Current SECP Doctoral Students

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NameBiographies

Brandy BrewerBrandy Brewer, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2018

Education:

  • MAT-Moderate/ Severe Disabilities

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I've received both my Undergraduate and Master's degrees from UofL

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
To keep pushing myself and stretching my abilities in an effort to take full advantage of the time and opportunities I have been afforded through the Leadership grant.

What are your goals after graduation?
My hope is to work to train future generations of passionate teachers.

Email: brandy.brewer@louisville.edu

Kristie CovingtonKristie Covington, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

Education:

  • Bachelor of Science in Moderate/Severe Disabilities
  • M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership with endorsement in Autism
  • National Board Certification: Exceptional Needs Specialist

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I have lived in Louisville most of my life. I have always loved the area and UofL. When I made the decision to work towards my PhD, I knew UofL was where I wanted to take that next step.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I hope to really apply myself as a doctoral student and gain everything I can from the experts and educators at UofL. I am ready for the next step in my life and I want to take this opportunity to really prepare myself for the next phase.

What are your goals after graduation?
I want to become a professor so I can teach and share my knowledge, experience and passion with future educators of students’ with disabilities.

Email: Kristie.covington@louisville.edu

Mary ElliottMary Elliott, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

Education:

  • Bachelor's in Moderate to Severe Disabilities Special Education – University of Kentucky
  • Master's and Rank 1 in School Counseling- University of the Cumberlands

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
UofL’s Special Education program has a reputation as one of the best. Having the opportunity to work under some of the lead researchers in the field was an opportunity I could not pass up.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
As a PhD student, I want to fully immerse myself in the world of research and learn to develop quality interventions that will impact the future of special education.

What are your goals after graduation?
I would love to work as a professor and train future MSD teachers or work on a state or national level to influence special education policies and law.

Email: mary.elliott2@louisville.edu

Jim FegerJim Feger

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2018

Education:

  • 1990 B.S., Bible/Psychology, Kentucky Christian University
  • 1992 M.S. Clinical Psychology, Eastern Kentucky University
  • 2000 Certification, School Psychology Eastern Kentucky University
  • 2006 Certification, Director of Special Ed., University of the Cumberlands

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
For me, the question would better be framed, "Why wouldn't you choose to come to UofL?" I say that because I am thrilled to be a doctoral student in the University of Louisville’s College of Education and Human Development. Although I entertained doctoral studies earlier in my career, the programs I considered, (i.e., clinical and school psychology), did not fully captured my professional passions. Over the course of my career, I developed a fairly specific field of interest. How can we better support all students, but especially at-risk youth, by discerning and integrating mental health practices into school frameworks? In addition, how can we make this integration practical, deployable and effective? I was thrilled to learn these questions and others I had not even considered were being asked, studied and published within CEHD by Dr. Terry Scott. Dr. Scott is a scholar I admire and whose research I’ve followed and promoted for several years. When I made application to the university, it was my intent to study under Dr. Scott and promote research that supports mitigation of at-risk students. With work and family obligations, my progress isn’t as fast as I'd like but I couldn't be happier than studying and researching right where I am.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I find that my goals are both refining and evolving. I am interested in studying instructional coaching models, classroom practices and discipline frameworks that support student success.

What are your goals after graduation?
This is another area that is refining and evolving. Vocationally, I love what I do. I imagine I will be doing more of the same but with an added lens towards research and possibly teaching pre and post induction college and graduate classes.

Email: Jefege02@louisville.edu or jfeger69@gmail.com

Caroline FitchettCaroline Fitchett, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

Education:

  • B.S. - Special Education (Moderate/Severe Disabilities)
  • M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership with concentration in Autism and ABA

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I have experienced the programs, faculty, and opportunities I had access to during my undergraduate work and master’s program. I wanted continue working with this faculty and taking advantage of the professional opportunities this college has to offer.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I would like to conduct research centered around access to the general education curriculum for students with moderate/severe disabilities. I am also interested in the use of High Leverage Practices in special education.

What are your goals after graduation?
My goal is to develop standards-aligned curricula for students with moderate/severe disabilities as a researcher and faculty member at a university.

Email: cmfitc02@louisville.edu

Amy HallAmy Hall

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2017

Education:

  • Bachelor's: Elementary Education K-5 and Special Education LBD K-12, Murray State University
  • M.Ed. Teacher Leadership in Learning and Behavioral Disorders, University of Louisville
  • Autism and ABA Certificate: University of Louisville

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
When I began looking into programs for my Master's, I was intrigued by all of the classes U of L offered in my chosen specialty area. After I started classes, I immediately saw growth in my learning and abilities as a student and even more applied growth in my own classroom. I wanted to keep learning and growing, so I decided to pursue my PhD. I had such a wonderful experience with my Master's and Certificate programs, U of L was the obvious choice! The classes are rigorous, the professors are supportive, and every class, paper, activity, and assignment prepares you for the next step. I valued this in my previous programs with U of L and continue to value it in the doctoral program.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I want to learn as much as I can from as many people as I can so that I can be the best teacher, advocate, and mentor possible. Right now, my biggest academic goal is to finish my dissertation!

What are your goals after graduation?
Whatever I do after graduation, I want to remain in the applied education field and continue to support teachers, students and families in the most effective and dynamic ways possible.

Email: amy.hall@louisville.edu

Tara Harmon Tara Harmon

Program: Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Special Education

Admission Year: 2021

Education:

  • Rank 1: Teaching Students with Visual Impairment, University of Kentucky
  • Consultant Certification: Teaching Students with Learning Behavior Disabilities
  • M.Ed.: Special Education, Moderate to Severe Disabilities, Murray State University
  • B.S.: Elementary Education and Special Education-Learning Behavior Disabilities, Murray State University

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I never thought I would go back to school to complete a doctorate program but this is where my career path and goals have led me. I have chosen UofL because of its academic excellence, faculty members, and recognition as a R1 University in Research. I want to learn to conduct the best research, use research methods, and teaching strategies that will enhance my knowledge in the field of education.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I plan to use research methods and other opportunities UofL has to offer to help me reach my goals. I would also love to be published in an educational journal before I finish the dissertation process.

What are your goals after graduation?
My goals is to obtain my doctorate degree so I can teach at the collegiate level. I want to teach students in college about students with severe disabilities and strategies to help students in all educational settings.

Email: tara.harmon@louisville.edu

Abbigail LongAbbigail Long, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

Education:

Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY

  • Rank I, Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, July 2018

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

  • Master of Divinity, December 2015

University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

  • Master of Education, Special Education, Learning and Behavior Disorders, May 2008

University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN

  • Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education, May 2004 - Magna Cum Laude

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I came to the University of Louisville because it is a Research 1 university with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. I also came because the University of Louisville offers the opportunity to study with a strong faculty and grow in my capacity to serve the next generation of educators.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
My first goal while at UofL is to participate in and conduct research alongside my colleagues that centers on the recruitment, support, and retention of special education teachers, specifically teachers of students with emotional behavior disabilities. My second goal is to develop my own capacity to teach undergraduate and graduate students entering the field of education. Finally, I hope to connect to faculty throughout the College of Education and beyond in other schools and departments.

What are your goals after graduation?
After graduation, I intend to seek employment at a Research 1 university and continue my work in researching practices that support teachers of students with emotional behavior disabilities. I would also like to work with local education agencies and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Programs to assist schools as they continue to implement IDEA and other laws surrounding students with disabilities.

Email: ammann03@louisville.edu

Erica McClureErica McClure, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis

Admission Year: 2019

Education:

  • B.F.A. in Theatre Performance, University of Louisville
  • M.A. in Teaching, P-12 Special Education & 8-12 English, Bellarmine University

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
University of Louisville has been recognized as a “Research 1” doctoral university with “very high research activity.” I was provided with a grant covering the cost of study, and the university offers the option to pursue a BCBA-D.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I would like to conduct research with multiple faculty members while increasing my knowledge of Applied Behavior Analysis. My ultimate goals are to obtain my Ph.D., my BCBA-D, and become a published author or multiple journal articles.

What are your goals after graduation?
At this point, they are varied and oscillating. I know that I would like to obtain gainful employment and continue to conduct research.

Email: erica.mcclure@louisville.edu

Dana PageDana Page, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year:Fall 2020

Education:

  • MA in Education from Georgetown College, BA in Education from EKU

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I wanted a program that was specifically for special education.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
To successfully defend and pass my dissertation.

What are your goals after graduation?
Work for the federal government as an education research analyst or education specialist.

Email: dana.page@louisville.edu

Jenni PollardJenni Pollard

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year:Fall 2018

Education:

  • MA Applied Behavior Analysis with an emphasis in Autism from Ball State University
  • MEd Counseling and Personnel Services with an emphasis in School Counseling from UL
  • MAT Teaching and Learning Art and Design Education from Rhode Island School of Design
  • BA Art History and Studio Arts from the George Washington University

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I chose to come to UL because Louisville is my home and I have always know about the strong education programs at UL.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I hope to participate in all academic activities from research to teaching to learning.

What are your goals after graduation?
After graduating from UL I hope to help teach people who want to become teachers and/or BCBAs.

Email: jennifer.pollard@louisville.edu

Leah Riggs Leah Riggs, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2019

Education:

  • Rank I, Moderate to Severe Disabilities, University of Kentucky, May 2012
  • Master’s Degree in Special Education, Moderate to Severe Disabilities, University of Kentucky, May 2009
  • Bachelors of Art in Psychology and Biology, Indiana University Southeast, May 2000

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I chose U of L to be part of the Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Leadership Grant with Dr. Tim Landrum. My research interests are focused on identifying EBPs for students exposed to trauma as well as the impact of adverse childhood experiences on the structure and function of the brain.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I am excited for the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary environment to advance our understanding of the impact of trauma on our students and teachers.

What are your goals after graduation?
I plan to continue research at the university level or within an organization focused on EBP for school based mental health.

Email: leah.riggs@louisville.edu

Lorita RowlettLorita Rowlett, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

Education:

  • B.S. in Early Elementary Education
  • M. Ed in Teacher Leadership with a concentration in Autism

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I have obtained my previous degrees from UofL and enjoy the learning environment that this University offers.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
To learn appropriate research methods and how to apply them. To learn how to support preservice and alternate certification teachers.

What are your goals after graduation?
Research and curriculum development

Email: lnfran02@louisville.edu

Kate SniderKate Snider, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

Education:

San Diego State University (2019-2020)

  • PhD in Education
  • K12 Education and Equity

San Diego State University (2014)

  • Education Specialist Teaching Credential
  • Mild/Moderate, EL and Autism Authorizations

San Jose State University (2012)

  • MA Applied Anthropology
  • Project Report: “Fostering Empowerment within Special Education: Building Communication in a Specialized Program”

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2010)

  • BA Anthropology
  • Minor: Geology

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I came to the U of L because the Project PURPLE grant opportunity provided the ideal PhD program for me. There are opportunities to work with students and faculty from both the U of L and UK, gain experience teaching at the university level, and take courses from faculty who are experts in their field.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
One of my main goals during my time at the U of L is to complete and publish a research project other than my dissertation. I plan to use my coursework as a starting point for developing and implementing different research project ideas.

What are your goals after graduation?
I would like to continue my research and teach at the university level in a tenured track position. Ideally, I would like to stay in the southeastern United States but I would be happy to follow my ideal faculty position almost anywhere.

Email: k0snid01@louisville.edu

Serena WheelerSerena Wheeler

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education.

Admission Year: Admitted 2018 & Began Spring 2019

Education:

  • AA Social Science, Lindsey Wilson College
  • BA Human Services, Lindsey Wilson College
  • MAE IECE, Western Kentucky University

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I chose U of L due to the opportunities and interest in Early Childhood Education & Intervention..

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
My academic goals include learning and refining the skills I need to contribute to my field in the areas of professional writing, presenting, teaching, mentoring, communicating effectively, grant writing, collaborating with programs, professional organizations and policy makers, and expanding the research base with evidence that is substantive.

What are your goals after graduation?
My goals after graduation include continuing to contribute to the field of Early Childhood/Early Intervention using the skills named above in the capacity of professional development specialist, consultant, instructor, mentor, team member, program developer, grant writer, collaborator, etc.

Email: serena.wheeler@louisville.edu, wheeleralv@bellsouth.net, and serenawheeler1542@gmail.com