Celebrations

LaVerne Gyant
LaVerne Gyant

We are excited to celebrate accomplishments and life events of our HESA community. Alumni, current students, and faculty can submit information for the newsletter. Please submit any announcements and pictures for our next newsletter (Summer 2021) to HESA Program Coordinator Dr. Gudrun Nyunt at gnyunt@niu.edu.

Congratulations to our second-year master’s student Cristian Baeza and our faculty member Dr. LaVerne Gyant for receiving the Richard A. Flournory Engagement Award.

Richard A. Flournory was an NIU administrator who worked tirelessly to create an inclusive and engaging campus and community. Award recipients are recognized for their commitment to social justice, building an inclusive community throughout NIU, and their ability to work collaboratively with people of all backgrounds.

We could not think of anyone more deserving than Dr. Gyant for this award.

From conducting research on African American women and the participation and contributions of African American in adult education to discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion in her courses, to serving as director for the Center for Black Studies for many years, and advising many student organizations that strive to provide a community for student of color on campus, Dr. Gyant has spent her time at NIU working tirelessly to build a more inclusive community. She has been a role model and mentor for many students in our program.

Cristian Baeza
Cristian Baeza

One of those students following in her footsteps is Cristian Baeza, the first student recipient of the Richard A. Flournory Engagement Award.

Cristian has served as the graduate assistant for our department, has advised students in our undergraduate minors, and has supported our recruitment efforts for the Master’s program. Cristian strives to intentionally engage with others and encourage everyone’s participation in an effort to create and sustain an inclusive community.

As Cristian enters the job market this spring, we are excited to follow his career and know that any institution would be lucky to have him join their staff.


Valronica Scales
Valronica Scales
Jasmine Ivy
Jasmine Ivy

A huge shout-out also to our two Phyllis Cunningham Social Justice Scholarship Award recipients: second-year master’s student Jasmine Ivy and doctoral student Valronica Scales.

The Phyllis Cunningham Social Justice Scholarship Award recognizes individuals whose past work and future plans reflect the high expectation and dedication to social justice exhibited by Dr. Cunningham.

Dr. Cunningham, who was a professor emerita at NIU, worked tirelessly to meet the education needs of individuals of all walks of life. She dedicated her life to working with low-income families searching for equity and social transformation.

After her retirement in 2003, she remained active in community work, serving as a founding member of the Phyllis Cunningham Social Justice Institute in 2010 and supporting the establishment of Conexion Comunidad, the first community-based Latino organization in DeKalb.


Samantha Glaab-Lanigan
Samantha Glaab-Lanigan

Congratulations to our recent master’s graduate Sam Glaab-Lanigan, M.S.Ed., who accepted a position as an Academic Advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Congratulations to our recent master’s graduate Meghan Chrum, M.S.Ed., who was promoted at her with the Illinois Student Assistant Commission (ISAC). Meghan now serves as a regional trainer and recently moved to Peoria, IL, to train college access professionals in central and southern Illinois. Further congratulations to Meghan for being selected to write the inaugural Capacity Development and Training (CDT) Impact Report for the year 20-21.

Congratulations to our August and December 2020 graduates:

  • Dr. Cynthia Armster
  • Dr. Jacob Cushing
  • Dr. Emmanuel Esperanza
  • Dr. Kathy Freeman
  • Dr. Jason Goode
  • Dr. Mary Guillen
  • Dr. Sandra Innis
  • Dr. Mark Pietrowski
  • Dr. Emily Reabe
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