Student News

Graduate student summer experiences

Graduate students in the School of Education are a diverse group. One characteristic they have in common, however, is ambition. Even after classes end, these students stay busy participating in challenging and rewarding endeavors. Whether they are interning, teaching, or working with children, doctoral students use their summers to enrich and expand their learning experiences.

Read on to find out what some of our students were up to this past summer and maybe even get some ideas for your next summer break.

Rachelle Gold

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Rachelle Gold

Year/Program: Fourth-year Ph.d., Education; Culture, Curriculum and Change

Name of Summer Activity: English teacher

Name of Org(s). Involved: UNC-Chapel Hill Summer Bridge Program

Location: UNC-Chapel Hill

Dates: June-Aug. 2006

Brief description of summer activity: This past summer, for the second year in a row, I taught freshmen English in UNC's Summer Bridge program, which selects ethnic minority students to spend seven weeks taking one math and one English course at UNC. Because all of the students have been admitted as freshmen at Carolina for the upcoming fall, they have excellent academic aptitude, but might have low SAT scores. They live and learn at UNC's Lewis dorm, dine in Lenoir, use the recreational facilities, take tours of all campus services, and visit all the major professional schools on campus.

What you learned/gained from this experience: I have learned to become a more creative composition teacher, to offer opportunities for reflective writing, to provide clearer constructive criticism, to help students develop a positive writer persona, to foster peer collaboration, and to give more explicit directions for revision.

What was unique about this experience: This past summer, 10 of my 12 students were African American and two were Native American and we were able to talk and write about issues relevant to race, ethnicity, and class, in addition to popular culture, national politics, global health crises, sexism, and civil and human rights abuses.

Yongmei Li

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Yongmei Li

Year/Program: Second-year Ph.d., Education; Literacy in Early Childhood, Families and Literacy

Name of Summer Activity: National seminar participant

Name of Org(s). Involved: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Institute of Education Sciences and U.S. Department of Education

Location: Washington, D.C.

Dates: July 19-21, 2006

Brief description of summer activity: I participated in the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) and Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2022) Database Training Seminar.

What you learned/gained from this experience: I was interested in improving bilingual education in U.S. Schools, particularly for the country’s growing Latino population.  While attending the seminar, I learned how to use the information from these two national longitudinal databases to describe Latino students’ reading trajectories, which is a first step in knowing how to enhance their reading abilities and thus improve the quality of their education.

What was unique about this experience: The seminar provided me with a great opportunity to integrate and apply what I learned in research and statistical courses here at the School of Education.

Janet Lopez

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Janet Lopez

Year/Program: Fourth-year Ph.D., Education; Culture, Curriculum and Change

Name of Summer Activity: Intern

Name of Org(s). Involved: State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO)

Location: Boulder, Co.

Dates: June-Aug. 2006

Brief description of summer activity: While at SHEEO, I studied anticipated changes in demographic trends over the next 50 years and their policy implications for SHEEOs and other higher education policy professionals.

What you learned/gained from this experience: This internship gave me practical experience working with a policy organization, the opportunity to create a policy report which will be shared nationally with all of their constituents, and the chance to highlight the importance of encouraging and expanding higher education opportunities for low-income students and students of color.

What was unique about this experience: During my time at SHEEO I created a report on the most important demographic changes that will occur in the United States from 2000-2050 and their impact on higher education. Working with the seasoned staff of policy experts at SHEEO gave me the chance to see how organizations influence state and national policymaking.  It was a one of a kind internship.

Jason Mendez

Photo of Jason Mendez with students.

Jason Mendez

Year/Program: Second-year Ph.d., Education; Culture, Curriculum and Change

Name of Summer Activity: Camp director

Name of Org(s). Involved: The Arts, Culture and Enrichment (ACE) Summer Program

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Dates: June 19 – Aug. 12, 2006

Brief description of summer activity: This summer, I had the privilege of hosting a 6 ½ week summer program that served K-12 students from the Durham and Chapel Hill region. The camp’s curriculum focused on expressive movement, visual literacy, audio expressions, expressive literature and cultural immersions.

What you learned/gained from this experience: Since this was the first year the program was offered, we [instructors/staff] learned that our innovative curriculum is effective. Our pedagogical strategies are conducive to student classroom engagement. This was evident by the students' work and by all the fun and good times all the students and instructors had throughout the summer. We reaffirmed our vision that kids need an arena to express themselves freely. We provided that and were blown away by the work that was produced.

What was unique about this experience: When I was first developing this program, I felt like students are very segregated in their learning. But through the arts these students can get together and work…and they learn from each other through their different cultural understandings. North Carolina is a diverse location, and I think our curriculum reflects that.

Jason Painter

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Jason Painter

Year/Program: Fifth-year Ph.D., Education; Educational Psychology, Measurement and Evaluation

Name of Summer Activity: Camp director

Name of Org(s). Involved: North Carolina Science Olympiad

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Dates: July 17-22, 2006

Brief description of summer activity: This summer, I offered a camp for rising 6th, 7th and 8th graders on the UNC-CH campus. The camp was completely hands-on and was done in collaboration with the Morehead Planetarium.

What you learned/gained from this experience: I learned that running a summer camp for 60 middle school students is an incredible amount of work, but worth every bit of it. Middle school students who dreaded the idea of attending an all week, all day "science" camp were turned on to science and left the camp enthusiastic and excited about pursuing higher level science courses, science careers, and joining or starting Science Olympiad teams at their schools.

What was unique about this experience: This program was unique because middle school students got the opportunity to interact with college students majoring in science and with scientists at the university level. The Morehead Planetarium was a partner in this venture and students benefited from resources and programs from the Planetarium as well as from the North Carolina Science Olympiad.

Bob Pleasants

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Bob Pleasants

Year/Program: Fourth-year Ph.D., Education; Culture, Curriculum and Change

Name of Summer Activity: Instructor, EDUC 041

Name of Org(s): UNC School of Education

Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.

Dates of Summer Activity: June 22 - July 29, 2006

Brief description of summer activity: I taught EDUC 041, Education in American Society, to undergraduates at UNC. This diverse class included mostly non-majors as well as older students with varying degrees of teaching experience. 

What you learned/gained from this experience: This was my first time teaching summer session to undergraduates. I learned so much from the different students in the class and enjoyed having the time to meet each of them as individuals. I also had a lot of fun.

What was unique about this experience: This was the most diverse group of students I’ve taught since coming to the School of Education. The range of ages, ethnicities, geographic backgrounds, and teaching experiences helped to make the course interesting for all of us.  Students learned a lot from each other, and I learned from them as well.

Graduate Student Summer Experiences