Cohort 9 | Class of 2025

Amy Nguyen

  • Hometown: San Jose, CaAmy Nguyen
  • Undergraduate: AA and BA in Psychology
    • Minor in Anthropology, University of California, Merced
  • Graduate: MA in Psychology, San Jose State University 
  • Research Interests: Correctional education, higher education, equitable teaching practices.
  • Personal Interests: Running, walking my dog, true crime documentaries, horror movies, Halloween.

Abigail Smurr

  • Hometown: Fresno, Ca Abigail Smurr
  • Undergraduate: BA in Sociology, Azusa Pacific
  • Graduate: MA in Curriculum & Instruction, CSU Fresno
    • ELA Credentials
  • Research Interests: Workplace bullying in educational organizations, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Educational policy change, and SEL resources for cultural equity of staff and students.
  • Personal Interests: To balance work and the Ed.D. program, I enjoy running, cycling, climbing, yoga, dancing, hiking... ALL the outdoor activities I can. I love to read YA books as well as cook, bake, and binge watch mindless shows! I am active in my community, supporting the arts, trying new local eats, and volunteering. 

James Egisto Aguirre

  • Hometown: Patwin & Ohlone LandsJames Aguirre
  • Undergraduate: BA in American Studies, University of California, Davis
  • Graduate: MA in Education, University of California, Davis
    • Credentials in English / ELD
  • Research Interests: "How does heteroprofessionalism affect queer educators' lives? What are ways that school districts and/or education associations can foster in-person queer affinity groups? Where do queer joy and teaching pedagogy intersect?" 
  • Personal Interests: 12-step recovery, ABAR co-conspiratorship, walkable, livable cities, capybaras.

Lizzie Wirtz

  • Hometown: Dana Point, CALizzie Wirtz
  • Undergraduate: BA in Psychology, Whittier College
  • Graduate: MA in Special Education, National University 
    • Credentials in Moderate Teaching
  • Research Interests: I am interested in a variety of issues related to equity of marginalized groups and the intersectionality of inequitable discipline practices that target Special Education populations and minoritized children, additionally the school-to-prison pipeline, restorative justice practices, and MTSS.
  • Personal Interests: I enjoy reading fiction novels, going on walks, going to the beach, taking weekend trips, traveling, and spending time with my boyfriend and friends (and two kittens Kiwi and Butter).

Alexsandra Knodes

  • Hometown: San Jose, CAAlex Knodes
  • Undergraduate: BA in English, San Jose State University 
  • Graduate: MA in English | Comparative Literature, San Jose State University 
  • Research Interests: Equity in agriculture and alternative education through agricultural programs 
  • Personal Interests: I ride/own horses and compete internationally. When I’m not spending time with my horse, Sunny, or on the ranch, I can be found outside enjoying nature with my dog, Bailey. Besides that, I love a good glass of wine and reality tv! 

Mahadevan Iyer

  • Hometown: Saratoga, CA Mahadevan Iyer
  • Undergraduate: BA in Technology | Mechanical Engineering & Automation, Indian Institute of Technology
  • Graduate: MS in Mechanical Engineering & Automation, USC - Columbia
  • Research Interests: Special Education
  • Personal Interests: Hiking, Soccer, Music

Andrew Aguiniga

  • Hometown: San Luis Obispo, CAAndrew Aguiniga
  • Undergraduate: BA in History w/ Social Science, California Lutheran University 
  • Graduate: MA in Teaching, California Lutheran University 
  • Research Interests: Community Schools, History/Social Science Curriculum, Culturally & Linguistically Responsive Teaching & Learning, Laboratory Design, Project-/Place-Based Learning
  • Personal Interests: Time with my more-talented artist-educator spouse and child, traveling, cooking, sports (football, rugby), hiking, Olympic lifting, learning

Agustina Lodoen 

  • Hometown: Portola Valley Augustina Lodoen
  • Undergraduate: BA in French & Spanish Literature, University of California San Diego 
  • Graduate: MA in Interdisciplinary Education
  • Research Interests: Latino students' experiences in out of neighbor (district) schools
  • Personal Interests: Swimming, all water sports, reading, museums, traveling, hiking.

Jannet Galicia

  • Hometown: Los Angeles Jannet Galicia
  • Undergraduate: BA in Biological Sciences, Cornell University 
    • Minor in Education 
  • Graduate: MA in Urban Policy & Education, Loyola Marymount University 
  • Research Interests: I am interested in looking at the effect of Racial Battle Fatigue on BIPOC teacher retention with particular emphasis on how trauma compounded during the years of the pandemic. 
  • Personal Interests: In my personal time I like to hike and spend time with my dog. On a long weekend, you'd catch me making the 5-6 hour drive down to Los Angeles to see my family. 

Janet Martinez

  • Hometown: Rancho CucamongaJanet Martinez
  • Undergraduate: BA in Psychology | University Studies, CSU Monterey Bay & Chaffey Community College
  • Graduate: MA in School Counseling, University of Southern California 
  • Research Interests: Social Emotional Wellness Centers, Parent/Community Involvement, School Counselor pipeline, College and Career Readiness, First-generation and marginalized students/communities, Mental Health support, Utilizing art as healing component 
  • Personal Interests: I enjoy: cooking(especially making new dishes), going on beach walks with my family and pups, hiking, gardening and spending quality time with my daughter.

Jean Harriott-Woolcock

  • Hometown: Mountain House, CAJean Woolcock
  • Undergraduate: BA in Mass Communication, University of the West Indies
  • Graduate: MSc in Journalism & Mass Communications, San Jose State University 
  • Research Interests: Multicultural Education and Multicultural Curriculum Development, Parental Involvement in Student Learning, Effectiveness of Communication, Trust and Respect in Student Learning, Teamwork and Communication in Innovative Leadership
  • Personal Interests: Traveling, reading, attending concerts, and gardening

Prabhjeet Kaur BrarPrabhjeet Brar

  • Hometown: Bakersfield
  • Undergraduate: BA in Biology, CSU Bakersfield
    • Minor in Chemistry 
  • Graduate: MA in Biology, CSU Bakersfield 
  • Research Interests: Equity gaps in STEM; Classroom Strategies; Flipped Classroom instruction 
  • Personal Interests: Hiking, Traveling, Yoga


Mariana Alvarez

  • Hometown: San Jose, CaMariana Alvarez
  • Undergraduate: BA in Religious Students, Santa Clara University 
    • Minor in Spanish & Ethnic Studies
  • Graduate: MA in Education, Santa Clara University 
  • Research Interests: Latino Parent Engagement, Issues impacting the Latino Community, Latina Leadership, Providing Equitable outcomes for Latino Students.
  • Personal Interests: Spending time with my family, reading, photography, and finding the good in our world.

Kalpana Galagali

  • Hometown: Los Altos, California / India Kalpana Galagali
  • Undergraduate: BA in Accounting & Commerce | Leadership Studies, Bharathiar University & Notre Dame De Namur
  • Graduate: MA in Early Childhood Development, California State University 
  • Research Interests: Latinx parental involvement/ mindfulness 
  • Personal Interests: Reading, meditation cooking, hiking, yoga and running 

Dan Burfeind

  • Hometown: Boulder Creek, Ca Dan Burfeind
  • Undergraduate: BA in History & International Relations, University of Redlands 
  • Graduate: MA in Higher Education, University of Redlands 
  • Research Interests: Higher Education Funding, Co-Curricular Learning, Student Leadership Development.
  • Personal Interests: Anything my children want to do, Travel, Woodworking, The Outdoors.

Valentin GarciaGarcia Valentin

  • Undergraduate: BA in Sociology: Family, San Jose State University 
  • Graduate: MA in Counseling & Education, San Jose State University 


Rosemarie EspinozaSpartan Spirit

  • Undergraduate: AA & BA in Liberal Studies | Psychology, De Anza College & University of California Santa Cruz
  • Graduate: MA in Counselor Education, San Jose State University