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EPOL Department - Student Spotlight
Global Studies in Education

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  • Beste Erel Windes, Ed.D. Student

    Beste Erel Windes is a doctoral student in the Global Studies in Education graduate concentration in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership. As a higher education professional, Beste is very interested in college student development and higher education policy in global contexts, particularly in global health education. Beste's research interests include educational gaps in the intersection of globalization and healthcare settings.

  • Mapping at the Margins of Environmental Justice

    Nicole M. DelMastro-Jeffery is a doctoral student in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership. Nicole’s research focuses on the intersection of community determinants of health and educational trajectories of marginalized collegians. Her quantitative approach to mapping proximity of educational institutions to quality basic needs, such as access to clean drinking water, is a genuine passion of hers. Over the past decade she has served in a variety of leadership roles across 2-year and 4-year colleges. Nicole is excited about the future upstream sustainable transdisciplinary approach to ensuring students’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing on their way to graduation.

  • Gina Karlin

    Gina is pursuing an Ed.D in EPOL with a concentration in Global Studies. She is an experienced educator with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Her research is focused on international education policies and access to higher education for underserved communities. 

  • Yaning Cao

    Yaning Cao is a doctoral student in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership. Her concentration is Global Studies and her research is in international higher education collaboration. Her work experience in a one joint-venture university in China leads her to consider efficient ways for higher education institutes to collaborate and in what ways education policy can benefit students to become global citizens in the future.

  • Derek Meyer, EdD (he, him, his)

    Derek Meyer is a doctoral student in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Global Studies in Education and a graduate minor in Gender Relations in International Development. Derek’s research focuses on connections between China Studies, Chinese education policy, comparative US-China ethnicity studies, gender studies, DEI in higher education, and the internationalization of higher education. Derek currently serves as the Senior Manager of International Affairs at Westlake University in Hangzhou, China where he leads international recruitment and admissions for PhD programs and undergraduate study abroad programs.

    Graduate Advisor: Dr. Allison Witt

    Expected Graduation Year: 2025

    Academic Background:

    EdD (in progress) Education Policy, Organization & Leadership – Global Studies in Education – University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    EdM Education Policy, Organization & Leadership – Global Studies in Education – University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - 2019

    B.A. International Relations – Kent State University – 2016



  • Kelsey W. Knutson, Ed.D Student (she/her)

    Program of Study, Research Interests & Professional Profile:

    Kelsey Knutson is a doctoral student of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, concentrating in Global Education and Diversity and Equity at the University of Illinois. Kelsey's continued research and studies center on inequities in access to digital learning, teacher-student relationships and the intersections of race, sexuality, and gender, grading bias in multicultural and multiracial classrooms, culturally sustaining pedagogy, and sustainable international education policy. Kelsey has recently entered the world of education consulting and is in a 6-month doctoral internship for the education sector of the U.N., specifically the Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems and Teacher Development departments, at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris. Kelsey is a full-time social studies teacher, D.E.I. facilitator and coordinator, and newly appointed travel and foreign exchange director in Phoenix.

    Advisor: Dr. Hyun-Sook Kang

    Expected Graduation: 2025

    Academic Background:

    • Ed.D., (In-progress) Global Studies; Diversity & Equity, in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
    • M.Ed., Education, Arizona State University, 2016
    • B.A., Global Studies: Human Rights & Justice; Spanish, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, 2013

    LinkedIn: /kelseyknutson or Kelsey W. Knutson's LinkedIn

  • Paapa Nkrumah-Ababio

    Paapa Nkrumah-Ababio is a doctoral student in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership with a double concentration in Global Studies in Education and Social Science and Education Policy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Paapa's research interest lay in the intersections of education and national development in African countries centered around literacy, citizenship, human development, and educational funding issues using quantitative research methods. Paapa is an international student from Accra, Ghana and is driven in his doctoral journey by the desire to bring a world-class education to the doorstep of every African child.

    Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Hinze-Pifer

    Expected Graduation: 2025

    Academic Background:

    Ph.D. student, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana Champaign

    M.S. Ed., Higher Education and Student Affairs, Baylor University, Texas

    B.S., Petroleum Engineering, Marietta College, Ohio


  • Alicia L. Ross, ABD (She/hers)

    I am a doctoral candidate excited about the experiences I have had at UIUC. My research focuses on DEI in international education and leadership. I have presented at several conferences including NAFSA (Nat&Reg), IEI, HEI Butterfly, LINKS Incorporated. My volunteer experiences include AERA, NAFSA, IEI, UNDP, UIUC-GSC, and Alumni Club(s) of University of Chicago.

    Teaching Assistant: Communications Department-Public Speaking

    Publication: "Digital Divide In Developing Countries". GIMPA Journal, Ghana.

    Certifications: Learning Design Leadership (LDL)

    LinkedIn Profile

    Inspiring Others

  • Tammy Orahood

    Tammy is a doctoral student in Educational Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Global Studies in Education. Her research interest focuses on cultures of learning in higher education. She is currently the Director of Global Programs for the Brown School at WashU.

    She has experience in global education, having published, taught, and presented at numerous conferences on study abroad and career development, globalization, global competency and comparative education. 

    Advisor: Allison Witt

    Expected Graduation: 2023

    Academic Background:

    • EdD (in progress), EPOL, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign A.,
    • International Affairs, American University A.,
    • International Studies/ French, Bradley University


  • ACP Stonehenge

    Alicia Cabrera-Prado (she/her)

    Alicia Cabrera-Prado is a doctoral student in the Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

    Her research interests include Dual Language teacher training and study abroad programs. 

    Prior to coming to UIUC, Alicia worked in education as a National Board Certified high school Heritage Spanish teacher, a department chair for World Languages, and as an assistant principal. 

    Graduate Advisor: Dr. Allison Witt

    Expected Graduation Year: 2023

    Academic Background

    Ph.D. Student, Global Studies, Organization & Leadership in Global Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    M.A., Educational Leadership, Concordia University

    M.A., Secondary Education in World Languages, Roosevelt University 

    B.S., Mass Communications, Illinois State University 

    LinkedIn: ACP

  • Hanna Kim

    Hanna Kim

    Hanna Kim is a doctoral student in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership with a concentration in Global Studies in Education (GSE) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Her research interests focus on Americans' perception of Korean Americans as well as Korean international graduate students' academic challenges and adjustment in an American university. Hanna serves as a research assistant for the College of Education’s International Program and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. She also works for the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies (CEAPS) in a graduate student hourly position. Prior to coming to UIUC, Hanna worked for World Vision Korea as a broadcast filing coordinator and studied her master's in Applied Linguistics and TESOL at the University of Mississippi.

    Advisor: Dr. Hyun-Sook Kang

    Anticipated Graduation: 2026

    Academic Background:

    Ph.D. Student, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

          Concentration: Global Studies in Education

    M.A., Modern Languages with a concentration on Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, University of Mississippi

    B.A., International Cultural Studies with Education in Early Childhood Education, Soonchunhang University