Outstanding Student

Taylor Whitehead
Taylor Whitehead.
During her time in the doctoral program, Taylor Whitehead was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and, under the advisement of Dr. Debra Bukko, served as the Principal Investigator (PI) on a Basic Needs Mini-Grant funded by the California State University Chancellor’s Office regarding food insecurity among former foster youth. As a Health Educator, Taylor is passionate about utilizing and applying her knowledge from the program to guide her work as a scholar-practitioner. She is honored to receive this accolade and attributes her success to the unwavering support from the Stanislaus State Ed.D. program and her family.

Amanda Preston-Nelson

Amanda Preston-NelsonEarning recognition for my academic work at California State University, Stanislaus validated my efforts in the program. The long hours and late nights were (almost) forgotten once I earned the title 'doctor'. I was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA in a rigorous program, earn a spot in the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and most important of all, build relationships with a fantastic group of scholar-practitioners and leaders (go Cohort 10!). For me, one of the biggest areas of personal growth was within the area of Identity. While I was a doctoral candidate, I was also a mother to two young children, a wife, and a leader within the Financial Services group at Stan State. Who I am, and how I came to be that person (guided by my family, formal education, and society) was a key learning opportunity for me as I moved into a space of understanding how to better guide students through their individual paths in education. I feel that while it is important to continue that upward momentum, that progress should not at the expense of losing who you are as an individual. I am excited to continue working with students and helping them clear the obstacles that they may face on their path to success. 

Javier Martinez

JavierConcurrent with being a doctoral student at CSU Stanislaus, I was the proud principal at Le Grand High School which was named Best High School by the US News and World Report for four consecutive years. Along with a delegation of California Restorative Schools Coalition educators, in 2017 I got to visit the White House and met with one of President Barack Obama’s committee to discuss our collaborative work toward dismantling the school‐to‐prison pipeline with restorative justice practices. Additionally, under my leadership at LGHS, a Medical Academy and an Ag Academy were started at LGHS during my time as a doctoral student During my time in the doctoral program, I had the privilege to co-facilitate a session with Dr. Bukko and Dr. Clarissa Lonn-Nichols (cohort 2) at the CSU Teaching and Learning Symposium at Fresno State. Here I drew upon my dissertation research and really enjoyed connecting with session attendees about the critical importance of building relationships with students, inviting them into the learning community and valuing the assets they bring to the classroom. Adding innovative programs, and ensuring student success, required me to be present at school for long hours. It was not unusual for me to put in 16-hour work days. Once I got home from work, I got to see my wife and kids for a short period of time before focusing on the doctoral program assignments. I am thankful to my beautiful wife and kids for being understanding and supportive throughout this journey. I could have not done it without them. Earning the Outstanding Student award for the Ed.D. program served as validation that the long hours I spent away from my family while focused on my work and studies were worthwhile and did not go unnoticed. I hope to continue creating opportunities for the youth in the San Joaquin Valley.

​Luangchee Xiong

Luangchee Xiong

Luangchee Xiong was selected for the Outstanding Student Award for the Ed.D. program because of her academic excellence, academic innovation, and personal characteristics in the doctoral program.  Luangchee has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout the duration of the Ed.D. program.  She used institutional resources to help fund her attendance to the International Conference on Hmong Studies and Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE) Conference where she presented her dissertation work to the public.  She competed in the California State University, Stanislaus Research Competition and won first place for the Graduate in Social Sciences session and moved onto compete in the California State University Research Competition.  With the help, support, and co-authorship of Dr. Virginia Montero Hernandez and Dr. Steven Drouin, she has submitted her doctorate dissertation for journal publication.  Luangchee’s ambition, determination, and commitment to accomplish her academic and professional goals while maintaining a healthy balance with her personal life is evident in her ability to complete her dissertation study while growing her family with the addition of her daughter in the late summer of 2017.  She hopes to continue to grow professionally with the new skills and confidence she has gained while in the doctoral program and to continue sharing her work to inspire others.

Vickie Mulvaney-Trask

Vickie Mulvaney-Trask

Innovative, adaptable leader seeking administrative position. Experienced in multi-stream programs, working knowledge with program integration at the community college level. More than 30 years’ education experience including instruction, college counseling and administrative experience. Skilled in both written and oral communication, leadership and organization.

Monique Preciado

Monique Preciado

During my time in the doctoral program at CSU Stanislaus, I was working as a full time Instructional Coach in a TK-8 district in the Central Valley. I served on multiple district and site level committees, and I was responsible for providing professional development for teachers new to the district. Additionally, I participated in the Teacher Induction program through Stanislaus County Office of Education as a mentor teacher to a number of interns, 1st, and  2nd year teachers. My responsibilities to my family, my education, and my career, kept me extremely busy during my time in the program. Fortunately, I was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA and participate in multiple Center for Excellence in Graduate Education Research competitions. I won 3rd place when presenting research from a manuscript that I co-published, Touch typing instruction: Elementary teachers’ beliefs and practices. I was able to conduct research for the manuscript while working as a graduate assistant. In addition to the publication, I had the opportunity to co-present our findings at the Educational Technology Conference at CSU Stanislaus. On another occasion, I won 1st place for presenting my dissertation research, Teachers’ Perceptions of Instructional Coaching. Since the completion from the doctoral program I have been teaching an Educational Technology Foundations course at CSU Stanislaus in the Advanced Studies Department. As an adjunct professor I have the opportunity to work with and have an influence on students who are going into the field of education. As an Instructional Coach I spend the majority of my time supporting and collaborating with new and veteran teachers, striving for student success and quality instruction. The experiences that I have gained in the doctoral program have been beneficial in my work with students and teachers alike. Such experiences have allowed me to further pursue my passions in teaching and learning.

Bonnie Hunt   
Dr. Hunt was in cohort 5.  The title of her dissertation "African American faculty experiences in the construction of academic life at a community college"


Jose Cardenas

​Jose Cardenas

While in the doctoral program I was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA. I was nominated and inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor society, mainly due to the amazing support I had from my wife and my family members who allowed me the time to work on my coursework. I stayed up many long nights and utilized every opportunity to make sure that I was on top of my studies. I sacrificed a lot of quality time away from my family. I had the huge benefit of having a supportive network of friends and former professors who provided me with insight of the doctoral process. The faculty and my cohort were important and imperative academic and personal resources. During the time that I was completing my course work I was also actively involved as a basketball coach and as a school counselor. I was a key player in helping establish and open a new charter high school in Stockton, California. This was the second school I helped open. I had to balance a variety of responsibilities such as working at two charter high schools, coaching two basketball teams, starting an after school program, and implementing parent workshops. Prior to starting the doctoral program I was laid off in 2010 and I had some health issues that had me delay the start of the doctoral program by one year. Additionally, I was managing family responsibilities, working at two elementary schools and I was also an adjunct counselor for Modesto Junior College.  While in the program, I was a motivational speaker for CSU Stanislaus Summer Bridge program and a presenter for Spanish Speaking parents at the University of Pacific Bilingual Financial Aid Fair. I had an opportunity to get a Graduate Assistantship the summer that I began the doctoral program with the Center for Excellence in Graduate Education with Dr. Shawna Young. While my time was very brief in this program, I discovered the resources that were available to graduate students at the Turlock and Stockton CSU Stanislaus campuses. I was able to participate in the writing residency program and attended a workshop on the vast research resources available through the CSU Stanislaus library. The doctoral program opened up my network in the Central Valley and has continued to enhance the opportunities for my students. I have been able to teach as a lecturer for the department of School Counseling and I have continued to stay involved with the doctoral program as a guest speaker. I have participated on a committee for the California Association for School Counselors that helped host a conference in Northern California for over 300 school counselors and other educators in 2018. My overall goal is to continue to help our students and families in the Central Valley to help them grow, support and foster an environment for all students to be able to learn and have opportunities that enrich their lives. 

Kathleen Pon

Kathleen PonKathyPon participated in Cohort 3 of California State University’s Program, earning her doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2013. She graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, and through the development of her dissertation, presented a paper, “Teacher Analysis and Use of Interim Assessment Data in Mathematics” for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference in May, 2013. She also published an article, “Data Analysis and Next Generation Assessments” for Ed Leadership that same year. Dr. Pon continues to use the research and scholarship skills acquired in CSU’s program as a practitioner in the field, in her role as Deputy Superintendent for the Rocklin Unified School District.

Dianne Vargas

Dianne VargasDr. Dianne Vargas is an Adjunct Professor of School Counseling at California State University Stanislaus in Turlock, California and a school counselor at Patterson High School in Patterson, California. She holds a Doctorate in Education Leadership with Administrative Credential, a Master’s in School Counseling with Pupil Personnel Services Credential, and a Business Degree with Teaching Credential.  She earned the Outstanding Student award for all 3-degree programs.  During the time Dianne spent in the Doctoral program, she served as a principal of Las Palmas elementary, which was recognized for her implementation of No Excuses University (a National recognition), Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) program, and Nurtured Heart Approach.  She led her school to a 16-point API growth in the last year of her doctoral program.  Dr. Vargas remains an active trainer, consultant and advocate for the QPR Institute as it relates to suicide risk screenings and assessment. She has trained hundreds of teachers, administrators, mental health professionals, health care providers and college students to improve their clinical assessment and suicide risk management skills in both professional seminars and the university counseling program.  In the fall of 2018, Dr.Vargas will be taking a full time tenure track position as Assistant Professor of School Counseling at CSU, Stanislaus.

Steve Charbonneau

Steve CharbonneauDr. Charbonneau was part of the first EdD cohort.  The title of his disseration is "Becoming Culturally Proficient: A Crosscultural Study on the Public School Experience of Sikh Students."