Giving GRAD-itude: Messages of Thanks for Mentors and Mentees

Giving GRAD-itude

(photo courtesy of Saketh Jammula and Mounika Ganjikunta)

In the weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday break, and in honor of the wonderful mentors and mentees at UGA, the Giving GRAD-itude survey provided a space for members of the Graduate School community to express their GRAD-itude to those who have made a positive impact on their UGA graduate experience.

Responses collected from the survey were shared on the Graduate School’s social media outlets and are listed below.


Thank you Mounika Ganjikunta for being the supportive friend, mentor and guide from the day one of masters. I am grateful for all the experiences we share together and the learning curve achieved so far.

— Saketh Jammula, School of Computing

Dr. Sherry Clouser, Thank you so much for your wonderful guidance. You may not realize it but I consider you my mentor because you direct me to critically think and reflect. You have made a positive difference in my graduate studies. — Julie Kerby, College of Veterinary Medicine

Narke Norton is an integral part of the University of Georgia; he wears many hats–Assistant Director for Recruitment & Diversity Initiatives at the UGA Graduate School; DLS alum; PhD student. Whatever he’s doing, however, he’s doing it well. He is a model adviser, and I value his judgment to the highest extent. — Cassia Roth, Department of History, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Jessica Fernandez, Thank you for going above and beyond to help me develop my graphics, my portfolio, and advising me about how to be a mom and a professional at the same time. You are appreciated! — Gretchen Bailey, Landscape Architecture, College of Environment and Design

Brittany deCamp (Georgia Football), Thank you for being the brightest ray of sunshine and always willing to lend a helping hand when asked. You make me feel welcome and excited for the future of Athletic Training as I finish up my program at the University of Georgia. Thank you for answering all of my questions and being patient with those of us that are here to learn every day. You are a great leader and mentor, and certainly the best preceptor I have had. — Jordan Parham, Master of Science in Athletic Training, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Dr. Jason Matthews (Accounting), Thanks Jason! I don’t think I’ve felt so lost and yet learned so much – you’ve made accounting fun for non-accounting folks! Special thanks for helping me review 10Ks and interview prep. While you’re not my official mentor, I wanted to give a special shout-out to one of my favorite MBA instructors. — Julie, Terry College of Business

Dr. Alison Smith, Thank you for taking so much time to help me not only with GIS work for your class, but also figuring out what I needed to get for my home office setup during COVID and providing emotional support. You are greatly appreciated. — Gretchen Bailey, Landscape Architecture, College of Environment and Design

I’ve been thinking about how fortunate I am to work with Dr. Amanda Murdie. She is an incredible advisor – always thinks of and cares about her students. She provides tremendous mentorship and supports me at each juncture in my PhD years. I have been deeply grateful to have her as my mentor and model to follow. More importantly, her example makes me believe how influential a great mentor could be. Thank you, Amanda! — Ryan Yu-Lin Liou, Department of International Affairs

Thank you so much for your patience through tutelage, Profeseure Melanie Longarou. Thank you for being honest, present and helpful. — Okikiola Olusanu, Romance Languages Department

Professor Cesar Escalante, is the best Professor anyone could have hoped for. He helps his students to facilitate their learning process in ways we could not be imagined remotely without taking his classes. — Shree Ram Acharya, Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics

Thank you to Dr. Michelle Lofton for being the best and most organized professor! Your Gwinnett fan club misses you this semester. — Madeline Chappell, School of Public and International Affairs

Thank you to Dr. Rebecca Atkins to always being willing to go the extra mile for we graduate students, offering us as many quality learning opportunities as she can. We also know that she truly cares about us as human beings. We are so grateful for Dr. Atkins! — Kristen Lynch, Music Education, Hugh Hodgson School of Music

I’m so grateful for the conversations and resources that Dr. Dowie-Chin (Social Studies Education) has offered me and my peers. She has helped us set goals and create structures of accountability inside and outside of academia. — Morgan Tate, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Nancy Ciudad-Simmons and Dr. Linda Harklau

(photo courtesy of Dr. Linda Harklau andNancy Ciudad-Simmons)

Thank you, Dr. Linda Harklau (Department of Language and Literacy Education) for being so understanding and patient. I admire your knowledge and character. It is an honor to have you as my major professor. ­¡Gracias! — Nancy Ciudad-Simmons, TESOL and World Language Education/ Literacy & Language/ Mary Early Francis College of Education

Shuang Fu, you are so generous and responsive to students in the classes we have co-taught. You are also so flexible and so collegial in our research projects together. A joy to work with you!! — Ruth Harman, Department of Language and Literacy Education

Dr. Kerstin Emerson, I could not have done this semester without your guidance and belief in me. With fifty years between by Bachelors degree and this first graduate class, a lot has changed. No more slide rule, pocket protector, or pencil sharpeners. Thank you for the way you support your students and make them want to succeed. — Robert Hume, Department of Gerontology

Thank you to Dr. Alison Farley for always being willing to give her time and expertise. She is always supportive of our endeavors and strives to provide us with a quality graduate education. — Kristen Lynch, Music Education, Hugh Hodgson School of Music

I’m very thankful for my PhD advisor, Dr. Luis Correa-Díaz, for not only helping me create a relevant research project that I’m passionate about, but also for contributing immensely to my professional growth as a writer, researcher, and educator while continuously encouraging me to maintain a positive outlook. Doing a PhD is challenging and inevitably stressful, so I truly believe feeling supported in the process has a great impact on one’s motivation level and performance. — Sherry Nourizadeh, Department of Romance Languages

Maverick Zhang (Language & Literacy Education), you are always very kind, patient, helpful and truly care about your students! Thank you for a fun semester! I always enjoy having you as a professor and I appreciate how approachable you are. It means a lot to me that you check in with how things are going, because school can get pretty stressful. — Preeti Kumari, Computer Science

Monsieur Raymond Friedman, Thank you so much, Monsieur Raymond for your patience through tutelage. Thank you for being honest, present, and helpful. — Okikiola Olusanu, Romance Languages Department

Amanda Murdie, Megan Morgan, Laura Zimmermann, Andrew Owsiak, and Chad Clay, Thank you for your consistent support, advocacy, validation, and mentorship. Thank you for the encouragement to follow our interests and thank you for the tips and tricks to make graduate school manageable. We can’t save the world, but we can certainly search for truth and peace. — Mallory Hoffman, SPIA, International Affairs

Thank you Meghan Brawner for all the time and advice you've given me! I hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving!

— Erison Cronan, College of Public Health

Dr. Tina Salguero, Thank you very much for your patience, guidance, and mentorship. — Nick Sesing, Department of Chemistry

Dr. Leslie Rech-Penn, Thank you for being awesome you. You are a Guiding Light for future educators, and I will always be thankful for your mentorship. — Shantwan Mines, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Dr. Lou Tolosa-Casadont, I would like to recognize Dr. Lou for her outstanding performance inside and outside of the classroom. Dr. Lou is an excellent professor who places the needs and wants of her students above all else. She is kind, compassionate, empathetic, and caring no matter the day. She is a lady in high demand all the time. People actively seek her experience and advice in both their professional and personal lives. Dr. Lou is the epitome of a passionate educator and has positively impacted the lives of countless students through her fervent work ethic. She has been a stellar example of what an excellent educator should be. Thank you Dr. Lou for all you have done and continue to do at The University of Georgia, in the Athens community, and far beyond. — Bodey Gray, Language and Literacy Education, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Dr. Amy Stich is incredibly supportive of and responsive to her students. She is always willing to listen or review a student’s work, and she is a wealth of knowledge and experience. Her feedback has improved my work and kept me engaged with the field — Jonathan, Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education

Aaron Golson and Catherine Sanders

(photo courtesy of Aaron Golson and Catherine Sanders)

Catherine Sanders was my research mentor in my department. She has been an essential part in my transition as a doctoral student in the College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences. My first semester, she was a teacher assistant for one of my courses. Later she became my research mentor in my department. She has pushed me to break the barriers and overcome obstacles as an agricultural researcher. I am privileged to have the opportunity to learn so much from her servant leadership. She has groomed me to become a research scholar in a variety of ways. I am grateful for the amount of time and effort she has invested into me! I am ready to see the contributions she will add to the greater agricultural and environmental society. — Aaron Golson, Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication

Niki Walden is an absolute godsend. I’ve yet to come across anyone that does more to ensure that graduate students succeed here at UGA. — Vincent Pennetti, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Robert Moser has always gone the extra mile to help me and other students. He genuinely cares about our research and our academic success. I’m so grateful to have had him as a mentor. I owe to him the passion I have for academia and my desire to become a professor. He is not only an amazing instructor, he is also a motivator, he always welcome new ideas and projects. This note is to thank him for the support, enthusiasm and trust he deposits on every one of his students. Muito obrigado! — Daniel Ferreira, Department of Romance Languages

Charles Crisman: Mr. C. Gracious Graduate Writing Supporter!! — Tadesse Haileyesus

Dr. Jennifer Gay, Two semesters later and I am still thinking about how much I got out of Dr. Gay’s Research Methods class. It has been my favorite course, even though it is outside of my department. — Trish Feng, Community Nutrition, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Dr. Elizabeth Ann Wurzburg, Throughout all of the confusion and craziness of starting Grad school for the first time, Dr. Wurzburg was so helpful and willing to answer all of my questions. As I signed up for classes she was able to walk me through the process and make sure I understood what I needed to. It really felt like she saw me as a person with my own individual needs. I am so grateful to have had someone so knowledgeable working with me. — Rebecca Speed, Department of Educational Theory and Practice, Mary Francis Early College of Education

Professor Shannen Malutinok has gone above and beyond to assure we are all receiving the best possible experiences in our field education placements. She takes time each class period to check on us all individually and it has created such a wonderful culture in the class. I am grateful for her efforts this semester in giving me a wonderful learning experience during the start of my graduate school journey. — Ashley West, School of Social Work

Dr. Vera Lee-Schoenfeld has been the best mentor I could’ve asked for! She’s an incredibly supportive major professor who I can count on during every step of my academic career and research. Besides that, she’s an excellent teacher who inspires me and many others to look for opportunities to become the best educators we can. I learn so much from our conversations about language, culture and life! I’m very thankful for all she does! — Jean Costa Silva, Department of Linguistics

Dr. Bénédicte Lebehot, Dr. Rachel Gabara, Dr. Timothy Raser, Dr. Alberto Villate, Dr. Lou Tolosa Casadont (Romance Languages and Education respectively), Thank you to my mentors…you have made my stay at UGA worthwhile… I really appreciate you all… — Oluwatoyin Olusanya, Department of Romance Languages (French department)

I want to thank my advisor Dr. Marguerite Madden, Principal Professor and Director of the Center for Geospatial Research of the University of Georgia. She is currently my professor advisor in my Master’s program, with her I have been learning Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems. Thanks to her patient accompaniment I have been able to develop multiple facets of my professional career during the last year, from taking courses in state-of-the-art geospatial technology, courses in Geospatial Artificial Intelligence to developing leadership and presentation skills in multiple academic events around the United States. This year her health was affected by an unexpected cancer, but she remains a great partner in my graduate development path, and not only for me but for other Masters, PhD students and research associates in our Lab. Her dedication and motivation in her work remain intact even when she is going through challenging times. I cannot express in words my admiration, respect and love for this professor. I can only show my gratitude through these lines. Go Dr. Madden, you are the best! — Ellen Delgado, Geography Department

Heather Silver, Dr. Christina Hanawalt, Dr. Maureen Flint, Dr. Lynn Sanders-Bustle, Dr. Jaye Thiel

(photo courtesy of Heather Silver: Dr. Christina Hanawalt, Dr. Maureen Flint, Dr. Lynn Sanders-Bustle, Dr. Jaye Thiel)

Dr. Christina Hanawalt, Dr. Maureen Flint, Dr. Lynn Sanders-Bustle, Dr. Jaye Thiel (Art Education, Lamar Dodd School of Art, and Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy), I would sincerely like to thank Dr. Hanawalt, Dr. Bustle, Dr. Flint, and Dr. Thiel. What a scholarly group of professors! A true dream team. I extend my deepest gratitude to you all for your support and guidance throughout my Ph.D. journey. Thank you for taking me on as committee members and helping me to become a qualitative researcher. You all are a gift. — Heather Silver, Art Education

Dr. Ginny Boss, Thank you for expressing your confidence in my work and academic acumen. You exude Black Girl Excellence and have shown that it’s just fine to BE a phenomenal researcher and writer. — Mya, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Dr. Kristen Bub has been very supportive of my research. She has helped me to understand the quantitative process as it applies to my research and has been the one bright spot in my graduate school experience. I am very grateful we met during her course and continued working together. — Lisa Newman, Mary Frances Early College of Education, LEAP Department

Dr. David F. Jackson (Department of Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Education), Thank you for being a great advisor during these last five semesters. From assisting in course selection to listening to student issues during a tough semester, you helped make my Grad school adventure a little easier. THANK YOU! — Kimberly Brown, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Dr. Dave Chiesa (Language and Literacy Education), Dr. Dave, Thank you for always inspiring and encouraging. Your mentorship continues to push and elevate me to greater heights. Thanks for being awesome you. — Esther Mines, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Professor Olga Amigo, I am grateful for the opportunity of being a student at UGA, and also being assign as you TA. I appreciate all your teachings and example of how to be a good teacher. I want you to know that I admire the love and caring you show for your students. You have many qualities that I will cultivate and practice with my future students. All the beautiful memories that I have accumulated during this semester I will treasure them in my heart. One million thanks, — Rosenelly Martinez, Department of Romance Languages

Summer Blanco, Thanks for your energy and leadership in promoting inclusion and equity in recruiting and retention of students in our @PlantCenterUGA affiliated graduate programs! — James H. Leebens-Mack, Department of Plant Biology

Lemual LaRoche, I am most grateful to have met you at the beginning of my journey pursuing msw at the school of social work and also the United States in general. Your work in and outside the Athens community is nothing but amazing. Lol I take my time to really want to understand how you schedule yourself and make sure everything makes sense for everyone around you. You are definitely an inspiration to many and to me most especially. Continue to do great things!

— Adeyinka Erinfolami, School of Social Work

Dr. Dave Chiesa, Dr. Dave, Thank you for always challenging me to exceed the expectations, supporting me in my research, and encouraging me to push forward. You are always looking out for your students! I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the GaTESOL conference because of your thoughtfulness. We appreciate you! — Amy Archer, TESOL and World Languages, Language and Literacy Education, Mary Francis College of Education

Dr. Melisa Chanmann-Taylor, Dr. Misha, Thank you for your continuous inspiration to advocate for multicultural awareness. You are a great role model, professor, and mentor. It is so encouraging to have a professor so engaging, supportive, and real. Keep shining the light for translanguaging across the globe! We appreciate you. — Amy Archer, TESOL and World Languages, Language and Literacy Education, Mary Francis College of Education

Dr. Usree Bhattacharya, Thank you for being the most supportive advisor and mentor! You are truly inspiring. I would not be where I am today without you, and I will forever be grateful for the relationship I have built with you. I appreciate your leadership, guidance, and encouragement! — Amy Archer, TESOL and World Languages, Language and Literacy Education, Mary Francis College of Education

Since our first encounter, Dr. Orion Mowbray has intentionally taken the time to learn about my research agenda and has been dedicated to helping me achieve my research and career goals. As a first-generation graduate student and immigrant, I constantly face challenges as I matriculate through the Ph.D. program. Dr. Mowbray has become a mentor to me by advising me on academic, research, and personal issues. Dr. Mowbray has played a significant role in my becoming the skilled Ph.D. candidate I am today. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. — Oluwayomi Paseda, School of Social Work

Laura Grajeda and John McCracken

(photo courtesy of Laura Grajeda and John McCracken)

Dr. John McCracken (Epidemiology and Biostatistics), From the office to the field, from books to implementation, from analysis plans to scripts, from ideas to publications – you have always been there for your mentees. I am grateful for having a genius and caring mentor such as you. You encourage me to learn each day and dream high. — Laura Grajeda, Epidemiology and Biostatistics / College of Public Health

David Chiesa, Tisha Ellison, Melisa Cahnmann Taylor, I sincerely thank all of you! You gave me warmth and help when I first came here! Thank you for taking care of me. It’s my honor to spend this wonderful semester with you! — Jiaqi Wang, Language and Literacy Education, Mary Early Francis College of Education

Reginald McKnight, Dr. Channette Romero, & Dr. Richard Menke, All gratitude to my comps committee for sticking with me through a medical leave, two reading list overhauls, COVID delays, and a Fulbright application, and for passing me to candidacy even though I neglected to read George Eliot’s _The Mill on the Floss_! She’s next on my diss list. Thanks specifically to Reg for his craft insight, Dr. Menke for his historical sweep, and Dr. Romero for her decolonial wisdom. — Genevieve Guzmán, English Department, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

My ENGL 1101 class, CRN: 25420 – First-Year Writing, Thanks to my lovely students who have helped me pilot ENGL 1101 using the Purdue Online Writing Lab as our main (free!) writing resource this semester. — Genevieve Guzmán, English Department, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Dave Chiesa, I cannot thank Dr. Dave enough for all he has done in and out of class for us. He is such a caring, knowledgeable and experienced professor and feels passionate about what he is teaching. Dr. Dave is absolutely amazing and deserves all the good things. Thank you! — Xuan Peng, Language and Literacy Education, Mary Early Francis College of Education

Dr. Lou Casadont, Dr. Rachel Gabara, Dr. Raser Timothy, Dr. Ranson Diana, Dr. Alberto Villate, I want to appreciate all my wonderful Professors for how much of themselves they have given. Thank you. — Okikiola Olusanu, Romance Languages


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