Maria Alayza is pursuing her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and is a graduate Teaching Assistant at Florida Atlantic University. She is also a licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Florida. Her research interests are related to trauma, grief, loss, resilience and post-traumatic growth. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Vermont and a Master of Science in Counseling with a focus on Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy from Barry University. In addition to being a Holmes Scholar, Maria Alayza serves as the ambassador of graduate students of the College of Education at FAU and is a member of Chi Sigma Iota Beta Rho Chi Chapter Honor Society of Counseling. She also has experience presenting at conferences and assuming leadership roles in various professional organizations, such as the International Association of Psychology and Counseling and the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. Maria Alayza is a 2023 Holmes Scholar inductee.
Michael O. Miller
Michael Miller is pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership at Florida Atlantic University. His research interest is focused on how Jehovah’s Witnesses college students navigate the tension between pursuing a college degree at a secular university while knowing that the Watchtower Bible Tract & Society does not promote their members to attend college. He plans to use Marsha Baxter Magolda’s theory of Self-Authorship to understand the experiences of Jehovah’s Witnesses college students. He received his bachelor’s in public administration from the City University of New York and a master’s in education leadership from Florida Atlantic University. Miller is a seasoned fundraising executive and has held leadership roles in development at both private and public universities. He currently serves as the Director of Development for Florida Atlantic University College of Engineering and Computer Science. Michael Miller believes in helping donors’ dreams come alive. He has presented at a select number of national and state conferences, including the Engineering Development Forum and the International Cultic Studies Association. Miller was a recipient of the Fuller Center Man with a Caring Heart for 2022. Michael Miller is a 2023 Holmes Scholar inductee.
Catherine Restrepo-Widney is pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at Florida Atlantic University. Her primary research focuses on instructional practices in monolingual and dual language early childhood contexts that support young children’s socio-emotional, language, and literacy development and which enhance equitable learning environments. She has presented her research at several national and state conferences, including the American Association for Applied Linguistics and the American Educational Research Association. She obtained her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from Florida Atlantic. She has co-authored several published articles and has other pending publications. Catherine presently serves as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the department of Curriculum and Instruction and president of FAU’s College of Education Student Achievement Council. In addition to being a Holmes Scholar, she is also the recipient of the Toppel Family Early Childhood Doctoral Scholarship for the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 academic school years. Catherine Restrepo-Widney is a 2023 Holmes Scholar inductee.
Nadiya Boyce-Rosen is pursuing her Ph.D. in Counselor Education at Florida Atlantic University. She is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern (RMHCI) in Florida, Licensed School Counselor in Georgia and Florida, and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). She has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Psychology from Florida State University, and holds an M.Ed. in Professional Counseling from the University of West Georgia. Her career and research interests include addressing Social Determinants of Health within counseling and school counseling practice, microaffirmations and race-based trauma, and K-12 student engagement. Nadiya enjoys serving the counseling and education profession and is honored to be a Holmes Scholar and a 2023-24 NBCC Minority Fellowship Program Doctoral Fellow. She has presented and/or published research on microaffirmations, school counseling practice, race-based trauma, and trauma-informed practices in school counseling. Nadiya Boyce-Rosen is a 2023 Holmes Scholar inductee.
Paul Massy is currently pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at Florida Atlantic University. His research interest is Arts in Education as an educational tool for Social Transformation. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Master’s in Education degree from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. Paul has twenty-three years as an arts educator and more importantly, seven of those years as a Curriculum Officer in the Visual and Performing Arts. He has presented his research at national and regional conferences in the Caribbean and contributed his expertise to a myriad of festivals and workshops. In addition, to be being a Holmes Scholar, he is also the recipient of a scholarship and 2019-2020 provost fellowship. Paul is presently a Graduate Research Assistant in the department of Curriculum Culture and Educational Inquiry and a member of the Florida Atlantic University College of Education Kappa Delta Phi Chapter.
Ghari Shirley is a student in the Doctoral Program of Counselor Education and a Graduate Research Assistant on the FAU Clinical Rehabilitation Program’s Rehabilitation Services Administration grant. Mr. Shirley develops educational programs revolving around self-employment services for individuals with disabilities, serious mental illness and for federal and state agencies that serve individuals with disabilities. Through this grant thus far, Mr. Shirley has two publications pending, a presentation seen by over 200 federal personnel, and an invitation to join a similar program with the Federal Bureau of Prisons working with inmates soon to be released. Mr. Shirley formally served as President of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) Beta Rho Chi Chapter, FAU’s counseling honor society. Mr. Shirley is a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC) who has served as a research-focused clinical rehabilitation counselor and team facilitator. He has worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, managing a caseload of over 150 clients with mental and physical disabilities and providing essential job placement services, such as interviewing skills, resume building, and assessment of the local job market. Notably, in 2019, he was recognized as a Top Performing Rehabilitation Counselor in job placement with his employer (Greenacres Vocational Rehabilitation). He has recently been employed as a Vocational Expert, consulting on disability cases.
Marlynn Lopez is a third year Ph.D. student in the Higher Education Leadership program at Florida Atlantic University. She serves as the Associate Director for the Center for IDEAs (Inclusion, Diversity Education, and Advocacy), and oversees the Office of Hispanic/Latina/o/x Initiatives and international student programming. For the last five years, she’s had the honor to sit on the University’s Diversity Platform advancing its mission through programmatic efforts. Her research focus is around HSI leadership, student affairs practices, and servingness. She obtained her B.A in Psychology, Minor in Spanish Language and Culture, and Certificate in Executive Leadership Studies from Florida International University. She also has her Master’s in Higher Education- Student Affairs from Florida State University.
- Jennifer Amador is currently a doctoral candidate pursuing a PhD in Special Education at Florida Atlantic University. Her research interests include understanding the specific behaviors of young children that lead to exclusionary discipline and the overrepresentation of children of color in school discipline. Her dissertation research is focused on gaining a deeper understanding of how child behaviors, school policy, and cultural practices can potentially lead to the suspension and expulsion of young children from Latino Early Childhood programs. Jennifer has over 20 years of experience in the field of Early Childhood in roles ranging from Teacher, Director, and Adjunct Instructor. She earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management at Broward College and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Early Childhood at Florida Atlantic University. She has presented at a select number of national and state conferences including the National Association of Education for Young Children, Division for Early Childhood, Council for Exceptional Children. In addition to being a HOLMES scholar, Jennifer was a recipient of the Toppel Family Early Childhood Doctoral Scholarship for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic school years.