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Travis Hawk Fellowship

Congratulations to the 2018-19 fellowship and scholarship recipients from the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling!

Zach Budesa Counselor Education
– J. Wallace & Katie Dean Graduate Fellowship

Sam Burmester Learning Environments & Educational Studies
– J. Wallace & Katie Dean Graduate Fellowship

Kristin Fowler School Psychology
– J. Wallace & Katie Dean Graduate Fellowship

Ben Gaertner School Counseling
– Eugene & Mary Sue Akins Graduate Fellowship

Rachel Geren Clinical Mental Health Counseling
– Charles Lowell Thompson Fellowship

Patricia Higgins Adult Learning
– Travis Hawk Fellowship

Jennifer Hightower Counselor Education
– Tennessee Fellowship for Graduate Excellence

Baileigh Kirkpatrick School Psychology
– Mary Phipps Shepherd Graduate Fellowship

Sarah Lucchesi School Counseling
– Eugene & Mary Sue Akins Graduate Fellowship

Brenda Murphy Learning Environments & Educational Studies
– Travis Hawk Fellowship

Christina Peterson Evaluation, Statistics & Measurement
– Travis Hawk Fellowship

Ashley Scheyder School Counseling
– Helen Carter Murray Scholarship

Arden Szepe Counselor Education
– Dr. Stephen Lee Alderton Graduate Fellowship

Shelby Wright School Psychology
– Dr. Richard Yoakley Fellowship

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.”

Adult Learning

Sara is currently seeking her PhD in educational psychology and research, with a concentration in the Adult Learning program. Originally from Tehran, Iran, she received her BA in English literature and MA in educational psychology from Allameh Tabatabaei University and joined UT Knoxville in 2013. We asked her to reflect on some past and current experiences. Read her responses below.

  • Travis Hawk Fellowship, Educational Psychology and Counseling Department, University of Tennessee, for outstanding academic credentials and success in academic journey. $1000. 2015
  • Alexander N. Charters Adult Education Research Grant-in-Aid, Syracuse University. Co-principal investigator with G. Ruttencutter. Grant awarded to conduct archival research for Exploring the intersection of adult education and critical theory. $1,850. 2014


Nasrollahian Mojarad, S. (2016). Action comes first and foremost in Iran. 4th Action Research Network of the Americas Conference. Knoxville, Tennessee.

Simarasl, N. & Nasrollahian Mojarad, S. (2015). How Self-directed are Iranian Women Entrepreneurs? Global Issues Conference: International Women’s Rights. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Nasrollahian Mojarad, S. (2015). Self-directed learning and brain executive functions. 29th International Self-Directed Learning Symposium. Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Nasrollahian Mojarad, S. & Ruttencutter, G. S. (2014). From Russia with Love. American Association for Adult and Continuing Education 63rd Annual Conference, North Charleston, South Carolina.

Ziegler, M., Ferris, E. J., Overton, M. D., Nasrollahian Mojarad, S. & Ruttencutter, G. S. (2014). Live Online: Possibilities and Pitfalls of Synchronous Online Teaching and Learning. American Association for Adult and Continuing Education 63rd Annual Conference, North Charleston, South Carolina.

Overton, M. D., Bailey, A., Nasrollahian Mojarad, S., Seidler, A. E. & Shih, C. K. (2014). Jump-Starting Self-Directedness in Adult Learning Using Mobile Apps. American Association for Adult and Continuing Education 63rd Annual Conference, North Charleston, South Carolina.

Nasrollahian Mojarad, S., & Tullier, J. D. (2014). Self-Directed Learning and Cognitive and Metacognitive Capabilities in Adult Learners. 28th International Self-Directed Learning Symposium, Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Nasrollahian Mojaran, S. (2015). Book Review. [Review of the book Adult learning: Linking theory and practice.] Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 63(1), Spring, 67-68.

Current Occupation

Graduate Research Assistant
Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Personal Interests

I enjoy watching movies and following on my country’s cinema. My other favorite non-academic activity is to record my voice while reading books every mornings in order to send it to my dear ones back home.

As the oldest and only daughter of the family, I have a lot of responsibilities in regard to my parents and brothers that I take care of them even from here, that is thousands of miles away from home. This long distance hasn’t been able to undermine my care and love for the ones who are inseparable parts of my heart and identity and I am even more deeply connected to them from my new home.

Future/Vocational Goals

I am a social activist at this time and I will definitely preserve this social identity in my future profession and processes.

My goal is to become a faculty and researcher in the future and I want my students to identify me as a researcher and then an educator.

What is the best tidbit/find you have about UT/Knoxville?

I started my journey as a PhD student and also in the United States in Knoxville and I am so happy with my experience here. Knoxville is a beautiful city with kind and precious people who were very welcoming from the very first day I entered the city and made me feel at home. This was also true about UT Knoxville, as I could conveniently settle down and adapt to the new system and academic environment that I was in.

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

I owe much of my accomplishments here to my supportive and understanding adviser, Ralph Brockett, my lovely and wholehearted best friend, Gwen Ruttentcutter, and all of the considerate and appreciative faculty members and colleagues from whom I have learned a lot. My most important take away from this program will be the confidence that it gave me through its learner-centered approach to teaching and learning. I am now much more self-reliant than the beginning of my journey and have taken important steps in developing my academic and consequently social identity so far.