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School of Education
148th Commencement of Drake University
May 16, 2020

To Our Graduates

We celebrate you, the graduates, and your many accomplishments during your time at Drake University. We celebrate you, the family members who supported these graduates. We celebrate you, the faculty, staff, and mentors who guided them. And we celebrate you, the friends and community members who encouraged them.

Our Doctoral Degree Earners

The following students defended their dissertations. Wishing them all the best in their new adventures!

Dr. Deborah Boldt, PhD.
Dissertation Title: Elementary Teachers Experiences with the Fidelity of Inclusion in the Least Restricted Environment Viewed through Strange and Banning’s Environmental Model (Dissertation Chair, Dr. Robyn Cooper)

Dr. Christine Sturgeon, PhD.
Dissertation Title: A Phenomenological Study of the Lived Experiences of Post-Secondary Leaders of Nonprofit Student Voice Organizations (Dissertation Chair, Dr. DeDe Small)

Dr. Anthony Ferguson, EdD.
Dissertation Title: A panoramic view of the Lived Experience of Black University Faculty (Dissertation Chair, Dr. Catherine Gillespie)

Dr. Denise Hart-Pesek, PhD.
Dissertation Title: Life in the Fast Lane: A Narrative Investigation of the Impact of Mentor Relationships of Celebrity Figures (Dissertation Chair, Dr. Sally Beisser)

Dr. Rachelle Karstens, PhD.
Dissertation Title: Sensesmaking and Rainmaking: A Phenomenology Examining the Fundraising Experiences of Presidents at Private, Nonprofit Institutions of Higher Education. (Dissertation Chair, Dr. Robyn Cooper)

Dr. Chad Cardani-Trollinger, PhD.
Dissertation Title: Preserving the Academy: Staff and Faculty Perspectives on the Future of Higher Education at Private, Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities (Dissertation Chair, Dr. Robyn Cooper)

School of Education Honors

Summa Cum Laude
Stephen Anthony Flaherty III
Mary Rose Radice

Magna Cum Laude
Madeline Mae DeMarco
Meghan Elizabeth Eubeler
Jacob Daniel Taber

Cum Laude
Aaron Bradley Eisler
Sabrina Sage Havig

Departmental Honors
Aaron Bradley Eisler
Stephen Anthony Flaherty III
Mary Rose Radice
Jacob Daniel Taber

Kappa Delta Pi
Stephen Anthony Flaherty III
KayeLea June Kautz

Words of Wisdom from our National Advisory Council

Grant Permission
It’s a difficult time. There are a lot of unknowns right now. We are all human beings, with many different emotions. It’s okay to feel the way that you feel. You may be experiencing insecurities. You have permission to trust in your abilities and your instincts. Be good to yourself. Rely on others when you need to. Let your light shine when you can.

Pursue Opportunities
See this time as an opportunity — don’t be afraid to fail. It’s a good time to take some risks. This is where you develop a growth mindset. The world has changed; how have you changed with it? Things won’t fit into the same box; the box has changed. Be creative. Look at things in terms of possibilities and opportunities instead of expectations.

Stay Grounded
Keep your values at the heart of what you do.

Recognize Equity
Equity is an ongoing issue in the U.S., and it has been particularly highlighted during the pandemic. Change the system when and where you can. We are all different, but we are all going through the same thing. Care for yourself, but also care for others.

Lessons Learned
Consider how this time will influence your professional practice in the future. You may have to change on the fly — always. Education isn’t static. Don’t assume that this is a temporary thing. Focus on the lessons that you didn’t sign up to learn. Think. Adapt.

Practice Reflection
This is a time out to reassess. Write a letter to yourself from the future (what would your 80-year-old self say to your current self?). Focus on the big picture. Be thoughtful and reflective.

Campus Backgrounds

Even though you may be away from campus, here are a few virtual backgrounds available to download and create a digital graduation photo opportunity!

Want a photo in front of Old Main or next to Painted Street? No problem! You can even have your family or pets join in the fun too.

How to download:

  • Click on the photo you would like to use.
  • Right-click the photo and select "Save Image As" to download to your device.

How to set as your background:
How-To Instructions