Four graduate students have been awarded the Dean’s Graduate Fellowship for the 2020-21 academic year. The Graduate College fellowship program, first created in 2016, is designed to assist graduate programs in the recruitment of domestic students who have shown a commitment to inclusivity, social justice and equality, as well as an ability to overcome obstacles and adversity to achieve academic success.
“We are so pleased to welcome this year’s dean’s fellows to our graduate community,” said Tammi Vacha-Haase, dean of the Graduate College. “During these changing times, it is vital to create and support opportunities for graduate students to pursue their professional careers and continue to move graduate education forward.”
This year’s cohort of fellows includes Nic Hunt, a kinesiology master’s student; Lauren Herzberg, an education, literacy master’s student; MarGhece Barnes; a mathematics master’s student; and Jazlyn Olmedo, an organizational performance and workplace learning master’s student.
In compliance with Idaho House Bill 440, the fellowship program helps to incorporate diverse identities and experiences into Boise State’s graduate student body, while also providing fellowship recipients with opportunities to pursue advanced degrees. The fellowship supports the student by providing a mentored, paid work experience and also includes payment of tuition and health insurance.
“Before receiving the Dean’s Fellowship, I was not confident that I would be able to continue furthering my education beyond my bachelor’s degree,” said Olmedo. “I come from a family where I was first to attend and finish college – in other words, I am a first generation student. With the dean’s fellowship, this not only removes the financial barriers that were existing that prevented me from being able to pursue my master’s, but also gives me the opportunity to continue to work with Boise State and continue as a student leader, which I am proud and more than happy to do.”
Olmedo currently is applying her graduate research toward an entrepreneurial endeavor at a local Idaho cosmetics startup.
“The company I work for has been growing rapidly and the demand for organization structure and design has risen, allowing me to use this education to our company’s benefit,” Olmedo explained. “The research I am currently working on is with Dr. Vicki Stieha on an action research project engaging underrepresented STEM students in designing welcoming communities.”
In addition to financial support, the Dean’s Graduate Fellowship enables recipients to work closely with award-winning faculty and create networking relationships for future careers.
Hunt’s research includes working with Tyler Brown, assistant professor of kinesiology and the co-director of the Center for Orthopaedic and Biomechanics Research. Their research looks at musculoskeletal adaptation in knee stability between younger and older adults. In collaboration with faculty and graduate students in the mechanical engineering department, Hunt has had the opportunity to work with and supervise undergraduate students throughout the research process.
“The dean’s fellowship allows me to focus more on my studies and developing professional skills I can use in the future,” said Hunt. “I believe developing deeper connections with other exceptional students and faculty is a major part of graduate school and I look forward to taking advantage of this opportunity over the next couple years.”
The fellowship’s networking components are also a key benefit for Herzberg, who noted the advantage of being able to focus on her graduate scholarship.
“I feel that this fellowship really helped me fully immerse myself into the degree I am pursuing. I am in literacy, education and my goal was to get more strategies for working with ELL [English-language learners] students when teaching them how to read and write,” said Herzberg.
“I am learning about new assessment tools and teaching strategies through the fellowship. I am working with other teachers and can bounce ideas off of them. On top of that I am learning so much about second language acquisition and literacy theories in my online courses,” said Herzberg.
The Dean’s Graduate Fellowship is awarded to departments annually. The call for proposals for awards for the 2021-22 academic year is now open. Departments can learn more here.