Meet the Class of 2014
Graduation time has arrived, and 19 students graduated on Saturday, May 10th, from the Master of Arts in Urban Studies program. Hailing from across the North American Continent, the class of 2014 has brought a vast array of life experience, contributing to the rich program experience found while pursuing this degree. The research interests of this class range from serving foster care youth, to equal food access, to assessment practices, to the criminal and juvenile justice system, to immigration reform, to urban and suburban farming. Despite their diversity of experience and interest, these students have been bonded by a common desire to bring transformation to communities, to specifically empower the most vulnerable. On May 7th, the graduates presented their theses at the Urban Studies Research Forum, an annual event that provides each graduate student to present their thesis. This year, some choose to complete research based projects, others designed curriculum, others designed business models, and still others completed literature reviews- each person is encouraged to complete a project that is most relevant to their career goals and research interests. This year, two students were recognized with an Outstanding Thesis Award.
Callie Dean is a violinist and teacher from Shreveport, Louisiana. Currently, she participates in the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, teaches in the Bossier Parish school system and works for Community Renewal International. With a background in youth ministry and prior work with the North Central Louisiana Arts Council, her research interests involve youth development, spiritual development, arts-based inquiry, and program evaluation and assessment. Through her thesis, Callie integrated each of her interests by investigating arts-based assessment. Titled, Through a Different Lens: An Arts-Based Approach to Assessment, Callie “aimed to determine the suitability of an arts-based approach to spiritual assessment from both a practical and theoretical perspective” (Dean, 2014, abstract). Through her study, Callie developed six practical arts-based activities for the assessment of adolescent spiritual development. Through her findings, a practical assessment manual was created for use by youth workers. Learn more about Callie’s thesis at this link. After graduation, Callie plans to continue her work as the Research and Evaluation Associate at Community Renewal International as well as enjoy the transition to motherhood with the arrival of her and her husband’s first child in July.
Ryan Uran is a youth worker from Haltom City, TX. Before starting the program, Ryan co-founded Advent Urban Youth Development, serving children through after-school and mentoring programming. Through his thesis, Ryan sought to discover ways to maximize the potential of undocumented youth. Ryan conducted his study with undocument youth from Tarrant County, TX, and used phenomenological analysis of semi-structured interviews to discover the “experience and self-identified, holistic needs of undocumented youth” (Uran, 2014, abstract). Based upon his findings, Ryan has made recommendations of ways youth workers can better serve undocumented youth. Learn more about Ryan’s Thesis at this link. After graduation, Ryan plans to pursue new opportunities to serve at-risk youth in his community.
To read more about the class of 2014’s theses, visit this link.