College of Education > News and Publications > News: Oct. - Dec. 2010 > Seven Students Receive Dean’s Graduate Assistantships in the College of Education

Seven Students Receive Dean’s Graduate Assistantships in the College of Education

Seven graduate students have been named recipients of Dean’s Graduate Assistantships for Engaged Scholarship & Research in Education.

by Joe Savrock (November 2010)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Seven graduate students in Penn State’s College of Education have been named recipients of Dean’s Graduate Assistantships for Engaged Scholarship & Research in Education. Awardees are Christopher Anthony, Heather Atkinson, Julie Scott Beeney, Jessica Bennett, Emily Hodge, Ha Ram Jeon, and Janelle Sheridan.

Dean’s Graduate Assistantships are funded jointly by the College of Education and Penn State’s Graduate School. The assistantships are designed to support some of the most promising students who are applying for admission to the College’s doctoral programs.

“Competition is remarkably intense for the top graduate student talent in the field of education, and we know financial support is an important consideration for the students we are seeking to recruit,” said David H. Monk, dean of the College of Education. “The Dean’s Graduate Assistantship program permits us to make highly competitive offers, and we are delighted with the first-year results.”

Regina Vasilatos-Younken, senior associate dean of the Graduate School, added that, “The diverse disciplinary backgrounds that students supported on the Dean's Graduate Assistantships bring to their doctoral work is a particular strength, and consistent with the emphasis on transdisciplinary research and graduate education for which Penn State is well known."

Candidates for assistantships are nominated by faculty members of the College’s academic programs. Each graduate assistant receives the first two years of funding through Penn State resources based on successful doctoral level study. Students are considered for subsequent support from externally funded research projects or other sources.

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Following are biographical sketches of the graduate assistants:


Christopher Anthony graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a dual degree in psychology and theology. As an undergraduate student, he engaged in research in developmental psychology, impressing his faculty mentors with his intellectual curiosity as well as his ability to think critically and engage in theoretical issues. Anthony wishes to have opportunities to explore relationships between family issues, socioemotional development, and academic outcomes in school psychology. He is currently working with James DiPerna, associate professor of school psychology, on a project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences.

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Heather Atkinson completed a master’s degree in community counseling from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas. Previously, she completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in biology at Texas Lutheran University. Atkinson has a longstanding interest in working with children and college students who have special needs, specifically in relation to their adjustment. She wishes to gain experience as a researcher in order to better inform professionals who work with these students. Atkinson greatly impressed the faculty during her on-campus interview as someone who is quite focused on her professional goals and is capable of successfully engaging in doctoral-level work. She will be conducting research on a funded project with James Herbert, professor of counselor education & rehabilitation and human services.

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Julie Scott Beeney attended St. Lawrence University and Teachers College of Columbia University before applying to the doctoral program in counseling psychology at Penn State. Beeney is deeply committed to research on early childhood, with an emphasis on preventive interventions with very young children and their families. She has experience conducting research at a number of labs and has early-childhood teaching experience and case-management experience. Beeney will conduct research with Susan Woodhouse, assistant professor of counseling psychology.

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Jessica Bennett earned her undergraduate degree in cognitive science from the University of Virginia and her master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from The Ohio State University. She first became interested in faculty experiences during her master’s program, where she completed an institutional research project at Lancaster University in England and interned with the Office of Minority Affairs at Ohio State. Bennett has professional experience in higher education as a house advisor at Vassar College. Her research interests focus on considering faculty development in terms of changing demographics in higher education. She is currently conducting research related to black faculty and graduate students’ experiences in the academy, working with Kimberly Griffin, assistant professor of college student affairs.

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Emily Hodge is pursuing a Ph.D. in education theory and policy. She completed an undergraduate degree in English literature, a master of arts in teaching (English education), and a master of arts in English literature, all at the University of Virginia. While teaching in Pittsburgh, she constructed a thematic eighth-grade language arts curriculum titled, "What does it mean to be American?" which she presented at a national conference. Hodge also traveled to Egypt through a Fulbright–Hayes grant to study the Muslim world. Her scholarly interests are the politics of curriculum and the history of American education. She will be working with David Gamson, associate professor of education theory & policy, assigned specifically to his historical study "The District Undone: Reorganizing, Reforming, and Reinventing the School District, 1925–2005."

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Ha Ram Jeon attended Korea University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the sociology of education. Jeon completed a number of social science courses and methodological training in Korea, and he conducted research on the determinants of educational aspirations of Korean high school students, which was published in the Korean Journal of Sociology of Education. David Baker, professor of educational theory & policy and sociology, will advise Jeon and include him in his research project studying the effects of formal education on health in developing nations.

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Janelle Sheridan earned an undergraduate degree as a Schreyer Honor’s Scholar in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience at Penn State and a master’s degree in counseling and psychological services from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked in numerous research labs as an undergraduate, and as a graduate student she has conducted research focused on understanding how at-risk middle- and high-school students were influenced by enrollment in second-chance charter schools. In her doctoral program, she hopes to explore how college students navigate issues of sexuality. She will be included on the research team of Kathleen Bieschke, professor of counseling psychology, at the Center for Collegiate Mental Health.