2016 Rising Alumni
In April, the CEHD Alumni Society recognized rising alumni from across our college who have achieved early distinction in their careers, demonstrated emerging leadership, or shown exceptional volunteer service in their communities.
Catherine Bohn-Gettler has a master’s degree and PhD in educational psychology, and was described as “that rare graduate student who learned as much as she could from many different faculty.” Today, Kate is an associate professor at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. She studies interdisciplinary connections between cognition, emotion, and instructional contexts to improve student learning and holistic development. Kate has achieved national and international distinction in the field of cognitive psychology, with more than 30 original research publications. Read More
Emily Kafle, recently named the Special Education Director at Lionsgate Academy, has a master’s and teaching licensure in special education as well as her principal’s licensure through Organizational Leadership Policy and Development. Lionsgate is a local charter school specializing in educating students with autism spectrum disorders. Since she started there in 2010, Emily has improved access for the Lionsgate student transition program, led planning to integrate mental health programming, and is currently planning a relocation of the school site that will lead to increased enrollment. Read More
Jónína Kárdal, who has a master’s in educational psychology, wins the award for traveling the furthest to join us. She lives in Reykjavik and works at the University of Iceland Student Counseling and Career Centre. She is an impressive leader in the field of counseling and career development in her home country of Iceland as well as in Scandinavia and the European Union. Jónína has been active in introducing new methods and practices to strengthen the career development services at her university and implemented training programs for counselors across the region. In addition, Jónína remains connected to the U of M by chairing our Alumni Chapter in Iceland. Read More
Hakeem Onafowokan combined his bachelor’s in sports management with a law degree to rise quickly in his career. As a student, Hakeem was an officer on the CEHD Undergraduate Student Board, and helped grow the annual student/alumni networking event. During law school, his legal internships with NASCAR and the Minnesota Public Employment Relations Board led to a position for the NFL Players Association and recognition from the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers. Today, Hakeem is a staff attorney with the League of Minnesota Cities and a volunteer mentor through Kinship of Greater Minneapolis. He credits his perseverance and supportive parents for his accomplishments. Read More
Lakeesha Ransom is a rising star in university administration. Lakeesha has a master’s and PhD in organizational leadership, and has reached a very senior academic leadership position early in her career. She is currently the vice provost and the dean of the Honors College at the University of Akron, after being in a similar position at the University of Toledo. Lakeesha served on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents for two terms and remains active on boards of community organizations. Read More
Uyenthi Tran Myhre is making a difference in her role as the assistant director of the University of Minnesota Women’s Center. Uyenthi, who has a master’s degree in educational psychology, has helped make the Women’s Center more effective and its resources more well-known. Her supervisor described her as organized, intelligent, dedicated, well-read, creative, and quietly assertive. Currently, Uyenthi is organizing the third Indigenous Women and Women of Color Student Summit, which will host students from across the state. In addition, she co-founded the U of M Asian American Pacific Islander Desi Faculty and Staff Association, the first professional group of its kind on campus. As an active community citizen, Uyenthi is on the board for the Sexual Violence Center in Minneapolis. Read More
Ah Vang-Lo has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in elementary education, but she leaves the classroom teaching to her twin sister. Ah works at the National Youth Leadership Council managing training programs to inspire youth to become agents of change today, not waiting for tomorrow. As a first generation American born Hmong woman, Ah has found special connection with Asian and Hmong young people. Her skills in connecting with communities inspired a previous supervisor to encourage his staff to “find their inner Ah” after she increased participation in a tutoring program. Read More
For two decades, Nate Whittaker has been either a student or employee at the U of M. Nate has an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree with a minor in leadership, and a master’s degree in youth development leadership from the School of Social Work. Today, he is an adviser with the TRIO program on campus. In a great testament to his work, one of his former students said that she would not still be at the U of M if it weren’t for the confidence that Nate instilled in her and the advocacy he did on her behalf. Nate’s passion is social justice, and he is the volunteer director of an after school program in Cape Town, South Africa, which is also a service-learning site for a global seminar he teaches. He has been recognized for his work in increasing the number of underrepresented students who participate in study abroad. Nate gives back locally as a community activist and, in his spare time, runs a record label. Read More
Tricia Wilkinson has a master’s in youth development leadership from the School of Social Work, and works as an Academic Coordinator with TRIO Upward Bound. Tricia has been a leader in organizing professional development opportunities for TRIO professionals across the region. She organized a three day conference and developed an online training for staff, and is also developing a statewide leadership program for the Minnesota TRIO Association – all on her own time. In addition, she volunteers as an ambassador for A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation. Tricia was recognized last year with the CEHD Community Outreach Award.
Jeffrey Harring showed early promise as a PhD student in educational psychology when his dissertation research was recognized by a leading journal in his field. Before entering graduate school, Jeff taught high school mathematics for 12 years – and now teaches at the college level as an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland. He is a prolific writer and publisher, doing cutting-edge research that is applicable to assessing student educational growth. Jeff also contributes to his profession through grant reviews, organizing conferences, and association leadership. Read More
Alex Hermida has built a strong foundation of engaging with and supporting underrepresented communities in the Twin Cities. He has a master’s in youth development leadership and is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher education policy and administration. In his early career, he worked in several Minneapolis organizations with a goal to create positive change in the experiences of youth from all backgrounds. Alex is currently sharing his perspective as an educator from an underrepresented background with college students as an instructor at UM Duluth. He also is a volunteer mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Since completing PhD in English Education, Amanda Haertling Thein has made a mark in the field of English education for her research on student response to literature, adolescent literature, and multicultural literature instruction. Today, she is an Associate Professor at the University of Iowa and was recently recognized as an “author of the month” by Routledge Press, a leading education research publisher. Read More
Heather Cronin Ott has a master’s in special education and a certificate in autism spectrum disorders. She has distinguished herself by her leadership in addressing the needs of children with disabilities through her position at Karner Blue Education Center and in her volunteer activities. Heather serves on the Minnesota State Developmental/Cognitive Delay Community of Practice, and is a sought-after consultant providing expert and innovative solutions for students with complex learner profiles. Read More