College Roundup - University of Houston
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College Roundup A selection of faculty, staff, student and alumni happenings

June 2022

Kathyanne Sheffield, a doctoral student in the professional leadership—special populations program, recently published an article in the Texas Study of Secondary Education about the use of transformative social-emotional learning to improve academic, social and emotional outcomes for low-income high school students of color.

Cournette Hawkins has been appointed assistant principal at Emery Elementary School in Cypress Fairbanks ISD. Hawkins earned a principal certification from the College in 2021. She previously served as technology specialist at Andre’ Elementary in the district.

Doctoral graduate Ana Aguilar has been appointed principal of Eastwood Academy High School in Houston ISD. Aguilar earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership – K-12 from the College in 2017. She most recently served as principal of HISD’s Robinson Elementary for the last three years.

Sahar Eshtehardi, a doctoral candidate in the counseling psychology program, received the American Psychological Association’s 2022 Committee on Socioeconomic Status Student Award for Student Leadership. She earned a B.S. in psychology from UH in 2013 and an M.Ed. in counseling from the College in 2020. Eshtehardi is currently a pre-doctoral pediatric psychology fellow at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital.

Fourteen faculty members earned promotions, effective September 2022:

  • Samuel Brower to clinical professor (Department of Curriculum & Instruction)
  • Keith Butcher to clinical associate professor (Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • Tiffany J. Davis to clinical associate professor (Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • Marcel de Dios to associate professor (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)
  • Kristen Hassett to clinical professor (Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • Jungeun “Jay” Lee to clinical professor (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)
  • An Nguyen to clinical associate professor (Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • April Peters-Hawkins to professor (Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • Kristi Santi to professor (Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • Nathan G. Smith to professor (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)
  • Virginia Snodgrass Rangel to associate professor (Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • Amber Thompson to clinical professor (Department of Curriculum & Instruction)
  • Rachael Whitaker to clinical associate professor (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)
  • Margit Wiesner to professor (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)

Blake Allan, an associate professor and director of the counseling psychology doctoral program, has been selected to receive the 2022 Award for Emerging Leadership in Psychology from the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Socioeconomic Status. He was selected for his contributions to the understanding of socioeconomic status within the areas of counseling and vocational psychology. He will be honored at the association’s conference in August.

Two-time alum Armando Orduña has been appointed interim executive director of Latinos for Education, Texas. Orduña earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership – K-12 from the College in 2017 and earned a B.A. in Spanish from UH in 2002. He most recently served as managing director of programs and partnerships at the organization.

May 2022

Claudia Aguirre, who earned an M.Ed. in administration and supervision in 2001, has been appointed deputy chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Aguirre is president and CEO of BakerRipley, one of the nation’s largest nonprofits. She leads a team of nearly 1,500 in delivering community development programs and services to children, families and seniors across the Houston region. Since joining the organization in 2010, she has served as vice president of community-based initiatives, superintendent of schools, and chief program officer and senior vice president.

Taewon Kim, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, has been awarded a college scholarship from the Houston Counseling Association. She will be honored at the association’s ceremony in June.

Andrew Mercer, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, has been selected for the 2022 Bisexual Foundation Scholarship award from the American Psychological Association’s Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (Division 44). He conducted a mixed methods analysis on understanding bisexual men’s identities and bodies. Mercer earned an M.Ed. in counseling from the College in 2020.

Gracie Villarreal, who earned a M.Ed. in higher education in 2016, has accepted the position of testing coordinator at the Justin Dart, Jr. Student Accessibility Center at UH. She previously served in a similar role at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Susie Gronseth, a clinical associate professor of learning, design and technology, has been elected president of the UH Faculty Senate for the 2023-24 academic year. She will serve as president-elect in 2022-23. This marks the first time a non-tenure track faculty member will serve in the president’s role.

Two-time alum Meagan Edwards has been named executive principal at YES Prep Public Schools. Edwards earned an M.Ed. in administration and supervision in 2017 and a B.S. in psychology in 1998. She previously served as principal at Fondren Middle School and Grissom Elementary in Houston ISD and worked in the district for 21 years as a teacher and administrator.

Kerry Chavez, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, earned an honorable mention for the 2022 Researching Injustice and Social Equality (RISE) Award from the Association for Psychological Science. She was awarded for her research investigating how marijuana use among African Americans aged 18-25 was related to childhood trauma and social support from friends, family and significant others.

Two-time UH graduate Marcela Baez has been named superintendent of Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco ISD in Alice, Texas, about an hour southwest of Corpus Christi. Baez earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership – K-12 from the College in 2017 and earned a B.A. in psychology from UH in 1999. She most recently served as assistant superintendent of human resources in San Marcos CISD and worked in Houston ISD for 20 years as a teacher and administrator.

April 2022

Emily Jellinek, a student in the school psychology doctoral program, received a 2022 Student Research Award from the American Psychological Association’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities/Autism Spectrum Disorder Division. Her research examined caregiver stress and experiences during a treatment for autistic children. Jellinek earned an M.Ed. in counseling from the College in 2022.

Dieu Truong, a doctoral student in the school psychology program, has been awarded the 2021 Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association’s School Psychology Division. She was honored for her contributions to Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander anti-racism in psychology. She was the lead author of the 2021 School Psychology Review journal article, “School Psychology Unified Call for Deeper Understanding, Solidarity, and Action to Eradicate Anti-AAAPI Racism and Violence.” Truong earned a B.S. in human development and family studies from the College and a B.S. in psychology in 2011.

Lupita Hernandez, a master’s student in the higher education program, was selected as UH’s 2022 Graduate Student Employee of the Year through University Career Services. Hernandez is an instructional assistant for the the UH Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Guillermo Ortega, who earned a Ph.D. in higher education in 2020, received the 2022 Early Career Award in Education and Sport from the American Educational Research Association. Ortega is an assistant professor of higher education at the Idaho State University College of Education.

Robin Cox, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2015, has been named 2022 Elementary Teacher of the Year at Fort Bend ISD. Cox teaches fifth grade reading and social studies at Commonwealth Elementary School in the district.

Samantha Andrade, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2021, has been named 2022 District Rookie Teacher of the Year at Fort Bend ISD. Andrade teaches at Ridgemont Early Literacy Center in the district.

Carmen Lozano, a doctoral student in the professional leadership – K-12 program, has been named principal of Andre’ Elementary School in Cypress Fairbanks ISD. She previously served as an assistant principal at Truitt Middle School and at Cypress Park High School. Lozano has 15 years of teaching and administration experience in the district.

Five faculty members earned UH Teaching Excellence Awards for 2021-22. Clinical Assistant Professor Keith Butcher, who directs the College’s principal preparation program, was recognized in the clinical category. From the human development and family studies program, Clinical Assistant Professor Toya Conston, Clinical Associate Professor Erica Jordan, Associate Professor Leslie Frankel and Clinical Assistant Professor Saira Rab were recognized in the group teaching category.