The Graduate School

What Are Your Plans After Graduation?

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

Douglas ViaOne of the most dreaded questions for an undergraduate student is “What are you doing after graduation?” It is usually not as stressful for the graduate students, and we spoke to graduates from several Master’s programs and here is what they shared…

Tara Scibelli, who received her M.A. in Humanities, says she will most likely continue to pursue creative writing of some sort as her thesis was a creative writing poetry project. She has many other plans, but the one she is looking forward to the most is to continue to enjoy her new grandson, who was born last year and was an inspiration for some of her writing.
Lois Johnson-Mead, Environmental Biology graduate, came to Hood College as a science educator with experience working with U.S. Fish & Wildlife researchers in raptor conservation. “I wanted to enhance my conservation expertise and to be equipped to help my students address climate change challenges,” adds Lois, who plans to explore opportunities in STEM administration or programs in wildlife restoration and outreach education.

Another Environmental Biology graduate, Kevin Stanfield, looks forward to an internship for the National Park Service through the American Conservation Experience.
Emily Sikora, who earned her M.S. in Reading Specialization, will continue teaching second grade at Urbana Elementary School. In the future, Emily would like to pursue a role as a Literacy Specialist at an elementary school.
Abdul Wasay Mir, an M.S. graduate in Information Technology, wants to keep working on his startup company, providing cybersecurity services. Abdul Wasay is also planning to pursue Ph.D. at a later point in life.
Mia Zimnik has a very straightforward goal as she uses her M.S. in Environmental Biology – Job search! “I’ve been applying to jobs for the past few months, but have yet to find the perfect fit.” Mia plans to pursue a career in either wildlife biology or environmental education, whichever path finds her first!

Congratulations once again to all our graduates and hope all your dreams and plans come true!

Dr. Liz Chang – 46 Years of Service

Posted by | Computer Science, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology, Management of Information Technology, STEM Education | No Comments

Liz ChangDr. Elizabeth “Liz” Chang was honored with a Years in Service Award by the Hood College Graduate School at the recent Graduate Degree Recipient Reception. Retiring from Hood after 46 years, Dr. Chang has made invaluable contributions and served our students and the institution with unparalleled dedication, commitment and distinction. “Her contributions to the College are too many to enumerate fully,” emphasized Dr. April Boulton, Dean of the Graduate School, at the ceremony. Professor Chang came to Hood in 1972 to teach in the Department of Mathematics where she taught at all levels of the curriculum. Always academically curious and energetic, she became interested in an emerging field, computer science, and working with another mathematics professor, she spearheaded curricular innovations that introduced the first programming course at Hood.

Fast forward several years later, when, while teaching hundreds of students in mathematics and developing several new courses in computing, she created the Computer Science program. The growth and interest in the program was such that in the early 2000s the college established the Department of Computer Science. Professor Chang switched her focus and taught exclusively in the new department, where she served for many years as the department chairperson, designed the Web minor, helped develop master’s programs and served as a graduate program director for many years on different occasions for most of our programs. Dr. Chang was active and resourceful in bringing only the best to her students. For instance, in 2015, Dr. Chang was awarded an Academic Innovation Grant with her proposal to develop “Flipped Classroom” materials for Web Development classes, when she created materials that allowed students to explore technical content before practicing it in class and to review it after class.

Professor Chang has taught across virtually all of our undergraduate and graduate programs including courses in mathematics, the core curriculum and the First Year Seminar. Even now, her students from decades ago remember her courses fondly and never miss an opportunity to express the impact her teaching had on their lives and professional careers. Her service to the College spans more than four decades of continuous leadership and innovation. Congratulations to Dr. Liz Chang for an outstanding 46 years of service, and we wish her a very happy and interesting retirement!!

Hood’s Third Annual Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

Posted by | Curriculum and Instruction, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, International Students, Uncategorized | No Comments

IMG_6897Kelly Cunningham, a Master of Science candidate in Environmental Biology, is Hood College’s 2018 Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition winner. Kelly’s thesis is entitled Identifying Locations in the Greater Washington D.C. Area Most at Risk from Future Development, on the risk to the environment of development in our local area. Kelly presented a technical problem in a non-technical way and was awarded the $600 first-place prize from Hood’s Graduate School.

Members of the audience selected two People’s Choice winners, each of whom was awarded $200. Winners were Kamal Saran Rangavajhula, an M.S Candidate in Management of Information Systems (MIS), presented his semester-long research Detection of Unauthorized Usage of User Accounts through Mouse Dynamics. Kemal conducted this research with the help of professors Dr. Carol Jim and Dr. Ahmed Salem. Jessica McClain, an M.S candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, won with The Effects of Metacognitive Reading Strategies on French L2 Vocabulary Acquisition.

Internationally recognized and valued by employers, the 3MT competition is a way for graduate students to relay their capstone, advanced project, thesis or internship to a non-technical audience. 14 Hood Graduate students gained valuable experience in developing academic, presentation and communication skills. Applicants from seven Master’s Programs — MBA, Environmental Biology, Biomedical Science, Bioinformatics, Curriculum and Instruction, Management Information Systems, and Thanatology, and two 2 Doctoral programs — Doctorate of Organizational Leadership and Doctorate in Business Administration participated. This was Hood’s third year of 3MT sponsorship and The Graduate School hopes to continue this fun and educational tradition in years to come.
Congratulations once again to our winners!

What Will You Remember?

Posted by | Clinical Counseling, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, GSA, Information Technology, Reading Specialization | No Comments

D7R_3305It’s time to celebrate those completing their Hood College Graduate School degrees! We wanted to know what they celebrated about Hood. Throughout their time here, what was their favorite memory? From their professors to experiences that will help them in their fields and the friends that they made, all of the graduates had great memories to share…


Kevin Stanfield, who is receiving his M.S. in Environmental Biology, enjoys remembering the antics of some of his favorite professors, like “watching Dr. (Eric) Annis describe an ecological niche considering n variables in an n-dimensional hyperspace using interpretive dance” and how “Dr. (Eric) Kindahl can deliver riveting two-hour lectures without saying ‘um’ or ‘ah’ or misspeaking even if you intentionally try to derail him.”


M. S. in Reading Specialization recipients Megan Ramsburg and Emily Sikora talked about the reading clinic as their favorite memory. Megan said “this might sound silly, but Summer Reading Clinic may be my favorite (and hardest) memory of the program. It is amazing how much we were able to help these struggling readers in only 6 weeks. Plus, I enjoyed my time with the other clinicians immensely. They really made this experience my favorite memory. We became a family who were able to provide emotional, instructional, and motivational support to each other on a constant basis. The experience truly tested us in so many ways and yet, provided us with the skills and confidence in ourselves that we (some days) didn’t know we had.” Emily agrees, saying “I was able to see how the application of the skills that I learned had an impact on the students I was working with. During this time, I also developed a close friendship with the other clinicians. We supported each other to analyze the data and provide prescriptive instruction to the students.”


For M. S. in Counseling graduate Merrideth Wile, her favorite memory is all about her relationship with her fellow students. She explains “this is not a specific memory, but I cherish the friends I’ve made.” Mia Zimnik, another Environmental Biology graduate, agrees when she said “after my first round of finals myself and the rest of my cohort went out downtown to celebrate. We were all so happy to be done with our first exams of grad school, so proud of ourselves, and were all feeling very relieved! We continued this tradition up until this past round of finals, and it really helped get us through the exams.”


Mir Abdul Wasay, who will receive his M.S. in Information Technology and is the outgoing president of Graduate Student Association (GSA), said that “I’m going to miss the GSA events. They are sweet memories for rest of my life and I will not forget trip to New York with some amazing friends and colleagues.”


Lois Johnson-Mead, who is also a graduate in the Environmental Biology program, chose a memory that connected her learning with hands-on experience and a chance to practice her skills. She explains that being “invited to travel down the Potomac River to assess the health of the Chesapeake Bay oyster population on a historic buyboat for a marine ecology course was one of the favorite, all-encompassing memories I have as an ENV graduate student. Being a part of a discovery team showed me the potential of my graduate degree and connected me with real world issues and possible solutions.”


Stay tuned to hear about our graduate’s future plans!

Hood Graduates Appreciate Their Teachers!

Posted by | Clinical Counseling, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, Humanities | No Comments

The academic year is almost over, so what do the graduates of Hood College’s Graduate School think? For Teacher Appreciation Week, we wanted to know who their favorite professor at Hood was and why. While everyone said that they loved all their professors, they were each able to pick one that stood out.


laurajones2For Merrideth Wile, who will be receiving her M.S. in Counseling, “all of the counseling staff are wonderful, but Dr. Laura Jones is an exceptional teacher and working counselor. Everything she does from the minute you walk into class until you leave models interventions you can use with students.” Dr. Jones is a school counselor in Frederick County Public Schools, was the Maryland School Counselor Association’s 2016 Counselor of the Year - for which she was invited to a celebration at the White House! - and 2018 Counselor Educator of the Year for her work with Hood College students.


Lois Johnson-Mead graduated with an M.S. in Environmental Biology last fall. As she explains, “I loved all my ENV professors; each one was devoted to a specialized ecological area, yet they all wanted their students to be in love with their specialty! I had the chance to learn from a variety of professors, to become a mini-expert in their field, and to grasp essentials concepts or as Dr. Eric Annis would say ‘make sure you were picking up what he was puttin’ down!’ How can you pick a favorite from a gaggle of favorites?” Hood’s Environmental Biology Program has an amazing group of professors, with 94% holding their Ph.D. All have a plethora of expertise in their field as well as practical experiences from involvement with groups from the National Cancer Institute to the National Park Service and the USDA.  Eric Annis


Tara Scibelli, graduating with an M.A. in Humanities, mentioned Dr. Corey Campion “because he showed genuine concern for all the students in the program and was also an excellent lecturer.” Dr. Campion, Humanities Program Director, is a scholar of modern European history. He teaches a variety of courses on modern Germany and the history of the modern West and maintains an interest in the study of French and German language, culture, and politics.  DSC_9453-cropped


Stay tuned for more thoughts from our new graduates!

Student Profile – Kamal Saran Rangavajhula

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, International Students, Management of Information Technology | No Comments

photo latestKamal Saran Rangavajhula received his Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from Andhra University at Vizag in India, and decided to continue his education at Hood College by enrolling in the college’s Master of Science in Management of Information Systems (MIS). Kamal says he was not too familiar with the campus and the department but the praise he heard from an uncle, a Frederick resident, was more than enough to decide to come to Hood.

Kamal chose Hood’s MIS program because it has a cluster of science and management courses, and both are essential. “Coming from a science background I have the interest to know about Management.” Therefore, Kamal was exploring either the pursuit of MBA or MIS courses. “I didn’t really want to leave science.”, he says. By choosing the program which incorporated both IT and management classes, was a great decision and finally gave him a peace of mind.

Kamal is currently working on a research project with Dr. Carol Jim and Dr. Ahmed Salem, with the title Detection of Unauthorized Usage of User Accounts through Mouse Dynamics. This research is in the last stage, as Kamal is writing a paper on it. He believes that the knowledge he received in his classes at Hood is definitely current. “The projects that I did in my telecommunications and data analytics classes are real-time projects that we did in the class,” says Kamal. Moreover, the concept of group project gives him a head start when starting to work in an organization.

Kamal believes the MIS program is high quality as there a vast number of research projects to do in the field and the program teaches you about current, essential job markets. It is also interesting as the atmosphere rapidly changes between the management and IT classes one takes, and the program is one he would recommend to others.

Hood Proud to Feature Exhibition of Don Reitz

Posted by | Ceramics, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

 image013Hood College wants to provide experiences for students and the community that are relevant beyond the classroom. One such experience was ‘All Fired Up: The Ceramic Sculpture of Don Reitz’, an exhibit which featured the late artist’s work. Gallery Director Jenna Gianni and Ceramic Arts Program Director Joyce Michaud were excited to show the pieces, on loan from the collection of Leatrice and Melvin Eagle. Ceramics students got to not only experience the art, but to work behind the scenes, researching and writing about the artist and some of his pieces.


Born in 1929, Reitz grew up interested in art and ways of expression. He would have been a poet but for dyslexia and his difficulties in processing language. Instead, he learned to express himself through his art. Upon earning his MFA from Alfred University in 1962, he began a career of creating and teaching. Focused on salt-glazing, a technique not commonly used at the time, he earned the nickname ‘Mr. Salt’ from his peers. He taught for more than 25 years before retiring in 1988. He continued to be an active member of the ceramics community until his death in 2014. Hood was proud to get the chance to show his work!




From Psychology to Management of Information Systems – The Unique Journey of Jeffery Larson

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, Management of Information Technology | No Comments

Jeff_Larson_headshotTell us about yourself…

I’m from the little town of Alexandria, Minnesota, a beautiful town, full of pleasant people, and known for housing the discredited Kensington Runestone and a 10 foot Viking statue named Big Ole. I graduated from Jefferson High School and after a variety of service and factory jobs, enlisted in the army as a microwave communications specialist. In spite of the “trial by fire” of boot camp, I look upon this time in my life fondly. I was surrounded with opportunities to better myself, and I benefitted from the support and structure. Most of all, I needed the tools to improve myself, and the military had those in spades.

Before the Army, the longest I held a job was a year and a half, and the Army always re-assigns soldiers fairly regularly. Wanting to avoid following a career because it is convenient, I decided to use my education to pursue another love: reading. I loved getting inside the characters of books, and seeing those characters develop and grow. I enrolled in Frederick Community College as an English major, but after a Psych 101 class, changed my major to Psychology with no regrets. It took a great amount of effort, but I achieved high grades, and transferred to Hood.

How has your experience been at Hood so far and why did you decide to come back?

My academic growth at Hood has been fantastic. More than that, the students and professors have been essential at growing a sense of pride in learning and achieving that I have rarely seen on such a wide scale. In my senior year, I was trying to decide where I could go from Hood to keep growing intellectually. I had tailored as much of my undergraduate career as I could to studying the various aspects of human sexuality, and spent much of my senior year looking into Masters and Ph.D. programs for psychology, but a growing desire to return to a technical career kept distracting me. Partway through my final semester, Dr. Elizabeth Chang, who taught the web design course I took for my non-lab scientific thought core requirement, noticed how much I enjoyed it. She invited me to join the Computer Science club, and later asked me why I didn’t major in computer science. Dr. Chang told me of the Master’s in Management Information Systems program, and encouraged me to apply.

When I finally applied, I saw the same things that initially attracted me to Hood. Small college, small class size, academic rigor and a culture of learning. Further, my brief time in the Computer Science Club had shown me different and interesting ways that Hood’s CS department was crossing disciplinary lines through their personal and professional interest in very human ways of using their technical expertise. Things like musical computing which showed self-expression through highly organized code, or seeing the Women’s March in DC through tweets using Graphic Information Systems (GIS). I was fascinated, and that fascination grew into a determination to fuse my two major personal interests for a career. Thanks to Dr. Chang, I knew of a place where I could learn those skills in a way that was effective for me. It didn’t hurt that I live in downtown Frederick, either.

Why MIS? Can you explain how and why you decided to make a career change from Psychology?

I love that I studied psychology, and despite the growing urge to return to a technical career, I still feel that the study of the human mind is intrinsic to my academic self, and I needed a career that fit the two. I didn’t take any management courses during my undergrad, but I do know that my interest in psychology ultimately revolves around people. In that, management and psychology have common ground. As for the technical portion, I already know I will love it, and I already know the professors at Hood have a lot to teach me.

When I realized that there are few, if any, programs that will fit me as well as the MIS degree, it became an obvious choice. I realized that there probably aren’t any programs that will both fit me and set me up for success like the MIS program will.

Can you offer advice to those students who might be in the same situation – changing their major/career? What are some of the things to consider before making that decision?

I didn’t come to this decision overnight. I labored over it, and hunted for information to ensure I wasn’t making a mistake. For anyone considering a career change, research your potential path. There is a lot to look into, like career forecasts and job growth, but just as important is to decide if you have the wherewithal to push yourself through the transition. Most importantly, will the change help you become someone you want to be, or help get you to a place where you can have the opportunity to improve in a way consistent with yourself?

What do you expect from MIS program?

While I can’t be sure where I will end up, I think the MIS degree will give me the tools to reenter a field where inactivity breeds irrelevance. Further, I think it will do so while retaining a focus on people. I think, and the DOL confirms, that this is a very in-demand skillset. I have no worries about my future employability.


Hood’s Dr. Ryan Safner on Frederick City’s Strategic Opportunities Advisory Team

Posted by | Business Administration, Graduate School Highlights, Uncategorized | No Comments

View More: Ryan Safner, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at Hood, has been named to the City of Frederick’s Strategic Opportunities Advisory Team (SOAT). Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor has tasked the SOAT with creating and delivering a report to identify the current strengths and challenges facing the City, which will then be incorporated into the city’s strategic plan. The SOAT covers five targeted areas: Civic Engagement, 21st Century Technology and Communication, Economic Resilience, Expanding Opportunity, and City Operations and Organization. Safner is a member of the Economic Resilience workgroup, and writes below…

Since February, our Economic Resilience workgroup has met once per month, and will continue to do so through June. Each meeting is a discrete step towards producing a final report to be delivered to the Mayor by June 30 describing the “strengths, aspirations, opportunities, and results (SOAR)” of the City’s economic resilience. Our current vision is to produce a report or presentation with a simple “scorecard” to summarize how resilient Frederick is across several different aspects. We aim to track both the performance of the city over time, as well as benchmark it against other similar cities, to the extent that the relevant data is available.

Just what is economic resilience? While difficult to define abstractly, it is easy to toss out many attributes or examples of something being “resilient.” We have divided into subgroups, each trying to focus on exploring a particular category of economic resilience and searching for relevant data to measure and report as part of our analysis. My subgroup is analyzing resilience with respect to the quality of the city of Frederick’s governance, transparency, and relationship between the City and its citizens. At our next meeting we will be presenting our ideas to the wider group about how to provide some metrics and data on this admittedly difficult-to-quantify concept.

This is my first experience with local city government, so I have been learning a lot about how the City of Frederick operates, as well as getting to know some of the personalities in the city government and local community. As someone who works and spends a lot of time in Frederick, I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know more about the city and trying to do my small part in ensuring it remains a great place to live and work.

For more information on Frederick’s SOAT, visit


“UnSeen” Field trip to the National Portrait Gallery

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, International Students, Uncategorized | No Comments

IMG_20180412_135650372EAP 500; Advanced English for Academic Purposes, is one of the most important base classes designed solely for the international students at Hood College. Taught by Dr. Donald Wright, Associate Professor of French and Arabic, Director of Middle Eastern Studies and Chair of Global Languages and Cultures Department, the course has been developed to strengthen English language skills of international students, who come to Hood with varied language and career backgrounds. Dr. Wright believes this class is useful for most international students, and he has created meaningful writing assignments that deal with current events and are based in American culture.

IMG_20180412_133356866Like many classes at Hood, EAP 500 reaches beyond the walls of the classroom, as Dr. Wright and the class recently visited The National Portrait Gallery. They toured and viewed the exhibit UnSeen, which “highlights the work of two leading contemporary artists who grapple with the under- and misrepresentation of certain minorities in portraiture and American history.” Each student had to select a portrait from the exhibit, explain why they picked it, how it spoke to them and what it’s historical or cultural significance was. Back in class, students will continue their discussion about the portraits and will write the biographies of the subjects as part of their assignment. Dr. Wright thought the field trip and exhibition were fantastic and would recommend it to everyone. “We were lucky, we only set off the alarm once and got into an argument a two or three times maybe (about actual ideas – which is a good thing of course)”, he added jokingly.

IMG_20180412_134849194The class and these kind of entertaining field trips are a few of the many opportunities offered to our international students. All are designed to get to know American culture better, while learning and strengthening their English proficiency. And the fun they get by doing it is a bonus!