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Citadel News Service
10 May 2009

The Citadel Graduate College honors outstanding graduates

More commencement news

The Citadel Graduate College conferred degrees to 267 degrees during commencement on Sunday, May 10, 2009, and honored students in the education and psychology departments for their outstanding leadership and academic achievements.

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex delivered the commencement address and was presented with an honorary doctor of humane letters.

The Citadel Graduate College began offering graduate degrees in education in 1968. Sixteen people were in the first graduating class in 1970. Today its offerings include 19 graduate degree programs, three evening undergraduate degree programs and one graduate certificate. The graduate school has more than 7,000 alumni in its ranks.

“As most of our graduates live in the Lowcountry, the graduate college plays a vital role in the region’s future by ensuring our businesses, our schools and our public services have the principled leaders they need,” said The Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa.

School of Education
Hirshey Award

Martha Alice Bickley Light of Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Nancy P. Turner of Charleston, S.C., are the 2009 recipients of the Hirshey Award, which is presented annually by the School of Education.

The award is named for Charles Hirshey who served as head of education from 1969 to 1979. Hirshey was a pioneer in graduate education for the Lowcountry and a founding member of the graduate college.

Light grew up in Walterboro, S.C., and knew she wanted to be a teacher from an early age. She participated in the teacher cadet program at Walterboro High School. A 2003 graduate of the College of Charleston, Light is a first-grade teacher at Whitesides Elementary School where she was nominated in 2005 as Rookie Teacher of the Year for Charleston County. Light enrolled in at The Citadel in 2006. She is a member of the International Reading Association and Phi Kappa
Phi honor society. Light today received her master’s degree in education with an emphasis in literacy education.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Turner’s professional experience includes counseling sexual trauma victims, tutoring, and serving as a legal assistant at a Laurens, S.C., law firm. As a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, Turner has helped raise money and assist families. While working towards her master’s degree at The Citadel, Turner was a graduate assistant for the African American Studies Program where she worked with the its mentor school, the Military Magnet Academy in Charleston. Turner graduated with a Master of Arts in teaching with an emphasis in secondary social studies. She will begin teaching full time this fall in New Orleans as a member of the Master Teacher Corps, a nonprofit organization working to close the achievement gap in New Orleans schools.

Department of Psychology - The Aline Mahan Award
Melissa Wohlfeiler Woodlief

The Aline Mahan Award is presented annually by the Psychology Department in honor of Aline Mahan, the first female professor at The Citadel and a driving force behind the creation of the college's psychology and education programs. The award recognizes outstanding scholarship, technical skill and community service.

This year’s award recipient is Melissa Wohlfeiler Woodlief of Charleston for her outstanding record of accomplishment in the school psychology graduate program.

A graduate of the College of Charleston, Woodlief began her graduate work at The Citadel in August 2004. She is credited with demonstrating a high level of scholarly commitment and productivity.

As a graduate research assistant on grant-funded collaborative studies at the Medical University of South Carolina, Woodlief has been an ambassador for The Citadel through work with children with special needs. As part of this program and subsequent collaborations with a research team, Woodlief’s thesis work led her to be published in two prestigious journals and secured invitations to present her work at professional conferences.

Woodlief’s thesis was titled “Paternal, Maternal, and Biological Contributors to the Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes of Youth with Spina Bifida.” It was most recently published in the journal “Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.”
Woodlief has served as a mentor for other students and volunteered for community service initiatives. Woodlief is currently completing her internship with the Colleton County School District.

J. Patrick Leverett Award
Ann J. Elish

The J. Patrick Leverett Award honors Professor Pat Leverett for his contributions to the Department of Psychology. Leverett died in a 2005 plane crash in Alaska. The award goes to student of the Department of Psychology's master's degree program in clinical counseling.

This year’s recipient is Ann J. Elish, of Charleston, for her outstanding record of accomplishment.

Elish graduated from Miami University (Ohio) in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science degree in pulp and paper science. She began her career with Westvaco in 1978 and continues working in Charleston following the company’s transition from Westvaco to KapStone Paper. Since 2006, she has been the operations manager of the Charleston plant. Elish received her MBA from The Citadel in 1986 and a Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling, also from The Citadel, in December 2008.

As a student Elish distinguished herself through intellectual curiosity, attention to detail, and independent thinking. Elish is a member Chi Sigma Iota, the professional counseling honor society, and Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology. She served as an advisor to The Citadel’s Board of Visitors from 1997 to 2000, and she currently serves on The Citadel Graduate College Steering Committee.

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