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2016 Cohort: Rock Chalk To the Stars

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Editors

Sorcha Hyland
Lara Mann
Deb Griswold
Elizabeth Kozleski

Every May our esteemed KU Department of Special Education moves through a natural maelstrom as the end of the spring semester approaches.  In keeping with tradition–Hawk Hopes Blog annually begs, borrows and ultimately “steals” the [now…less than] “freshest” batch of first year doctoral students away from their nail-biting probationary reviews [and a couple of other intensive assignments]. They are badgered for weeks to share their initial experiences before they wrap-up a very intensive first year. Their musings and images below make one thing crystal clear: our first year students know how to keep on “keeping on”– Ad Astra Per Aspera: To the stars through adversity.

ROCK THAT CHALK KU SPED JAYHAWKS ###1 !

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Sarah Roberts

Word: Venture

mountainsBefore starting this program, most of my free time was spent in the mountains, climbing, camping, and working on my Chaco tan lines. When I moved to Kansas, I thought the mountains were a thing of my past. In some ways, this is true. There are no “14ers” to conquer anywhere near here. However, my first year in the PhD program has paralleled that of the hikes that I so enjoy. At the beginning of the year, my hopes were quite high and my outlook optimistic. With one month left of the school year to go, I feel like I am on my 100th switchback, exhausted and questioning why I thought this would be a good idea in the first place. I know that just around the corner is the end (of the semester). And the end always brings an amazing feeling of accomplishment, pride, and awe. And the thought of “look just how far I have come.”

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University of Kansas Special Education Distinguished Professor, Thomas Skrtic

Naheed Abdulrahim

Word:  Inspirational

My first-year experience has been characterized by supportive relationships with faculty, staff, and fellow students and the opportunity to explore my research interests within the field of special education.  While it has been challenging, the rewards of knowledge, skill building, and friendship have brought me great joy along the way.  I am looking forward to the next phase of the journey.

Sheida Khamsi

Word: Limitlesslimiltess

A single word I would use to describe my first year in the doctoral program is limitless. Throughout this year, I have had opportunities to expand my way of thinking through collaborations with individuals who are truly leaders in the special education field within which I have dedicated my short, professional career. Although, most of the time these opportunities have come from my persistence in asking for more work as someone wise once advised me to do! Ultimately though, my choice to come to the University of Kansas has been one of the best I have ever made for my present and future roles in improving quality of life for individuals with disabilities. As such, I maintain that “the sky’s the limit” on the 5th floor of Joseph R. Pearson Hall, a notion continually endorsed and supported by faculty, staff, and students. I am grateful for the limitless opportunities that have come my way this year and cannot wait to see what awaits me in the next.

Vidya Munandarterrified

Word: Exhilarating!

This my first year as a doctoral student but my third year with KU SPED department because I pursued my master’s degree here too. Somehow I felt as if I was being reintroduced again to the KU SPED family. The more I get to know my “family” here, the more I am grateful for this experience. I am blessed for being able to pursue my dream not only with one of the best programs in the country, but also with the most supportive people who are passionate about what they do. I can’t wait to learn more from my teachers and friends here and contribute to education field! I really am proud to be a part of KU SPED family. I hope I will make KU SPED family proud of me, too!

Courtney Wilt

Word: Encouragement

This year has surpassed all my expectations for what it might hold.  I’ve learned to welcome the complexities and controversies of special education – and to be able to join dialogue in new ways!  I’ve learned more about myself and my potential as a scholar.  Above all, I am deeply grateful for the support of my classmates, professors, and advisor.  I’ve grown to love KU. I am proud when my daughters cheer “Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Go KU!” at the top of their lungs!

encouragement

Ling Zhang

Word: Learning, growth, inspiration, gratitude, frustration

Learning, growth, inspiration, gratitude, frustration, ….. So many words could describe my first year in the KU SPED doctoral program. No matter which word, this year’s experience is bound to become one of the most valuable experiences of my life. There are too many things and people that I feel grateful for, the great opportunity to learn from the most distinguished people in the field, my cohort with whom I study and grow together, and the professors from whom I receive support and encouragement. I have been inspired by their intelligence and commitments every day. Of course, emotional ups and downs have become a part of my life as well as I embarked on this new academic journey. BUT, I feel thankful for how I have grown academically with each day. I am inspired to want to know more and to devote more effort to my work. I believe the following three years will continue to inspire.

Cassie Huntnot rude

Word:  Transforming 

This year pushed me out of my academic comfort zone and forced me to think and work at a higher level. I feel as though I evolved into a true scholar during this process, much as there is still plenty of room for further growth. I really enjoyed the process of overcoming so many obstacles this year, every sacrifice was incredibly worth it. Also, thank you to my cohort, professors, and advisors for their constant support and encouragement.

Christine Dobson christie

Word:  Enlightening (to say the least)

Never put off until tomorrow what can be done, today. It’s a good idea to teach teenagers to do their own laundry. Cohort Sweet 16 FOREVER!

 

 

 

Inna Stepaniuk inna

Word: Transformation

I would never have thought that I could get a chance to write about my first year experience as a PhD student. I still can not believe that this amazing PhD opportunity is happening to me. I feel extremely privileged and honored to be part of this program. It challenges and inspires me every day.

 

Betsi Jackson bonsai

Word: Transformative

Transformation is exciting and new, but also uncomfortable.  I can describe this year with all of those adjectives.  Pruning and replanting makes room for change, so here’s to more uncomfortable and exciting growth next semester!

Grant Allendog

Word: Gratitude 

I have had so many amazing opportunities to learn and collaborate with colleagues and faculty. I am happy for all the experiences I have had at KU. The road may be difficult to travel at times, but through perseverance and teamwork, we can achieve success.

I have decided to share a picture of my puppy, Samson. Although I am grateful for my experiences at KU, I am also grateful for many other things in my life.

cat.png

 

 

Sami Gross

Word:  Writing

This has been a year of growth.  I’ve experienced growth in reading, writing, speaking, and thinking.  It has been both difficult and exciting throughout the year to dive deeply into exploration in education.

Cassie Barnett

Word: Candor

It is easy to look around a room of exceptional scholars and feel like you are the only one struggling.  For the first quarter, I remained tight-lipped about the stress I was feeling, fearing that it would make me look weak. However, once I opened up to my peers about the challenges of the doctoral program, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. With candor came camraderie and comedic relief, without which I would not have made it this far.

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Mark Buckman

Word: Grow

This year has been a wild ride! I thought that I was prepared and knew what to expect. I don’t think I could have anticipated how much I would be stretched, pushed, and pulled by my experiences.  Yet through it all, there were so many opportunities to grow. I can’t help but be amazed at how much I have learned and how far I have come, as an individual and as a scholar.

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Grace Leu

Word: PERSPECTIVE

 

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