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Washington State University

Johana Thomas Zapata wins award and scholarship

It’s been a great spring for doctoral student Johana Thomas Zapata. In addition to moving one step closer to finishing her doctorate in mathematics education, Johana was the recipient of a WSU Chancellor’s Award for Leadership ($500), as well as the Virginia E. Thomas Endowed Scholarship ($2,500). She was also given the he Richard R. and Constance M. Albrecht Scholarship ($1,500) from the WSU Graduate School.

View official event photos

The Chancellor’s Awards started in 1996 as the “President’s Award for Leadership” but was recently renamed under the auspices of the chancellor. The awards recognize individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership and service to the WSU Pullman and surrounding community, as well as those who support leadership development in WSU Pullman students. The leadership experienced and qualities relate to:

  • Inquiry and Innovation
  • Excellence
  • Character and Integrity
  • Stewardship

To be considered for the Thomas endowment, nominees have to first be considered for the chancellor’s awards.

Virginia Thomas was the director of WSU’s Leadership Center from 1995-2003, serving the university and students in a variety of ways. About Thomas, WSU said: “As an advisor to the Associated Students’ officers and other organizations, Virginia demanded excellence, modeled integrity, and encouraged discovery and innovation. Virginia was a true servant leader to students, bringing passion, courage, and perspective to her work of student development. We honor her legacy with this award.”

Without question, Johana is a leader and she says that in every space she steps, she strives to make it better and contribute positively to people.

“My commitment to fostering growth and collaboration has clearly resonated with others, and I am honored that my efforts have been acknowledged,” she says.

Watch the 2024 ceremony

First WSU Everett doctoral grad

The College of Education celebrates milestone with WSU Everett’s first doctoral graduate
May 10, 2024

Everett, WA – Washington State University, Everett will mark a significant milestone in its history as it awards its first doctoral degree during the campus’ commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11, 2024. The campus will honor Jason P. Smith, the first-ever graduate receiving an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, a testament to WSU’s commitment to expanding its advanced educational offerings across the state.

Jason P. Smith to become the first WSU Everett doctoral graduate.

Jason P. Smith’s dissertation, “Understanding the Lived Experiences of Black Male Community College Student Veterans,” addresses a critical and underexplored area in educational research pertaining to Black veterans’ sense of belonging on Washington community colleges. Under the guidance of Assistant Professor Shannon Calderone, Smith’s work provides valuable insights into the unique challenges and perspectives of a significant subset of the veteran population, offering guidance for policymakers and educational institutional leaders aiming to better support these students.

“Jason’s achievement paves the way for future doctoral candidates at our campus and highlights the caliber of students and programs at WSU Everett,” said Dr. Calderone. “His work not only contributes to our understanding of the community college student experience but also underscores our university’s role in fostering research that impacts real-world issues.”

This graduation not only celebrates an academic achievement but also reflects WSU Everett’s growing role in contributing to the scholarly community and addressing diverse educational needs across Washington and beyond.

Department tandem wins AFW awards

By C. Brandon Chapman

Two College of Education students have been recognized for their exceptionalism by Washington State University’s Association for Faculty Women (AFW).

The duo includes Educational Psychology doctoral candidate Thao Vo and Kinesiology master’s student Sara Thompson, both part of the Kinesiology and Educational Psychology Department.

From left: Sarah Ullrich-French; Sara Thompson; Thao Vo; Brian French
Thao Vo

The Harriett B. Rigas Award, which is given each year to outstanding doctoral and professional students, was presented to Thao Vo, who successfully defended her dissertation on April 03.

Thao’s research has focused on addressing bias, equity, and fairness in test scores.

In the nomination, her advisor and nominator Brian French wrote that Thao was recognized as a dedicated scholar whose exemplary work in educational psychology, measurement, and research methods warrants recognition.

“I nominated Thao for the award because she has strong and unwavering passion to show how we use measurement in the behavioral and social sciences for positive change and addressing fairness,” French said after the award was given. “Thao is an excellent leader who leverages her methodological and applied skills to influence systems to critically consider equity issues.”

Additionally, the nomination cited: “Thao’s dedication to equity and inclusion extends beyond her research endeavors; she actively engages in service activities at both the local and national levels, advocating for diversity and inclusivity within the educational measurement profession.

Sara Thompson

The AFW Founders Award, which is given each year to outstanding master’s degree students, was presented to Sara Thompson, a rising star in Kinesiology who has been accepted into a prestigious doctoral program at the University of Toronto.

Sara’s journey saw her spend more than 400 hours collaborating with a diverse team on an experimental study exploring exercise experiences.

In her nomination, her advisor and nominator Sarah Ullrich-French wrote that in addition to her passion for research, Sara secured a highly competitive teaching assistantship, oversaw multiple sections, and earned positive evaluations for her instructional skills.

I nominated Sara for her contributions that span research, teaching, leadership, and service,” Ullrich-French said. “Her thesis study was ambitious and contributes significantly to the exercise science literature.

“Sara has the passion, growth mindset, and skills to conduct rigorous science, but she is also a leader who creates positive and supportive mentorship formally in the classroom and research lab and informally with her peers.”

Additionally, the nomination cited: “Sara’s commitment to service is evident in her representation of the department at conferences and her active involvement in the Graduate Executive Committee, and she was selected to serve as a student ambassador at the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) annual conference.”

About AFW

Founded in 1975, the AFW is a broadly inclusive group that promotes successful and satisfying careers for women and other marginalized genders by creating opportunities for members to connect in environments that are welcoming, supportive, and empowering.

In order to better support camaraderie, advocacy and professional growth across the WSU system, each year, AFW organizes events and awards to foster collaboration and recognize excellence.