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ELPS Special Populations Testimonials

Welcome to our departmental website, and thank you for taking the time to discover more about our people and programs.

Special Populations Programs
 Janeen Antonelli

Janeen Antonelli, Ed.D. Professional Leadership - Special Populations

“The Ed.D. in Professional Leadership – Special Populations program at the University of Houston offers a highly relevant and rigorous “real world” approach to affecting the transformative change that our nation’s education system needs.  The program chair, faculty, and staff are dedicated to personalizing the experience for each doctoral student through meaningful activities and coursework that emphasize critical analysis and reflection, scholarly inquiry, and extensive networking within and across cohorts.  The result is an authentic and effective learning community that promotes a true sense of belonging and purpose.  I am deeply grateful for this life-changing journey and come away from this Powerhouse program confidently equipped with the essential tools and “know how” to drive evidence-based improvements for all students – expanding both my professional identity and the scope of my future work – as a college professor, educational consultant/coach, and community leader.”

 Jana Cole

Jana Cole, Ed.D. Professional Leadership - Special Populations

"My experience at the University of Houston in the Professional Leadership program was invaluable. The Special Populations professors and fellow cohort students shared a vast knowledge, experiences, and information which changed my life forever.  I was able to conduct real life research which improved the pedagogy on my campus, and changed how my students feel about STEMS.  I am very proud to be a graduate from a Tier I university and a Cougar!"
 Heather Harydzak

Heather Harydzak, Ed.D. Professional Leadership – Special Populations

"The Professional Leadership in Special Populations Program was a perfect fit for me as a student and professional. With thought provoking course work, I was challenged to explore the world of education, examine current research in education, and learn skills to help me become a leader in special education. Because of the program’s cohort design, we were also given the opportunity to learn from one another and provide support to each other throughout this journey. I appreciate working with and learning from the faculty members of the program, whom I am grateful for, as they helped me grow my career aspirations, develop the skills to become an educational leader, and fostered my research in the area of professional development for teachers. Currently, I am an adjunct professor in the University of Houston’s College of Education as well as a special education teacher in a local school district. As an adjunct professor and special education teacher, I am continuing to learn about and practice strategies to help develop and grow new and future special education teachers. I am forever grateful for the Professional Leadership program as the University of Houston because of the level of preparation I was given towards working in, and being a leader in, the field of special education. I could not have chosen a better place than the University of Houston – College of Education."
 Elizabeth McDaniel

Elizabeth McDaniel, Ed.D. Professional Leadership – Special Populations

“The faculty, curriculum and expectations of the Special Populations program set a high bar and allowed me to become a more proficient practitioner of a craft that affects the entire culture.  There were spirited debates during class between both my colleagues and professors that taught us as doctoral students to critically assess the research being presented and how this applied to our respective frames of reference within the field of Special Populations.  I learned how to do in depth research and make evidence-based decisions; then I was allowed to practice those skills. These opportunities honed my ability to be a better resource to the field.”

 Farideh Nekoobahr

Farideh Nekoobahr, Ed.D. Professional Leadership - Special Populations

"It has been through this highly intellectual program that not only have I been able to explore new areas of knowledge and the latest research, but I have also improved my perseverance, diligence, curiosity, self-motivation, and commitment required for being a serious researcher and a dedicated educator. The program chair, the faculty, and the staff have always been supportive and caring."
 Megan Pape

Megan Pape, Ed.D. Professional Leadership - Special Populations

“The Professional Leadership-Special Populations program at the University of Houston allowed me to redefine who I am not only as a learner, but also as an educator. This program is highly self-reflective; it pushed me to use current skills, as well as acquire new skills that are needed for leadership positions in our ever-changing education field. The program allowed me to explore and research a topic area of interest. This in-depth studying is needed for data gathering and problem-solving in schools. During this doctoral program, the entire cohort was able to consult and connect with both faculty and peers.  Through this transformative process we were not only shaped through coursework, research, and literature, but by other leaders in the education field!”

 Mayen Udoetuk

Mayen Udoetuk, Ed.D. Professional Leadership - Special Populations

“The Professional Leadership in Special Populations Doctoral Program has equipped me with personal and professional confidence, as well as the research acumen needed to contribute to our nation’s educational landscape, empirical practices, and STEM workforces.  The experience of being guided by personable, world-class faculty and support staff within a Tier I university is one that strengthened my understanding of how I can affect positive change through practical implementation, while contributing to bodies of research.  I am a proud graduate of this program, and I look forward to its continued success.”


Elliott Witney, Ed.D. Professional Leadership - Special Populations

"This well-designed program not only challenges all of us to broaden and deepen our understanding of the role classrooms and schools can play in the lives of every child we serve.  The professors also expect, and the coursework teaches us how, to weigh choices and make decisions as practitioners that are grounded in evidence."