2015 Graduate Scholar Award Recipients

For each conference, a small number of Graduate Scholar Awards are given to outstanding graduate students who have an active academic interest in the conference area. The Award with its accompanying responsibilities provides a strong professional development opportunity for graduate students at this stage in their academic careers. The 2015 Graduate Scholar Awardees are listed below.


Thomas Budd

Thomas Budd completed his BS in rehabilitation services from The Pennsylvania State University and went on to receive his MA in general psychology from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. He will confer his PhD in transpersonal psychology from Sofia University (former Institute of Transpersonal Psychology) by spring 2016, from which he is applying his research interests of the transformative properties of enculturation into intentional communities through the Light Inspired Transformations Community, a California not-for-profit corporation for which he is the president and co-founder. The Light Inspired Transformations Community is dedicated to cultural and ecological integrity through transpersonal education, research, and services. Budd is also the vice president of Invigorate Now!, an Ayurveda inspired naturopathic supplement company dedicated to the healthiness, happiness, and wholeness of our global community. He is also co-organizing The First International Conference of Humanities and Transpersonal Psychology in Bali, Indonesia, July 31st-August 2nd. Budd enjoys the humanities, nature, and loves to travel. He has been all over the world, and has seen the dire need for integrated ways of life without the globalizing effect of cultural degradation. He says “I live to experience the unifying qualities of life, where in those moments of solitude and tranquility all is one. I have been inspired to see that transformative education and experiential learning are the best means of uncovering one’s potentials and being the change for others.”


Savannah N. Carroll

Savannah N. Carroll is a doctoral candidate in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has successfully defended her dissertation titled, "Creating the Ideal Mexican: 20th and 21st Century Racial and National Identity Discourses in Oaxaca. Her research interests include racial and national identity formation in post-revolutionary Mexico, the black image in Mexican popular culture, and intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in Mexico. Carroll has a publication in the Journal of Pan African Studies' special edition on Blacks in Mexico, titled "Nationalizing Racism: Government Sponsored Modernization through Formal and Social Education in Oaxaca, Mexico, 1920s.” Her article, "Somos de Morelos: Race, Place, and Claims to National Identity in Morelos, Oaxaca," has also been published in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies. Carroll earned two bachelor's degrees in political science and African American studies from Arizona State University and an MA in Afro-American studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Carroll is currently teaching African American studies and history at the University of Texas at San Antonio.


Alejandra Díaz de León

Alejandra Díaz de León is a PhD candidate and a CONACyT Scholar in the sociology department of the University of Essex. Before starting the PhD program she worked as a researcher at a non-profit organization that helped migrants in transit through Mexico. She then went on to receive a master’s in human rights from the University of Essex. She is interested in creating quality research that will help advocate for the human rights of Central American transit migrants in Mexico. Her research interests include migration, transit migration, refuge, and human rights. She is currently writing her PhD dissertation in which she studies the resources that migrants in transit use while crossing Mexico and the impact these have on their vulnerability to violence and discrimination.


Carla Funk

Carla Funk is a doctoral candidate in the social sciences doctoral program at Royal Roads University, Canada. She is investigating the role of privately funded aid in development with a focus on the perspectives of the recipient in Tanzania. Funk has lived and worked in Ethiopia managing a program feeding refugees, in Zimbabwe on food security and education related projects, and in Switzerland for a private family foundation committed to supporting education in southern Africa and Eastern Europe. In B.C. Canada she has provided management and capacity building expertise to environmental, health research, arts, children, and First Nations non-profit organizations. Funk studied at the University of Manitoba earning both a degree and masters from the faculty of agriculture studying plant genetics and agronomy.


Tea Gutović

Tea Gutović was born in Split, Croatia, in 1992. She enrolled in the Faculty for Humanities and Social Sciences, Research Sociology Department in 2011 and obtained her bachelor's degree in 2014 with a research paper titled “The Quality of Life of Musicians in Split.” She is currently a master's degree student in the Research Sociology Department starting on her master's research paper in the area of cultural ethnography and music. She is currently a second year student in the Faculty of Kinesiology in the Sports Coach Department. In 2009 and 2010 she obtained the Cambridge ESOL Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates (B2 and C1) as well as a degree in Spanish. In 2015, she participated in the Sustainability Conference in Copenhagen, presenting her co-authored work titled “Attitudes and Behaviors of Youth in Relation to the Environment: Survey Results of Water EYE’s 2012 Project Participants.” In 2014 she also participated in the European project ‘Let’s Study Together’ for the integration of the blind and visually impaired in the educational process and in SEECEL entrepreneurial project. She has been an active volunteer for the last five years, and since 2013 has served as the vice president of 'Inter nos', an association for the promotion of science, culture and civil society. She has been a student demonstrator for three classes in the department of sociology research for the last three years. Her areas of interest are cultural, media, marketing, music and religious studies, ethnography research, and the sociology of sport and culture.


Paula Jops

Paula Jops is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She is an Australian Postgraduate Award recipient and a research affiliate with the Gendered Violence Research Network at UNSW. Her current research explores contexts of risk, and self-identified coping mechanisms used by refugee women to address or mitigate risk factors in their pursuit of a livelihood. Her doctoral thesis uses a grounded, qualitative methodology to explore the lived experience of urban refugee women from Burma (primarily from Chin State), who engage in risky livelihoods in Delhi, India. Her work has recently been highlighted in a book chapter she co-authored on interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives to research ethics. Prior to her PhD, Paula was an intern at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (Geneva) in the community development, gender equality and children section. She is a dual Australian/American citizen and holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an masters of arts from UNSW.


Larisa Lara

Larisa Lara Guerrero is a PhD Candidate in migration and development at the Paris Diderot University. She studied international relations at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education at Mexico City and Sciences Po Paris as an undergraduate. She holds an MSc in migration studies from the University of Oxford and a master of arts in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College London. Larisa has being involved in different migration, development and security projects at the UNODC, PICUM and the Canadian embassy in Mexico City. Recently, she had the opportunity to work as a security analyst at the Mexican embassy in Paris. Her research currently focuses on emigration policies, the role of diasporas in conflict zones, failed states and development.


Tatiana Sánchez-Parra

Tatiana Sánchez-Parra is a PhD Candidate in sociology at the University of Essex (Colciencias scholarship). Her background is in anthropology and she holds a MA in social anthropology from the University of Los Andes, Colombia and a MA in theory and practice of human rights from the University of Essex, England. She worked for more than five years in the field of medical anthropology and public health in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city, where she focused on processes of enforceability and promotion of the right to health. She has also worked on issues regarding violence, memory and transitional justice. Her recent masters’ thesis with the title “Children Born as a Consequence of Wartime Sexual Violence: Subverting Structures of Discrimination” is the foundation of her current PhD research, now focused on the case of Colombia and contexts of land restitution. At present, she is interested in processes of reconciliation, gender-based violence and children’s rights.


Ariel Shangguan

Ariel Shangguan is a PhD candidate in international politics at Newcastle University, UK. Her research interest concerns the intersection of politics, education and translation studies. Her PhD thesis examines the politics of translation in contemporary international relations and its pedagogical implication specifically on Chinese IR education. Prior to her doctorate, Shangguan received her MSc from the London School of Economics, where she was working as a department research intern. She is also a commissioning editor at E-IR, the world’s leading website for scholars and students of international politics.


Dominic Hakim Silvio

Dominic Hakim Silvio is a PhD candidate at Dalhousie University in the interdisciplinary PhD program. His research interests include accountability, corruption, development, poverty, public opinion, foreign aid policy, public policy, public policy - lobbying and research methods. He is completing his PhD on the relationship between public opinion and foreign aid policy in Canada.


Janelle Simmons

Janelle is a graduate student pursuing an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Janelle earned a Ed.S. in Curriculum Instruction from Liberty University. She also earned a Master of Divinity from Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology in Seoul, South Korea. Moreover, Janelle earned a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Michigan State University. Ms. Simmons currently serves as a Psychology Instructor and has taught psychology at the college-level for over 8 years. Her previous research focused on comparative legal systems as well as early childhood education and the Head Start programs, and her previous interests were found in creating curriculums. Janelle created the first on-line Introduction to Psychology curriculum for a two-year educational institution as well as a Pre-GED curriculum for a non-profit organization. Currently, her research interests mainly lie in three areas: Multicultural Leadership Styles, the importance of integrating research within the music industry and teaching psychology (i.e., with a focus on the “how?” or technique). In regards to her upcoming dissertation research interest, Janelle hopes to explore further aspects of Multicultural Leadership and how to develop leaders who promote diversity as well as who embrace true multicultural leadership and engender other multicultural leaders.


Yin, Yanyan

Yin Yanyan is currently a PhD candidate in the department of real estate and construction at The University of Hong Kong, China. She graduated with the bachelor of management degree in public administration from Zhejiang University, and meanwhile she has completed the minor courses on law. Her current research takes an interdisciplinary perspective to explore different groups of consumers’ preferences of housing and environment characteristics on the basis of demographic and life-cycle characteristics. Her research interests also include housing policies and land planning.