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Trio from School of Education inducted into Bouchet Graduate Honor Society

April 16, 2015

Three UW-Madison students who are conducting their studies within the School of Education were recently inducted into the university’s Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.

This society commemorates the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from an American university (Physics, Yale University, 1876). The Bouchet Society seeks to develop a network of scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence, foster environments of support, and serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy –- exemplifying the spirit and example of Bouchet.

Those from the School of Education who were inducted into the honor society during a ceremony at the University Club on March 25 include:

• Saili Kulkarni, a doctoral candidate studying special education with the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education.

Her research examines teacher beliefs and intersections of race and ability. Before graduate school, she was a special education teacher in Oakland, California working towards the inclusion of elementary-aged students with disabilities in general education classes. As a special education teacher, Kulkarni helped create the district’s first Inclusive Teacher Network which enabled special education teachers to share resources and build partnerships with universities to increase inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities.

For her dissertation, Kulkarni is looking at how beliefs about disability, race and culture inform special education teachers’ retention in urban school districts. She is finishing her dissertation with the support of the Arvil S. Barr Teacher Education Fellowship through the School of Education and expects to graduate in May of 2015.

In her spare time, Kulkarni loves to cook, play indoor and outdoor soccer, travel, and sing jazzy show tunes. Those close to her know her as “Smilee Saili” because of her positivity and optimism.

• Patrice Leverett is a doctoral candidate in the school psychology program in the top-ranked Department of Educational Psychology.

Her dissertation, “Redirecting the Pipeline: Behavior interventions and treatment acceptability with African American middle school males,” explores the cultural relevance of Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) in school settings. Additionally, Leverett works at the Center for Women’s Health Research (CWHR) on a National Institutes of Health grant examining the impact of mentoring relationships on the outcomes of underrepresented students in STEM fields. Currently, Leverett is participating in the Faculty Internship Program at Madison Area Technical College (MATC) where she teaches psychology and mentors for the honors program.

Prior to coming to Madison, Leverett was a member of the New York City Teaching Fellows and worked as an elementary school, special education teacher in New York City public schools. As a teacher her interest in closing opportunity gaps for students grew. The disparities she observed in student outcomes were glaring. As a result of this experience, she became committed to finding ways to uplift students in her school, her community, and society at large.

Leverett owes her progress to her faith, her supportive family and friends, particularly her loving parents and her brothers, William and Anthony; they are primary motivators for the work she does with African American males. She is also thankful for her acquired family at UW-Madison and Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church.

• And Gerardo Mancilla is a doctoral candidate with the top-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

His research explores the school-to-prison pipeline, court diversion programs, and Latin@ youth. His dissertation focuses on Latin@ students’ counterstories in a court diversion program. Specifically, he is examining the concept of success as it relates to Latin@ youth.

Mancilla came to UW-Madison as part of the Posse Program. During his undergraduate years, he helped establish the Latino Men’s Group student organization on campus. He also served as the President of the Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society and co-chair MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán). He continued his education at UW-Madison and received a master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.

Mancilla is a full-time teacher at Cherokee Middle School. He teaches math and social studies to 6th grader students. In the future, Mancilla hopes to become a professor and continue to do research on the Latino leaky-educational-pipeline while working towards increasing access to higher education for students of color.

One national Bouchet Graduate Honor Society charter, with two chapters, was inaugurated by Yale University and Howard University on Sept. 15, 2005, in commemoration of Bouchet’s birthday. The UW-Madison Graduate School formed a chapter in 2010.  Each year, the Graduate School sponsors a limited number of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to become members of the national Bouchet Society.

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