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Personal Connections and Academic Excellence

Three Weber State professors selected as Fulbright Scholars

Three Weber State professors were selected to participate in the 2021 Fulbright program, the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world.

The program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually to scholars and students from the United States and other participating countries. Weber State faculty have received 15 Fulbright Teaching and Research appointments in the past 23 years.

Photo of Randy Boyle

Randy Boyle, professor of management information systems and Willard Eccles Fellow, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to Poland.

Boyle spent five months teaching cybersecurity and networking telecommunications classes at the University of Warsaw. He also worked on research projects related to cybersecurity and tech education, and organized a cybersecurity conference for tech companies.

Boyle’s time in Warsaw ended just as the Russian invasion of Ukraine was beginning, and he witnessed an increase in cyber attacks on Poland and other surrounding European countries. While this didn’t directly affect the work he was doing, it did drive home the importance of cybersecurity preparedness, particularly in technologically advanced countries.

“Cyber war is so scary for a lot of advanced countries because they are so dependent on information systems,” Boyle said.

Photo of Paul Schvaneveldt

Paul Schvaneveldt, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor, received his second lifetime Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Latin America, this time at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. 

A second Fulbright appointment is significantly more competitive as the Fulbright Commission gives priority to first-time applicants.

Schvaneveldt spent two months in Colombia training university faculty and students and professionals in the Colombian military using PREP 8.0, a curriculum that teaches evidence-based relationship skills to help reduce behaviors like intimate partner violence.

He will spend another two months in Colombia in 2023 doing evaluation research. In collaboration with professionals in Colombia, he will teach PREP 8.0 in the community, then evaluate the impacts on the population.

Photo of Sheree Josephson

Sheree Josephson, communication professor, received a Fulbright Scholarship to support and expand a public radio station serving the needs of listeners in underserved and disadvantaged communities in Tunis, Tunisia.

Josephson spent several weeks at the station in May, working with station manager Sara Fourti, the second youngest person to be awarded a broadcast radio license in North Africa and the Arab world. Josephson has committed to writing several more grants, and hopes one of them will be to promote tourism in the country.

During her time in Tunisia, she learned that she’d be awarded a $20,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy to create an English program to teach the language and promote U.S. values and culture.

Josephson was able to teach about many topics with the radio station staff during her time at the station, including journalism, media marketing and search engine optimization. She left them with a catalog of more than 20 trainings and five Zoom recordings with topic experts.

Photo of Enallia Brooks

Building a Better Future

Enallia Brooks has come a long way. Now, in her last year of school at Weber State, she reflects on her journey with a smile.

“I just came to the conclusion I can’t leave Weber,” she chuckled. “I’m destined to be here.”

As young children, Brooks and her two siblings lived in Texas with their grandmother, who struggled to provide stable housing, and sometimes slept in hotels or shelters. Due to their grandmother’s declining health, when Brooks was 12, the children moved in with their mother and enrolled in school for the first time.

“I was in fifth grade, and I didn’t know anything,” she said. “I couldn’t spell C-A-T. I didn’t know my vowels… I understood English, but I couldn’t read English.”

The family moved often, and Brooks remembers some schools she attended lacking basic equipment, like chairs. She and her siblings persevered and by the time she was taking standardized tests during junior high school, she scored at the same level or higher than her peers.

“For my mom, that’s when the possibility of at least one of her kids going to college was starting to actually make her excited,” Brooks said.

Brooks, however, wasn’t convinced college was in her future, even as she neared graduation from Eldorado High School in Nevada. Having participated in Weber State’s TRiO and Upward Bound programs, she met Gregory Noel, who served as an admissions advisor. Now a licensed associate marriage and family therapist, Noel said he is honored to have played a small role in Brooks’ success at Weber State.

“Enallia has been someone I’ve seen a lot of perseverance, resilience and just this innate and inherent drive to pursue her goals and her dreams from,” Noel said.

She enrolled with plans to eventually pursue dentistry but didn’t enjoy her classes and began contemplating dropping out. She then discovered architecture and started taking classes in the Building Design & Construction program.

“I like how the program allows us to get experience in the real world,” she said.

Professor Jeremy Farner encouraged Brooks to follow her dreams.

“As an educator, I feel like it’s my responsibility to encourage the next generation,” he said. “To me, that is what I enjoy most about my job. It’s the interactions I get to have with students.”

Brooks said after she graduates she wants to work with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild low-income communities, and design and build schools.

“I really want to give back to my community but in a way that’s going to inspire kids to continue their education,” she said.


WSU’s Master of Education meets community needs

It’s hard to imagine a simple question launching a historic overhaul of Weber State’s oldest graduate program, but that’s what happened in the Jerry & Vickie Moyes College of Education.

Four years ago, before Kristin Hadley became dean of the college, she and Master of Education (MEd) program director Louise Moulding were discussing ways to energize the program. One day, a colleague casually asked if they’d ever considered offering a master’s degree in higher education leadership.

That question opened a floodgate of possibilities. Less than a year later, the college was ready to implement three new emphases to help meet Utah’s educational needs. In addition to earning an MEd in Curriculum & Instruction, students could opt for an MEd in Educational Leadership, Family Life Education or Higher Education Leadership. While the educational leadership emphasis helps fulfill the community’s need for more well-trained school principals in the Weber, Ogden, Davis, Morgan and Box Elder school districts, the higher education leadership emphasis has attracted the most students.

“Part of that is because a lot of Weber State employees are taking advantage of their tuition benefit and enrolling,” Moulding explained. “Also with that program, we’ve developed a relationship with Tianhua College of Shanghai Normal University, where cohorts from China come here for their master’s degree.”

Pending approval, starting July 1, 2023, the Moyes College will offer MEd emphases in sports coaching leadership, inclusive early childhood and instructional technology. Furthermore, plans are underway to move the MEd program out of the teacher education department. It would become a stand-alone program known as the Graduate Studies in Education program.

“You can see with this expansion, it’s not just teacher education anymore,” Moulding said. “We started with new options for the same student audience, but now we have new options for an entirely new audience.”

Photo of James Hedges

Continuing Education sees new leadership

The Division of Online & Continuing Education’s new dean has student success in mind.

In July 2022, James Hedges came to WSU from Westminster College, where he was the director of professional and continuing education. His experience includes curriculum development of competency-based courses and programs, partnerships with other institutions, and chairing Westminster’s Innovative Learning Council, which recruits adult learners and oversees a transfer initiative with Salt Lake Community College.

“Weber’s commitment to equity for adult learners and non-traditional students is essential to meeting students where they are at today,” Hedges said. “I look forward to collaborating with internal and external stakeholders to help meet students’ needs and prepare them for personal and professional success.”

Hedges has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from California State University, Sacramento, and a doctorate in communication from the University of Utah. He succeeds Brian Stecklein, who served as the interim dean since December 2019.



Addressing community need with Master of Social Work

As Utah’s need for social workers grows, so does the demand for skilled and licensed employees to fill such roles. Weber State University’s new Master of Social Work (MSW) is helping to meet that demand.

45 Students

will be part of the the first graduating Master of Social Work class during the 2022-23 academic year.

Mark Bigler, professor and chair of the Department of Social Work and Gerontology at WSU, said the MSW can help remedy the local shortage of licensed clinical social workers, as the program attracts locals who are likely to stay in the area after graduating.

“While our program takes a global perspective, we really are emphasizing local community needs in the Intermountain Region, paying particular attention to the growing Latino community,” Bigler said.

The MSW program started accepting applications in 2020, and 45 students will be part of its first graduating class during the 2022–23 academic year. 

“This program is vital to the current need for licensed clinical social workers in the field,” said Kevin Eastman, executive director of Weber Human Services, the public agency responsible for providing many behavioral health services for Weber County. “With the emphasis on cultural diversity and quality, the social work program will provide a large number of qualified, skilled clinicians into the workforce.”

WSU and U of U join forces on innovative center

A collaboration between Weber State University and the University of Utah is helping meet employers’ needs for workforce safety professionals nationwide.

The Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (RMCOEH), established by the U of U in 1977, is a multidisciplinary center that trains students in occupational safety and health and performs research to ensure ongoing improvements are made to prevent workplace injuries, diseases and disorders. WSU partnered with the U of U in 2021, helping expand program offerings and enrich the center’s unique mission.

Weber State University and University of Utah logos

“Involvement from Weber State provides a new opportunity to address the needs of the workforce in Utah and beyond,” said Kurt Hegmann, RMCOEH director. “RMCOEH was a strong center prior to this partnership, but it is now markedly improved.”

The center’s partnership with WSU aims to provide employers with occupational health nurses and qualified safety professionals, who will go on to careers in a wide range of fields. RMCOEH also provides graduate programs in ergonomics and safety, industrial hygiene, occupational injury prevention and occupational medicine, as well as continuing education and outreach programs.

With the help of WSU, the center plans to begin offering an occupational health nursing program and a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health in fall 2023, which will serve dual roles of providing safety professionals and serving as a pathway for the graduate programs.

“WSU is an ideal partner for this expansion,” Hegmann said. “They have forward-thinking, creative leadership, which is essential to meeting the needs of the community.”

Alyssa Mock in the research lab

WSU professor receives highest honor in ellipsometry research

Alyssa Mock, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, received the 2022 International Conference on Spectroscopic Ellipsometry Paul Drude Award for her ellipsometric research and analysis of low-symmetry metal oxides.

Ellipsometry is the study of how the polarization of light changes after interaction with a material, which can be used to obtain information related to the material’s structural and intrinsic properties. Mock’s research focuses on metal oxides with low symmetry in their crystal structures, which are the ordered arrangement of atoms. The materials can be used in a variety of ways, including in electronic devices.

“I hope that my work can provide a foundation for other engineers to further the work of ellipsometry and improve understanding of materials used in devices,” Mock said. “Receiving this award will help spread the word about this research, and the potential uses of ellipsometry.”

Considered the highest honor in the field, the Paul Drude award is presented once every three years to outstanding young researchers who have helped progress the development and application of ellipsometry at the triennial conference.

In fall 2022, Mock joined other faculty to offer peer mentorship training for female and underrepresented engineering students by involving them in research. The program is offered through the use of a Hemingway Award, which provides funding for collaborative projects that strengthen the community or student education.

“I want to get more students on the path of studying materials,” Mock said. “I really enjoy working with undergraduate students, so I’m planning to continue my work looking at nanostructures and other low-symmetry materials to help students get excited about it too.”

WSU is a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education

Ashley Light, a 2019 network management technology graduate, said her education prepared her for the challenges faced in the information security industry.

“The cybersecurity concepts I learned at Weber State have been invaluable,” she said. “I will continue to use this knowledge for the rest of my life both in and out of the workplace.”

National Security Agency logo for Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education

Recognizing Weber State’s commitment to cyber security, the National Security Agency has designated the university as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE).

The goal of the program is to reduce vulnerability in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense, and to increase the number of industry professionals.

WSU joins Brigham Young University and Southern Utah University as the three institutions in Utah that hold the CAECDE distinction. The designation will remain active through the academic year 2026.

The designation has helped strengthen Weber State’s partnerships with the local defense industrial base (DIB) community, including Hill Air Force Base, Boeing and BAE Systems, and opened up more opportunities for grants.

Weber State’s rigorous cybersecurity curriculum, which is improved anually, has also garnered the interest of other community partners, including Strong Connexions, Northrop Grumman and Intermountain Healthcare. In addition to developing a talent pipeline for government and DIB jobs that benefit the local economy, these strengthened partnerships have also increased the opportunities for Weber State students to participate in meaningful internships with industry partners.

New Data Science Master’s/Certificate

The College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology launched two new programs in the fall 2022 semester.

  1. Master of Science in Data Science
  2. Computational Data Science and Machine Learning Graduate Certificate

To support its robust cyber defense education, WSU’s School of Computing launched the Weber State University Cybersecurity Initiative (WSUCI), which takes a university-wide, collaborative approach to promote cyber defense education to students outside computer science, including Utah’s K–12 students.

The goal is to help students become excited about information security as a career from an early age, and to provide resources and opportunities to engage the public on the importance of protecting information and data.

“We continue to explore ways we can meaningfully connect with our K–12 education partners and the community in general,” said Matt Paulson, director of the Weber State University Cybersecurity Initiative.

SIDEBAR: New data science master’s and certificate

The College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology launched two new programs in the fall 2022 semester: a Master of Science in Data Science, and a Computational Data Science and Machine Learning Graduate Certificate.

Economist Magazine Cover

WSU professors’ research featured in The Economist

Weber State economics professors Doris Geide-Stevenson and Alvaro La Parra-Perez had their research, which found increased consensus on economic propositions, featured in an article in The Economist in January 2022.

“Economists now embrace the role of fiscal policy in a way not obvious in previous surveys, and are largely supportive of government policies that mitigate income inequality,” Geide-Stevenson said. “Another area of consensus is concern with climate change and the use of appropriate tools to address climate change.”


Lea Flinders talking to community member

TAPT program prepares lasting educators 

As a shy child whose family moved often, Lea Flinders found it easy to slip into the background at school. It took the efforts of a few caring teachers to show her she was a smart and capable student.

That kindness — along with a desire to pay it forward — inspired Flinders to follow the path of teaching.

When Flinders started working at Box Elder School District, she learned about Weber State University’s Teacher Assistant Pathway to Teaching (TAPT). The program offers scholarships and mentorship to help teacher assistants become fully licensed teachers.

“TAPT was a great opportunity for our family because it was the financial means to help me go to school and graduate,” said Flinders, who is raising six children with her husband. “But, also, the support system that it gave was awesome.”

Now, as a graduate in elementary education, Flinders teaches fourth grade in Brigham City, Utah. Despite the challenges teachers face today, she looks forward to her career in “the best profession there is,” she said.

Kristin Hadley, dean of the Jerry & Vickie Moyes College of Education, said Flinders is joining a cohort of TAPT graduates with remarkable staying power.

While the state average of new teachers remaining in education after five years is only 58%, Hadley said that 95% of TAPT graduates are still working in education.

For Flinders, graduating and signing her 2022 teaching contract was a goal she’d looked forward to for years.

“I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “It most definitely is my dream job.”

Photo of Ashley Potokar

Making a Difference on Campus 

Ashley Potokar BS ’22 served as the Weber State Student Association (WSUSA) marketing director and vice president of leadership before making history as the sixth elected WSUSA female student body president.

“I decided to run for this position because I thought I could make a difference on campus,” said Potokar, a Master of Education student. “I love Weber State and I’ve had a great experience here, and I want to help others have a great experience too.”

In 1981, Lori Memmott Brown became the first female student body president at any public college or university in Utah when she was elected student body president of the Associated Students of Weber State College (ASWSC). The last female student body president was Aulola “Lola” P. Moli, who served during the 2017–18 academic year.

Potokar says she hopes to create a deeper culture of inclusivity and ensure that all students feel like they have a place at Weber State. Potokar says she understands not feeling like you have a place on campus, and she wants to use her voice to better represent those students — and encourage them to run for leadership positions too.

“It’s both very humbling and empowering to be elected into this position as a woman,” Potokar said. “To know that my voice matters in representing students is a powerful feeling.”

After she graduates with her master’s, Potokar hopes to become a digital art high school teacher.

“I love working with youth, and I am so passionate about education,” Potokar said. “It seems like the dream job.”

Dallin Welch with his mentor, Lori Belnap Pehreson.

New mentorship program matches students and alumni 

Weber State launched a new mentorship opportunity for students and alumni during the 2021–22 academic year.
The Mentoring Alumni Program Scholarship (MAPS), run by WSU Alumni Relations, matched six students, representing majors like English teaching, creative writing and electronics engineering technology, with six alumni mentors from a wide range of industries in its pilot year.

“MAPS mentors will provide students with the skills to further develop their professional and educational portfolio by guiding them through building their resumes, expanding networking opportunities, and refining interview skills,” said Rebecca Gibson AS ’09, MAPS program advisor.

Participating students received $2,000 scholarships from WSU’s ’CATapult fund, which provides students with a financial boost as they near graduation.

MAPS student and computer science major Dallin Welch was thankful for the opportunity to connect with his mentor, Lori Belnap Pehreson BS ’87, a recently retired aerospace leader and WSU National Advisory Committee member. “I have gained so much from Lori, and am so glad I am able to be a part of it,” he said.

Belnap Pehrson said her experience was “hugely rewarding.”

“The most valuable aspect of mentoring is the opportunity to really get to know and help another person navigate new and unknown paths. The beauty is that in helping others, connecting with others, we grow and learn together,” she said. “While I’m sharing my experiences and advice, I’m also learning and growing — it’s beneficial for both of us. To me, it’s what it really means to be human.”

MAPS is open to sophomore, junior and senior students. Prospective mentors and student participants can learn more at