College of Education leaders earn 4 doctorates

August 11, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

GCU News Bureau

College of Education faculty at Grand Canyon University didn’t waste time over the summer. Four finished and successfully defended dissertations and recently earned doctoral degrees.

COE leadership is proud of Dr. Tracy Angela Vasquez, Dr. Stacy Vaught, Dr. Emily Pottinger and Dr. Alicia Kozimor — all longtime COE employees.

Said COE Dean Dr. Meredith Critchfield: “This last year challenged us all, but these four remarkably strong leaders persevered. They showed grit by putting in long days and long weekends to complete their doctoral programs. I don’t think it’s a mistake that all four of them graduated at this time either. It’s a testament to their characters, to their faith, and to the kind of strong-willed, growth-mindset oriented, and resilient faculty, staff and students we have here in the College of Education.”

Said COE Associate Dean Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick: “Above all, they exemplify and demonstrate learning, leading and serving. Each of their scientific studies is in some way related to how we can innovate and improve our programs and services.”

Said COE Director of Academic Programs Lindy Gaudiano: “These four leaders have shown continued poise and collaboration throughout their time with the college while completing their doctoral programs. Their contributions to the work we do as a group is instrumental to the student growth we have seen over the last few years and assistance with all aspects of teacher candidates success. All ladies have such strong work-ethics and are leaders within their own teams and as representatives of the college.”

Dr. Tracy Angela Vasquez

Dr. Tracy Angela Vasquez

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Integrating Technology, Learning, and Psychology

Title of study: “Study of Social Support and Knowledge-sharing for Preservice Teachers in an Online Community, Building a Retention Foundation”

How has the doctorate journey impacted you?: “In completing this terminal degree, I feel empowered by my demonstration of research and writing skills, and I am confident of my expertise in the field. Mostly, I know I have been blessed to have had this journey, and I am fortunate of the support I have received from my husband, my friends and my family. The Bible tells us, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). I feel called to broaden my reach, not only as a Christian educator, but as a leader in higher education. I want to model what can be accomplished through the grace of God and to lift up others.”

Dr. Stacy Vaught

Dr. Stacy Vaught

Degree: Doctorate of Philosophy in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction

Title of study: “Play: Defining and Implementing Play-Based Learning in the Kindergarten Classroom”

How has the doctorate journey impacted you: “This journey has encouraged me to model for my children the importance of hard work and dedication. I am proud of this accomplishment and what it has taught myself, my children, and what it will provide to the field of early childhood education in the future.”


Dr. Emily Pottinger

Degree: Ph.D. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction

Title of Study: “A Case Study on Online Full-time Faculty Perceptions of Classroom Assessment”

How has the doctorate journey impacted you? “This journey has been a labor of love that has seen me through some of my life’s biggest accomplishments personally and professionally. To say my life has changed would be an understatement. I began this program as on online full-time faculty member fresh out of the first-grade classroom and I now finish as COE’s assistant dean with a husband and two babies. I am forever grateful to have reached this milestone and for all the love and support I have received along the way from so many wonderful friends, family, colleagues and mentors.”


Dr. Alicia Kozimor

Degree: Ed.D in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning

Title of study: “Barriers to Implementation of Problem-Based Learning in Online Undergraduate Instruction”

How has the doctorate journey impacted you?: “Successfully completing this program has shown me just how strong I can be personally and academically when I put my mind to something. I am so proud that my children were able to see the hard work I put into this and just how important education is. I plan to use this degree to add to the field of education through research, professional development and building up the next generation of educators.”

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