Get to know some of our outstanding School of Education graduates

On Saturday, May 14, UW–Madison will celebrate its Spring 2022 Commencement. We are tremendously proud of all of our students — more than 600 of them — graduating from School of Education programs.

We reached out to a few of our graduating students from bachelor’s to PhDs to learn more about their favorite memories, advice for incoming students, and future plans. Scroll down to learn more about these outstanding graduates, and click their names to read their stories.

Zee AkanniZee Akanni
BS Health Promotion and Health Equity

Most meaningful experience — “My most meaningful experience at UW was definitely all my work and experience in several multicultural student organizations. I’ve served in various roles, including presiding over the National Pan Hellenic Council and Diverse Fan Engagement Committee of AreaRED, while also interning at the Multicultural Student Center as the Black cultural programming intern.”

Chris Barnes headshot

Christopher Barnes
PhD Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

Research interests — “In general, my research focuses on the lived experiences of learners from diverse communities and backgrounds. Specifically, my dissertation focused on the educational journeys and mentoring experiences of Black PhD students who attend predominantly white institutions.”

Jackie Barrera Gonzalez at Wisconsin State CapitolJackie Barrera-Gonzalez
BS Elementary Education

Choice of major — “I’m studying elementary education with a focus on ESL. Ever since I was in first grade, I have wanted to become a teacher and go back and teach at the elementary school I attended, Nuestro Mundo Community School.”

Tessa-Cockerill-AwardTessa Cockerill
BS Rehabilitation Psychology

Advice for incoming students — “Come to college with an open mind. The greatest and most influential experiences I have had came from unexpected opportunities. I found my love for rowing, my passion for adapted fitness, and some of my best friends through activities that I never intended to join, or didn’t know existed prior to college.”

Photo of Brooks Duff-BowersBrooks Duff-Bowers
MS Special Education

Most meaningful experience — “Being able to put theory into practice as I am learning has allowed me a lot of freedom with my classroom, and I could not be more thrilled with seeing how much my students have grown from the beginning of the year.”

Mayrena Hernandez
PhD Kinesiology

Reasons for pursuing graduate study — “I feel that athletic trainers can play a larger role in disease and injury prevention. As professional health care providers, we need to advocate so we have a place at the table when decisions are made.”

Dorcas Akinniyi Jansen HeadshotDorcas Akinniyi Jansen
PhD Counseling Psychology

Advice for incoming students — “Try to recognize your struggle as a part of the process rather than internalizing it as something only you are going through. You are not an imposter; you just have to find your people who remind you that you are safe and secure right where you are.”

Christeena Maria Jojo

Christeena Maria Jojo
BS Health Promotion and Health Equity

Advice for incoming students — “Be okay with failing because when you fail is when you learn the most. The lessons that you learn from failing will be the lessons that will keep you resilient for the next few years of your life.”

Emma Lazaroff
PhD Educational Psychology

Reasons for pursuing graduate study — “I wanted to continue doing research because I enjoy the process of discovering new things and thinking through complex problems.”

Na Lor
PhD Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

Advice for incoming students — “First, never dim the light of others. The degree will have your name alone on it, but it takes the effort of so many to realize that achievement. Second, never dim your light for the sake of others. Embrace and aim to be your authentic self; you are more valuable to the institution than you know!”

Rosie MiesnerRosie Miesner
PhD Educational Policy Studies

Reasons for pursuing graduate study — “I decided to pursue a degree in educational policy to better understand the broader context of teaching in American public schools and to one day contribute to pragmatic, progressive educational policies.”

Jessica Perez-Chavez
PhD Counseling Psychology

Reasons for pursuing graduate study — “The transformative power of mentorship allowed me to recognize that I could contribute to my immigrant community by becoming a researcher, clinician, and scholar-activist.”

Caitriona Quirk
BS Dance

Advice for incoming students — “Don’t forget to live your life while you are pursuing your education. Go on a hike! Learn how to make kombucha. Get a pet. Your textbooks will still be there after you practice self-care.”

Elizabeth Sheeler
MFA Art — 4D

Tell us about your work — “My practice is a reflection of my new positionality in life as a Blind individual. I create interactive spaces where participants are forced to encounter their own perception of the space and confront the way they choose to engage with their surroundings.”

John Wang
BS Theatre and Sociology

Future plans — “I am moving to Indiana and attending the Acting MFA program at Purdue University. I will further explore the traditional theaters of East Asia and hopefully become a stage actor in a regional theater after graduation.”

Vivienne Wooldridge Headshot with Flowers

Vivienne Wooldridge
BS Chinese and Elementary Education

Future plans — “I am beyond excited to get the chance to live abroad and use my Chinese and teaching skills in Taiwan. Once I return to the U.S., I hope to teach at a Chinese immersion school or be somehow involved in Chinese language education.”

Donny Xu headshotDonny (Aoyu) Xu
BS Education Studies

Advice for incoming students — “College life is meant to be fun and challenging. Do not lose your confidence, and try new things! Remember, today we are proud of UW–Madison, and tomorrow UW–Madison shall be proud of us!”

Return to the 2022 commencement page

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