Florida Southern Ed.D. Students Awarded for Excellence at Annual FERA Conference

Dec 13, 2021

by FSC Staff

Florida Southern College students in the Doctor of Education program are competing and succeeding among the best and brightest!

This year at the Florida Educational Research Association’s 65th annual meeting, three students in the Doctor of Education program marked a milestone in their academic careers by presenting poster presentations as a part of the conference.

poster award certificate
Clair Harris

The students, Troy Hershberger ’25, Ryan Hiller ’24, and Clair Harris ’25, spent several months hard at work honing their research for the event. The students submitted proposals to the conference for peer review, developed poster presentations, and prepared for the conference presentation process under the guidance of Dr. Melanie R. Fowler, coordinator of the Doctor of Education program.

Their hard work paid off! The students all gave well-received presentations, and Harris won the conference’s Outstanding Graduate Student Poster Award. The award includes paid registration to FERA’s 2022 conference and guaranteed publication of her work in the Florida Journal of Educational Research.

Harris’ research presentation was chosen for the award after she presented it alongside the work of students and scholars from myriad of other state, private, and even R1-level doctoral programs across Florida and the nation, such as the University of Florida, Florida State University, Cornell University, Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, the University of North Carolina, the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa, and others.

ryan presenting
Ryan Hiller

“The (FERA) poster session is a different kind of experience that keeps you on your toes, where professionals make their way around a room where all of the presenters are together,” Harris said. “Anything can be asked of you at any point regarding your research, your future planning, limitations, etc., so you really need to know the details of your content. It really was a great experience, and the professionals attending were so kind and helpful. Winning the Outstanding Graduate Student Poster Award has been such a motivating and validating experience, and I am so grateful that this has provided me the opportunity to advocate for students and that other professionals see the value in the research too.”

Dr. Fowler expressed pride and respect for her students’ accomplishments both in the academic realm and in producing research that will shape a better future for education in our country.

“The dedication and preparation that go into presenting at professional academic conferences is tremendous, particularly for doctoral students who are working full-time,” Dr. Fowler noted. “It is certainly an accomplishment to have one’s work accepted to the FERA conference. However, the opportunity to present their research is much more than a moment of recognition. Clair, Ryan, and Troy have taken the first step toward making an impact on our society. I am proud of them for demonstrating that they embody the mission of the College and the EdD program.”

The 2021 FERA annual conference marks the second year that students from FSC’s Doctor of Education program have won awards at the conference. In 2019, the last time that the conference was held in person, George Matisz ’22 and Mary Ann Murdoch ’22 both won FERA’s Graduate Student Poster Award.

troy presenting
Troy Hershberger

The Doctor of Education program at Florida Southern College engages students in academic and scholarly experiences, discourse, study, and research with expert faculty and peers from varied academic backgrounds and with diverse perspectives.

“I chose the EdD program at FSC because I wanted a small class size and higher-level access to the faculty,” Harris reflected. “I really value the faculty and administration that have shown interest in my passion for equitable access to education and eliminating barriers for students with disabilities in the higher education setting. The support, professional and constructive critique, and knowledge from those faculty have been so meaningful and have really contributed to the success that I have had in pursuing my goals.”

Florida Southern’s School of Education is nationally ranked, having been named among the “Best Education Graduate Schools” in the nation for 2022 by U.S. News & World Report. Further, FSC’s School of Education is one of just eight Florida-based institutions to be recognized by the 2021-2022 College of Distinction guidebook, which chose FSC’s education program for its stable reputation for quality and success, well-rounded multidisciplinary program, and practical experience in student teaching to boost student preparation and confidence levels.