School Psychology, Ph.D.

Student Awards and Profiles

Student Awards

Awards for the 2015-16 Cohort:

Seungeun Lee - The Linnea Smith Innovations Award

John O-Neill-James - The Susan Pittleman Fellowship

Tabitha Newman - The Charles Templeton Fellowship

Melissa McWilliams - The Ira and Esther Gordon Scholarship

Student Profiles

These stories are part of a series of profiles of School of Education students who have recently won a scholarship or award. Click here to read about more School of Education students.

Photo of Sheena Berry


The Carol and William Malloy Travel Award
Ph.D. in School Psychology
Class of 2015
Manteo, North Carolina

My background

While growing up in Manteo, N.C., I was very involved in my hometown church’s youth group, cheerleading, martial arts and travel. Then I pursued my undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. As an undergraduate, I focused heavily on my academics, involvement in my sorority (whose philanthropy was literacy) and my study abroad experience in Germany.

Why I chose school psychology

Ever since high school, I have wanted to become a psychologist. My interactions with people from different backgrounds and cultures have shaped my appreciation for individual differences and my desire to use my passion for people to help others who may need support.

Why I chose the UNC School of Education

I chose to attend the UNC School of Education because it provided the program and degree I was seeking in the state where I planned on residing and practicing. My program also offers me training within a scientist-practitioner model, which opens doors for future opportunities no matter what career path I take.

My experience

I have had such a great, supportive experience here at the UNC School of Education. The training is exceptional and students are encouraged to individualize their education to foster their goals and passions.

How the Malloy Travel Award has benefited me

The Malloy Travel Award allowed me to travel across the United States to give my first presentation at a national convention. This was a unique and exciting experience for me, and the travel award helped make this trip possible.

My career goals

I look forward to working in North Carolina as a school psychologist serving families and their children, specifically offering intervention supports between home and school. I hope to be a resource for families with young children to promote positive development and relationships, both before and during the school years.

Photo of Cristin Montalbano


Recipient of the James B. and Susan H. Pittleman Fellowship
Ph.D. in School Psychology
Class of 2016
Cliffside Park, New Jersey

My background

Prior to enrolling in the School of Education’s School Psychology program, I was a special education teacher in New York City for six years where I had the pleasure of teaching first, second and third graders the necessary skills to achieve positive academic, social and emotional outcomes. I earned a B.S. in psychology and political science from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and an M.S.Ed. in childhood special education from Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Why I chose education

My desire to become a school psychologist was catalyzed by my experiences as a special education teacher. During my career as a teacher, I had the opportunity to provide special education services to students with diverse needs and this was the most enriching experience of my life. The growth and development I witnessed in my students inspired me to continue my education in order to learn more research-based techniques to meet the needs of students with special needs.

Why I chose the UNC School of Education

After researching many programs throughout the country, I realized that my research interests are strongly aligned with the work of several professors within the UNC School of Education. In addition, the framework under which the School of Education operates was closely aligned with my personal philosophies. As a result, I knew that pursuing doctoral training at this cutting-edge institution of higher learning would help me achieve my personal and professional goals.

My experience

My experience at the UNC School of Education has been amazing. Within my first year of studies, I have had the opportunity to work with experts in the field of school psychology, data analysis and psychometrics. Each of these experiences has challenged me intellectually and provided me with opportunities to develop the skills necessary to be an effective school psychologist.

How the James B. and Susan H. Pittleman Fellowship has benefited me

I am truly honored to be the recipient of the James B. and Susan H. Pittleman Fellowship. This opportunity has helped me pursue my goals in the field of special education. Due to the generosity of James B. and Susan H. Pittleman, I have joined the LEARN NC team where I am currently developing classroom-ready resources for early elementary teachers. These resources span several content areas and integrate special education approaches and I am truly grateful for this opportunity to help teachers meet the needs of students in their classrooms.

My career goals

After I graduate, I aspire to become a leader in the field of education. I aim to be involved in many endeavors geared toward ensuring that students receive the accommodations they need to bolster their academic, social and emotional functioning. As a result, I not only want to become a school psychologist in a school system, but I also aspire to contribute to the knowledge base of the field through research.

Photo of Adrienne Villagomez


Recipient of a Malloy Travel Award
Ph.D. in School Psychology
Class of 2016
Allentown, Pennsylvania

Why I chose the UNC School of Education

The abundance of resources at UNC and the surrounding area related to research and training in neurodevelopmental disabilities made UNC a great fit for me. The School of Education, in conjunction with affiliations with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and other research and training sites, provided my first opportunities to engage in graduate-level research, practicum opportunities and advocacy efforts.

My experience

I’ve had a range of unique experiences through the School of Education. I spent my first year in a research assistantship with Dr. Barbara Wasik, focusing on family literacy, home visiting and classroom observation through a graduate school merit assistantship. During my second year, I worked as an America Reads Coach Mentor at SCALE (Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education), supporting undergraduate tutors in literacy tutoring at a local elementary school. This year, I’ll be spending my summer in Porto, Portugal, to engage in research through Dr. Rune Simeonsson’s Transatlantic Consortium on Global Education and Developmental Studies.

How the Malloy Travel Award has benefited me

This year’s National Association of School Psychology Annual Convention was hosted in Seattle and the Malloy Travel Award made my first professional presentation at a national conference feasible.

Other significant scholarships, fellowships, awards and honors

I was awarded the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Traineeship in Special Education for the academic year 2012-2013. This fellowship provided interdisciplinary leadership training in clinical practice and research at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities.

In my incoming year, I was awarded a UNC Chapel Hill Graduate School Merit Assistantship at the doctoral level. I was assigned to work with Dr. Barbara Wasik, who serves on the School Psychology program faculty.

My career goals

As a future school psychologist, I hope to improve the quality of life for children and youth and their families by being an advocate and resource. My long-term career goals include contributing to and generating change in the delivery of services within our education system through advocacy for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities.