College of Education’s Higher Education Program Honors Alumna, Recent Graduate and Faculty Member Through Annual Awards

New wolf statue on central campus.

A faculty member, alumna and recent graduate were recognized this summer through three awards given within the NC State College of Education’s Higher Education Program.

The Higher Education Program shares one common mission: to improve student access and success. The faculty’s commitment to that mission has led to the higher education graduate program being ranked No. 20 in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, the only of its kind in North Carolina to be ranked.

The awards — given to Chelsea Hayes ‘17 MED, Laura Maldonado ‘20PHD and Assistant Teaching Professor Krispin Barr, Ph.D. — recognized contributions made to the field of higher education through impact, research, inspiring others in the field and providing professional and personal support to students.

You can read more about the awards and the recipients in the pieces below.

Higher Education Alumni Award

Chelsea Hayes ‘17MED, who serves as the director of student involvement at William Peace University, was recognized with the Higher Education Alumni Award. In her role, Hayes oversees the Chelsea Hayesplanning and execution of New Student Orientation, manages the operations of more than 25 registered student organizations, oversees student-leader training and development, plans and executes campus-wide events and traditions and consistently evaluates and assesses office programming, policies and procedures, to name a few.

The annual alumni award recognizes graduates of the higher education program who have made outstanding contributions to the field of higher education through a variety of ways, including making a significant impact on education, developing a regional or national reputation for their work, serving as an inspiration to other professionals and/or demonstrating continued involvement with the NC State College of Education.

“I am absolutely honored! When I was first notified about the award I had a quick moment of ‘imposter syndrome’ and couldn’t believe that I was one of the individuals selected,” Hayes said. “But it really allowed me to take a moment to not only pause and reflect on all that I have accomplished in my three years of working professionally but to thank the individuals, especially the Black women, who have paved the way and created space within education for me to serve in the capacity that I do.”

As the director of student involvement, Hayes has had the opportunity to stay connected to the college. She serves as an internship host for graduate students in the college and the higher education program, providing hands-on learning opportunities for students.

“This has by far been one of the most impactful experiences within the College of Education as it has given me an opportunity to utilize my skill set to give back to the college that has given so much to me and to continue learning from our future educators,” she said.

Hayes, who completed her undergraduate degree at NC State was always drawn to the higher education administration program, but it was the cohort model, the diversity of graduate assistantships and the approachability of the faculty that attracted her to the program.


Tim Luckadoo Outstanding Dissertation Award

Laura Maldonado ‘20PHD spent more than a decade helping teenagers Laura Maldonado and adults make career-related decisions through her work in career centers before she decided to pursue a doctorate degree. Now, her work in the NC State College of Education’s Educational, Leadership, Policy, and Human Development program’s Higher Education area of study has been recognized with the Tim Luckadoo Outstanding Dissertation Award.

The award is given annually to recognize an outstanding dissertation that advances knowledge in higher education, makes innovative use of methods and extends the approaches available to conducting research in the field, integrates relevant research and theory into unique research, suggests insightful implications for improving practice and extends theory in potentially useful ways for researchers and practitioners.

“I am honored to receive this award from the higher education program. I am thankful for my chair, Dr. Audrey Jaeger, my committee members and my professors, who pushed me to be a better scholar-practitioner,” Maldonado said. “I am extremely grateful for my higher education cohort and the fellows in the Bridging the Gaps in Postsecondary Career and Technical Education Research Program, who encouraged and supported me along the dissertation journey. I also want to thank the participants of the study for their contributions and confidence in me to share their stories.”

Maldonado’s dissertation explored how participation in SkillsUSA, a career and technical student organization, influenced community college students’ preparedness for the workforce and connection to campus as well as how alumni perceived the influence of SkillsUSA on their program and career choices.

She said she chose this focus for her dissertation because she was curious to learn more about students’ experiences participating in career and technical student organizations, as previous researchers have focused on participation in secondary schools as opposed to postsecondary institutions like community colleges. She believes this unique perspective, as well as her unique presentation of her research, are why she was selected to receive the Tim Luckadoo Outstanding Dissertation Award.

“I decided to write the dissertation in an innovative format,” Maldonado said. “ While the first three chapters consisted of the introduction, literature review and methodology, the remaining chapters included first-person narrative participant profiles, two scholarly manuscripts and two impact briefs with recommendations for the community colleges.”

Maldonado is continuing her work related to community colleges as a lead research associate at the College of Education’s Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research. 


Kathryn M. Moore Academic Leadership Award

Krispin Barr, Ph.D., an assistant teaching professor of higher education, joined the NC State College of Education last year, and her work is already being recognized through the department’s Kathryn M. Moore Academic Leadership Award.Krispin Barr headshot

The award recognizes a professional within the higher education community who has provided exceptional leadership and service to improve learning and personal and professional development for students with the College of Education’s Higher Education Program

The award is named for Dean Emerita Kathryn M. Moore, Ph.D., who significantly influenced the field of higher education and engaged in work that has lasting implications for career advancement and dismantling structures that were inequitable. In honor of Moore’s legacy, the award also recognizes a professional who is engaged in the higher education community in ways that significantly impact and advance the field.

“I was truly honored and humbled when I learned that I received the Kathryn M. Moore Academic Leadership Award,” Barr said. “I feel a tremendous responsibility to advance the field of higher education by inspiring others to critique and challenge old ways of thinking and doing so that we can create new, authentic institutional cultures where students feel valued and validated in the ways they are different and unique – which ultimately supports every student’s ability to achieve their highest potential.”

Over the past year, Barr said that she felt fortunate to be able to play a role in helping master’s students coordinate the annual TRIO Conference last fall and to have the opportunity to help students coordinate a virtual conference this year. She also helped coordinate the PREP program, a multi-day experience that allowed prospective students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to visit campus, meet with faculty and current students, and learn about the graduate application process.

“It is a pleasure to work with students who are authentically committed to advocating for equity in higher education and working to enhance access and success for students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds,” Barr said.