The University of Texas at Austin
Program in Higher Education Leadership
Community College (doctoral concentration)

Newly Admitted 2014 Cohort Doctoral Students

Kelsey Arnold received her Masters of Education degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies & a Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She served as a financial aid administrator in the Office of Student Financial Aid and Enrollment Services. She also had the opportunity to work in strategic planning and assessment for the Student Affairs division. Kelsey currently works for the State Auditor's Office where she performs audits to ensure that state agencies and universities are in compliance with state and federal requirements. Kelsey's research interests include financial barriers for low-income students, college access and readiness, and legislative policy issues affecting education in the state, particularly with respect to funding in higher education.

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Denise Carr holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Accounting from Shepherd University in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration from Hood University.  She worked in private industry as a corporate accountant and auditor for 10 years before entering the field of education. Ms. Carr has been employed as an Associate Professor of Management at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, for the past 15 years.  During her tenure there, she has served on statewide committees for the Tennessee Completion Academy and the Lumina Foundation. Denise’s research interests include increasing retention and completion in community colleges, as well as the impact of cohorts on adult learners.

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Coreen Davis earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in International Studies and Spanish Literature from The University of California at San Diego. She discovered her passion for research, education, and international studies in her capstone course and research in Oaxaca, Mexico through the Mexican Migration Field Research Program.  Ms. Davis pursued her Master’s of Arts in International Studies at the University of San Francisco.  Here she continued to develop her research skills through her thesis project and publication on human rights and social justice in Argentina. Her research interests include student success and development, international education, and study abroad opportunities.  Coreen currently works as a grants and contract specialist at the Office of Sponsored Projects at UT Austin.

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Anthony Heaven obtained a Bachelors' degrees in History and Religion/Theology from Stillman College. During his time at Stillman he served as head residential assistant, a community assistant for Upward Bound, and the Student Government President.  He earned a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, where he served as a graduate assistant for Student Activities, graduate research assistant with the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence (LCAE), and served as a teaching assistant for a UGS Signature Course: Race in the Age of Obama. In 2014, Heaven was awarded the Dr. Sharon H. Justice Student Leadership Award. Currently, Heaven serves as a graduate research assistant in the Development Office through the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. His research interests include student success within underrepresented communities, development issues within higher education, and diversity initiatives. 

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Frank Hernandez is a member of the Board of the Education Foundation of Harris County TX (EFHC). Prior to joining the EFHC, Mr. Hernandez worked in the oil and gas industry as an engineer, marketer, and lobbyist.  As Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for BP, he oversaw the company’s national community investment programs including school and teacher outreach such as A+ for Energy, an award winning program, and the BP Physics Challenge.  These programs supported STEM education in the local school system. His research interests include educational policy and factors affecting student success.  Frank has an MBA from the University of Texas, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a BS in ME from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Lisa Jasinski graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Middlebury College and obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Communication Arts (Film Studies). Currently employed by Trinity University, Jasinski oversees academic special projects, including comprehensive strategic planning and the revision and implementation of a new general education curriculum. Concurrently, she holds a part-time faculty appointment in Trinity’s Department of Education. In addition, Jasinski is also Teagle Assessment Scholar. Her research interests include higher education leadership, institutional change, assessment, pedagogical practice, social justice, and holistic student development in the context of liberal arts colleges.

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Emily A. Johnson holds a Master of Education degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Music degree from Southern Methodist University. Emily currently works as Program Coordinator for the Student Success Initiatives team in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost at UT-Austin. When at The Pennsylvania State University, she authored Promising Practices for Inclusion of Gender Identity/Gender Expression in Higher Education, available through Campus Pride. In addition, Emily worked several years in the private sector, primarily in administrative management and communications. Her research interests include higher education curriculum, improving policies and practices to support student success and timely graduation, and examining pedagogical innovations through the lens of social justice.

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Ashley Jones earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Georgetown College and M.Ed. in College Student Personnel form University of Louisville. Ashley arrived at UT-Austin to begin her doctoral studies after working for five years in Residence Life and Housing at Wake Forest University. Ashley is drawn to topics that explore intersections of identity between spiritual development and sexual orientation; authenticity as a guiding leadership principle; and college access in rural areas. While pursuing a Ph.D. full-time, Ashley also serves as a Graduate Hall Coordinator in the Division of Housing and Food Services at UT-Austin. Ashley, her partner- Hillary, and fun pup- Julep are loving the new adventures in Austin so far!

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Yughi Kim earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in Linguistics from McGill University (2011) and Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013). Before starting her Ph. D. program in Higher Education Administration, she taught English to international students and served as a Curriculum Coordinator and a Director of Study Abroad Office at the culinary college in South Korea. Her primary research interests include Impact of community colleges on individuals and society, college access and success, and career and technical education. She presently serves as the Graduate Research Assistant to the College of Education.

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Tracie Lowe holds a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Science in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education, both from Texas A&M University.  Ms. Lowe formerly served as Assistant Director of Campus Relations and Programming for the First Scholars® program where she developed retention programming for first-generation students at seven public four-year universities across the nation. Her experiences also include work with first-year experience learning communities and student organization advising. Ms. Lowe’s research interests include the retention and student of first-generation students and African American males in higher education.  

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DeAna McCusky is a first doctoral student in the Program in Higher Educational Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include issues related to access and the effectiveness of student support services for underrepresented student populations at colleges and universities. DeAna currently serves as a GRA for the University Leadership Network where she oversees the TX-18 cohort and oversees the mentoring aspect of the program.

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Celeste Guzmán Mendoza, writes poetry, plays, and essays. Her first full-length poetry manuscript, Beneath the Halo, was published by Wings Press in September 2013. Her second book is forthcoming in 2016. Guzmán Mendoza is co-director and a co-founder of CantoMundo, a workshop for Latina/o poets. Her poetry and essays have been published in numerous anthologies and her work has also appeared in literary journals and magazines. Guzmán Mendoza received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College, Columbia University, in Theatre and English Literature. She graduated from the Bennington Writers Seminars with a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry; she worked with poets Amy Gerstler, E. Ethelbert Miller, Timothy Liu, and Liam Rector.

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Patricia Moran Micks serves as the Director of the First-Year Experience Office in the School of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Micks also oversees the First-year Interest Group (FIG) program at UT Austin. Prior to her work in Undergraduate Studies and its precursor, Connexus: Connections in Undergraduate Studies, Micks served as an academic advisor in the College of Natural Sciences and a student affairs administrator in the College of Fine Arts.  Prior to moving to Austin in 1999, Micks was employed at Rutgers University as an administrator for the Vice President for Academic Affairs and as the graduate coordinator in Rutgers’ Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Originally from central New Jersey, Micks received her BA in Art History from Rutgers University and her M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from UT Austin.

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Vinh T. Nguyen serves as Assistant Dean for Student Services in the School of Nursing (SON) and previously, Nguyen served as the Assistant Director for Master in Professional Accounting (MPA) Career Services in the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Nguyen earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and in Rhetoric & Writing and a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from the UT-Austin. Nguyen is a Certified Mediator (License Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §154.052(a)) to resolve disputes and to advocate in the higher education arena. Consequently, his initial research interests include effective leadership and advocacy for social justice changes in public higher education.

Last updated on September 19, 2014