During the 2024 BYU Graduate Student Appreciation Week, we want to spotlight some of our very own graduate students in the McKay School of Education (MSE).  Students were selected from nominations made by MSE graduate faculty members.  These are only some of the many examples we have of our graduate students’ commitment to hard work, dedication, and to becoming more like our Savior, the Master Teacher. These students also reflect our mission in McKay School of Education to “commit to serving in challenging and noble professions” and why “we devote our minds and spirits to our work, so we can nurture the full potential in others—for the benefit of the world!”

Graduate Studies, Former President's Home

(Listed in alphabetical order by first name)

Alexis Baggett, PhD in Educational Inquiry, Measurement & Evaluation
Alexis is an experienced educator now completing her second year in the Educational Inquiry, Measurement, and Evaluation (EIME) PhD program.  She previously taught pre-calculus and other mathematics courses in a high school and then served as an assistant principal in an elementary school.  Alexis is a thinker. She comes to class prepared and frequently asks clarifying questions in her attempt to understand the concepts and methods being taught.  She is never satisfied with just developing a surface-level understanding.  She is a goal-directed individual.  She sets high goals for herself and then works to accomplish those desired outcomes.  She is an outward minded person who has effective interpersonal skills and works cooperatively with others.  She has an optimistic nature and always seems to have a positive attitude.  In short, she is a joy to have in class.

Allison Lindsay, MS in Special Education
Allison is a remarkable student and colleague. She is currently employed as a behavior technician in Jordan School District and a member of the Special Education MS Program. Her professional role is challenging, both physically and emotionally. Behavior Technicians are members of a district level team tasked with supporting school teams and educators who are dealing with dangerous, persistent, and debilitating problem behavior. Despite having not worked previously in a classroom or as a coach, Allison is now a trusted and engaged member of the team. She recently pushed to help new teachers in several schools see effective classroom management in action. This required coordinating with district and school leaders to give these teachers opportunities to observe best practice and then debrief with their teams. This practice was so exciting and renewing for both the observed teachers and the new teachers who accompanied Allison that they are incorporating it into the structure of how the team works with new teachers. Allison strives to take on new and challenging responsibilities. She captures the essence of enter to learn, go forth to serve in all that she does. It is a blessing to learn and work with her.

Grace Taito Tora, MA in Teacher Education
Grace Taito Tora is a masters student in Teacher Education. She is passionate about language education in her home country of Fiji. As soon as Grace was admitted into the program, she began working with Dr. Feinauer looking at ethnic identity and school belonging among Pacific Islander students in Hawaii. Upon joining the project, she took initiative to add questions to the focus group interview protocol about the role of language in promoting feelings of belonging at school -- conducting nearly half of the focus group interviews herself. She is currently analyzing data for her thesis from the 35 Fijian college students in the sample, looking for how the language of their education (Fijian or English) promotes feelings of belonging at school and within their home and community settings. Grace is exceptional at seeking input from expert others, asking questions, reading literature, and pursuing training in different methods of inquiry. Her curiosity is unbounded and her desire to do meaningful work palpable. She is exceptionally organized and motivated, displaying a focus and passion for her research topic that is rare among a first-year graduate student. Her work is grounded in her love for her country and her desire to improve educational experiences for all Fijians.

Iolanda Moura Costa, MS in Instructional Psychology & Technology
Iolanda is an international student from Portugal. She has been described as a very self-motivated, dedicated, and engaged graduate student in the IP&T program, who has been anxious to acquire as much learning as she can from the program. This high level of drive to learn has made her a model student. Consequently, the quality of her work is consistently outstanding. Her project proposal, for example, required almost no revisions from her chair or committee. Iolanda is also the project manager for the department's most intense project-based class this semester. She was chosen based on her ability to work hard, work smart, and bring groups together. In just the first month of class she did an outstanding job of creating a positive culture among the mix of graduate and undergraduate students who are part of this class. As one student in the class said, “"Iolanda managed to be a leader and an exceptional team member at the same time. She propelled our project forward by giving clear assignments, making sure that everyone understood what their role was each week, and worked alongside team members, masterfully balancing her roles as project manager and team member. And as if that wasn't enough, I always felt safe and appreciated when working with her." In addition, she's gone above and beyond the call of duty to organize the teams, making sure each student has been fully trained on our project management approaches, and having all the technologies and resources they need to succeed. She accomplishes all of this despite language or cultural barriers sometimes getting in the way. Iolanda is outstanding in every way.

Josh Marshall, PhD in Counseling Psychology
Josh approaches his education in terms of professional development. He has shifted from a simple student perspective to that of a lifelong learner who sees education as the means to becoming a better professional. This perspective allows him to contribute and ask questions in classes that integrate other areas and transcend the traditional scope of a given course or training experience. This inspires other students to do the same. Josh works hard and has maximized his experiences while in graduate training.

Julie Adams, MS in School Leadership
Julie Adams is an exceptional educator and graduate student. She is absolutely on top of all of her assignments, each of which is done to the highest level. She thinks deeply, asks good questions, and most of all, effectively applies the leadership principles studied in the program to her daily work at Centennial Elementary. She is a great support to the other members of her cohort and has a helpful, steady disposition. We are so thrilled that she is in our program and look forward to watching her career progress!

Karen Arnesen, PhD in Instructional Psychology & Technology
Karen is a "non-traditional" student in that she's a grandmother, and living her best life at a time when most people would consider retiring! Karen has been extremely productive as a PhD student. Her writing and scholarship is excellent! She has published at least 8 academic publications, including top-tier journal articles, and additionally co-authored edited books for blended learning practitioners. She is also universally loved in our program by faculty and students as an excellent collaborator. She has accomplished all of this despite many hardships including life challenges. A fellow student, now professor at Emporia State University, Cecil Short said, “Her curiosity and caring nature leads her to seeking the best in others and to a sincere dedication in helping them improve their day-to-day life. I feel blessed to have been able to work with her on so many different initiatives and hope to continue doing so for many more.” She's a wonderful example of everything BYU represents in how she loves the Lord, loves her fellow students, and loves to create new knowledge in her discipline.

Peyton Johnstone, EdS in School Psychology 
Peyton has found multiple passions in her graduate program and is creating paths for herself to pursue them, including the possibility of furthering her graduate training in the near future. She is discovering that she really loves to do research, she is seeking intensive training in autism assessment, and she has worked in multiple jobs related to her field over the last two years. She was the first to defend her thesis in her cohort and she will be completing her school psychology internship in Alaska next year.

Shauna Worthington, EdD in Educational Leadership
Shauna Worthington always prepares for class and contributes to meaningful discussions. She works hard and is reflective by nature which helps her learn and improve. One of her classmates said, “Shauna is constantly thinking of ways to lighten the load for everyone. She is selfless and kind and has made this journey better for everyone [in our cohort].”

Shauntel Anderson, MS in Communication Disorders
Shauntel is always seeking to support and lift her classmates and those with whom she interacts as she meets life’s challenges with a smile.  Shauntel has been a leader as a peer mentor to undergraduate students, as well as a teaching and research assistant within the department of Communication Disorders.  She is currently conducting research into the visualization of vocal fold health through rigid and flexible endoscopy.