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Alumni Spotlight

Instructional Technology

Lindsey earned an MS with the Instructional Technology program in 2016 and currently lives in Littleton, CO. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Instructional Design Coordinator
Child Care Quality Initiatives
Office of Early Childhood
Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS)

I work in a team of two (hopefully four by the end of the year) to design self-paced online learning for the Colorado Shines Professional Development Information System (PDIS). These courses are targeted at early care and learning professionals, with the goal of increasing the quality of care and education provided in child care programs across the state.

Accomplishments since Graduating

In my first nine months at CDHS, I led development on the first hybrid course to exist in the PDIS: Medication Administration Training, a four hour, licensing required course for child care providers across the state of Colorado. Also, at the end of December 2017, my husband and I bought our first house.

Personal Interests

I’m a fiction writer in all my waking hours. A baker, an amateur painter, a paddle boarder, an always-losing-my-callouses guitarist, a gamer, a yoga aficionado, and a literature/media nerd. I also like to travel with my husband and spend time with our four cats.

Accomplishments Earned as a Student

I received invitations from several honors societies (Gamma Beta Phi, Phi Kappa Phi, Kappa Delti Pi), so I suppose that means I made it to a top tier of my class.

On a personal level, I maintained my grade level, kept interest in my classes, and didn’t crumble under pressure – even when I was finalizing my portfolio while packing our place and preparing for a cross country move – so I’d consider that an accomplishment.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

Yes. I’d been in the eLearning world prior to entering the IT Online program and that’s where I wanted to be once I got my degree. Though instead of working for a vendor, I ended up on an in-house design team (of two and soon to be growing), so this let me drastically expand my skills with project management, authoring software, and the creation of graphics and audio, in addition to writing content.

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

When I came to the program, I didn’t really speak the lingo of instructional design and technology (“dual coding, what’s that?”), so the foundational knowledge was helpful when talking about the work I’d done in the past, as well as in the first few months of being on the job.

Additionally, as a student, you deal with a lot of different personalities from a variety of backgrounds and not all of those personalities have technology backgrounds. Getting experience navigating the waters of instructional design with people outside my specific area was good practice for the job I’m doing now. While many people are happy to listen to and go with what a designer has to say, others do want additional information on why you’re making the design choices you are. Having had to explain or clarify design concepts in my classes gave me a leg up on doing so out in the working world.

What would you tell incoming/current students?

If you’re new to the world of instructional design and technology, start thinking about what you want to do within the field. You’ll learn a lot of foundational knowledge about education and how people learn in the program, and you’ll get familiar with the technical jargon, but there are a variety of ways to apply that knowledge out in the world and a varying set of skills for each area. Having an idea of where you want to be so you can direct your individual studies in that direction is immensely helpful for your future career.

Adult Education

Cassandra earned an MS with the Adult Education program in 2017. She is originally from Atlanta, GA and currently lives in Knoxville, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Accounting Specialist III
Office of the Bursar
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN

I currently work for the Bursar, Susan Forman, at UT Knoxville.

Accomplishments since Graduating

Greatest professional accomplishment since graduation has been the opportunity to work one-on-one with the Bursar to assist with daily duties of the position. I am beyond blessed to have a boss that completely supported me while I obtained my master’s. After finishing the program, I requested to learn more of the daily operations of the Bursar, and my boss has spent a great amount of time teaching me new programs, especially those in Banner. She continuously provides me opportunities to further my knowledge and enhance my career.

Personal Interests

My husband and I enjoy traveling and when we have the opportunity on the weekends we like to engage in short excursions and enjoy local culture. My parents are very close to my husband, I have to admit that he is their favorite child, and quite often they come with us on our trips. This gives us all the opportunity to spend quality time together, including going to church together on Sundays.

Accomplishments Earned as a Student

While conducting research for my final comps, I centered my topic on the transformative learning experiences of veteran students involved in combat. I have the upmost respect for the men and women who serve our country. My husband, father, uncle and great uncle are all Veterans. One of my greatest accomplishments was being able to interview a University of Tennessee veteran student that was an Army combat medic. To hear their experiences, how it related to their learning and helping others learn was one of the most rewarding experiences during my program.

What would you tell an incoming/current student?

Going into the program, my first thought was that I would come to know more about how adults learn so that it would help me create a successful learning environment in my position at the University of Tennessee. Teaching in the Atlanta Metropolitan School District gave me the experience to learn how culture and backgrounds influence learning, but only on a small scale. This program has introduced to me a worldly, holistic view of learning. Teaching at a public school system was just barely scraping the surface of what adult education would entail. After two years in the program, I have learned how the principles of adult education originated, how adult learning models and theories can facilitate learning, and how as individuals we can take all of our experiences and meanings and contribute to a successful learning environment both in and outside of the classroom.

The one thing that has remained constant is I have always viewed educators as individuals who love learning. This still remains true in higher adult education, but I have a new respect for adult educators. It is those in this field who love learning on a level that they have invested a great deal of time and research to help adult education learners. I realize that this program was never about changing the way we think because of curriculum, it was allowing us as individuals to be presented with new ideas, concepts, and experiences to help us facilitate our own learning. Everyone has a story, a journey, that has brought them to this program. We all have vast backgrounds, experiences, ideas, concepts, and thoughts that can contribute to learning. The key of this program was allowing us to come to our own understanding of what all of it meant for us individually.

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

One learning experience that was particularly important to me was studying the movements in adult education in Cathy Hammon’s, clinical assistant professor, course “Survey of Adult Education”. It was interesting to see how adult education developed over time from the works of Socrates and Plato, to the modernist view of adult education. During my undergrad, I researched the Renaissance period due to its rich history of literature and art that resonated during that time. It was in Hammon’s course that I would learn the influence of that particular era on modern andragogy in practice. In humanistic adult education, what really stood out to me was one of the thought leaders; Martin Luther. As a Christian, my religion came from the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther. During my adolescent years, I learned about the Protestant Reformation but did not connect it to humanistic adult education. This was a very personal moment for me in the adult learning environment; to connect my religion to adult education. All of a sudden, I was able to connect something that is a very deep, personal belief for me to its importance in adult education.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

Currently at my position at the University of Tennessee, I have been putting into place the ideas and concepts that I have learned in this program. During Qi Sun’s, associate professor, course, “Facilitating Change in the Educational Environment”, we learned that we can take a look outside the box if we have a barrier in the educational environment to understand the reasons why an individual views change as positive or negative. By understanding how the individual views their experiences and how they have resonated with their critical reflection of their experience, we can facilitate a successful learning or workplace environment. On a daily basis, we come across individuals that seem to create a barrier in the workplace or learning environment. At first, it may seem easy to be discouraged. However, putting in place the concepts and ideas I have learned in this program helps me understand why others view certain aspects as positive or negative from their experiences.

“This program has a been a road; there were some smooth stretches, bumpy rides, some curves, some twists, some obstacles, but it was all leading to somewhere. A destination unlike any other, not a specific destination, but one that encompassed knowledge all along the path. It was not about where I was going, a specific mark; it was about the journey, about what I learned. This program was never about finding answers, it was about losing the questions and finding your own learning. One important aspect that I have learned in this program is that learning is life-long, it is a continuous journey. It does not stop because we reach a certain age or we graduate. All the lessons in life that are accumulated from the time of birth, are on-going and every experience contributes to our overall learning.”

Counselor Education

Marinn earned a PhD with the Counselor Education program in 2010. She is originally from Bristol, TN and currently lives in Rock Hill, SC. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Associate Professor & Program Director
Counseling & Development Program
Winthrop University
Rock Hill, SC

I have the privilege of coordinating the day-to-day operations of our programs in Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling in addition to teaching, research, and supervision. I teach courses in ethics, addictions counseling, crisis and trauma counseling, and multicultural counseling. I also see a small caseload of clients at our on-site clinic where I specialize somatic trauma-focused approaches.

Accomplishments since Graduating

I currently am serving as the President-Elect of the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC). This organization is near and dear to my heart, and I found a “professional home” among its membership. It is an honor to be asked to serve ASERVIC in this capacity.

Personal Interests

I am learning to garden a bit, and I love hiking, singing, live music, spending time with friends and family, reading, playing with my dogs, and of course Tennessee athletics. Go Vols!

Accomplishments Earned as a Student
  • President (April 2008 – April 2009). Chi Sigma Iota. Upsilon Theta Chapter. University of Tennessee.
  • Member. (2009-2010). Awards Committee. Association for Assessment in Counseling and Education.
  • Member (2008-2010). Awards Selection Committee. Chi Sigma Iota International.
  • Empty Plate Coordinator (September 2006 – May 2009). Multicultural Interest Network; Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision.
  • Member (October 2006 – March 2007). Graduate Student Steering Committee, Association for Creativity in Counseling.
  • Graduate Student Representative (July 2006 – June 2007). Tennessee Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development.
  • Public Relations Chair (July 2006 – June 2007). Tennessee Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development.
  • Outstanding Doctoral Student. (2009). Upsilon Theta Chapter, Chi Sigma Iota.
  • Donald Hood Student Research Grant. (Spring 2009). Association for Assessment in Counseling and Education.
  • Outstanding Student. (Spring 2008). University of Tennessee.
  • Multi-Level School Counselor of the Year. (2006). Tennessee Counseling Association.
  • Outstanding Mental Health Counselor of the Year. (2006). Smoky Mountain Counseling Association.
What was the most memorable experience at UT?

I had some amazing peers in my cohort. Despite the challenges of our academic lives, we found ways to have fun, celebrate accomplishments and milestones, and enjoy professional conferences.

What would you tell an incoming/current student?

It can be easy in graduate school to get caught up in the academic work and lose sight of the fact that you are at the flagship institution for the University of Tennessee system. Take advantage of all it has to offer including exploring exciting areas for your cognate and specialization as well as all the athletic and cultural events.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

Definitely not! When Shawn Spurgeon, associate professor, first approached me in my master’s program about pursuing a doctorate, I responded with a vehement, “No,” but I love teaching and supervision! Learning and pursuing those skills made me a better clinician, and it is a true to joy to get to train future professional counselors.

“The faculty in the Counselor Education program are some of the best in the country. It is my privilege to be able to call them mentors, colleagues, and friends.”

Learning Environments &
Educational Studies

Jian earned a PhD in education with the Learning Environments and Educational Studies program in 2016. She is originally from Wuhan in the Hubei province of the People’s Republic of China and currently lives in Knoxville, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Instructional Design Specialist
Office of Information Technology (OIT)
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville, TN

As an instructional designer and developer, I work closely with faculty to create instructional materials, courses, and curricula within traditional and online learning environments. I also develop and deliver training and workshop sessions on instructional strategies and current technologies and software for students, staff, and faculty for both face-to-face and online teaching environments. In addition, I provide leadership for implementing strategies to incorporate emerging and OIT-supported technologies into teaching and learning.

Accomplishments since Graduating


  • Waugh, M., & Su, J. (2016). Student perceptions of a successful online collaborative learning community. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 14(1), 1-16.
  • Waugh, M., & Su, J. (2015). Online instructional program design: One size may not fit the needs of all. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 16(1), 1-10.
  • Waugh, M., & Su, J. (2014). Student persistence and attrition in an online M.S. program: Implications for program design. International Journal on E-Learning, 13(1), 101-121.
Accomplishments Earned as a Student

Travis Hawk Fellowship
– For outstanding academic credentials and success in academic journey; August 2011 – July 2012

Graduate Certificate in Evaluation, Statistics, & Measurement
– Certificate obtained in Fall 2013

Personal Interests

I am from China. I love traveling and back in the day was a college backpacker. I have lived in three continents across the world (Asia, Europe, and North America).

In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, reading, and music. Karaoke is one of my favorite things to do with friends. I also spend time at the gym, working out, a couple of times every week.

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

I greatly appreciate the guidance and support from my awesome advisor and mentor, Michael Waugh, my committee members, Barbara Thayer-Bacon, Schuyler Huck, and Blanche O’Bannon, and all of the great faculty members and colleagues in the department. This program taught me so much and fully prepared me for a successful career in the instructional design field.

What was the most memorable experience?

My most memorable experience during the program was the great feeling of belonging among my peers. I learned a lot through collaborating with different groups of peers. We shared conference trips and enjoyed stress-relief social gatherings together. It was such a valuable experience to have gone through the journey with a group of scholars bonding with one another.

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

The programs in EPC have so much to offer. My advice is to set academic goals at the early stage and grab the wonderful opportunities for learning and professional growth along your journey in the program.

“Looking back, I feel fortunate to have made the right choice to have joined this wonderful program. I graduated with some most cherished memories in my life. Now, I am so happy to be back and become a proud member of the UT campus again.”

Alumni Spotlight: Stracee Robinson
Applied Educational Psychology

Stracee earned an MS in educational psychology with the Applied Educational Psychology program in 2015. She is originally from, and currently lives in, Chattanooga, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Academic Completion Specialist
Chattanooga State Community College
Social and Behavioral Sciences Division
Chattanooga, TN

In my role, I help to ensure students persist to complete their degree or certificate.

Accomplishments since Graduating

I have a sincere interest in serving students at the collegiate level, and my current position at Chattanooga State is my first step on that journey. I would say that this is my greatest professional accomplishment.

Personal Interests

I enjoy all of the arts and trying new foods, but by far I love sending time with my family. They are just super cool people!

Stracee Robinson and family

What sold you on this program?

The synchronous online format sold me on the program. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn via online, but even more so once I knew I would be able to interact with my instructors and classmates.

What was the most memorable experience?

My most memorable experience was in clinical assistant professor Cathy Hammon’s class. In addition to visiting the Highlander Center, she introduced me to the work of Asa Hilliard. Throughout my education, not one teacher had ever explored a black psychologist in any psychology course I had taken. I want her to know how much that touched my soul and opened my mind to a beautiful perspective.

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

My experience as an EdPsych Online student has heightened my awareness of creating environments conducive to reciprocal learning. It has helped me to be concise when communicating, and to be more in tune to issues and concerns that effect how students learn. All things that I use both professionally and personally.

“Love and light to all that have been and will be a part of the EdPsych Online program at UT!”