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.