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College of Education > News and Publications > News: Oct. - Dec. 2011 > College of Education Awards Six Dean's Graduate Assistantships

College of Education Awards Six Dean's Graduate Assistantships

by Patrick Beal (November 2011)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State’s College of Education has announced six graduate students as recipients of the Dean’s Graduate Assistantships for Engaged Scholarship and Research in Education. The recipients are Laura Heintz, Paolo Infante, Stephen Kotok, Younhee Lee, Cindy Robinson, and William Smith.

grad-assistantships.jpgThe assistantships aid students applying for doctoral programs in the College of Education. Penn State’s Graduate School and the College of Education have joined in a partnership to fund the program, which seeks to support up to seven new graduate students every year.

“This is the second cohort of students entering this program,” noted David H. Monk, dean of the College of Education. “We are using it to recruit research-oriented graduate students with outstanding academic records, and we have been very pleased with the results. These students are working closely with their faculty mentors and are preparing themselves to pursue successful careers conducting cutting-edge research for the field.”

Students are considered for the assistantship only after a faculty member nominates them. The College’s Committee for Graduate Studies and Research Policies narrows the list of applicants to the final recipients. Every recipient is funded for the first two years of graduate school with a good possibility to receive any further funding necessary from research projects funded by external sources.

Below are brief biographies of this year’s recipients:

Laura Heintz graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, earning a B.A. in psychology. After her time at Penn, Heintz participated in a research assistantship through the University of Rochester’s Mt. Hope Family Center, studying the effects of early childhood maltreatment on adolescent substance abuse. After earning her degree, she worked as a research assistant for the Center for Psychotherapy Research, which gave her the opportunity to study depression in a clinical environment and interact with patients daily. Throughout her academic career, Heintz has impressed her mentors by balancing extensive workloads, showcasing prodigious research and clinical skills, and exhibiting her empathetic nature and passion for aiding others. Heintz believes her academic and research experience has prepared her for the next step in her education, which will be conducted under the supervision of James C. DiPerna, associate professor of school psychology, and eventually as a school psychologist.

Paolo Infante received his master of arts in applied linguistics from the University of Massachusetts Boston. He previously earned a master of arts and bachelor of arts in Italian studies from the University of Toronto and a degree in computer programming from the Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. Infante’s ability to bridge comprehension of theory and practice has impressed his professors and fellow research assistants over the years. His intellectual capacity, discipline, and commitment to his field will make him a welcome addition to Penn State’s doctorate program, where he will assist Matthew E. Poehner, associate professor of world languages and applied linguistics, in applying dynamic assessment principles in English as a second language education.

Stephen Kotok earned his undergraduate degree in history and political science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and two masters degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (secondary education) and the Teachers College, Columbia University (politics and education). Kotok will bring a blend of an extensive academic background and frequent experience in the field. He has spent time educating middle school students as part of AmeriCorps St. Louis, a public school and an Education Management Organization (EMO) in Philadelphia, and a charter school in New Jersey. Kotok’s mixture of public, charter, and EMO experience combined with his studies in politics in education, research, and data analysis have prepared him for doctorate-level curriculum. While at Penn State, Stephen will be advised by Katerina Bodovski, assistant professor of educational theory and policy, and focus his studies on what factors affect long-term attainment in both public and charter schools and achievement gaps between low-income populations.

Younhee Lee completed her master’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Iowa, which was preceded by her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Seoul National University. Lee’s impeccable academic record and vast research experience will lead to a productive addition to Penn State’s higher education program. She has spent five years tutoring children in her native South Korea and has expanded her knowledge through participation in multiple research studies and conferences. Her mentors complement Lee for her steadfast dedication, organization, and statistical prowess- although, it is her maturity, motivation, and collaborative skills that her mentors believe will ensure her success at Penn State. She will work with M. Kathleen Heid, distinguished professor of mathematics education, on researching prospective secondary mathematics teachers’ understanding of the material and how they later use that math in their curriculum.

Cindy Robinson is pursuing a Ph.D. in counselor education. She has already earned a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling in mental health from Hofstra University and a double bachelors degree, cum laude, in nutritional sciences and psychology. Adding to her resume, Robinson has spent the last couple of years working as a counselor with people recovering from substance abuse and mental health disability. Her educators and work associates commend her for conveying theory into practice and her overall sense of diligence, which results in significant change for her clients. Robinson’s post-doctorate plans involve a position in academia at the university level where she can continue her scrupulous research endeavors and instruct students entering the field of counseling. Along the way, Deirdre O’Sullivan, assistant professor of rehabilitation and human services, will advise her.

William Smith received his master’s degree in international development from the University of Denver. He previously earned another master’s degree in teaching with an emphasis on secondary social studies from Western Oregon University and a B.A. in sociology from Portland State University. On top of his academic record, Smith has six years of classroom experience, including a stint with Teach for America, along with multiple publications in academic journals and appearances at educational conferences. His peers and mentors highly regard Smith for his methodical approach in research, inner perseverance to complete all tasks, and studious nature to learn all he can about international economic and educational progress. David P. Baker, professor of educational theory and policy, will be Smith’s adviser as he continues his goal to become a professor who teaches and conducts research on the relationship between education and socioeconomic wealth.