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Student Profiles

Ph.D. Students

Eulogio Alejandre

Eulogio Alejandre

Hometown: Ogden, Utah

Degree: B.A. in Secondary Education, M.S. in Language Acquisition

Research Interests: Education Equity, Undocumented Students' Access to Education, Language Acquisition, and Dual Immersion Language Education.

Hobbies/Interests: Hiking, Sports, specifically soccer and football

Favorite Quote: All words have the 'taste' of a profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a generation, an age group, the day, and hour. Each word tastes of the context and contexts in which it has lived its socially charged life... --Bakhtin 1981:293

Picture of Artur Canela

Arturo Canela 

Hometown: San Diego, California

Research Interests: Equity, Diversity & Inclusion practices/services in Higher Ed &/or the workplace.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy traveling to new countries, and being introduced to different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I am also a boxing enthusiast!

Favorite Quote: My favorite quote was inculcated by my late grandfather in Spanish: “ANIMO” – translates to performing a task fully immersed in spirit with valor and courage -- always giving 100% effort.


Kona Eldredge

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Undergraduate: University of Utah

Major: Linguistics (TESOL Certificate) & B.A. International Studies

Research Interests: I have lived in two different countries and been exposed to two different languages and cultures. For this reason, I have naturally become interested in bilingual. biliteracy, and bicultural education. As an immigrant myself and English teacher for immigrants (mostly refugees), I am highly interested in language and culture education for immigrants as well.

Interesting Fact: Used to sing in a Jazz band.

Ashley Engeler

Ashley Engeler

Hometown: Coarsegold and Santa Cruz, California

Research Interests: Youth participatory action research in k-6 settings, community-centered pedagogy, tensions and intersections of whiteness and educational activism, abolitionist teaching, transformative/liberatory social and emotional learning.

Hobbies/Interests: Anything outdoors (ideally with my dogs), running slowly, travel, naps, and ice cream.

Interesting Fact: I've experienced both a rattlesnake bite and a jellyfish sting.

ivy farguheson

Ivy Patricia Farguheson

Hometown: Lynn, Massachusetts

Research Interests: Role of schools on racial and ethnic identity formation of young immigrants and first- and second- generation Americans; identity formation and schools

Hobbies/Interests: Running (especially marathons), watching football, playing basketball, talking politics, yoga

Favorite Quote: Do your job. --Bill Belichick

Juan Carlos Fernandez

Juan Carlos Fernandez

Hometown: Madrid, Spain

Previous Education: History Major; Art History Master’s degree

Research Interests: I am interested in gaining a better understanding of the racial ideologies at play in education, especially in Spanish-English bilingual programs. More specifically, I would like to comprehend the role of colonial epistemologies as an indicator as to whom we privilege in education.

Hobbies/Interests: Watching movies with my family, snowshoeing, reading and traveling.

Favorite Quote: If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
 --If by R. Kipling

Picture of Melissa Flores

Melissa Flores

Hometown: Provo, Utah

Research: Racial battle fatigue; critical race theory

Hobbies/Interests: Movies, traveling, reading, and hanging out with my family


Kehaulani Folau 

Hometown: Rose Park, Salt Lake City, Utah

Previous Degree: B.S. in Ethnic Studies, M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy

Research Interests: tāvāism, tauhi vā, talanoa, Moana wayfinding and navigation, relationality, de/coloniality, higher education

Interests (and trying to make it a hobby): Rest

Famous Quote: So while you’re imitating Al Capone, I’ll be Nina Simone, and defecating on your microphone.          – Lauryn Hill 

Elizabeth Gallagher

Elizabeth Gallagher

Hometown: Westboro, Massachusetts

Research Interests: Spanish Two-Way Dual Language Immersion Programs, Latinx/Chicanx topics in education, and Bilingualism

Hobbies/Interests: I love to hike, mountain bike and snowshoe with my husband and two chocolate Labradors, and perform in musical theater.

Favorite Quote: The sacred is not in heaven or far away. It is all around us, and small human rituals can connect us to its' presence. And of course, the greatest challenge (and gift) is to see the sacred in each other. –Alma Luz Villanueva

Jake Jobe

Jacob Jobe

Hometown: Missoula, Montana

Research Interests: Postcolonial and Neocolonial theories, Third Space Theory and applications in the classroom, English Learners and immigrant students in content-area classrooms, Native American students in secondary classrooms. 

Hobbies/Interests: Skiing, backpacking, playing and coaching soccer, trail running and marathons, Real Salt Lake fan, literature and poetry.

Jimmy Kendall

Jimmy Kendall

Hometown: Lafayette, California

Research Interests: Pedagogies of consumption, neoliberal educational reform, social justice studies, critical race theory, queer/radical pedagogy, whiteness pedagogy, performativity, rhetorics of destabilization and resistance, culture jamming.

Hobbies/Interests: Reading, writing, teaching, biking, fishing, skiing, finding time to explore the great outdoors, digging for good vinyl, music and more music. 

Taylor Knuth

Taylor Knuth

Hometown: Provo, Utah

Previous Education: B.A. Musical Theatre, Weber State University, M.A. Arts Administration, Southern Utah University

Research Interests: Ask me again next year! haha

Hobbies/Interests: Performing Arts, Historic Architecture, Community Advocacy and Engagement.

Interesting Fact: By the age of 25, I had both hips replaced!

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Teresa Martinez 

Hometown: West Jordan, Utah

Research interests: Equity work in school policies, active citizenship and social justice, culturally responsive pedagogy

Hobbies/interests:  Camping, fishing, pickleball, family time, hanging out with my dog, fall weather, traveling

Interesting Fact: I am a former NCAA student-athlete. I played soccer for Weber State University.

John Murphy

John Murphy

Hometown: I am originally from Rye, New York but have lived in Salt Lake City, Utah since 2015.

Previous Education: B.A. English, University of Utah, M.A. English Education, New York University

Research Interests: Education and Power, Language and Power, Critical Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies

Hobbies/Interests: Skiing, Hiking, Drumming

Interesting Fact: I am a drum set musician in my free time

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Rosie Ojeda

Hometown: Nipomo, California

Research Interests:  Indigeneity in education, decolonization, and Indigenous/ancestral language reclamation. She previously worked as an English Language Fellow (a U.S. Department of State Program) in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 Hobbies: She enjoys traveling and paddle boarding. 

Sonny Partola

Sonny Partola

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

Previous Education: B.S. Humanities, University of Utah. M.A. Community Leadership, Westminster College

Research Interests: Family School Engagement

Hobbies/Interests: Reading, traveling, and hiking

Interesting Fact: I love to draw and learn about art


Vivian Schmolke

Vivian Schmolke

Hometown: Eugene, Oregon 

Previous Education: I received a BA and MA in English at the University of Oregon with a focus on British Romanticism 

Research Interests: Now, I aim to research ways in which higher education policies can support efforts of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. As I continue on in the program, my research will be more specialized/focused. 

Hobbies/Interests: My hobbies include ballroom dance and reading a good fairy tale retelling.  

Favorite Quote or Interesting Fact: One of my top quotes (though not favorite) is Jacques Derrida's "To pretend, I actually do the thing: I have therefore only pretended to pretend." 

Stephanie Shiver


Hometown: Carrollton, Georgia

Previous Degree: BA, Philosophy, Agnes Scott College; MS, Philosophy, University of Utah

Research Interests: critical whiteness studies, antiracist pedagogy, critical discourse analysis, postsecondary education staff & admin, postsecondary education policy

Hobbies/Interests: Hiking, backpacking, camping, hanging out with my dog and catering to his demands, reading sci-fi

Favorite Quote: Belief initiates and guides action – Or it does nothing. --Octavia Butler

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Nicole Wilson Steffes

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers 

Hometown: Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah

Education: BA English at University of Puget Sound, MAT in Secondary Education and MEd in TESOL at Westminster College

Research Interests: critical race spacial analysis of public high schools, history of education in Utah, restorative justice initiatives led by anti-racist educators & community collaboration in K-12 education, 

Hobbies/Interests: Keeping my Australian Shepherd Ginger out of trouble, attempting to emulate episodes of Great British Bake Off, making my partner go to workout classes with me, and listening to true crime podcasts. 

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Beatriz Trejo

Hometown: Sacramento, California 

Research interests: Immigration and education and Family-School Engagement 

Hobbies & Interests: I enjoy reconnecting with my culture by cooking amazing Mexican food. 

Favorite Quote: You are too bomb to be doubting yourself. --Unknown author

Evelyn Ukamaka Ezikwelu

Evelyn Ukamaka Ezikwelu

Hometown: Abuja, Nigeria in West Africa

Degree: Economics, Masters of Arts in Educational Studies

Research Interests: Racial battle fatigue; physiological, psychological, and social well-being in higher education; mental health and health disparities in higher education

Hobbies/Interests: Traveling, dancing, music, cooking, and gardening

Fun Fact: Getting down for some dance moves is a feel-good factor for me in my leisure time.

tanjerine vei

Tanjerine Vei

Hometown: South Weber, Utah 

Research Interests: Critical media literacy, identity-based curriculum, and healing in education. 

Interesting Fact: I love plants. A lot. 

Hobbies/Interests: Painting and other mixed media visual arts. 

Favorite thing about Utah: The mountains, seasons, and Utah's delightful plant life. 

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Maeve Wall

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Research Interests: Combatting white supremacy in education, teacher disciplinary practices and culturally sustaining pedagogy, the school/prison nexus, queer pedagogy

Hobbies/Interests: Yoga, running, mindful and sustainable living 

Favorite Quote: If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. ― Lilla Watson

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Nuo Xu 

Hometown: Anhui, China 

Degree: M.A. in Applied Linguistics, B.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language 

Research Interests: bilingual education, teacher education and practice, heritage language maintenance, educational language policy and ideologies. 

Hobbies: traveling, playing tennis, watching movies 

Interesting Fact: I love music, and I am a hip-hop fan. 



Meghan Zarnetske

Meghan Zarnetske

Hometown: Guilford, Connecticut

Previous Education: B.S. Geoscience, Environmental Studies, M.S. Applied Environmental Geology, M.A. Teaching and Learning

Research Interests: Equity work in schools, de-centering whiteness, youth development, critical pedagogy

Hobbies/Interests: Playing outside, spending time with my dogs and partner, writing, seeking solace

Interesting Fact: I can't swim, I have two spleens, and I used to run ultramarathons for fun.

M.Ed. Students

Samantha Bilbow

Samantha Bilbow

Hometown: Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania

Education: BA in Elementary Education, MA in Curriculum and Instruction

Grades Taught: 3rd & 1st

Interests: Reading, hiking, traveling, snowboarding, watching Netflix/movies in my spare time

Research Interests: Multicultural Education, Language

Fun Fact: Growing up, I had a cow named Bully.

Marley Bindrup

Marley Bindrup

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Previous Education: English B.A. from the University of Nevada Las Vegas

Research Interests: Bilingual and multicultural education for early childhood settings, special education dual language learning accessibility, critical race theory and social justice

Hobbies/Interests: Reading, writing, traveling, collecting random facts, and pretending I know how to take care of all my house plants

Interesting Fact: I've lived in six different countries

Sherly Cansino

Sheyrl Cansino

Hometown: born and raised in Utah, but I am Mexican and Costa Rican

Degree: Psychology BS and Family Studies BS

Research Interests: I’m interested in community building and representation within educational spaces as well as the media primarily with Latinx and LGBTQ+ folx.

Hobbies: I love to spend time with my dogs, either doing something or just hanging out at home. I also love to dance and go to the gym and lift heavy things.

Favorite Quote: What is meant for me will not pass me by. --Libby Christensen

Miriam Castle

Miriam Castle

Hometown: Provo, Utah

Previous degree: B.S. in Teaching Social Science, Brigham Young University

Subjects Taught: Geography, world history 

Research Interests: Multicultural education, critical race theory, bilingual/bicultural education, school segregation

Hobbies/Interests: Tennis, traveling, trying new foods, music, sports, the Utah Jazz

Favorite Quote: You can't have people listen to you unless you come to their world and then bring them to yours. --Kendrick Lamar


Diana Chacon

Diana Chacon

Hometown: Carichi, Mexico and Memphis, Tennessee

Research Interests: The experiences and resistance of LGBT students of color in higher education contexts, student-led protest, creative writing, and visual arts and social justice.

Hobbies/Interests: Southern home cooking, sustainable gardening, co-housing, jazz, gospel, and blues, African American literature, contemporary Latinx literature, queer literature, and Tarahumara art and language.

Interesting Fact: I am from Memphis, Tennessee, and a resident of Orange Mound, an African American neighborhood located southeast of Memphis. Orange Mound was established in 1890 and is the first city in the south to be built by and for African Americans. Memphis, Tennessee is also the birthplace of Aretha Franklin and Stax Records where artists like Johnny Taylor, Issac Hayes, and Carla Thomas recorded several albums.

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Mafile'o Fotu

Hometown: Pleasant Grove, Utah 

Education: Teaching Social Studies Composite, BYU 

Subjects Taught: US History, Sociology, Psychology, Government and Citizenship 

Research Interests: Critical race theory, Multicultural Education,  Pacific Islander Studies and Indigenous Studies 

Hobbies: Rock Climbing, Canyoneering, Volleyball, Hiking, Backpacking, Snowboarding, Listening to audible books, Cooking and Baking 

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Daniel Gunderson

Hometown:  Taylorsville, Utah

Research Interests: Include English Language Learning, Latinx Immigration and Education, and also history and methods of culturally-relevant history teaching.

Hobbies/Interests:  I enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, writing, and amateur photography. I'm a career-changer, seeking an M.Ed. with secondary licensure. 

Favorite Quote: The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one. --Malcolm S. Forbes

Bonnie Hager

Bonnie Hager

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Previous Education: B.A. Theatre, University of New Mexico

Research Interests: Critical Race Theory and Queer Theory in the theatre, decolonization, social justice and education equality.

Hobbies/Interests: Theatre, traveling, cooking, anything to do with dogs (especially my dog), watching movies (mainly documentaries)

Interesting Fact: I've dyed my hair every color except pink!

Connor Hansen

Connor Hansen

Hometown: Roy, Utah

Previous Education: A.A. in Japanese at Weber State University & B.A. in Asian Studies: Japanese at Brigham Young University.

Research Interests: Nature-Based Education

Hobbies/Interests: reading, traveling, trying new recipes, choral music, bagpipes, gardening and planting trees, taking care of animals, and learning something useful then teaching it to someone else!

Favorite Quote: "Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." - Mark Twain

Kaimana Kahale

Kaimana Kahale

Hometown: Kualapuu, Hawaii

Previous Education: B.A. in History at Lewis & Clark College

Research Interests: Decolonial Education, Indigenous History, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Studies, Native Identity and Athletics

Hobbies/Interests: Love going to the beach and doing anything that will get me on the move (sports, hikes, etc). Also an avid reader, gamer and Star Wars fanatic! Everything I do is for the benefit of my family, friends, and community.

Interesting Fact: I come from a small Hawaiian island that has no stop lights, freeways, malls or major fast food chains. The population is a little over 7,000 and the only business people outside of this community would recognize is a Texaco gas station.

Erika Kreutziger

Erika Kreutziger

Hometown: Suburbs of Chicago

Degree: BA in International Studies with a minor in Theatre

Research Interests: My ultimate goal is to teach history at the secondary level. I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn students' personal connections to content we explore in the classroom. Also, I am very interested in learning more about how a solid education in history/social studies could possibly prevent students from becoming radicalized on the internet.

Hobbies/Interests: Knitting!!!!

Interesting Fact: I worked as a standup comedian in Boston for 4 years.

Vivian Lee

Vivian Lee

Previous Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Communication studies

Hometown: West Jordan, Utah

Research Interests: sex education, education reform and policy, social justice, and student advocacy.

Hobbies/Interests: I love to travel, cook, immerse myself in poetry, and the occasional Netflix Binge.

Favorite Quote: “The moment we choose to love, we begin to move towards freedom.” -Bell Hooks

Aubree Nash

Aubree Nash

Hometown: Escondido, California

Previous Degree: B.S. in Elementary Education with a TESOL Minor, BYU

Research Interests: Decolonizing education, bilingual bicultural education, antiracism, social justice and equity in education

Hobbies/Interests: Traveling, spending time with my husband and two sons, theatre, cooking, sewing, and photography

Interesting Fact: I'm great at random trivia games and love throwing themed parties.

Veronica Root

Veronica Root

Hometown: Pleasant Grove, Utah

Degree: B.S. Mathematics Education with minors in Psychology Teaching and Geology, Utah State University

Research Interests: Everything! I love to learn. Some specific areas that I want to focus on are educational accessibility and equality within secondary schools with high poverty rates and in relation to undocumented students, inclusion within secondary schools and classrooms, identity formation and the roles schools play, cultural identity, queer pedagogy, and critical race theory.

Hobbies/Interests: Running, reading, hiking, music, sports, crafts, and sewing

Favorite Quote: "This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy." --George Bernard Shaw

Cierra Szalony

Cierra Szalony

Hometown: Pinckney, Michigan

Degree: B.S. in Public Relations and Sports Marketing concentration & M.eD. in Education, Culture and Society

Research Interest: improving sports inclusivity for LGBTQAI+ people and how sports impacts social justice movements

Hobbies/Interests: reading, big Marvel fan, finding fun places to eat

Favorite Quote: "I believe in my power. I believe in your power. I believe in our power." --Raquel Willis

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Lose Uluave Lokotui

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

Previous Education: B.S. Elementary Education, Brigham Young University

Research Interests: Pacific Islander Education and Methodologies, Critical Race Theory, Decolonial Education, Social Justice and Equity in Schools

Hobbies/Interests: Spending time with my husband and daughter, Tongan Tau'olunga, Filipino dramas, traveling, cooking and trying new foods, and taking long naps

Interesting Fact: I have 6 sisters and no brothers! Always a fun, loud time with them! 

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Ema Valverde

Hometown(s): Urbana, Illinois and San José, Costa Rica

Research Interests: Feminist ethnography, decolonizing education, bilingual/multicultural education, sociology, immigration advocacy, and cultural philosophy

Hobbies/Interests:  Bhakti yoga, abstract psychedelic graffiti/art, reading, religious studies, and cooking for loved ones.

Favorite Quote: The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day … I do things like get in a taxi and say, "The library, and step on it” --D. F. Wallace

Last Updated: 6/12/23