Alumni Scholars

Danna Demezier

Dr. Danna Demezier is an Assistant Professor in Counseling at Barry University. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Dr. Demezier’s professional work experience includes that of a counselor educator, clinical supervisor, clinical mental health counselor, and developmental specialist. She is committed to working with underserved populations and bridging the mental health gap in these communities. Dr. Demezier’s interests include culturally responsive interventions for diverse ethnic populations to improve mental health utilization and culturally competent supervision in counselors and counselors-in-training. She is involved in numerous counseling organizations and has given many presentations related to her areas of interests. Dr. Demezier is a former AACTE Holmes Scholars with Florida Atlantic University and 2020 NBCC MFP Doctoral Fellow.


Adriana Labarta

Dr. Adriana Labarta is currently an Assistant Professor at Mercer University's Department of Counseling. She earned her Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, where she served as a Holmes Scholar from 2019-2022. Prior to her doctoral studies, she obtained several degrees at the University of Florida, including a Specialist in Education, a Master of Education with a specialization in Mental Health Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. As a licensed mental health counselor in Florida, Dr. Labarta’s previous work experience included providing counseling services to diverse populations in residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, outpatient, and university counseling settings. Her research interests include eating disorders, body image, and multicultural and social justice issues in counseling and counselor education. Dr. Labarta’s current research focuses on addressing treatment disparities impacting historically underserved communities with eating disorders. She has co-authored several articles published in peer-reviewed counseling journals, including the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, the Professional Counselor, and the Journal of Counseling Sexology & Sexual Wellness: Research, Practice, and Education. She has also presented at various national conferences, including the American Counseling Association, Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling, the Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Dr. Labarta feels passionate about bridging research-practice gaps in counseling to promote equity and access to mental health services across diverse populations.


Deborah King McEwan

Deborah King McEwan possesses a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida Atlantic University. Her research interests include Black student achievement with a focus on males, the role of the Black church in public education, the school-to-prison pipeline, multicultural education, and culturally relevant pedagogy. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Trinity International University and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida Gulf Coast University. Deborah has over 20 years of banking and auditing experience and occupied the position of vice-chair of the South Florida Diversity Committee for her former employer. She was a Bank Examiner commissioned by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and she is a Certified Internal Auditor. In addition, she has been a spiritual/educational leader in her church for over 25 years. Deborah is currently an adjunct professor of multicultural education courses for undergraduate preservice teachers at Florida Atlantic University. She has presented at local and state conferences and has independently and co-authored published articles. In addition to being a former Holmes Scholar, Deborah was a former McKnight Fellowship recipient.


Kayla Elliott

Kayla C. Elliott pursued a PhD in Higher Education Leadership at Florida Atlantic University. Her research interests included higher education policy, equity, philanthropy, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Fisk University and a Masters from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and has worked with a range of education organizations including Lumina Foundation, the Southern Education Foundation, and Teach For America. As a research assistant, Kayla is a member of the Urban Male Initiative research team, the Associate Research Director for the National Science Foundation supported ADVANCE FAU initiative, and an instructor of undergraduate courses on student success and leadership. Kayla has co-authored multiple publications and presented research at the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the Council for the Study of Community Colleges. In addition to receiving endowed scholarships from Fisk and IUPUI, Kayla was a 2015-2016 Provost Fellow and recently received a P.E.O. Scholar Award for 2017-2018 year.


Denise Dowdie

Denise J. Dowdie pursued a doctoral degree in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) at Florida Atlantic University. She served as a Holmes Scholar for two years and actively participated in monthly meetings and conferences. Her research interests included health care, dietary selection, moral and social development, functional skills for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, and disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse learners in special education. She earned a Master of Arts in Education with a focus in special education from Western Carolina University, North Carolina. Her Bachelor in Education degree was conferred by The University of the West Indies (UWI) in Mona, Jamaica. Denise works as an ESE Specialist at Margate middle school in Broward County, Florida. She was eager to improve her scholarship by producing scholarly writing and research for professional publications, collaborating with colleagues and leaders in the field, and making presentations at conferences. She was also interested in deepening her academic understanding by integrating service and learning as a peer reviewer for different journals and conferences. Denise was a recipient of the 2018-2019 Provost Fellowship.


Brianna Joseph

Brianna Miller Ed.D, graduated with a doctorate in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Dr. Miller is currently a visiting professor at FAU and one of the Boca campus instructors for a comprehensive transition program for college students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) for the Academy for Community Inclusion (ACI) (http://www.fau.edu/education/academicdepartments/ese/aci/about/). Dr. Miller teaches undergraduate, graduate, and ACI courses for the Department of Special Education at FAU. Dr. Miller has published and co-authored authored multiple publications and presented over 15 presentations at international, national, and regional conferences. Dr. Miller’s latest publications reflect navigation and communication skills for individuals with IDD. Dr. Miller has created and implemented four professional development programs in public schools within the state of Florida, taught and supervised undergraduate preservice teachers. Dr. Miller’s research interests include physical fitness for adults with intellectual disabilities, school-to-work transition services, and sex education for adults with disabilities.

 


Kalynn Hall

Kalynn Hall Pistorio has an EdD in Exceptional Student Education from Florida Atlantic University and is a Board Certified Behavior Analysis at the Doctoral level. Her research interests include literacy-based behavioral interventions, applied behavior analysis, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and international special education. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Exceptional Student Education and a Master of Science in Leadership (Education and Human Services) at Nova Southeastern University. She taught in the public school system teaching elementary students with intellectual disabilities for four years and before that she taught in private preschools working with children who were six weeks old through voluntary prekindergarten. Kalynn has had 10 co-authored manuscripts accepted for publication and has presented at conferences all over the world including in the United States, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia. In addition to being a Holmes Scholar, Kalynn receives funding under an OSEP grant entitled Mentor-Lead to complete her doctorate. As an assistant professor at Columbus State University, she has been a Chancellor's Learning Scholar, a CSU Writing Fellow, and a QEP Fellow.