The College of Education recently hosted it’s 17th annual Recognition Dinner, honoring those who have contributed to the success of this past year.

From donors and alumni to current students, everyone was there for one reason: to celebrate what the college and those in it have achieved in the past year.
Three graduate and three undergraduate students have been chosen after a rigorous selection process for their outstanding accomplishments during this academic year: Mark Preston Lopez, Philip Daniels, Wilhelmina van Dijk, Courtney Mastrorio, Rodney Wallace and Shoshana Zerbock.

This group of scholars has shown that they possess the passion, dedication and skills in becoming an educator, yet they exceed expectations and go beyond what is required of them. They are the movers and shakers who are destined to propel us into a brighter future.

Our donors invest in these educators of the future with their generous donations, enabling COE students to reach their highest potential and further their professional careers. These connections are vital to the future of education, uniting us on the path to a brighter future.

Graduate Student Awards

2019 Outstanding Graduate Leadership Award Winner: Mark Preston Lopez

Mark Preston Lopez

The Outstanding Graduate Leadership Award is given to an advanced-degree student who demonstrates a commitment to service and leadership for the college, university and community.

Mark is a Fulbright scholar and teacher educator passionate about fostering teacher education reforms, particularly in his home country of the Philippines, to help prepare culturally responsive educators. He is a previous recipient of the Alec Courtelis Award, International Student Certificate of Excellence Award and Ford Foundation IFP Alumni Award. Mark has served as president of the Student Alliance of Graduates in Education (SAGE) and a research assistant on Project STELLAR, contributing to realizing the projects goals and providing professional development to teachers in rural settings. Mark plans to continue working with rural teachers in the Philippines and provide them with opportunities for growth and development to aid them in delivering quality instruction.

2019 Outstanding Graduate Professional Practice Award Winner: Philip Daniels 

Philip Daniels

The Outstanding Graduate Professional Practice Award recognizes a student who demonstrates excellence in professional activities related to educator preparation including pedagogy, best practices, assessment, and the translation of research to improve practice.

Philip is a dedicated scholar-practitioner who blended his interest in becoming a teacher with his passion to help empower individuals to achieve their maximum potential by becoming a counselor and counselor educator. His passion stems from early experiences with mental health both in family and personal life. He is a registered intern in mental health counseling and marriage and family counseling having served families and children at Shands Magnolia Park Pediatrics and clients in community mental health and hospital mental health settings. Philip has established himself as an outstanding professional through his practice, teaching and service and continues to grow both personally and professionally through continued education, supervision and mentorship by faculty, colleagues and supervisors.

2019 Outstanding Graduate Research Award Winner: Wilhelmina van Dijk 

Wilhelmina van Dijk

The Outstanding Graduate Research Award recognizes a graduate student who demonstrates outstanding scholarship and strong evidence of publications, professional presentations and professional development activities in support of the College of Education’s mission.

Willa is a doctoral candidate in Special Education, graduating with a double minor in research evaluation methodology and linguistics. She has published several articles and a book chapter, including three papers as first author. During her doctoral program, Willa has conducted four self-initiated research projects and assisted on several other large grant-funded projects. She has also served as the editorial assistant for the journal Exceptionality and student representative board member for the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children for the last two years. From her desire to expand the knowledge base on how to prevent reading failure, Willa’s dissertation focuses on uncovering the relation between implementation fidelity, reading interventions, and student outcomes.

Undergraduate Student Awards

These awards recognize a student in the Unified Elementary ProTeach program and two students in the Unified Early Childhood program for their superior accomplishments.

“These undergraduate students are truly amazing,” said Associate Dean of Research & Faculty Development Thomasenia Adams, “They have demonstrated exemplary service and leadership, outstanding teacher preparation & readiness and superlative scholarship while maintaining exceptionally high GPA’s. They have made the College of Education very proud.”

2019 Outstanding Undergraduate for Unified Elementary Education ProTeach: Courtney Mastrorio

photo of 2011-12 Shewey Scholars

Courtney Mastrorio

Courtney aspires to be an inclusive educator in the lower elementary grades and a positive role model for her future students. She has been a dedicated College of Education student, maintained a high GPA and conducted her own research project titled “Teacher School Mental Health Literacy Survey: A Validation Study.” Her years at UF are marked by service to others through her involvement with Dance Marathon, Chi Omega sorority and Catholic Gators. Her favorite quote is by Saint Catherine of Siena who says, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Courtney’s passion is teaching and serving others, which she considers her flame to ignite the world.

2019 Outstanding Undergraduate for Unified Elementary Education ProTeach: Rodney Wallace

Rodney Wallace

Rodney has always had a passion for the field of education. He started his college career as a math major and minored in UFTeach, and after volunteering in the local elementary schools, he discovered his passion for working with elementary students. He knows elementary school is the foundation for students to develop appropriate academic and social skills that will help them throughout their entire education. Rodney will continue on with the Unified Elementary Education ProTeach program and gain his master’s degree. Currently he is a training supervisor with AT Labs and involved with the Adventist Campus Fellowship organization. Rodney plans to become a school principal and later move on to become a superintendent of schools.

2019 Outstanding Undergraduate for Unified Early Childhood Education: Shoshana Zerbock

Shoshana Zerbock

Shoshana’s vision for the future is to drive positive change in the ways society views and educates young children with disabilities. Currently studying Early Childhood Special Education, she has already began making contributions to the field assisting with the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies’ Early Steps professional development project and serving as the professional development chair for the Student Florida Education Association. Following graduation in 2020, she hopes to work as a teacher in an inclusive Pre-K setting and as a part-time early interventionist. Eventually, she’d like to become a Ph.D. candidate in Early Childhood Studies to further her research in the field.

Congratulations to all

Every year, we gather with students, donors, and administration to look back on the efforts and accomplishments of the last year and what that has done for the future of the college and education.

The achievements of our students and donor contributions lead us to a brighter future in education and inspire us to continue to work toward that. Congratulations to the scholars and thank you to the donors who help make it all possible.

“Everyone in this room has a shared commitment — a common purpose and sense of urgency to act for the betterment of our world,” said Dean Glenn Good. “You all make the COE and the UF proud! Thank you for your collaboration and for your support!”

Our annual recognition dinner is one of the college’s biggest nights of the year. It is a time where everyone can collectively celebrate our accomplishments and look toward an even brighter future. Take a quick look at our evening: