May 2020
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Graduating this semester?

The College of Education will not let anything stand in the way of celebrating our graduates and their years of hard work. We are holding a virtual convocation on Friday, May 15, at 2 p.m., in a live stream that you and your loved ones can watch on our website .

If you are graduating this semester, we need your help in making this a success and a true celebration. Please send photos or short videos that tell your story -- perhaps your first day on campus, the special friends you have made in your classes, or the work you have done to bring you to your graduation day.

Submitting your photos or videos is easy. Share your memories with us via this simple form .

Photos will be selected by the college and displayed publicly during the live stream on May 15 and in the recording of the event posted to our website.
Please also keep an eye out for an email from Marching Order , our partner in creating a digital yearbook for the live stream and our website. The digital yearbook is an opportunity to create a personalized grad slide to download and share with your friends and family. If you have questions or concerns about Marching Order, please contact UA Commencement at or 520-621-3644.
The deadline for submitting photos to the College of Education and to Marching Order is May 1.
COE building with FORWARD artwork on top
Celebrating the college’s spring 2020 award winners

To get us through this difficult time, we’re finding comfort in celebrating the foundation of what makes our college so special: our students. We are blown away by this semester’s graduating class. The amount of innovation, compassion, and integrity we have seen from this group of students has blown us away. These characteristics have only shined that much brighter through this challenging time where the need to quickly pivot and adapt was essential. There are many students that especially stand out, but there are a few in particular who we deem outstanding .
Tony Viola
Tony Viola
Outstanding Senior
Lauren Pierce
Lauren Pierce
Outstanding Graduate Student
Congratulations to Outstanding Senior Tony Viola , Outstanding Graduate Student Lauren Pierce , and to all department award winners listed below! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to excellence.


Anna Grace Martin
Outstanding Senior, Deaf Studies

Kameryn Clark
Outstanding Senior, Rehabilitation Studies and Services

Maya Fukutomi
Outstanding Student Teacher, Mild to Moderate Disabilities


Joseph Sturm
Outstanding Senior, Literacy, Learning & Leadership

Siena Garcia
Outstanding Student Teacher, Elementary Education

Michael Tulchinsky
Outstanding Student Teacher, Elementary Education

Madeline Schepper
Outstanding Student Teacher, Early Childhood Education

Chelsea Andrews
Outstanding Student Teacher, Teach Arizona

Kyle Avvakumovits
Outstanding Student Teacher, Teach Arizona

We also want to recognize our outstanding faculty award winners listed below. Thank you for all that you do to make the college, community, and field of education more inclusive and equitable.

Assistant Professor of Practice Jennifer White, Disability & Psychoeducational Studies
College of Education Outstanding Faculty Teaching and Mentoring Award

Assistant Professor Valerie Shirley, Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies
Maria Urquides Laureate Award

Professor Mary Carol Combs, Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies
Erasmus Circle Fellow

Assistant Professor Z Nicolazzo, Educational Policy Studies & Practice
Erasmus Circle Fellow
Bidding farewell to Cindy Volk

Congratulations to Associate Professor of Practice Cindy Volk , who is retiring this month after 34 years of service to the College of Education. Throughout her time here, Volk has been a committed and active member of the college and an integral part of the Tucson Deaf community. As project director of the college’s Educational Interpreting program , she has been instrumental in the lives of so many interpreters that currently work not only in Tucson, but across the U.S. Over the years, she worked tirelessly for the program to receive the United States Department of Education-Office of Special Education Program Grant, which she finally received in 2019 after nearly 20 years of dedication and persistence. This money overwhelmingly supports current and future students and will be instrumental in helping the high demand for educational interpreters around the country be met. Thank you, Cindy, for your years of service and commitment to the college and its students. We wish you all the best! 
Introducing the Educator of the Year Award!

The Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board is proud to announce the winners of the college’s first-ever Educators of the Year Award. Congratulations to the following faculty members who were nominated and selected by College of Education students for this honor. 

Toni Sparks
Toni Sparks
Mild to Moderate Disabilities

“I am much less afraid to interact with students with disabilities. Before, I was terrified of breaking some unspoken social norm — treating students differently and discriminating against them, treating students the same and not giving them what they need — and Professor Sparks has made threading this delicate social needle much less daunting.”
Leslie Decker headshot
Leslie Decker
Deaf Studies
“Leslie is a wonderful teacher who has inspired me to continue to want to learn ASL. I have been lucky enough to be able to TA with her as well. This has allowed me to be a part of her class once again. I am very lucky to have her insight into the deaf community and culture. She deserves this award more than any other teacher I know.”
Maggie Shafer
Maggie Shafer
Elementary Education

“Maggie strives to model all of the strategies that she is teaching us about within our own classroom. She cares about each of her students as individuals. On multiple occasions, she brought baked goods to our early morning class to make sure we had breakfast in the morning. She provides thorough feedback on all assignments, works with students to ensure their success, and is transparent in her expectations. Maggie is an instructor that a student can visit after their semester and Maggie will remember them and be excited to see and help them.”
William Smith headshot
William Smith
Literacy, Learning, and Leadership

“Professor Smith really pushes me to think about education in a global context and how did certain countries achieve what they are doing in education right now, and how can the United States educate our students better learning from other educational system. I’ve been interested in global education and I’m so happy that I took this course because he discussed everything that I wanted to know concerning global education. This class does not disappoint and I would recommend it to anyone in LLL.”
Paul Ohm
Paul Ohm
Early Childhood Education

“Paul is an incredible inspiration for prospective teachers in the program. He exudes passion for education through his endless stories and experiences and is able to connect his real-life experiences to our coursework in a way that impacts our learning. He takes the time to know each of his students so that we can succeed in the best possible way and create a relationship that allows us to feel understood. I appreciate Paul's caring nature and his passion for teaching and working with children.”
Upward Bound high school students awarded the University of Arizona Hispanic Alumni Scholarship

Upward Bound Director Arlett Perez is excited to announce that four students (listed below) in the program have been awarded the University of Arizona Hispanic Alumni Scholarship . This award grants students $4,000 every year for four years.
Angel Castellano
Angel Castellano
Pueblo High School
Jasmin Marin
Jasmin Marin
Pueblo High School
Perla Rodriguez
Perla Rodriguez
Cholla High School
Liliana Orduna
Liliana Orduna
Pueblo High School
Brennen Feder selected as Bobcats Senior Honorary

Congratulations to literacy, learning, and leadership junior Brennen Feder on being selected as Bobcats Senior Honorary for his senior year! Feder is one of only 13 seniors selected across campus to become a Bobcat. Founded in 1922, the main responsibilities of the organization are planning Homecoming, the Evening of Excellence, and other major events and programming across campus. A major honor and commitment, “A Bobcat’s experience only begins as a senior and is carried on through a lifelong dedication to the support and advancement of the UA.” Learn more about the Bobcats on their website.
Tatum Waggoner
Tatum Waggoner featured as Arizona Athletics student-athlete

Our very own Tatum Waggoner (special education graduate student) was the Arizona Athletics featured student-athlete in early April.

Throughout her six years as a Wildcat, Waggoner has been successful both in the classroom as a student and on the track as a Track and Field sprinter. But this feature piece serves as recognition of her compassion, dedication, and service to the community.

"We can all think of one person who impacted our lives significantly. This could be a teacher, a parent, a relative, etc. Most of us wouldn't be where we are today if it weren't for this individual. In turn, it is important that we volunteer because there are so many people that seek this same relationship. There are so many people who may just need a little help to project them forward. Even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference."
Image from Navajo Hopi COVID19 Relief Fund Campaign
COVID-19 in Native Nations: How you can help

As the number of positive COVID-19 cases increases in Tribal Nations across the country, stay-at-home orders have been issued to prevent the spread of the virus. While containment is important, the mandate places a heightened level of stress on the few healthcare facilities and grocery stores available within their communities.

A fundraiser for the Navajo and Hopi communities was created to help families and individuals (especially those who are elderly and considered high-risk) in need. Learn more about the Navajo-Hopi COVID-19 Relief fund campaign at .
Boxes of unopen PPE materials
Cooper Center donates PPE to Tucson Unified School District

After discovering 24 unopened boxes of gloves in their facility, the Cooper Center was able to donate the materials to Tucson Unified School District in early April for use by janitors and essential facilities staff working to keep schools and district buildings clean and safe. Thanks, Cooper Center, for contributing what you can to help the community!
Locating free access to UArizona WiFi across Arizona and New Mexico

For those who do not have adequate access to the internet at their remote workspace or current learning location, drive-up spots allow for access to the UAWiFi and Eduroam networks.

This interactive map shows all hotspots affiliated with The University of Arizona, in addition to drive-up WiFi options for students who live in Tribal Nations. Please note that while we're doing our best to keep this map up to date, location hours and availability may change as public health warnings and policies are updated.
Girl working on laptop at home
Online interactive educational sessions available to K-8 students during COVID-19 school closures

The college is excited to offer educational support sessions for your students and children through Zoom with a Wildcat , a series of interactive activities for elementary and middle school children during COVID-19 school closures. There are currently more than 20 volunteers hosting a variety of virtual sessions, including reading books, structured writing practice, homework help (including support for children with exceptional needs), hands-on science lessons, and movement activities.

These sessions are free and available to all parents, teachers, and administrators so please share with your networks. Parents, teachers, and children can view the schedule and register for activities on the College of Education website . Sessions will be offered through May 29, 2020 and possibly into summer, depending on volunteer and participant interest. To volunteer, please complete this volunteer interest form .
Eco T-Shirt design contest winning design
Cooper Campus Outreach Team hosts virtual events to engage students in sustainability

The Cooper Campus Outreach Team experienced a fun first pivoting its apparel and fast fashion industry in-person event, known as The Sew True Project , to a virtual format. The team partnered with the University of Arizona Libraries to provide a free virtual screening of The True Cost. By offering a prize of $100, they were able to maintain engagement with participating students through a social media contest that allowed them to share their reactions to the documentary. In their posts, student participants shared how they would change their behavior in response to the social justice and environmental issues presented in the film. Congratulations to winners Liberty Broughton, Kiersten Floyd, Rebecca Newton, Kaylyn Peterson, and Karen Marroquin!

To take the discussion further, the team also hosted a virtual panel discussion of local sustainability experts, including Skya Nelson of Fed By Threads , Sabrina Helm of CESI , Kathleen Kennedy of the Department of Retailing and Consumer Sciences , and Lauren McCullough, a sustainable clothing advocate. During the event, the team also announced Peniel Macias as the winner of the Eco T-Shirt Design Contest for incredible design (shown to the right). All contest participants received sustainably made t-shirts with this design from Fed By Threads, our off-campus partner for the event. To learn more about these events, please email .
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stellar students to feature, and awards. Click the link below to submit.

Tony Viola

Name : Tony Viola IV
Tribal affiliation : Pascua Yaqui Tribe
Major : Literacy, Learning, and Leadership
Minor : American Indian Studies
Expected graduation : May 2020
Hometown : Coolidge, AZ
Favorite animal : Dogs, Pitbulls to be specific
What led you to the University of Arizona College of Education?
During my senior year of high school, when searching for undergraduate education programs, I quickly realized a majority of those offered at other in-state universities were mainly focused on preparing students to work in a classroom or school setting. Knowing that I had a passion for education, but not such a strong interest for teaching in a classroom, I was drawn to the Literacy, Learning, and Leadership program due to its broad design that allows you to focus on all the other ways we teach and learn outside of the classroom. The LLL program was fairly new at that time but thankfully, I was in Upward Bound and one of my mentors was actually a student in the program and would tell me about the courses and topics they were learning about as the semesters went on. Hearing that person’s firsthand story of what the program, the faculty, and college are like, and having a degree program that closely matched my future career goals is what made me decide to become a Wildcat! 

What have you learned in the College of Education that's made a difference to you?
The faculty, staff, and students have all taught me plenty during my time in the College of Education. The most key lesson I’ll say is the importance of collaborating and serving the local community, whenever possible. The college and University of Arizona are home to some amazing, word-class resources, individuals, and opportunities. However, the local community surrounding campus does not always get the opportunity to benefit or engage with certain things that take place on campus. The College of Education, in my opinion, is a prime example of a what service and support to the local community looks like as seen through the college’s multiple outreach programs and initiatives, some of which I am thankful to have been a part of.

Tell us about something you're involved with in the College of Education (or at the university) and how it's impacted your life.
The College of Education has afforded me many rich opportunities as an undergraduate, with the most impactful being a project coordinator for the Linking Southwest Heritage Though Archaeology (LSWHTA) program, a student mentor with Native SOAR , an intern with the Engaging Native Boys (ENB) project, and an Access, Wellness, and Relational Determinants of School Success (AWARDSS) research fellow. Through each project I have been challenged to step into new leadership or service positions that focus on educational equity. With LSWHTA, Native SOAR, and ENB I was engaged with projects that serve local Latinx and Indigenous youth with the goal of helping them see higher education as a future pathway. As an AWARDSS fellow, through mentorship and intense coursework I was able to see myself as a future researcher which impacted my future plans for the best. Each program gave me the opportunity to grow professionally and personally, while also creating a strong network of community members, educators, and friends who have helped me to succeed. 

What are your post-graduation plans as of now?
I am happy to say that as a first-generation college student and Native scholar who once feared college, I will be continuing my education as a doctoral student in the Language, Reading, and Culture program here in the College of Education! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue building upon my experiences in working with and learning from youth of color, while preparing to conduct research focused on Native American college student’s educational experiences.

What advice do you have for students just getting started in the college?
Everyone is going to come into college at different levels. Some people have been preparing for years, while others are just getting started. Students may already have their next five years planned out, and some folks may be taking it a semester at a time and are thinking about switching majors. If there is anything I can recommend to students it is to be open to change and never compare your college experience to someone else who might be coming from a completely different background and handful of lived experiences. Your educational journey, the challenges, and the eventual success are unique to you. Obtaining your degree is definitely not a smooth, straight road from point A to point B. Your journey from freshman year to senior year may actually be filled with ups and downs or roadblocks that may make it seem like it is an impossible journey, but don’t worry. There’s a team of faculty, staff, and students ready to listen and support you just as much as they did for me.