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Doctoral presentations to provide practical results


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Sacramento State Professor Caroline Turner

Sacramento State Professor Caroline Sotello Viernes Turner is graduate coordinator and qualitative researcher for the University’s Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program. She’s also spearheading a spring panel of outstanding doctoral dissertations from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, April 18, in the University Union, Orchard Suite. Refreshments will be available.

The program will showcase four previous outstanding doctoral dissertation awardees. Outstanding dissertations are selected based on the quality of the research design, the quality of the written analysis and the summary of findings/results, as well as the potential of the dissertation results for the transformation of schools/colleges. The panelists will provide a synopsis of their research and how their work has been useful in the context of their career trajectory.

Viridiana Diaz will present her dissertation, “A Study of Latino Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker College Students: The Emergence of a Culturally Adaptive Navigation Model for Success.” Diaz, assistant to the president for Sacramento State’s Serna Center, has used her research to revise the curriculum of the successful College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), of which she is the director. She was selected for a Carlos J. Vallejo Research Fellowship for Latinos/as in Education at the 2013 American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference.

Kadhir V. Rajagopal will present “The Impact of C.R.E.A.T.E. on Urban Student Success in Mathematics.” Named 2011 California State Teacher of the Year, Rajagopal has published a book, Create SUCCESS: Unlocking the Potential of Urban Students. He also launched a highly successful “school within a school” called the CREATE Academy, with the goal of uplifting the most challenging students at Grant High School and ensuring that they finish high school eligible for admission to a four-year university.

Mallory Angeli Newell will present “An Exploration of Civic Engagement of Community College Students and Graduates.” Newell’s dissertation also was selected for a dissertation excellence award by the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges, and she has published articles, including “America’s Democracy Colleges: The Civic Engagement of Community College Students” and “What’s a Degree Have to Do With It? The Civic Engagement of Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degree Holders.”

Rebecca Jane Berner will present “Transfer Shock and the Experience of Community College Students Transitioning to California State University, Chico: An Exploratory Study.” Berner has used her research to inform her design and implementation of orientation programs for new and continuing transfer students at Chico State. She has presented her research at national conferences such as the 2013 meeting of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges. Her paper was titled “Life After Transfer: Exploring Transfer Shock.”

“Our goal is to showcase quality dissertations that are making a significant difference in the lives of students as well as within the schools and colleges that serve them,” Turner says. As president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), which is dedicated to higher education as a field of study with a particular commitment to diversity, her passion is student access and equity in higher education.  “I was raised on farm labor camps in California,” she says. “Though my parents’ opportunities were limited, they valued education and made many sacrifices for me to pursue educational opportunities.”

The spring panel dovetails with Turner’s long-range goal to launch an annual fall lecture series that will feature an outstanding dissertation to illustrate critical research being done by Sac State doctoral students. “We are committed to our graduates taking what they learn here and then applying it to their respective professions,” she says. “These lectures are designed to share the work of our program and of our students with others, creating energy and a synergy for future endeavors.”

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156. ­– Alan Miller