HIED Annual Capstone Conference

HIED Annual Capstone Conference Schedule

Thursday, May 20 2021

4:00pm – 6:30pm

Zoom Conference ID: —

Passcode: —

4:00pm – Welcome from Rebecca Pistilli

4:10pm – Keynote Speaker by Dr. David Hood

4:22pm – Overview of Capstone experience by Dr. Thomas Grace

4:30pm – Presentations

(Kelly Donnelly, Emily Inserra, and Sharne Dillard-Parish)

5:00pm – Presentations

(Daniel Waffenfeld, Alexandra Devaris Morgulis, and James Clark)

5:30pm– Presentations

(Amanda DePinho, Tabitha Mitchell, and Micale Fleury)

6:00pm– Presentations

(Karla Chicas, Donald Canfield, and Anastasia Spadaccini)

6:30pm – Closing Remarks from Rebecca Pistilli

*students return to the main room for graduating class group photo


Friday, May 21 2021

4:00pm – 6:00pm

Zoom Conference ID: —

Passcode: —

4:00pm – Welcome from Rebecca Pistillii

4:10pm – Remarks from Keynote Speaker Dr. David Hood

4:22pm – Dr. Thomas Grace- Overview of Capstone Experience this semester

4:30pm – Presentations

(Traci Cummings, Gianna Graw, and Michelle Rios)

5:00pm – Presentations

(Josue Michel, Arturo Fernandez, and Arielle Newman)

5:30pm– Presentations

(Amanda Pagan, Samantha Brannigan, and Daiela Gomez)

6:00pm– Closing Remarks from Rebecca Pistilli

*students return to the main room for graduating class group photo

Keynote Speaker

David S. Hood, Ed.D.

David S. Hood, Ed.D.

Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean, University College

Montclair State University

Montclair, NJ

David S. Hood, Ed.D., is Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and the founding Dean of University College at Montclair State University. His career has spanned two decades at various levels of K-12 and higher education, both as a faculty member and as a member of the administration at institutions including Elizabeth City State University, Virginia Union University, Central Michigan University, and North Carolina Central University. 

At Montclair State Dr. Hood he has broad responsibility for the development and implementation of policies and practices that assure the University’s delivery of high quality undergraduate education and students’ successful and timely completion of degrees. He is leading general education reform and oversees undergraduate initiatives including academic advising, the first-year experience, and the Honors Program.

He is the co-Project Directors for a $2.2 million Title III-funded initiative, Advising 2025, and has secured funding for TRIO and Title III projects at his former institutions. He earned his doctorate in Administration and Supervision with a concentration in Higher Education from Tennessee State University.


Alexandra Devaris Morgulis

Zoom Conference Room

Capstone Title: International Student Support During a Crisis

Center for Global Learning, Saint Peter’s University with site advisor Mr. Scott Keller

The entire world is currently living through a crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had an impact on several aspects of our lives and society, including higher education. This project looks at the impact of the current crisis on a specific population in higher education – international students.

Special Thanks: I would like to thank Mr. Scott Keller, Dr. Kristie Damell, Dr. Blanca Vega, and Mrs. Sherelene Ayala for their guidance through this journey.

Amanda DePinho

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Capstone Title: Best Practices for Hybrid Orientation

New Jersey Institute of Technology, New Student Orientation with site advisor Kristen DeGraff

Most college students connect to their new institutions beginning with new student orientation. Since the recent COVID-19 pandemic, all colleges and universities have had to change their traditional orientation model. Due to social distancing guidelines and gathering restrictions, many orientations had to happen virtually. With the world’s current climate, we need to realize that we will never have the same orientation we had in the past. Therefore, the following question can be proposed: How can we create a safe orientation to learn about the campus and develop and foster connections?

Special Thanks: Thank you to my Family!

Amanda Pagan

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Capstone Title:  High Impact Practices and Promoting Connectedness for Historically Underrepresented Students

Stockton University – Student Transition Program with site advisor Dr. Ana Edmondson, Director of Student Transition Programs

Students of Black and Hispanic backgrounds are dropping out of college at much higher rates compared to their White peers. To combat this challenge, I worked with the Office of Student Transitions Program to help increase retention and close equity gaps for these students. My key intervention strategy was to implement 6 High Impact Practice workshops that addressed the top challenges Black and Hispanic students faced at Stockton University.

Special Thanks:

Millie Rivera (mom)

Tiara Montesino (sister)

Dr. Ana Edmondson (Site Supervisor)

Dr. Dawn Norman (Capstone Faculty)

Tabitha Mitchell and Angie Aponte (Classmates)

Merylou Rodriguez (Friend)

Catherine Garcia (Friend)

Anastasia Spadaccini

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Capstone Title: The First-Year Student Experience During a Global Pandemic

Ramapo College of New Jersey, Center for Student Success with site advisor Diana Benavides

My capstone project examines the experiences of first-year students at Ramapo College who had an online course load for the Fall 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This project focuses on the impact of the circumstances of the pandemic on first-year students’ transition to college, primarily their social and academic integration. My proposed intervention strategies have the end goal of increasing the number of first-year students who feel part of the Ramapo Community and feel supported by administrators, faculty, and staff.

Special Thanks: My incredible support system of family, friends, professors, supervisors, and mentors who cheered me on throughout my two years in this program. No matter when and where I met you, your support has left a long lasting impression in my life. To quote one of my favorite songs, “Without you, there is no me”.

Arielle Newman

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Capstone Title: Career Services-led Training Program

Ithaca College, Career Services with site advisor  Cheryl Rotyliano: Director, Career Services

The literature as well as interviews with career coaches and surveys completed by faculty and staff at Ithaca College highlighted that many faculty and staff participate in career-related conversations with students. However, these individuals are often not prepared with formal training to best support them in these interactions. The goal of this Capstone project is to equip Ithaca College faculty and staff with the necessary knowledge and competencies to effectively support students in their career development. A Career Services-led training program is proposed as an effective intervention.

Special Thanks:

I want to first thank my Capstone Supervisor, Cheryl Rotyliano, and the Ithaca College Career Services staff for providing me with the opportunity to conduct my Capstone project with their department as well as for all of their support. I also want to thank Dr. Grace, Sherlene Ayala, Dr. Vega, and the rest of the Higher Education faculty and staff for guiding me through this program. Shout out to all my friends in this program, we did it! Lastly, I couldn’t have done it all without the support of my parents and sister for always having my back and listening to me complain, laugh, and more over these past two years.

Arturo Fernandez

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Capstone Title:  Increasing Financial Literacy program awareness and availability through the use of digital media platforms.

Montclair State University, Center for Leadership and Engagement with site advisor  Duane Williams

Across the nation thousands of students are preparing themselves to place themselves in debt to attend university, without understanding the financial responsibilities that are associated with this decision. Even though colleges and Universities offer resources to help educate students in making smarter financial decisions these resources go underutilized. This project outlines a detailed plan using best practices for marketing these financial resources and as well as providing suggestions on how to grow the campaign for the future. Literature research on Student Engagement Theory and the Mere Exposure Effect, forecasting marketing data and the results of student surveys are provided and used to create a social media marketing campaign.

Special Thanks:

I would like to take the time to Thank Duane Williams for allowing me to work with him and acting as a mentor during my site visit. My Professors in throughout my Program especially Dr. Damell and Dr.Vega for their help  and inspiring me with their passion for Higher education. Lastly family and Girlfriend Cheyenne who have supported me every step of the way.

Daiela Gomez

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Capstone Title:  “It Starts With Them: Creating a civic mentorship program”

Passaic County Community College (Educational Opportunity Fund Program) with site advisor Mr. Enrique Noguera

For this Capstone Project, I am focusing on the experiences of four Educational Opportunity Fund Students who are involved in a pilot Civic Mentorship Program. The purpose of this program is to increase the Civic Mentors’ awareness of social issues, improve their leadership skills, and promote civic action through mentee presentations. By the end of the Civic Mentorship Program, students should feel more confident as leaders and ready to transition to the 4-year college.

Special Thanks:

I could not have done this without the support of others around me. I want to thank Amalfi, Raul, Kara, Anthony, Enrique, Yanely, Alan, and Gayatri for always being there for me.

Daniel Waffenfeld

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Capstone Title: Enhancing Communication Among First-Year and Transfer Students

Montclair State University, Department of Student Communications with site advisor Hannah Wiese

The purpose of this capstone project is to advance new and innovative communication methods alongside email. The project focuses on the correlation between student communication and campus involvement. Ultimately, this idea explores promotion and techniques which intrigue enrolled students within the university. The concept which addresses this area, is a new student leadership team called Hawk Squad. This team encourages engagement, spreading news, and utilizing all resources and opportunities the institution has to offer.

Special Thanks:

My parents, my brother Matt and sister Sarah, my aunt and uncle, Dr. Norman, Dr. Vega, my current HIED classmates and ELHE/HIED alumni, Hannah Wiese, Christina Pascucci, Danielle Insalaco-Egan, Jaffir Abdul Rice, Bobby Serrani and all of my Hawk Squad members

Donald Canfield

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Capstone Title:  Resident Assistants Position and its Impact on Workforce Skills and Preparedness for Work After College

Montclair State University, Office of Residence Life with site advisor Dr. Kevin Schafer

This project was a program enhancement study meant to analyze both the current operations of the Residence Life Department and the RA position overall. This study was meant to see how the RA position impacts students’ workforce skills and what areas, if any, could be improved to assist in the development of those skills.

Emily Inserra

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Capstone Title: Second Year Prep Week: A Strategic Plan

Montclair State University, Center for Leadership & Engagement with site advisor  Jasey Bedoya, Assistant Director for Experience Montclair and Transition Programs

To combat the issue of the “second year slump” and prepare students at Montclair State University for their second year, I created a strategic plan for the Center for Leadership and Engagement for a Second Year Prep Week.  There is decrease in programming targeted towards the transition of first-year students into their second year and the success of sophomore students.  To combat this lack of engagement and as a way to prepare students for their second year at Montclair, I created a week-long event that combines social engagement and educational workshops to better prepare students for their next year.  Using research, partnered with the survey results I gathered from first year students, the strategic plan for Second Year Prep Week outlines an opportunity for students to become familiar with Montclair State Universities various offices and resources that are most important to second year students, including the offices for career services, study abroad, and academic resources.

Gianna Graw

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Capstone Title: Building Support Within Crisis Prevention for Greek Advisors

Stockton University, Office of Student Development with site advisor Joseph Thompson

This project seeks to understand how fraternity and sorority life advisors can be better supported in their work to decrease crises on their campus, aiding in prevention procedures. Five Greek advisors were interviewed to understand the work they do, how they can be better supported, and what can enable them to succeed in passing the information they have to their students. Through the data collected, recommendations were created for Greek advisors to utilize.

James Clark

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Capstone Title: Unleashing the Potential of Social Media for Academic Program

The College of Education and Human Service at Montclair State University with site advisor Dr. Amy Aiello

This project seeks to provide department chairs and administrators of academic programs with a comprehensive guide of how to use social media to benefit their program. Using theory-based practices, research, and personal experiences, I have created a guide that I believe will allow academic programs at Montclair State University to create a robust online presence that will lead to potential real-world benefits.

Special Thanks:

There are so many people that I want to thank but first, to my friends and family thank you for supporting all my dreams and ambitions. To Ana Spadaccini, thank you for your support and all the complaining sessions and texts during class. To Dr. Grace, thank you for guiding me through this process and giving me the support I needed. To The Faculty of the HIED program, thank you for the priceless gift of knowledge. To Sherlene Ayala, thank you for believing in me and giving me so many opportunities to learn how to be a better professional and  supporting me throughout my time in this program and beyond. To my parents, thank you for never questioning my seemingly endless years of education and always trusting that I would make you proud. To Dr. Julie Fleming, thank you for introducing me to higher education and for always believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. And to Serafina Genise, I would not be here without you. You continue to inspire me each and everyday and I’m forever grateful for your never ending support and love.

Josue Michel

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Capstone Title: Transfer Student Barriers – The Need For Further Enhancements

New Jersey Institute of Technology – New Student Orientation with site advisor Kristen DeGraff

This work is a combination of student and professional opinion, supported by the works of Vincent Tinto’s Persistence Theory. Many students at NJIT can be labeled by researchers as ‘at risk’ students – older, part-time students, full-time workers, parents etc. Such characteristics increase the likelihood of transfer shock occurring and overall dropping out. With the assistance of the Associate Director of New Student Orientation, I developed a series of workshops intended to increase the transfer student degree attainment rate that will be fully implemented this upcoming Fall semester of 2021.

Special Thanks: I give honor to God who is the head of my life. My strength and will to persist comes from him. I give special thanks to my family and friends for providing me with emotional support. I am very thankful for my Site Supervisor, without the guidance and support I received I would not have finished. Lastly, I would like to take this time to thank those faculty and staff members who made themselves available outside of normal business hours. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for you all.

Karla Chicas

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Capstone Title: Building Back Better: Hispanic/Latinx Alumni Networking Amid COVID-19

Office of Hispanic Serving Initiatives at Montclair State University with site advisor Dr. Katia Paz Goldfarb

The purpose and nature of this project was to analyze how the Hispanic/Latinx Alumni Network at Montclair State University utilizes videoconferencing technology like Zoom to build connections and social capital. COVID-19 has interrupted the way people and groups used to connect so I implemented the Program Enhancement Approach to suggest how the Hispanic/Latinx Alumni Network can navigate engaging in a virtual world and make meaningful connections that will contribute to the success of the institution and its students.

Special Thanks: I want to thank Dr. Katia Paz Goldfarb, the HAN team, Dr. Norman, my classmates, the ACDs of MSU, and my family who have been my biggest support system.

Kelly Donnelly

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Capstone Title: Mental Wellness at New Broncho Orientation

University of Central Oklahoma, New Broncho Orientation with site advisor Caleb Cash

Mental health and self-care have been increasingly gaining more attention over recent years. Concerns about mental wellness are especially prevalent among undergraduate students, who are managing multiple responsibilities while attending college. This Capstone Project focused on incorporating knowledge about mental wellness and self-care earlier in an undergraduate student’s college journey, which is right at the beginning during New Student Orientation.  This project evaluated how New Student Orientation at the University of Central Oklahoma could incorporate promoting mental wellness and self-care strategies into their Orientation programming.

Special Thanks:

  • My family and friends
  • Caleb Cash and Julia Reed
  • University of Central Oklahoma
  • Dr. Dawn Norman and Dr. Blanca Vega
  • The Office of Student Life at NJIT
Micale Fleury

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Capstone Title:  The Effect of Financial Literacy Coaches in the Office of EOF at Montclair State University.

Montclair State University; The Office of Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) with site advisor Anyelina Diaz

Title of Capstone Presentation: The Effect of Financial Literacy Coaches in the Office of EOF at Montclair State University.

In the terms of this project a Financial Literacy Coach will be able to assist incoming and current EOF students navigate the financial aid process. Financial Literacy Coaches will be able to assist students with the completion of the FAFSA application, develop how-to skills to guide scholars to understand their financial aid package, assist students with the state and federal verification process, and answer any general financial aid questions students may have within their time at MSU.

Special Thanks: Dr. Grace, Sherlene Ayala, Anyelina Diaz, The EOF Department, The Office of Financial Aid, my hubby, family, friends, and colleagues.

Michelle Rios

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Capstone Title:  The Future is Female: Building Science Identity for Latinx Women

Stockton University, Student Transitions Program with site advisor Dr. Ana Edmondson

The capstone project intends to find the best ways for Latinx women to feel connected socially and academically in their program and institution. Through the proposed interventions, we hope it provides Latinx women pursuing a STEM degree, with a platform that will function as a resource to share information, college/personal experiences, to have discussions on what can be improved on campus, how they can be supported, and help connect students with one another.

Special Thanks:

The first person I want to thank at this time is my mentor, and friend forever, Antonio Talamo. Thank you for opening up so many doors of opportunities for me. All it took was you inviting me into your office to listen to my story. I would not be here without all your support, and this was all possible because you saw me among hundreds of students. My family and I thank you. 

I want to thank the rest of my support system. My sorority sisters, my line sisters who have kept me sane the last 2-years. I want to shout out Joy Diaz, who is not only my sorority sister, but also my mentor. She is one of many Latina women I admire, and without her, I’d be lost throughout graduate school. My friends, who have been so patient with me as graduate school took over my life 24/7. My best-friend for life and soulmate, for holding me accountable, reminding me of all I am capable of achieving in life. They say it takes a village, and I have a whole community.

Lastly, now want to thank my family. Being a first-generation college student means my family has no idea what I’m studying, and that’s okay. I am here to change the narrative, because I am the first, and I certainly will not be the last. 

Samantha Brannigan

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Capstone Title: Technology and eLearning Departments: How employee Attitudes and Beliefs Affect Knowledge Management and Student Success

Middlesex College, Office of Institutional Research and Assessment with site advisor Meghan Alai. Dean, Institutional Research and Assessment

Prior surveys of students during the COVID-19 crisis found that many students faced issues with access to technology and knowledge of how to use technology. This project studied how employees of eLearning and Information Technology Departments, of which this knowledge is their domain, at a community college acknowledged their role in student persistence and success. Although findings were inconclusive, recommendations to respond to barriers blocking the sharing and receiving of organizational knowledge are presented, as well as analysis of how those barriers affect student persistence and retention.

Special Thanks: I would like to thank all of the wonderful faculty and staff members in the HIED program, especially Dr. Vega and Dr. Damell, as well as my family who supported me throughout my time in the program.

Sharne Dillard-Parrish

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Capstone Title:  Transitioning from Pioneer to Professional

William Paterson University – Academic Success Center & Career Development with site advisor Timothy Stanfield

The purpose of this Quality Improvement Project is to understand the benefits of providing career counseling support to first generation students in their senior year at William Paterson University. A thorough review of the post graduation practices at William Paterson University was examined using surveys and alumni interviews to suggest effective career readiness for first generation college seniors as they embark on their college to career transition. University staff and faculty are encouraged to use a 1 credit transition program to prepare an effective post college plan for first generation students.

Special Thanks: Thank you to my family and friends who have listened to me talk about this project for countless hours. Thank you to my site supervisor for believing in me and my project. Thank you Dr. Grace for your brilliant ideas and perspectives that have shaped this project. Thank you to my classmates for motivating me when I needed it most!

Tabitha L. Mitchell

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Capstone Title:   Understanding Sexual Misconduct among College Students and Examining Prevention on College Campuses

Montclair State University with site advisor Dr. Jerry Collins, Dean of Students

For my Capstone I chose to develop a quality improvement project as an intervention for sexual assault prevention for undergraduate students at Montclair State University. The result of the intervention was an online sexual assault prevention and healthy relationships training for current sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The web-based program begins with a customized pre course survey (that I created) and contains 6 modules of content about sexual violence, healthy relationships, consent, sexual harassment and reporting.

Special Thanks:

I would like to thank God, my family, my close friends, my two accountability partners (who have now become my friends), and my Capstone classmates, Dean Carter, Dr. Collins, Dr. Damell,  Simone Flowers, and Dr. Vega

Traci Cummings-McGreal

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Capstone Title: Gauging University College Effectiveness at Montclair State University: Creating Successful Measures in Pre-Major Student Persistence

Montclair State University – University College with site advisor Dr. Daphne Galkin

In 2018, Montclair State University launched University College, a holistic total-intake administrative model designed to cater to pre-major students and increase retention amongst first- and second-year students through professional academic advisement, quality academic programming, and support services.  Although University College is grounded in best practices and utilizes data analytics, they lacked an exit survey to gain insight into their students’ experiences.   This quality improvement project was constructed to give feedback to improve the services University College staff members provide to their students.

Special Thanks:

I’d like to thank the HIED faculty: Dr. Vega, Dr. Norman, Dr. Grace, Dr. Jean, Dr. Liera, Sherlene Ayala, Dr. Damell, and Dr. Aiello, for their wonderful sense of compassion, and their commitment to students and the profession. I’ve enjoyed their classes and their advice immensely.  I’d also like to thank all of the HIED students.  It is through my experience in collaborating with you all that we lift each other up. I want to thank Dr. Galkin, Associate Dean of University College and my capstone supervisor for her valuable time and insight along with the amazing staff at UC. I am proud to be a first-generation student and the first family member to achieve a master’s degree, so I’d be remiss if I did not thank my parents whose shoulders I stand upon.  Lastly, I’d like to thank my husband, Doug, and my girls, Emma and Charlotte who supported me unconditionally throughout this process. I’m so grateful.  Thank you all!