Category Archives: Alumni

2018 Outstanding Dissertation Awards

The authors of four outstanding dissertations completed in 2017 as part of the requirements for the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) degree were honored March 16 at a showcase hosted by the College of Education and the College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies. The event showcases the critical research being done by the graduates.

The 2018 awardees are: Katrina Pimentel, Ed.D., Graduate of Distinction; Mark Carnero, Ed.D., Outstanding K-12 Dissertation; Malika Hollinside, Ed.D., Outstanding K-12 Dissertation; and Daniel DeVere, Ed.D., Outstanding Higher Education Dissertation. Dissertations were chosen based on the quality of the research design, the written analysis and summary, and the potential of the dissertation results to transform schools or colleges.

Dr. Pimentel’s dissertation, “Dismantling rape culture: a critical examination of androcentrism in America,” continues in the tradition of feminist scholars in assessing the influence of a male-dominated culture on the lived experience of college students and its relationship to rape culture (androcentric society) in order to facilitate the transformation of society from one that condones rape to one that dismantles it by raising critical consciousness.

In “Education reparation: an examination of Black teacher retention,” Dr. Hollinside focuses on the experiences and workplace factors that positively and negatively impact Black K-12 teacher retention in American schools, finding that K-12 administrators who are oppressive, unsupportive, and culturally incompetent are more likely to drive Black teachers out of their schools.

Dr. Carnero’s dissertation, “Upset the setup: exploring the curricula, pedagogy, and student empowerment strategies of critical social justice educators,” examined the narratives of seven high school critical social justice educators in Northern California to see how they combat traditional schooling through their curricula development, classroom pedagogy, and student empowerment strategies.

In “Perceptions of bicultural accommodation: a critical examination of the academic, cultural, and social experiences of Sikh college students,” Dr. DeVere examines the academic, cultural, and social experiences of Punjabi Sikh American students in a Northern California community college to identify factors that promote or inhibit their progress and success.

Videos of other Outstanding Dissertations can be found on our YouTube channel.


Hmong student success subject of new report from EDD alumnus

The experiences of Hmong American college students – and the factors that impact their academic success – are described in a new report authored by Dr. Chao Danny Vang, a 2016 graduate of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership program at Sac State.

More than 1,000 Hmong students attend Sac State, the second largest Hmong student population among California public universities. The majority are first-generation college students. “Ecological Factors in Hmong American Educational Success” summarizes Vang’s dissertation research to identify policies and practices that may lead to increased college completion rates among Hmong students.

“With this groundbreaking report, Sacramento State shows its commitment to be an inclusive campus that plays a central role for the economic success of Hmong Americans in our city and in our region,” Sac State President Robert S. Nelsen wrote in the report’s foreword. “I am certain it will inform policy discussions in this region for years to come.”

Vang offers six major recommendations to address systematic strategies to support Hmong students, which are further detailed in his dissertation. Vang is currently External Relations Coordinator for the Student Academic Success and Educational Equity Programs at Sacramento State, and Executive Coordinator of the Full Circle Project.

“Helping underrepresented minorities enter college is necessary for economic growth,” Vang concludes, “but it is also necessary for realizing America’s promise to provide a place where people can co-exist fruitfully and peacefully.”

The report can be downloaded here.

Alumna Melissa Repa named Career Center director

Dr. Melissa Repa, a 2015 graduate of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership program at Sacramento State, has been appointed as director of the campus Career Center. She previously served as the center’s interim director, as well as co-director of Services to Students with Disabilities and director of TRIO Student Support Services.

Dr. Repa’s diverse background includes program management, professional development, technology coordination, teaching, disability access, budget management, personnel supervision, and grant writing and administration. She has experience working with diverse employers and students, including low-income and first-generation students, and students with disabilities. She also is principal investigator for Project Rebound, which helps formerly incarcerated students apply to, enroll in and graduate from the University; and TRIO Student Support Services, a federally funded project focused on retention and graduation of students with disabilities.

While a student in the Ed.D. program, Dr. Repa received the Wayne K. Miyamoto Public Policy Dissertation fellowship. She ultimately received the Graduate of Distinction award for her outstanding dissertation, “Leadership to support e-quality for all: a study of a systemwide accessible technology policy implementation.”

She was featured in the video “What you should know before beginning a doctorate program,” and shared her tips for managing the demands of family life during school in a video about “Work-Life Balance.”

Additional reporting from Sacramento State Student Affairs

Governor appoints EdD Alumnus to Community College Board of Governors

phanGov. Jerry Brown has appointed Man Phan, Ed.D., a cohort 4 alumnus of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership program, to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.

His two-year term ends January 15, 2019. He is a faculty member at Cosumnes River College in Elk Grove, working directly with our students as a professor of business and marketing since 2012.

“We are thrilled the governor has selected Man Phan to join the Board of Governors,” said CCC Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley in a statement. “Man is highly regarded by colleagues and students alike and is dedicated to our system’s mission of expanding access, improving graduation rates and increasing our students’ social mobility. He will be a strong leader for our system and advocate for our 2.1 million students. I am pleased to welcome him to our board.”

In addition to Phan’s work at Cosumnes River College, he was a business development manager at Steinberg Architects from 2008 to 2012 and at Carrier Johnson and Culture from 2004 to 2008. Phan also served as a legislative assistant with the San Diego County Board of Supervisors from 2001 to 2003 and the San Diego City Council in 1998. Prior to receiving his doctorate at Sacramento State, Phan earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego School of Business.

Outstanding dissertations showcased April 7

Honoring the authors of three outstanding dissertations completed as part of the requirements for the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) degree, the College of Education and the College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies will host the Fourth Annual Outstanding Dissertation Showcase Panel from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, April 7, in the Foothill Suite of the University Union. The event showcases the critical research being done by doctoral candidates and graduates, and is open to the public.

The 2016 awardees are: Rachelle Cypher, Ed.D.; Jeffrey Mrizek, Ed.D.; and Joseph Williams, Ed.D. Dissertations were chosen based on the quality of the research design, the written analysis and summary, and the potential of the dissertation results to transform schools or colleges.

RachelleFoxDr. Cypher’s dissertation, “An Analysis of How Teacher Education Programs Prepare Teachers to Meet the Instructional Needs of English Learners,” which found that more is needed than just “good teaching” preparation if teachers are to enter the classroom able to understand how to instruct English learners.

Dr. Rachelle Cypher worked at the Center for Teacher Quality for ten years analyzing survey data regarding teacher preparation at the university level. After completing her dissertation, she wanted to learn more about the K-12 system and accepted a position as Coordinator of Research and Data at Natomas Unified School District. Still in her first year at NUSD, she is excited to continue sharing her dissertation findings with site and district leaders to help close the achievement gap.

JeffreyMrizekIn the research for his dissertation, “Assessing Collective Impact for the Emergence of Competency Based Statewide ‘Public to Public’ Civil Service Career Pathways,” Dr. Mrizek found that a shared meaning of “career readiness” through policy and curriculum alignment is still needed to form competency-based career pathways as a strategy to overcome the growing skills gap due to the rising tide of retiring Baby Boomers.

Dr. Jeffrey Mrizek is a passionate educational leader focused on developing all student’s competency to both teach and learn for social mobility and success in the 21st Century workforce. His unique experiences as a civil service manager, professor, and entrepreneur supports his leadership calling to act as a systems integrator. As Dean of Career Technical Education for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, where he leads the internal operations, a team of grant monitors, develops educational policy, and ensures prudent fiscal management of the Workforce Economic Development Division’s $900 million budget of State and Federal funds.

Joseph Williams

Joseph Williams, Ed.D., in “California Superintendents: Leading District-Wide Change to Advance Student Success,” examined the leadership training gaps of California Superintendents and recommended policy changes that must be made to better prepare California school leaders to engage the change process and advance student success.

Dr. Joseph Williams is the Founding Principal of Benjamin Holt Middle School in Stockton, CA. As founding principal, his school will continue to experience growth, which includes two sections of students for the next two years. With this growth also comes leading a growing staff and an expanding campus that is still undergoing construction. Joseph is currently working on writing a book review for the Teacher’s College Record at Columbia University and hopes to expand upon his dissertation when things gradual slow down with the number of challenges that accompany leading a new school.

Read more about the outstanding dissertations and RSVP.

Ed.D. Alumnus Moffatt launches ‘scholar to officer’ partnership

Another Sacramento State Ed.D. alumnus is creating change for students. Dr. Shelby Moffatt from Cohort 6 founded the Law Enforcement Candidate Scholars’ (LECS) Program – the first partnership of its kind between local and state law enforcement agencies in California and their neighboring communities.

Shelby Moffat at LECS signing

The partnership became official Oct. 12 as Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen, Sacramento Police Department Chief Sam Somers, California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Jonni Fenner, and founding director Moffatt signed the partnership agreement at Sacramento State. More than 50 uniformed officers, along with University faculty and staff, witnessed the launch of this unique “scholars to officers” program.

The LECS program is designed to eliminate challenges and barriers faced by women and men seeking law enforcement careers. The program’s goal is to increase higher education graduation rates and career placement, as well as to create greater inclusion in recruitment and hiring within law enforcement. It also addresses policy issues and community relations concerns locally and throughout the state and the nation.

“We believe this to be the gold standard in higher education,” Moffatt said.

Police Chief Somers, who was #MadeAtSacState, called LECS a “model program” that will get “people into the (law enforcement) profession and ready to hit the streets.”

LECS is open to Sacramento State juniors and seniors of any major. Learn more about the program at

Sac State contributes to STEM education for under-represented youth

Fellowship participants from Northern California with Dr. Angelo Williams.

Several representatives of the Sacramento State Ed.D. program led workshops sponsored by the NAACP this summer to introduce students to STEM fields, social justice and public policy. Instructors and coordinators of the Northern California workshops at the Hayward branch of the NAACP included Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, Ed.D. Program Director, and Education Chair of the California NAACP; Ed.D. faculty member Dr. Su Jin Gatlin Jez, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Administration; Cohort 1 alumnus Dr. Angelo Williams, now Legislative Director for the California Student Aid Commission; Cohort 8 doctoral candidate Steve Roberson, founder of The Graduation Code.

The fellowship gave us — as graduates of and instructors in the Ed Doctorate program — an opportunity to reach the next generation now with information to guide them into STEM and STEAM careers and into the CSU system as future students and graduates,” said Dr. Williams. 

The workshops were part of the 2016 Alice Huffman Fellows program, sponsored by AT&T. The purpose of the program is to expose underrepresented youth to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) along with various concepts of social justice.

Ten underrepresented secondary students from the southern and northern California were selected to participate in the fellowship. Four-hour workshops were held once a month during June, July and August in Los Angeles and Hayward.

The curriculum helped students gain a fuller understanding of the various STEM fields, career possibilities, and the concepts and importance of social justice. Writing exercises were designed to empower the young people to gain an understanding of the concept of social justice and their potential to play a role in creating change.