2020-2021 Dean's Commencement Awards

These Saint Mary’s Kalmanovitz School of Education 2021 graduates have been recognized for their outstanding research and academic achievement within their degree programs.

2021 KSOE Outstanding Doctoral Research | Denishia Clark '21

Doctorate in Educational Leadership (EdD)

A Bay Area native, Denishia Clark is a public health advocate and higher education professional in career services. She holds a Bachelor of Science from San Diego State University and a Master's in Urban Public Health (MPH) from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Clark graduated from Saint Mary's with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership (EdD). She currently works at Stanford University, BioSci Careers, as Associate Director for Connections.

Clark's dissertation, Social Justice Inside-Out of Higher Ed: Career Commitments to Marginalized Populations, explores the relationship between career and higher education and distinctively investigates how those experiences prepare and influence commitments to marginalized populations. This topic is important because she feels strongly that higher education institutions adopting inclusive and safe practices internally are just as important off-campus and beyond.

After Saint Mary's, Clark plans to continue to learn daily, advance her professional aspirations in higher education, and explore research opportunities focused on emerging leaders, ethics, and social justice.


2021 KSOE Outstanding Master’s Degree Project | Xochitl Dueñas ‘21

Master of Arts in Teaching
Teacher, Pittsburg High School, Pittsburg, CA

Xochitl Dueñas’ Master’s Degree Project, English x Art History (Art History in the English Classroom) was inspired “by my own learning in college as well as the spark I saw in my students' eyes when I experimented with bringing art into my classroom during my first year of teaching.”

Dueñas realized that when it comes to studying art, like English, much of the time there is no one "right" answer. “If a student sees something different than their peer, they aren’t wrong ... they have just added to the dialogue that is analyzing a piece of artwork. That is empowering, and the student voice I aim to cultivate.” 
Dueñas chose art as a topic for her Master's Capstone because, she said, “art is inclusive while reading and writing might seem intimidating. It's an access point for everyone no matter their age, GPA, or previous academic history.”

Dueñas will continue teaching English Language Development and English at Pittsburg High School and will serve on the Pittsburg Unified School District's Ethnic Studies Committee.  

When asked what advice she might have for students considering the MA in Teaching program, Dueñas said, “value yourself, set your goal, and go out and achieve it. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise or make you feel like you can't. Take rest seriously, lean on your cohort members, and get to know your professors. Be open to learning and growing, commit to being a forever-student, and trust yourself above anything else. You got this.” 


2021 KSOE Outstanding Student | Summer Gill BA ‘20, MA ‘21

Master of Arts in Teaching with a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential

After earning her BA in English from Saint Mary’s College in 2020, Summer Gill continued on to earn her Master’s in Teaching. While pursuing her degrees, she has worked at Kalmanovitz School of Education as a student assistant and was elected KSOE student ambassador. Gill was recognized by KSOE staff and faculty as a standout student. 

Summer is passionate about helping others and is eager to see what the future has in store for her. Post graduation, Gill is planning on working as an elementary school teacher.