for four years at St. Peter’s, a school for children with intellectual disabilities in South Korea, and supported the transition program for adults with developmental disability. With her work experience, Chung eun pursued her master’s degree in special education at The University of Texas at Austin. She investigated the cultural impact on families of children with disabilities and how to support those families. Her research interests include adult/sibling perspectives on future planning and developing a family/sibling support network that can empower families of individuals with disabilities. Lee is also interested in cultural impacts on Asian-American families of children with disabilities. She was an invited speaker at the national Sibling Leadership Network Conference, and for her dissertation, Chung eun plans to adapt and test a future planning intervention for families of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Jessamyn PerlusJessamyn Perlus is a fourth-year doctoral student in Counseling Psychology and an Illinois Distinguished Fellow. Her dissertation research focuses on the impostor phenomenon and implications for women’s career achievement. Using mixed methods she is exploring whether women who feel unworthy of their academic and career successes are likely to engage in behaviors that lead to accolades yet paradoxically take a toll on mental health and hinder subsequent achievement. Ultimately, she is interested in developing culturally sensitive, strength-based interventions and outreach programs from this line of research. Jessamyn enjoys helping college students define and achieve their career goals. In support of this she has held positions at The Career Center, Disability Resources and Educational Services, the Counseling Center, and served as an instructor for the EPSY 220: Career Theory and Practice course. She was recently honored with a newly created position as a liaison between the National Career Development Association and the Society of Vocational Psychology. Jessamyn is enthusiastic about bridging research, theory, and practice through collaborations such as publishing a monograph and presenting at numerous conferences. After graduation she plans to work in a university setting to continue her research and make a difference in students’ lives.