Our Students

Community Engagement & Praxis Projects

In HED, theory is only part of the equation. Making successful change in policy and practice requires application of theory to the realities and rigors of daily work. Through course assignments, research, and service commitments, HED faculty and students put praxis at the forefront of their efforts. Following, you will see examples from some of our students about how they have engaged with praxis in their time in HED.

Student & Alumni Profiles

Vanessa McWhirt: EdD

Undergraduate program: Metropolitan State University of Denver — Psychology

Previous graduate program: University of Colorado Colorado Springs — MA in Leadership with a concentration in Student Affairs in Higher Education

Home town: Littleton, CO

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
Staff retention

Cheyenne Smith: MA

Undergraduate program: Oklahoma State University

Home town: Ardmore, OK

Praxis project: Remaking New Futures in HED Pedagogy, Policy, and Practice: A Praxis Project.

HED 4294: Higher Education and Racially Minoritized Students with Dr. D-L Stewart

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
STEM Education, PhD, Honors College

John Macikas: PhD

Undergraduate program: Wheaton College — BA

Previous graduate program: Wheaton College — MA

Home town: Naperville, IL

Praxis project: I have served as a CCESL Fellow this year and implemented the Public Achievement program, a youth civic engagement initiative in which youth address a community issue based on the principles of community organizing. Along with another graduate Fellow and two undergraduate CCESL Scholars, we have partnered with a class at DMLK Early College and guided youth through the phases of building community, identifying and selecting an issue, researching the issue, and taking action. The youth identified the issue of youth gun violence in their community and have collaborated with multiple community partners. Their emerging project is to develop a course to engage in meaningful discussion and capacity building related to youth gun violence to advance prevention.

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
Community engagement, community organizing, youth civic engagement

Ashley Sherman: EdD

Undergraduate program: Arizona State University — BS in Political Science

Previous graduate program: Arizona State University — MEd in Higher Education

Home town: Sacramento, CA

Praxis project: Spring 2022 — Policy Fellowship with Colorado Department of Higher Education

HED 4995: Independent Study — Coauthored paper with Dr. Nguyen on the federal CARES Act and funding for Minority Serving Institutions

HED 4242: Education Policy Analysis with Dr. Ally Garcia — Lobbied Congresswoman DeGette (CO District 1) for elimination of federal student loan program, substantial increase in Federal Pell Grant program, caps on tuition increases at public universities, and direct funding to post-secondary institutions

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
Public education policy advocacy

Yanxin Luo: MA

Undergraduate program: Metropolitan State University of Denver — Psychology

Previous graduate program: University of Denver — Psychology

Home town: Denver, CO

Praxis project: I am currently finishing a praxis project in my Curriculum Development course. Through this praxis project, I discovered the complexity of creating a curriculum for students' academic outcomes. This course is instructed by Bridget Arend.

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
Support, active, fun

Shaniquè Broom: PhD

Undergraduate program: Central Michigan University — Psychology

Previous graduate program: Central Michigan University — Higher Education Administration

Home town: Detroit MI

Praxis project: With regard to my dissertation topic focusing on exploring the experiences of gendered racism that Black women experience at predominantly white institutions, I have developed a coaching business that aids in providing support, mentoring, and coaching for first-generation professionals, specifically women of color who have experienced racial- and gender-based trauma at predominately white institutions of education as professionals.

Independent research: Cecilia Orphan

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
Access and support for first-generation students and professionals

Sarabeth Morofsky: EdD

Undergraduate program: Ohio University — Hearing, Speech, & Language Science

Previous graduate program: George Washington University — MA in Strategic Public Relations

Home town: Brooklyn, NY

Praxis project: Poster Presentation — Ethnic Studies Department

Implementation plan: Dr. Cecilia Orphan — Current Issues in Higher Education

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
Advise, empower, advocate, nurture

Bryce Lowry: MA

Undergraduate program: University of Northern Colorado — Audiology and Speech Language Sciences

Home town: Parker, CO

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
Admissions, access, inclusivity

Valerie Hostettler: EdD

Undergraduate program: Brown — Urban Studies

Previous graduate program: University of Denver — Masters Curriculum & Instruction

Home town: Edison, NJ

Praxis project: The TEP program completely prepared me to teach in a variety of settings. I spent 3 days a week first in Commerce City, and then in Parker — two entirely different schools with entirely different students and parents. I highly recommend splitting praxis.

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
Inclusive, equity-based, meaningful

Joshua Boone: EdD

Undergraduate program: Elon University — Athletic Training

Previous graduate programs: East Carolina University — MAEd in Athletic Administration; Elon University — MBA

Home town: Hertford, NC

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
CRT, DEI, fighting against white supremacy in athletics

Casey McCoy-Simmons: PhD

Undergraduate program: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — BS in Media & Cinema Studies

Previous graduate program: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — MS in Library & Information Sciences

Home town: Louisville, CO

Praxis project: In Spring 2020's Educational Policy Analysis course taught by Dr. Orphan, I had the opportunity to work on two projects with the Colorado Department of Higher Education. One was a group project that resulted in our data and analysis being published in the 2020 Return on Investment report, and the second was my individual project with the Open Educational Resources grant program, which influenced the direction of my dissertation research focusing on OER state policies.

Kiersten Hillkirk: PhD

Undergraduate program: Wittenberg University — Spanish

Previous graduate programs: Southern Illinois University — MA in Secondary Education; University of Denver — MA in Higher Education

Home town: State College, PA

Praxis project: The past six months, I have been working with Dr. Nick Cutforth and another PhD student, Brooke Sassi, on a community-based research project. We have been collecting and analyzing qualitative research through conducting interviews with community members in a rural county in southern Colorado. This project has been extraordinarily impactful given that our needs assessment indicated the community is interested in implementing a school-based health center (SBHC). Through more collaboration to launch the SBHC, we will play a part in improving access to primary care, mental health care, and dental care for an impoverished county with limited resources. This is exactly why I decided to pursue my PhD — to do my part to make positive social change. I have learned so much from Dr. Cutforth's brilliance, humility, and genuine care for the communities he serves, as he has been doing community-based research for over 20 years.

Impact you want to have within postsecondary education:
Social justice, racial equity

Partnership with CMC — Colorado Mountain College

Colorado Mountain College was officially designated as Colorado’s first dual mission institution in 2021, offering a blend of certificate programs and associate degrees as well as bachelor’s degrees under one roof.

Colorado Mountain College offers a dynamic, innovative, and high-quality teaching and learning experience serving a diverse population in a student-centered, inclusive, and personalized learning environment. Committed to both affordable and accessible education, CMC offers a comprehensive array of undergraduate programs and lifelong learning opportunities helping all students meet their individual educational goals.

The College district covers 7,500 square miles, three national forests, six wilderness areas and most of Colorado's major ski resorts.

Student Testimonials

"My time in the EdD Program at Morgridge College of Education has been wonderful. Initially, I was nervous coming into the program without having studied education in my undergraduate or master’s program. However, the support I have received from classmates and faculty has allowed me to grow in this space. The materials and conversations that take place in the classroom are something I have been able to utilize in my everyday role as an Enrollment Manager. Through this program, I have grown as a leader within higher education, even helping me get promoted to Assistant Director in my current role."

–Jessica, current CMC student

"During my time in the Doctor of Education, Higher Ed Program at the University of Denver's Morgridge College of Education, I have been enriched by the opportunities for personal as well as professional growth and development. The program's rigorous curriculum, coupled with the mentorship and guidance from esteemed professors, has broadened my scholarly horizons and deepened my understanding of higher education administration. Collaborating with dedicated classmates has fostered a transformative learning environment, enhancing my skills and expanding my perspectives. I am grateful for the invaluable experiences and the profound impact the HED EdD program has had on my personal and professional journey."

–Evan, former student

Internships & Graduate Assistantships

Where our students have held internships over the past year:

Opportunities at DU Colleges & Schools
  • Korbel School of International Studies
  • Graduate School of Social Work
  • Ritchie School of Computer Science
  • Morgidge College of Education
  • Sturm College of Law

Opportunities at DU Student Affairs
  • Career and Professional Development
  • Residence Life
  • Facilities and Operations
Other Institutions in Colorado and Across the Nation
  • Harvard University
  • Arapahoe Community College
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE)

Teaching Internships alongside DU Faculty
  • First Year Seminar 
  • Navigating College Experience

Where our students have held graduate assistantships over the past year:

  • University of Denver Higher Education Department
  • University of Denver Student Affairs & Inclusive Excellence
  • University of Denver Equity in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • National Association of State Facilities Administrators
  • Aurora Public Schools
  • Regis University
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver

93% of all Higher Education graduates secure employment in administrative, student affairs, policy, organization and academic roles:

percentage of alumni employed within six months of graduating by program

Fall 2021 Student Demographics

103 Students Enrolled

total students enrolled by program
average age of students by program
students by race and ethnicity
student enrollment by race and ethnicity
enrollment status by program
average previous degree GPA

HED Engaged Report 2023: Learn More

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Our Faculty & Staff

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Meet Our Faculty & Staff