Each year in May, we recognize the accomplishments of graduate students who have demonstrated academic excellence and exceptional leadership in their fields. Please join us in celebrating the 2023 Graduate Award recipients and their outstanding scholarly achievements!

School of Human Services and Sciences Awards

Award for Excellence in Audiology

for a first-year audiology student who has demonstrated excellence in clinical and academic endeavors and is expected to make significant contributions to the profession and to deafness

Karlee Shuldberg

Karlee Shuldberg has demonstrated clinical and academic performance that has consistently exceeded programmatic expectations. She consistently integrates academic content into her clinical practice, approaching client care with intention, warmth, and sensitivity.

R. Steven Ackley Memorial Scholarship

for a student in the Department of Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences who exemplifies the legacy of Dr. Steve Ackley, who was a beloved colleague, mentor and friend to many; this memorial award is made in celebration of his warmth, humor and devotion to his students and his commitment to audiology and deaf education

Linnette Luna

Linnette is a devoted student who shows up on a daily basis with a positive attitude, a bright smile, and an eagerness to learn and engage with faculty and other students. She is independent and responsible – a student you can trust to complete any task independently and thoroughly. She takes pride in her role as an educator and mentor for junior students as well as a teacher in the peer mentoring program. She spreads positive energy throughout the classroom and clinical settings. Dr. Ackley would’ve enjoyed working with Linnette.

Jane Handelsman & David Pryor Hendrix Memorial

for the professional training of outstanding students in the Department of Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences in order to facilitate the provision of service to deaf and hard of hearing individuals and established by Dr. and Mrs. Jacob Handelsman and Mr. and Mrs. William Hendrix in memory of their children, Jane Handelsman, a graduate of our audiology program, and her husband David Pryor Hendrix

Bonnie Ratliff

Bonnie has consistently demonstrated achievements in areas needed for effective clinical services for the Deaf community. She is known to take up critical issues related to inclusiveness, such as leading and developing a student organization-led workshop about trans people’s concerns that was offered to students, faculty, and staff at the university. Bonnie’s integrity was evident when she recognized the need for culturally competent care outside of the university, and worked to develop a resource for Deaf individuals to locate a culturally competent provider in their area. This action facilitates increased access to hearing health services provided in ASL. Bonnie’s warm-heartedness and compassion are reflected in the attention she gives to the well-being of her classmates and other Gallaudet students.

Award for Excellence in Speech-Language Pathology

for a speech-language pathology student who has demonstrated excellence in clinical and academic endeavors and is expected to make significant contributions to the profession and to deafness

Lisa Williams

The speech-language pathology program is thrilled to announce our award recipients for May 2023. This award is called the Excellence in speech-language pathology award. This year the SLP program selected Lisa Williams. Since entering the program last fall, Lisa has demonstrated strong academic and clinical success. Lisa sets high expectations for herself, actively participates in class, collaborates with peers, takes on leadership roles, and demonstrates motivation to grow and expand her clinical knowledge and skills. Congratulations Lisa!

Adrienne L. Kaplan Memorial Endowment Fund

for the professional training of outstanding students in order to facilitate the provision of service to deaf and hard of hearing individuals and established by Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Kaplan in memory of their daughter who, although not deaf, had a physical disability that impacted her ability to communicate

Jillian Frankel

The speech-language pathology program is thrilled to announce our award recipients for May 2023. This award is called the Adrienne Kaplan Memorial Endowment Fund. This year the SLP program selected Jillian Frankel. Jillian will soon finish her first year here at Gallaudet. She entered the program last Fall. Since that time, she has demonstrated strong academic and clinical success. Jillian is motivated to learn, demonstrates self-reflection, and is committed to do the work to improve both academic and clinical skills. She has a natural interaction style with clients from a variety of backgrounds. Congratulations Jillian.

Seltzer League Award

for a student who has demonstrated excellence in both the academic and clinical areas of the Speech-Language Pathology Program, a student who is expected to broaden the understanding of hearing and hearing loss

Victoria Gross

The speech-language pathology program is thrilled to announce our award recipients for May 2023. This award is called the W. Seltzer League Award. This year the SLP program selected Victoria Gross (Tori). Tori will graduate this May. During her two years at Gallaudet, she has expanded her academic and clinical knowledge and skills. She demonstrates a motivation to learn and works hard to support clients from diverse backgrounds. She is dedicated to working with the deaf community. She completed an internship at MSD Frederick, has taken electives related to sign language acquisition. We expect Tori to make significant contributions to the field. Congratulations Tori!

Elizabeth Peet Award

for an outstanding student in school psychology

Alexis Lewis

Fallon Birke

Linzee Hobgood

School of Language, Education and Culture Awards

Dr. Nathie L. Marbury Award

for a graduate student who influences significant systemic change in the field of sign language education

Edgar Sanabria Ramos

Masters in Sign Language Education Academic Achievement Award

for a graduate student who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance in the field of sign language education

Louise Applegate

Masters in Sign Language Education Award

for a graduate student who exhibit pedagogical innovation and aptitude in the field of sign language education

Trentavius Harper

Daniel T. Cloud Award

for two outstanding graduating students in memory of Daniel T. Cloud

Stephanie La Salle Cruz

Brianna DiGiovanni

The Daniel L. Cloud Award is for two graduate students who have done outstanding work in their work. The award goes to… Stephanie La Salle Cruz and Brianna DiGiovanni.

Stephanie La Salle Cruz is a passionate and insightful individual who strives to give her best everyday and has demonstrated perseverance and dedication throughout their time in the program. She has successfully demonstrated skills in teaching bilingual approaches using not two languages, but three languages, ASl, English and Spanish.
Brianna has demonstrated academic excellence and ability to teach deaf students and make contributions within the outside of the classroom with history focused research. She also demonstrated exemplary grasp of instructional theories and applied them over the course for her student teaching internship.
Congratulations, Stephanie & Brianna!

Helen Fay Award

for the student most likely to make a significant contribution to the field of teaching deaf children and who is expected to remain in the field for some time

Cicely Boggan

This award is for a Graduate student in education judged most likely to contribute to the field of teaching deaf students and to remain in the field for some time. The award goes to… Cicely Boggan.
Cicely Boggan has demonstrated dedication throughout her time in the program. She brings unique characteristics reflected in the student population they will teach. Whether working with multilingual deaf students and/or BIPOC students. Cicely is already making contributions to the field through her work and social media activism.
Congratulations, Cicely!

Majorie Stull Memorial Scholarship Award

for a first-year student who has demonstrated scholastic ability and aptitude for teaching deaf children

Priscilla Biskupiak

The Majorie Stull Award goes to a second year student in the Dept of education who has academic ability and aptitude for teaching the deaf on the basis of the first year graduate school performance. The award goes to… Priscilla Biskupiak.
Congratulations, Priscilla!

Euphrasia Mbewe Award for Excellence in Social Advocacy Work

for a student who has demonstrated excellence in social advocacy work while enrolled in the International Development Program

Karina Baker

Karina Baker pursued the IDMA program in conjunction with studies in Public Administration. Leading up to entering the IDMA, Karina was selected for the prestigious Graduate Fellows Program of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, during which she introduced UNA-NCA colleagues to connections between social development goals, environmental concerns, and language access and rights. Karina continued to build on these connections through IDMA academic projects and professional activities, as well as being selected to the Clinton Global Initiative University with Neha Balachandran for their joint project titled “Seeds & Signs” whose winning mission was to “strengthen the Deaf community’s relationship with the planet and the farm-to-table philosophy by developing educational materials in ASL about farming, sustainability, and the environment.” For her professional fieldwork experiences, Karina worked with two organizations: Deaf Worlds, based in Washington, DC, and PARD (Psycho-Education and Applied Research Center for the Deaf) in Ho Chi Minh, City – Viet Nam. With Deaf Worlds, one of Karina’s major tasks was development of a grant proposal on providing clean water for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals living in disaster prone areas in Nigeria. With PARD, Karina worked closely with the deaf community in different regions of Viet Nam, engaging Deaf communities in discussions of environmental issues and mitigation, and she developed a media project on Deaf farmers’ experiences in the Mekong Delta. Congratulations Karina!

Samantha Hoeksema

Samantha joined the IDMA Program primed to examine social justice questions that emerged in her experience as an ASL-English interpreter in educational settings, as well as other development interests. As a student, and as the IDMA Graduate Assistant in 2021-22, Samantha demonstrated a strong commitment to positive social change, to understanding community partners’ experiences and to working collaboratively to advance practical initiatives. Samantha leant her energy and vision to numerous IDMA and student organization interests, including developing the first ever International Student Scholarship Fund campaign in May 2022, serving as the IDMA representative for the Graduate Student Association, and serving on various event committees, such as the ‘Stand for Freedom in Iran’ event that drew more than 150 participants in Fall 2022. Samantha’s dedication to Deaf-led international development advocacy and development initiatives led her to select two organizations for her professional field experiences: Deaf Worlds (based in Washington, DC) and the Psycho-Education and Applied Research Center for the Deaf (PARD; based in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam). In both field placements, Samantha distinguished herself through engagement in project design and implementation. For example, with Deaf Worlds, Sam worked with a fellow intern and the Executive Director on writing a grant proposal on clean water for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in Nigeria who live in disaster risk areas. With PARD, she co-developed a sign language literacy-focused Deaf Mentor Project angled to support deaf employment and sign language education, particularly in rural areas of the country, which launched in April 2023. Congratulations Samantha!

IDMA Program Award for Excellence in Policy Development and Research

for a student who has demonstrated excellence in policy development and research while enrolled in the International Development Program

Emma DeCaro

Throughout her graduate career, Emma DeCaro consistently pursued research projects and practical activities that generated insights for policy development and improving governance mechanisms by promoting community engagement. Emma’s commitment to advancing inclusive policy design was exemplified through her campus activities and through her professional field placements: As an intern with the Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the US (KRG-USA), Emma conducted a 7-month internship during which she facilitated a KRG-USA representative visit with Gallaudet University’s Office of International Affairs, coordinated International Day of Sign Languages video with the KRG-USA representative and Deaf Kurdish leaders, and conducted review of internal policies and processes to support language representation and disability inclusive approaches. In her internship with MarthaEDU in Amman, Jordan, Emma secured a $75K IREX grant to fund a future Deaf Higher Education Initiative in the KRI, conducted fundraising with five Deaf Kurdish leaders to participate in professional development in Amman, Jordan, and supported the development of a pilot Iraqi Kurdistan Sign Language (ZHK) video dictionary project. To carry out these practical activities, Emma facilitated meetings between key stakeholders and engagement sessions, all of which informed shared decision-making about the frameworks for approaching the projects and policy inputs.

Jenilee Marques

Jenilee Marques began her graduate career with a fierce spirit for social justice activities that advances the leadership and representation of Deaf people, signed languages, and people with disabilities throughout development spaces and workforce. Jenilee’s research projects addressed a wide range of topics including examining linguistic barriers faced by Deaf people in Indonesia, Disaster Risk Reduction with Deaf and Deaf-plus people in Indonesia, and developing an advocacy website, ”Cultivating Signed Language-Rich Environments: Removing Restrictions to Growth.” Jenilee conducted three professional field placements: in Fall 2022 with Deaf Worlds, Jenilee conducted two major projects, 1) developing programming for Deaf community self-advocacy training, and 2) assisted in the monitoring, evaluating and implementation of an ongoing grant project in Nigeria. In Spring 2023, Jenilee continued her activities with Deaf Worlds, and also interned with the Washington, DC Mayor’s Office of Disability Rights (ODR). With Deaf Worlds, Jenilee developed a toolkit to guide Deaf communities’ own project design to be hosted on Deaf World’s website. At ODR, Jenilee used her interest in Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Planning to support ODR’s partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MODHH), Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Jenilee’s research on and analysis of project inputs and deliverables informed evidence-based and inclusive development approaches for her project teams with both organizations. Congratulations Jenilee!

Robert E. Johnson Award

for an outstanding linguistics student

Dr. Shane Blau

School of Arts and Humanities Award

George Veditz Deaf Studies Award

for a graduate student who has made and will continue to make an impact on the field of Deaf Studies

ReBecca Bennett

Hello, My name is Dirksen Bauman and I am coordinator of the Deaf Studies graduate program. Every year our program gives the Deaf Studies George Veditz Award. This award recognizes students who have made outstanding contributions to the field of Deaf Studies and to deaf communities through scholarship and activism. This year we are proud to give the award to ReBecca Bennett. ReBecca entered our program during the pandemic as a remote student. Despite the fact she has remained remote for the duration of the program, her impact is anything but remote, and will be felt far and wide. ReBecca’s Master’s Project is dedicated to providing support to military families with deaf children; these families move frequently and therefore have challenges finding resources and support they need. ReBecca collected resources across the country and assembled them into one website to support military families. In addition, she conducted research which explored the experiences and challenges of these families. ReBecca’s research was conducted in support of deaf children, their families and communities throughout the country. Her contribution will continue far beyond her graduation. Please join me in congratulating ReBecca as this year’s Deaf Studies George Veditz Award Winner.

School of Civic Leadership, Business, and Social Change Awards

Master of Public Administration Award

for an outstanding public administration student

Teresa Murbach

Rebecca Brenowitz

The MPA Award recognizes outstanding MPA graduates. This year’s MPA Award is shared with two students, Teresa Murbach and Rebecca Brenowitz.
Congratulations to both of them for this award!

Catherine H. Moses Award

for a graduate student who has demonstrated leadership and outstanding potential for contributing to social work practice with deaf and hard of hearing people

Jimel Wright

Nicholas Vineyard

In 1996 the faculty of the Department of Social Work established the Catherine H. Moses Award in honor of the first director of the MSW Program. Mrs. Moses was a distinguished member of the faculty of the Department for 20 years until her retirement in 1996. The award recognizes the graduating MSW student who best demonstrates leadership and outstanding potential for contribution to Social Work practice with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.
The 2023 year’s awardees are Nicholas Vineyard and Jimel Wright!

G. Arlene Gavin Award

for a graduate student who has demonstrated outstanding professionalism and commitment to social justice

Rosemary Parker

Donald Ognane

The G. Arlene Gavin Award was established in 1992 by the faculty of the Department of Social Work to honor the contributions of Mrs. G. Arlene Gavin to the development of graduate studies in social work accessible to deaf and hard of hearing persons, and to recognize the graduating social work student who demonstrates outstanding, professionalism and commitment to social justice which Arlene Gavin so ably demonstrated during her career.
The 2023 year’s awardees are Donald Ognane and Rosemary Parker!

Ph.D. Program in Educational Neuroscience Awards

PhD in Educational Neuroscience Outstanding Research Award

for a student who has consistently demonstrated outstanding research and scientific scholarship, originality and creativity in his or her science, and scholarly achievements in research commensurate with the highest standards of cognitive neuroscience and educational neuroscience

Dr. Athena Willis

The 2023 Ph.D. in Educational Neuroscience Outstanding Research Award recipient showed determination and stamina to complete her doctoral degree. Her dissertation is the culmination of more than six years of work in PEN, starting as an undergraduate and continuing through a Ph.D. Her dissertation tackles a cross-disciplinary question regarding how people see and engage with virtual signing avatars. This work is important because it uses EEG to show that deaf signers are highly sensitive to the movement qualities of simulated signing avatars, a finding which has important implications for future design and deployment of this technology. This student has also co-authored five peer-reviewed papers and first-authored more than ten poster presentations on EEG, sign language perception, and embodied cognition. Congratulations, Dr. Athena Willis!

PhD in Educational Neuroscience Research Based Translation Award

for a student who has made a significant contribution to the translation of basic scientific discoveries in cognitive neuroscience and educational neuroscience through the advancement of an original creation or contribution that has the potential to transform society, policies, and individual lives spanning the nation and world

Casey Spelman

The recipient of the 2023 PhD in Educational Neuroscience Research-Based Translation Award is presented to a student, who – with the mentorship of their Advisor, Dr. Ilaria Berteletti, in the Numeracy and Educational Neuroscience Laboratory (NENS Lab) – showed exceptional abilities in communicating and working with school leaders, teachers and parents from Schools for the Deaf. Her communication skills and professional demeanor have facilitated the enrollment of families to our study investigating the impact of language exposure on early numerical competences in 3- to 5- years old children. Congratulations Casey Spelman.

Graduate School Awards

Weiner Family Research Award

for a graduate student whose outstanding research that adds to an understanding of diagnostic techniques and treatments aimed at improving mental health outcomes of individuals who are deaf

Grady Gallagher

The award recipient completed a pre-dissertation study focused on the prevalence of mental health concerns and DSM-5 diagnoses among the undergraduate student population. This is one of few studies with a large sample and may be the first to examine the experiences of deaf, hard of hearing, deaf blind and deaf disabled (DHHDBDD) population with intersectional identities related to mental health and behavioral health concerns and diagnoses. The recipient is now preparing his study for publication in peer-reviewed journals and will continue to explore this topic for his dissertation, focusing on the early language and communication experiences of this population and the related predictors of behavioral health diagnoses and treatment. Congratulations, Grady Gallagher!

Brianna Hernandez

The award recipient’s research goal is to improve deaf individuals’ use of mental health services. For her pre-dissertation study, she examined the effect of discrimination on utilization of mental health services by deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Her dissertation will focus on the utilization of mental health services by deaf individuals with additional marginalized identities. The recipient also works as a research assistant for the Early Education and Literacy Lab at Gallaudet University. This year, she was the lead author on the peer-reviewed publication, ASL Developmental Trends Among Deaf Children, which was published in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. Congratulations, Brianna Hernandez!

Graduate Student Scholarly Achievement Award

for a graduate student who completed an outstanding scholarly project during their academic program

Dr. Shane Blau

The award recipient designed the first experiment to directly address questions related to deaf infants’ understanding of sign language, adapting a common experimental methodology (preferential looking) for use with sign languages. Results included first-time evidence of two theoretically important contributions: that that hearing infants are sensitive to prosodic differences between fluent ASL and fluent non-ASL signing (e.g. SEE) and that deaf infants can distinguish between two sign languages that they have never seen before. This study is an important first step in understanding how deaf infants perceive and process sign languages

Evelyn Cortus

The recipient conducted a research project focused on parents of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children who use ASL. She recruited 3 parent-child dyads who completed four measures that identified the parent’s ASL proficiency, the child’s language access, and the child’s ASL acquisition with the anticipated outcome that early access to ASL is more vital than immediately proficient ASL input. This is hoped to reduce the risk of language deprivation for deaf children by encouraging non-fluent users of ASL to utilize it with their child, increasing early ASL input for those children. Future research to build upon these findings to better understand trends in the language access profiles of deaf and hard of hearing children and how early language experiences shape their language outcomes. Congratulations, Evelyn Cortus!

Graduate Student Outstanding Achievement Award

for a graduate student who made significant contributions to their field during their academic program

Emma DeCaro

The award recipient has many accomplishments! While a first-year student in the International Development MA (IDMA program), she collaborated withthe English Language Institute to establish a monthly “International Tea Party” – spotlighting different countries each month with presenters from each country and local teas and refreshments while engaging the broader community. She also led the development of the IDMA International Student Scholarship Fund, with the goal of raising $50,000 to support an international student studying in the IDMA Program. Also during her first year, she organized a cultural exchange trip to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to support the local Deaf community, promoting social inclusion and education and employment access. As a second year student, she completed 2 internships: one with the Kurdistan Embassy in Washington, DC and a second in Amman, Jordan, during which she continued to lead collaborative efforts to support Deaf leadership and international Deaf communities, including coordinating the International Day of Sign Languages, securing funding for a future Deaf Higher Education Initiative and to provide professional development opportunities for Deaf Kurdish leaders. The recipient’s accomplishments are unique – showing unique commitment, productive excellence, and potential for sustainable outcomes. Congratulations, Emma DeCaro!

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2023 Graduate Awards

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