Graduate Scholar Recipients

Brian Kurisky David J. Thomas
Karina Oborune Susan Thomas
Kim Sibson
Randal Stepp

Graduate Scholar Winners

Brian Kurisky
Kurisky-Brian-Pic.jpgBrian Kurisky is a doctoral candidate in the Higher Education Administration program at Old Dominion University with an anticipated graduation in May 2012. Brian’s doctoral assistantship is working with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirmation at ODU. His dissertation examines the educational programs of fraternity alumni advisors in relation to the current issues undergraduate students face. His other research interests include accreditation, endowment growth in countries outside the US, and student involvement. On campus, Brian is involved in different student organizations including Golden Key International Honour Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Fraternity, and Sigma Pi Social Fraternity International.

Karina Oborune
Oborune-Karina-Pic.jpgI have received Bachelor’s degree in Political Science of University of Latvia and praised for the excellent bachelor thesis. In 2002 I have participated in European parliament simulation, in 2006 I took part in academic conference in Rome, Italy. In 2007 studied as ERASMUS in University of Lille, France and participated in United Nations simulation in New York, USA. I have more than 15 academic publications and granted by Government Scholarship (2005-2008), Bilmanis Scholarship (2006) and Gebert Rüf Scholarship (2008-2009). In 2009 I have graduated from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. The current studies – PhD in Political Science of University of Latvia. I have more than 5 years experience of analytic journalism and currently writing opinion-editorials about politics for ‘The Baltic Times’. Research interests: ERASMUS Programme, tolerance.

Kim Sibson
Sibson-Kim-Photo.jpgKim Sibson is a full time doctoral candidate in higher education administration at Old Dominion University. She has a Bachelor’s in French (’98), a Master’s in Applied Linguistics (’06), and an Ed.S. in Higher Education Administration (’10) from Old Dominion University. Her dissertation focuses on the effect of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill on colleges and universities in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. Her research interests include student success, student retention, quality assurance in higher education, and comparative higher education systems.
Kim also works full time as an advisor and programs manager for the Engineering Management and Systems Engineering department at Old Dominion University. Prior to that she worked in the Office of Admissions in several different capacities.

Randal Stepp
Stepp-Randal-Pic.jpgI have been a teacher for almost twenty years. I have taught successfully in many different contexts. My career started as an elementary school teacher in Sacramento, California and I received my teacher training there as well. Getting my Cognitive Language and Academic Development Credential (CLAD) introduced me to the theories behind second language learning. This credential helped make my teaching meaningful to my English language learner students.

As I became more and more interested in language learning, I decided to teach abroad for a while. I have taught English as a Foreign Language in three Asian countries: South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. In these contexts, I worked with students of all ages, from preschool to college students, business leaders to housewives. In Asia, most of what is needed is conversation practice with native speakers and I taught “real” conversational English for students needing to speak English in international contexts. I also did some teacher training in Asia as well as some content based instruction, particularly with my graduate business students in Taiwan.

Coming back to the USA, I finished my MA in TESOL from California State University, Los Angeles and continued teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) mostly at the community college level. I am also completing a PhD at the School of Educational Studies Claremont Graduate University and expect to graduate in May. Currently, I teach ESL at University of California, Riverside extension.

I also enjoy writing, winning the graduate student research award at CATESOL in 2010, as well as getting three papers published in the past year. My current research deals with college access among American Indians students. Previously, I have presented my research on higher education and culture at conferences in both Spain and the World Universities Forum in Hong Kong in 2011.

David J. Thomas
David_Thomas.jpgDavid J. Thomas is a PhD candidate in the higher education program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where he holds a graduate assistantship in the Office of Educational Accessibility. His doctoral dissertation focuses on the language of disability and language and disability policy in the academy. He is a member of the English faculty at Virginia Wesleyan College, holds degrees in Applied Linguistics (MA ’06) and Dramaturgy (BA ’05), and studied sociocultural linguistics at the Linguistic Society of America Institute at Stanford University in 2007. He has previously held appointments on the English faculties of City University of Seattle and Old Dominion University. Before entering the academy, Mr. Thomas studied opera performance at the North Carolina School of the Arts and remains active in the arts.

Susan Thomas
Thomas-Susan.jpgSusan Thomas is currently the Lead Coordinator of the School of Medicine Education Unit, Monash University. She completed MSc in Communication and is currently pursuing a PhD in the area of Health Care Management at University of Malaya, Malaysia. She is multilingual (speaks four languages) which is helpful in collecting data from respondents who are from different ethnic background in her country. She is passionate about community service education and has given numerous educational seminars and talks to students and teachers on enhancing learning skills.

Her previous employment includes heading the Human Resource Department in one of the leading electronic firms in Malaysia. She holds dual teaching qualifications from UK and Malaysia. She has broad experience in teaching, designing and moderating examination papers as well as heading Business programmes for international campuses for more than 14 years. She has also published research papers in management, medical education and public health. Her current research projects include peer review of teaching, student evaluation of teaching and health care management.