December 2020
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Photo of Amanda Cheromiah wearing dark blazer and turquoise beaded necklace with white blouse. Background is lush green plants.
Native SOAR’s Amanda Cheromiah named NCAIED 40 Under 40

Native SOAR Director and higher education doctoral student Amanda Cheromiah (Pueblo Laguna) was recently named a 40 Under 40 by The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development! The 40 Under 40 is a prestigious award that recognizes 40 emerging American Indians from across Indian Country who have demonstrated leadership, initiative, and dedication and made significant contributions in business and/or in their community.

Cheromiah has certainly demonstrated her leadership and dedication throughout her years as an instructor, and now director, for Native SOAR, a unique mentorship program that pairs undergraduate Indigenous students with Native youth from the area.

Congratulations, Amanda!
Sanlyn Buxner headshot
Sanlyn Buxner paper named JGE Outstanding Paper of 2020

Associate Research Professor Sanlyn Buxner recently received the Journal of Geoscience Education 2020 Outstanding Paper for her co-authored paper, titled Immersive, interactive virtual field trips promote science learning, which details the learning design and technical components of immersive, interactive virtual field trips (iVFTs).

The Journal of Geoscience Education is a premier peer-reviewed publication for geoscience education research and curriculum and instruction at the undergraduate and pre-college levels. The journal states that in order to be nominated, a paper must exhibit at least some of the following characteristics: 1) innovative enhancement of student learning, which is documented and assessed, 2) advancement of the discipline of geoscience education, and 3) broad societal impact of vital and significant high quality geoscience education.

Congratulations, Sanlyn!
Sonja Lanehart headshot
Sonja Lanehart elected to Linguistic Society of America Executive Committee

Congratulations to Professor Sonja Lanehart on being elected to the Linguistic Society of America Executive Committee!

Lanehart was elected to a three-year term as an at-large member of the committee, which serves as the nonprofit's governing board and provides oversight and governance for their operations.

Learn more at
Photo of alumna Juliana Urtubey with her Nevada 2020 Teacher of the Year plaque and certificate. She is wearing a red tee and khaki shorts with a University of Arizona pendant flag in the background
Juliana Urtebey named Nevada’s 2021 Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to College of Education alumna Juliana Urtebey on being named Nevada's 2021 Teacher of the Year!

Urtubey graduated from the college in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and in 2011 with a master’s degree in special education. The Kermit R Booker Elementary School learning strategist will be the spokesperson for Nevada’s roughly 27,000 educators and a resource on the state of education in Nevada.

As an educational leader, mentor, and ambassador, Urtubey will make connections with schools, colleges, universities, organizations related to education, the legislature, and stakeholders around the state to elevate teachers, classrooms, and the teaching profession. She adds, “I owe a lot to my formation at The University of Arizona and my time at the College of Education.”
Marsha Spencer receives School Psychologist of the Year Award

Congratulations to DPS Assistant Professor of Practice Marsha Spencer, who recently received the School Psychologist of the Year Award by the Arizona Association of School Psychologists! This comes as no surprise to those who have worked with and learned from her.

On Spencer, DPS Department Head Carl Liaupsin says, “Dr. Spencer is a credit to her profession, to our department, and to our college. As department head, I have first-hand knowledge of her ability to approach program leadership with a rare mix of transparency, efficiency and compassion.”
Headshot of Kirsten Lansey
Kirsten Lansey selected for Council for Exceptional Children program

The college is very excited to announce that Special Education doctoral student Kirsten Lansey has been selected for the 13th cohort of the Council for Exceptional Children's Division for Research/Doctoral Student Scholars program! Lansey was selected through an internationally competitive review process.

Through the program, scholars will discuss "What makes for excellence in special education research?" and will have the opportunity to engage with other researchers about the challenges faced by new scholars in cultivating a high-quality research agenda. Congratulations, Kirsten!
Photo of 22 flags of Arizona's Native Nations in the university's Student Union Memorial Center
Native Nations Flag Exhibit installed in The University of Arizona Student Union Memorial Center

Last month, during National Native American Heritage Month, a new exhibit featuring the flags of all 22 Native Nations in Arizona was installed in the Arizona BookStore at Student Union Memorial Center.

“The exhibit is the culmination of a years-long initiative to recognize the heritage and culture of the university's Native American students, faculty and staff,” this UArizona News article states.

The project was led by Karen Francis-Begay, UArizona assistant vice provost for Native American Initiatives, and later Levi Esquerra, who assumed the role of UArizona senior vice president for Native American Advancement and Tribal Engagement in September.

During the Flag Exhibit Dedication event on Thursday, November 12, Esquerra stated this exhibit is just the beginning of ongoing partnerships between the university and Arizona’s Native Nations.

Peter Yucupicio, chairman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, also spoke at the event and called on Native American students to pursue a higher education. "Do the best you can in these halls, these learning institutions, so someday you can go back, whether it's to your tribe, your city, your state or your whole nation, and help it survive," Yucupicio said.

Ned Norris Jr., chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, said he hoped the exhibit would lead to an ongoing dialogue between the university and Native Nations of Arizona to find ways to best serve the nations and their students.

Congratulations to all of the faculty, staff, students, and community members who worked so hard for this acknowledgement. If you missed the dedication, you can watch the full ceremony here.
project focus students and mentors
Help Project FOCUS continue providing all students with access to inclusive college classes

For the last ten years, students with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been fully included at The University of Arizona through Project FOCUS, a two-year innovative transition program supported by the College of Education and Pima County Public School Districts. The Project FOCUS 2020 crowdfunding campaign is currently underway and will continue through December 16. Their goal is to raise $15,000 for program operations and student scholarships in just 30 days.

So far, Project FOCUS has provided the opportunity for 80 students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to:
  1. Access inclusive college classes (in in-person, hybrid, and fully online formats)
  2. Increase employability skills through internship experience and career readiness curriculum
  3. Develop social networks, connections, and lifelong friendships

Support for the program will go directly to qualified students in financial need and critical operational costs to ensure another two years of quality inclusive programming.

Learn more about Project FOCUS and make your donation at
Nolan Cabrera’s response to California’s recent approval of an ethnic studies course requirement

EPSP Associate Professor Nolan Cabrera recently wrote a piece for The Conversation about the new California law that requires college students in the state university system to take ethnic studies courses in order to graduate.

"In essence, the California state legislature has made it mandatory for the nearly 500,000 students in the Cal State system to take the classes that student activists and others fought for universities to implement decades ago. While these classes are not without controversy, as a scholar who studies racial dynamics on college campuses, I argue their benefits outweigh their liabilities."
How counselors and psychologists support college-going culture of students of color

DPS Associate Professor Desiree Vega and School Psychology doctoral student Alaina Puff recently published an article in Phi Delta Kappan titled, It takes a village: How counselors and psychologists support the college aspirations of students of color.

In the article, Vega and Puff argue how school counselors and psychologists play a major role in helping students to realize their college aspirations, take steps to pursue their goals, and, ultimately, reach their potential.
Photo of Native SOAR students with Native SOAR logo and text that reads Join us for our digital story showcase Wednesday December 16 6 to 8 pm
Native SOAR students share their stories in showcase event

Join Native SOAR this month for their Digital Story Showcase on December 16 from 6 - 8 p.m. Native SOAR students will share their unique experiences as student leaders and mentors during this unusual time. Attendees will learn about who they are, where they come from, and what they gained from taking part in this special service-learning course. Register at
University of Arizona graduate walking in front of graduation audience
Learn about the Master of Arts in Higher Education program

Do you know someone interested in continuing their education? Someone who would be a great addition to our program and profession? Encourage them to attend the Higher Education, M.A., infosession on Thursday, December 3!

The college is hosting another infosession in hopes of connecting with students prior to the preferred application date of December 15, 2020.

When: Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Hosted by: Dr. Amanda Kraus, Dr. Regina Deil-Amen and higher education graduate student Whitney Mohr

This session will provide prospective students with information about the Center for the Study of Higher Education at The University of Arizona. Specifically, the information is designed for prospective master's students who are interested in the program, application process, and funding opportunities including graduate assistantships.

Join at (password is cohort2022).
Photo of La Estrella's Erica Franco making pan de muerto with Dia de los Muertos decorations in the background
Annual Día de los Muertos tradition continues this year with virtual twist

Every year students in the Early Childhood Education, B.A.E., program visit Tucson favorite La Estrella Bakery to celebrate Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Students learn about ofrendas and the important role that pan de muerto plays in the tradition.

This year the annual celebration went virtual and the invitation was extended to all college staff and faculty and their families. The group, which included 30 children, watched Erica Franco make the traditional pan and enjoyed a read aloud of The Day of the Dead: A Bilingual Celebration by Bob Barner from Language, Reading, and Culture graduate student Vanessa Rodriguez. They also decorated sugar skulls, which represents giving life to the deceased.

Thanks to the amazing staff and faculty members, including Vanessa Rodriguez, Associate Dean Iliana Reyes, Fernando Parra, Rachel Barton, and Pam Mendel, who made this annual celebration possible this year!
AWARDSS students present education research

Last month students in the Access, Wellness, and Relational Determinants of School Success program presented their summer research projects as part of the Fall 2020 UROC Poster Session.

The AWARDSS training program is part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Consortium and is designed to provide upper-level undergraduate students, recent graduates, and masters students with experiences in conducting educational research while preparing participants for doctoral study. Students in the program spent the past summer researching a variety of issues related to the United States education system. Each student listed below had five minutes to present their research followed by questions from the audience.

  • Brianna Jackson: Held at Gunpoint: Investigating the Relationship of Toxic Masculinity and School Violence
  • Andrea Lara-García: Property Tax Delinquency and Vulnerability in Tucson: The Role of Community Organizations and Financial Education
  • Avriana Martinez: The Role of Culture on Native American Parents’ Perceptions about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Melina Rodriguez: Facilitating conversations about gender in the Shakespeare classroom
  • Patricia Monique Sanchez: Attachment Styles and Higher Education: How Insecure Attachment Styles and Romantic Relationships Affect Academic Achievement
  • Sam J. Sneed: An Informative Approach to Understanding and Protecting Health Risk from Water Contamination on Tribal Lands
  • Carolyn Rae Tureaud: Identifying Risk Predictors of Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Students with Type 1 Diabetes to Enhance Safe and Supported Learning
  • Cassandra Yee: Examining Variation in Adolescent Reporting of Bullying in Schools
This research was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305B160003 to the University of Arizona. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education. The co-principal investigators of this research are DPS Associate Professor Michelle Perfect of the College of Education and Assistant Professor Brandy Perkl of the College of Applied Science and Technology.
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Photo of Stella Felix with long curly hair in a green shirt with rolling hills in the background.

Name: Stella Felix
Major: Early Childhood Education
Expected graduation: May 2021
Hometown: Tucson, AZ

What led you to the University of Arizona College of Education?
When I first started college, I had everything planned out. I was a pre-physiology major and wanted to be either an OB/GYN or a pediatrician. But as I started taking all of the courses, I realized that I didn’t want to do medical stuff for the rest of my life. I had a mid-life crisis at the age of 18. Teaching and becoming an educator found me when I least expected it. My uncle saw how lost I was and suggested that I come work part-time for him at his school. He is the principle of a local K-12 charter school. That was where I fell in love with teaching and the College of Education welcomed me with open arms. It is my second family.

What have you learned in the College of Education that's made a difference to you?
What has surprised me the most is how well rounded the College of Education has made me. I have learned about every aspect of child development and how to best support children in their development. I have also learned a great deal about literacy acquisition and even children with mild to moderate disabilities. The field work that I have completed is vast and unforgettable. I have experienced pre-K, kindergarten, and soon, third grade. I feel absolutely prepared to go out and teach any grade because of how well the college has prepared me.

Tell us about something you're involved with in the College of Education and how it's impacted your life.
I am the chair for the Student Ambassadors club in the College of Education. I have been a part of the club for three years and have loved every minute of it. Being an ambassador has really helped my public speaking and general confidence overall. I'm able to talk to prospective students about the college and all that we have to offer. This really allowed me to solidify my choice in being in this college and has been a great networking opportunity.

I am also in the Peer Mentor club that the College of Education offers. I have been a peer mentor for two years and have found this to be a very rewarding experience. As a peer mentor I guide seven to ten freshmen enrolled in the college throughout their first semester. I am basically their big sister given that I have just gone through what they are experiencing. I wish I had a peer mentor to help me through my transition to college and am glad that I can be that for someone else.

What are your post-graduation plans as of now?
I am currently planning on applying for the Language, Reading, and Culture master’s program in the college. My dream job is to become a reading specialist. And that is exactly what this master’s program offers.

Do you have any advice for students just getting started in college?
My biggest advice would be to lean on your advisors. Our advisors in the College of Education are the best in the whole university. They are understanding and supportive beyond belief. I always tell my freshman “when in doubt see you advisor.” Even if they can’t help you, they will definitely connect you to the person who can!