Virginia Tech has named nine new members of the university’s chapter of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.

Doctoral students Sreyoshi Bhaduri, Adrien DeLoach, Amanda Halliburton, Jordan Laney, Erin S. Lavender-Stott, Shekila Melchior, Saul N’Jie, Jennifer Turner, and Atiyeh Vahidmanesh will be inducted into the society at Yale University in April. They were also recognized during the Graduate School awards dinner on March 30.

“These students exemplify the goals and aspirations of the Bouchet Society in their scholarship and commitment to inclusion and diversity,” said Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw.  

Established in 2005 by Yale and Howard universities, the society is named for the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in the United States. Edward Bouchet graduated from Yale College in 1874 and earned his doctoral degree in physics from Yale University in 1876. 

In 2015, Virginia Tech became one of 13 university partners with Bouchet Society chapters. The society’s goal is to create a network of strong scholars and professionals who “serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy,” according to its webpage. In 2016, four more graduate students were inducted, and President Tim Sands received the Edward Bouchet Legacy Award and also was inducted into the society.

“Virginia Tech will be well represented at the Yale University Induction Ceremony with nine scholars who represent scholarship, diversity, and service,” said Dannette Gomez Beane, director of the Graduate School Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives. “These students, as in past cohorts, have exceeded the university motto, Ut Prosim, in providing leadership in their field of study and in the community to uphold standards of inclusive excellence.”

Sreyoshi Bhaduri, of Pune, Maharashtra, India, is a Ph.D. candidate in engineering education. She has a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, India, and a diploma in human rights from the Indian Institute of Human Rights, New Delhi, India. She earned her master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech.

For her doctoral dissertation, she is exploring ways in which machine learning algorithms can be used by instructors in engineering classrooms. She believes that access is an important step in promoting critical thinking and diversity, and that technology may be effective if used as a tool to increase access of resources for more individuals.

She is an advocate for Open Education and Open Access, and was selected to represent Virginia Tech for OpenCon 2015. She is a Fellow of the Virginia Tech Academy for Graduate Teaching Excellence and a Global Perspectives Programs scholar.

Adrien DeLoach, of Blacksburg, is a Ph.D. student in higher education administration through the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. He is a graduate assistant in the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity and is part of the support staff for the Galileo and Hypatia living-learning communities, teaching the Galileo seminar for first-year participants.

He received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and a master’s degree from Western Kentucky University. 

Amanda Halliburton, of Yorktown, Virginia, is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology, with a concentration in clinical science. Her research focuses on adapting cognitive-behavioral interventions for developmentally appropriate use with youth, as well as investigating key mechanisms of change in these programs.

She is a founding Fellow in the Virginia Tech Academy for Graduate Teaching and serves as a student representative on her departmental committee of diversity and inclusion and clinical science subcommittee for recruitment and diversity. Ultimately, she aspires to build a career that combines her love of teaching with her passion for community-based clinical work.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Mary Washington and a master’s degree in psychology at Virginia Tech.

Jordan Laney, of McDowell County, North Carolina, is a doctoral student in the interdisciplinary Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) program. Her research areas focus on Appalachian studies, American studies, popular culture, bluegrass music, documentary forms, place-based identity, social justice, post-modern poetry, and feminist theory.

She has presented her work at several conferences and has published in scholarly journals. She is a Global Perspectives Program scholar, a Diversity Scholar and an active member of the Virginia Tech Academy for Graduate Teaching Excellence.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Goddard College and her master’s degree from Appalachian State University.

Erin S. Lavender-Stott, of Blacksburg, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Human Development with a family studies concentration. She received her bachelor’s degree from Hollins University and her master’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Her research focuses on gender and sexuality within the family context.

Shekila Melchior, of Dale City, Virginia, recently earned her Ph.D. in counselor education. She became an advocate for undocumented students while she was a high school counselor in Bassett, Virginia.

That commitment and passion is evident in her dissertation research on the "Social Justice Identity Development of School Counselors who Advocate for Undocumented Students."

She has also made five professional presentations regarding the topic of supporting undocumented students. She is engaged with the Virginia Tech undergraduate community as a residential fellow in West Ambler Johnston, and with the broader graduate community as a graduate assistant in the Graduate School Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives. She is teaching as an adjunct at Radford University. 

Saul N’Jie, of Churchill’s Town, The Gambia, is a Ph.D. student in planning, governance, and globalization program in the School of Public and International Affairs. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Bluefield State College, a master’s degree from Virginia Tech, and a graduate certificate in nonprofit and nongovernmental management from that same institution.

His dissertation examines the potential effectiveness of commercial and nonprofit cooperative micro-finance institutions engaged in the burgeoning enterprise of economic development and poverty alleviation. He is a visiting professor at Bluefield State College.

He also has been involved with a myriad of microfinance, gender and development, community development, capacity building, and poverty alleviation initiatives in The Gambia. He co-founded a nonprofit geared toward capacity building, mentorship, and the education and sensitization of women, girls, and the youth. He aspires to work with low-income women in The Gambia, West Africa.

Jennifer Turner, of Goochland, Virginia, is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology with a concentration in women’s and gender studies. Her dissertation focuses on how low-income, black, single mothers receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits interpret motherhood and mothering.

Turner is a graduate scholar for the Multicultural Academic Opportunities program and is as an associate of the Academy for Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Excellence. She also served as secretary for the Black Graduate Student Organization from 2014 to 2015 and has played a vital role in organizing graduate students in her department around common issues.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from James Madison University and her master’s degree graduate certificate in women’s studies from Old Dominion University. She considers teaching a form of activism and encourages her students to use the knowledge they gain in her courses to become active agents of social change.

Atiyeh Vahidmanesh, of Tehran, Iran, earned her Ph.D. in economics in February. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Sharif University of Technology in Iran in industrial engineering and systems engineering, respectively.

Her research examines inequality and education, focusing on inequality of educational opportunity as well as estimation of the Human Opportunity Index for Middle Eastern countries.  

She won a pre-doc research fellowship from the Middle East Initiative of Harvard University for her research on education and inequality in the Middle East. She was a Graduate School Diversity Scholar and worked to bring values of diversity and inclusion to her classes as a graduate instructor.

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