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Brenna Butler at GSS Awards Ceremony

photo contributed by the Graduate School, Steven Bridges

Brenna Butler | Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching

“As a graduate student considering a future career involving teaching, this award made me feel validated in my ability to teach in an effective way. It was also great to be recognized for my work as a GTA and realizing that the effort placed into this role was appreciated.”

Brenna is a PhD student in the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement program and a Graduate Teaching Associate for EDPY 550 – Applied Statistical Concepts, EDPY 577 – Statistics in Applied Fields I, and EDPY 677 – Statistics in Applied Fields II.

This award is presented to graduate teaching assistants and associates for extraordinary performance in teaching.


Gary J. Skolits at the GSS Awards Ceremony

photo contributed by the Graduate School, Steven Bridges

Gary J. Skolits | Graduate Research Mentor of the Year

The Graduate Research Mentor of the Year award was a special surprise and honor for me. Spending quality time working with graduates students on their research efforts is its own reward. To be appreciated and recognized by the students themselves for these research mentoring efforts is a singular honor for me as a faculty member. This award truly will be a career highlight.

Gary is an associate professor and program coordinator of the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement program.

This award recognizes faculty and staff members who have shown outstanding commitment to mentoring graduate research students.


Arden Szepe at the GSS Awards Breakfast

photo contributed by the Graduate School, Steven Bridges

Arden Szepe | Excellence in Service

Service holds a special place in the field of Counselor Education and in my heart. Being recognized with this award was validating in my development as a counselor educator and advocate for the counseling profession.

Arden is a PhD Candidate in the Counselor Education program. She was recently recognized as a Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) Fellow for 2019/2020. Arden currently serves as president of the Upsilon Theta chapter, UT’s local chapter of CSI, and as a member on the Dean’s Graduate Student Advisory Board for the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. Previously, she served on the National Career Development Month Committee for the National Career Development Association.

This award is presented to graduate and professional students who are extraordinary campus leaders, participate in service learning or other community initiatives, and/or provide service leadership to their academic discipline through service in professional organizations.


EPC Facebook page.

Lezli Suzanne Anderson
MS in Educational Psychology – Applied Educational Psychology

Frank Pancho Aviles
Graduate Certificate in Qualitative Research Methods in Education

Lynn Marie Beeler
PhD in Educational Psychology & Research – Adult Learning

Evan Montgomery Burns
PhD in Counselor Education

Danielle Lee Dillard
MS in Educational Psychology – Applied Educational Psychology

Amber Lane Giffin
MS in Educational Psychology – Applied Educational Psychology

Holly Jean Greene
MS in Education – Instructional Technology

Julie Ann Hall
PhD in Educational Psychology & Research – Adult Learning

Maren Elizabeth Henry
MS in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling

John James Humphrey
MS in Educational Psychology – Applied Educational Psychology

Kamela Taylor Manuel
MS in Educational Psychology – Adult Education

Laura H. Maples
MS in Educational Psychology – Adult Education

Jessica Abby Nelson
MS in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Graduate Certificate in Grief, Loss & Trauma

Janet Elaine Schwartz-Micheaux
MS in Educational Psychology – Applied Educational Psychology

Abby L. Sherman
MS in Educational Psychology – Applied Educational Psychology

Katelynn Michelle Swafford
MS in Educational Psychology – Applied Educational Psychology

Emily Elisabeth Tester
MS in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling

*If you are one of the graduates listed above and would like to have your photo added to our EPC Graduates Facebook album, then please email your picture to Synthia Clark sclark41@utk.edu.

**If you were an Educational Psychology and Counseling student who graduated during this time frame, yet have unintentionally been omitted from this list, please send your name, degree, and major/concentration to Synthia Clark sclark41@utk.edu. We will add you to the list after receiving this information from you and confirming your graduation status.


Curriculum Vita for more information.

Current Occupation

Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)
Tennessee Behavior Supports Project (TBSP)
Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education (TPTE)
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

TBSP is a grant-funded program that provides training, materials, and tools to support administrators, teachers, and staff in the implementation of Response to Instruction and Intervention – Behavior (RTI2-B). At UT Knoxville, we are a multidisciplinary team housed in TPTE. Tara Moore, assistant professor, is our project director, and the team consists of five full-time consultants and five GRAs from School Psychology and Special Education programs.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I like to take advantage of the beautiful Smoky Mountains! I enjoy hiking and camping during the weekends, and try to trade out of the office for some fresh air when I can. I also spend free time baking and cooking! The smell of fresh bread baking is one of my favorite things.

Future/Vocational Goals

After finishing my PhD, I plan to work in as a school psychologist in a school district. I am excited to be involved with the community where I work and for the opportunity to serve students from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of needs. My long-term goal as a school psychologist is to work in private practice or in a clinic setting.

What sold you on the program/department/university?

The faculty’s commitment to student success is what sold me on the University of Tennessee. I was impressed by the emphasis faculty placed on making sure students got the most out of their time here, and knew that the faculty would be supportive in helping me achieve my goals.

What would you tell an incoming student who joins the department?

I would tell incoming students that they should not shy away from experiences that may be out of their comfort zone. There are a wide variety of opportunities the University of Tennessee and Knoxville provide, and I have learned the most from the times that I took on projects outside of my comfort zone.


Applied Educational Psychology

Ashlee earned an MS with the Applied Educational Psychology program in 2018 and currently lives in Fayetteville, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

General Education Teacher
Ralph Askins Elementary-Fayetteville City Schools

Currently, I am teaching 4th grade English language arts and social studies. I have been teaching for nine years in grades 1, 2, and 4.

Accomplishments Since Graduating

Although small to some, my greatest accomplishment was becoming a more successful teacher. Initially, I wanted to go through the EdPsych Online program to enhance my teaching/teaching style. Throughout my experiences, I have done just that. I have become a more competent and confident teacher who exhibits improved teacher self-efficacy. I find myself taking on more leadership roles and taking more instructional risks to create engaging and beneficial lessons. Also, I have challenged myself to teach to as many learning styles as I can.

Personal Interests

Being a teacher and mother, I find that I do not have time for many hobbies. However, I do love to spend time traveling and outdoor activities. Visiting the beach is a favorite! We also love UT football!

My husband and I enjoying searching for unique antiques. I love cooking and trying new foods. We are avid readers in our home as well.

What do you think was the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

For me, I believe my co-learners and professors were the most rewarding part of the program. They are some of the most hard working and compassionate people I have ever met. I believe to have found some lifelong friends along the way. Being an online program, many may find that hard to believe, but it is true. We watched each other “grow” throughout the program. We shared our triumphs, as well as hardships. We helped each other through coursework and learned to rely and trust people that we may or may not ever meet in person. Being a student who lived 4 hours from campus, this meant so much! I always felt connected, which I understand can be difficult for any online program. This particular program put much effort into making it a positive experience.

What would you tell an incoming/current student in the program/department?

“You can do it!” I knew going into a graduate program it would be difficult to juggle my work, family, and coursework. However, with organizing and some planning on my part, I was able to manage everything. I would also tell an incoming student to not be shy about reaching out to the professors and other students. Making connections is a vital part of this experience.

How did your experiences as a student help you in your professional/personal life after graduation?

I wanted to become a better teacher and I have done just that. I know that I am much more confident than I ever was before. The classwork and projects pushed me out of my comfort zone. Just last year I co-led a presentation on teacher mindset to my faculty. I would have never been able to do that before this program. The assignments challenged me and definitely pushed me into becoming a whole new teacher.