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Meet Our Students

Meet students in the Cultural Foundations of Education and Disability Studies master’s, certificate, and doctoral programs! Our students have wide and varied academic interests such as the history of education, intergroup dialogue, critical gender and race studies, student retention, and community engagement. Students profiled here are open to being contacted by prospective students to talk about their experiences in the program.

Maria del Mar Aponte Rodriguez

Maria del Mar Aponte RodriguezAreas of Study: Transnational Feminism and International student experiences in mainland US.

Biography: Maria del Mar Aponte Rodriguez (she/her/hers) is a doctoral student in Cultural Foundations of Education. She is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico and has over 8 years of experience as an international educator, specifically the areas of education abroad, international students, and ESL teaching. As an undergraduate, Maria del Mar studied abroad in Cairo, Egypt and studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo. She also completed her master’s degrees in International and Comparative Politics, and English as Second Language at Wright State University. Her current research focuses on the experiences of Saudi Arabian women in mainland US higher education institutions.

Languages: Fluent in English and Spanish, intermediate in French and Arabic, and beginner in Italian.

Chelsea Bouldin

Chelsea BouldinAreas of Study: Black Feminist Theory, Afrocentrism, Critical Race Studies, Sociology of Education, Decolonial Methodologies, and Critical Whiteness Studies.

Biography: Chelsea Bouldin (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in Cultural Foundations of Education and is pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Study in Women’s and Gender Studies. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies with a minor in Social Justice and Human Rights from George Mason University where she also taught as a teaching assistant for a Social Justice and Human Rights course in her program. Chelsea now serves as Vice President of the Black Graduate Student Alliance (BGSA) and is program coordinator of Syracuse University’s chapter of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program. She also serves as a Student Leader for the newly developed Graduate BIPOC Student Alliance (GBSA). Her current research interests include Black feminist theory/thought, critical race studies, and the socialization of higher education. Her work adopts an Afrocentric lens and embraces non-traditional methodology to query Black women’s self-identity development.

Nadaya A. Brantley

Nadaya A BrantleyAreas of Study: Race & ethnicity, higher education, disability, & educational equity.

Biography: Nadaya A. Brantley (she/they) is graduate of Syracuse University (’04 UG and ’06 MSW), a doctoral student in Cultural Foundations of Education, and currently the Internship Placement Coordinator in the David B. Falk College, School of Social Work Field Education Office. Her practice experience includes work with adolescents, developmental disabilities, mental health, and incarcerated populations.  As a systems thinker, she believes that, in the words of bell hooks, “there must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.”  Nadaya’s research interests include exploring intersectional identities and educational equity in higher education through a critical race theory lens.

Jersey Cosantino

Jersey CosantinoAreas of Study: Trans Studies, Mad Studies, Contemplative Studies, and dialogic pedagogy.

Biography: Jersey Cosantino (they/them/theirs), a former K-12 educator, is a doctoral fellow in the Cultural Foundations of Education department at Syracuse University and is completing Certificates of Advanced Study in Women’s and Gender Studies and Disability Studies. Jersey’s scholarship resides at the intersections of Mad Studies and Trans Studies and, utilizing disability and transformative justice frameworks, their research centers the lived experiences and subjectivities of Mad, neurodivergent, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals. Through oral history and autoethnography, Jersey seeks to construct Mad trans archives that create pathways and portals to Mad trans futures, imaginaries, and elsewheres. Using Mad trans methodologies that challenge sanism, ableism, and transmisia, Jersey’s research confronts medical model discourses and the pathologizing gaze of the psychiatric industrial complex. Jersey identifies as trans, non-binary, queer, Mad, and neurodivergent, and is white with class, citizenship, and English language privilege. They are also a co-facilitator for SU’s Intergroup Dialogue Program and a TA for EDU 310/610 The American School. Additionally, Jersey holds a master’s degree in high school English education (‘14) and a graduate certificate in mindfulness studies (‘19) from Lesley University, and a bachelor’s degree in English and studio art from Wellesley College (‘09).

Cassaundra Guzman

Cassaundra Guzman Areas of Study: Retention rates and success of first-generation, students of color in colleges, specifically predominantly white institutions.

Biography: Cassaundra Guzman (she/her) is a doctoral student in Cultural Foundations of Education. Throughout her college career she has done work as a peer mentor, editor, and facilitator. Cassaundra currently works in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of Financial Literacy, and the Office of Student Living. Alongside her jobs, she holds positions within the Graduate Student Organization and the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. Guzman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Humboldt State University and a Masters of Science degree in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University.

Atiya McGhee

Atiya McGheeAreas of Study: Black (a)sexualities, embodiment, and trans studies, and dialogic pedagogy and social justice education.

Biography: Atiya McGhee (they/them/theirs) is a doctoral student in Cultural Foundations of Education and is pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Study in Women’s and Gender Studies. Atiya currently serves as the teaching assistant for EDU 470 in the Selected Studies Education program. Their current research interests include Black (a)sexualities, embodiment, and trans studies. The fundamental question Atiya interrogates is how various systems of oppression and dominance influence discourse around sexuality, particularly asexuality, within the Black community. Prior to moving to Syracuse, Atiya worked in Residential Life at various higher education institutions for five years. Atiya holds a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (‘16) from the University of Vermont, and a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Literature from Wheaton College in Massachusetts (‘14). Outside of academia, Atiya spends a lot of time reading fanfiction, listening to Kpop, and watching anime.

Fatemeh Moghaddam

Fatemeh MoghaddamAreas of Study: Decolonizing Pedagogy and Praxis, Transnational Feminisms, Politics of Muslim Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Discourses, and Oral History.

Biography: Fatemeh Moghaddam (she, her, hers) is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education and received a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Women’s and Gender Studies at Syracuse University. Fatemeh’s work is at the intersection of decolonial transnational, Black, indigenous, and Muslim feminist praxis and pedagogies. Her current work centers around a critique of discourses of Muslim women’s leadership, empowerment and agency in the context of global and settler-colonial liberalism. Using ethnography and oral history, her current research theorizes and reconceptualizes women’s leadership, practice of power and homosocial community building and charts an indigenous genealogy of feminist leadership in Iran. During the past fifteen years, Fatemeh has been trained in the ontological approach to leadership in academic institutions in Iran, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States. Fatemeh is also trained in Persian traditional singing and in her free time enjoys doing yoga, singing, and listening to music.

Languages: Farsi, English, and French.

Victoria Munley

Victoria MunleyAreas of Study: Race and Education, and Disability Studies.

Biography: Victoria Munley (she/her/hers) is a Master’s student in Cultural Foundations of Education. As a recent graduate of Syracuse University with her undergraduate degree in Music Education and a minor in Disability Studies, Victoria is passionate about education, teaching, and music. Victoria currently works as an Academic Consultant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Michaela Quinn Rice

Michaela Quinn RiceAreas of Study: Qualitative methods, Africana Studies, cultural anthropology, history (specifically African, Middle Eastern, and European), Gender and Women’s Studies, philosophy of education, Christian Theology, and Biblical Studies.

Biography: Michaela (she/her/hers) is a graduate student in Cultural Foundations of Education and received her B.A. degree in Cultural Anthropology, specializing in Africana Studies with a minor in History, from SUNY Plattsburgh. While at Plattsburgh she completed her undergraduate qualitative research on pregnancy and midwifery as well as being part of a research team examining immigration at the Canadian border. Her interests include education, social justice training, and the writing of curriculum and policy in the context of rural communities.

D. Romo

D. RomoDissertation Title: Wrestling with Public Engagement: Histories of Settler Colonialism and Ongoing Expansion of the University

Areas of Study: Space & place, publicly engaged scholarship, history of education, community engagement, intergroup dialogue, youth participatory action research, critical race theory, and disability justice.

Biography: D. Romo (they/them) is a first-generation Xicanx doctoral candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education with a concentration in history of education. As a Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) Fellow alumni and member of Imagining America (IA), they have served on the IA National Advisory Board and as PAGE Co-Director. Their background and scholarly interest in space and place, history of education, publicly engaged scholarship, and community organizing, drives their commitment to the communities that they collaborate with ongoing reflection on their social responsibility to the land. Romo is a research consultant for the Leading and Learning Initiative research team that aims to address institutional and campus culture challenges/barriers that constraint community engagement, public, and activist scholarship among graduate students participating in an engagement program.

Ionah M. Elaine Scully

Ionah Elaine ScullyAreas of Study: Public scholarship, storytelling, Indigenous methodologies, land pedagogy, and Two Spirit epistemology and critique.

Biography: Ionah Scully (they/them/wiya) is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education and a University Fellowship recipient. A member of the Intergroup Dialogue team, Scully developed and facilitates a land-based dialogue and education program for both university and neighboring communities. A recipient of the Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) fellowship in 2019 (of which Scully also later co-directed) and the New York Public Humanities Grant (2021), Scully’s public scholarship has been awarded numerous awards and fellowships. Graduating from Sarah Lawrence College with a bachelor’s in Labor History and Writing with an emphasis on Native Studies, Scully has been a professional dancer and organizer for racial and economic justice for over a decade. Co-founder of the Resilient Indigenous Action Collective and active in cultural and nation rebuilding efforts in their community, Scully’s research involves public scholarship, storytelling, Indigenous methodologies, land pedagogy, and Two Spirit epistemology and critique. Scully also holds Certificates of Advanced Study in Women’s and Gender Studies (Syracuse University) and Conflict Resolution (Maxwell School, Syracuse University). They are Cree-Métis and Irish of the Michel First Nation.

Shiilā Seok Wun Au Yong

Shiilā Seok Wun Au YongAreas of Study: Black feminist thought, autobiography, dialogic pedagogy, & disability studies.

Biography: Shiilā Seok Wun Au Yong (they/them/she/hers) is a Ph.D. fellow in Cultural Foundations of Education as well as a filmmaker, educator and underwater cinematographer. Their/her research interests include disability studies, critical pedagogy, critical race theory, black feminist thought, postcolonial studies, and storytelling. Born and raised in Malaysia as a third generation Chinese descent, their/her filmmaking interest lies in telling compelling human stories by combining both fiction and non-fiction elements, exploring identities, LGBTQ, family dynamics and sense of belongings. Their/her films have been screened in film festivals in Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and the United States. Shiilā embarked on their/her filmmaking journey doing underwater videography and photography in 2006. Being exposed to different social and environmental issues eventually led them/her to see the power of storytelling and realized that film is her purpose and service. They/she has conducted various community filmmaking workshops as well as teaching acting and filmmaking at a school for underprivileged children in Malaysia. They/She is now putting their/her focus on their/her scholarship with the intention of using personal narrative and reflexivity as a tool for healing and soft activism. They/she holds a MFA in Film, also at Syracuse University under Fulbright scholarship. Shiilā believes in the importance of embracing vulnerability and intersectional organizing.