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Webber and Thompson win Outstanding Doctoral Student Award

Aaron Thompson and Kristina (Krysti) Webber are the recipients of this year’s Outstanding Doctoral Student Award.

Aaron Thompson, Ph.D. ’12, received his MSW degree in 2001 and his M.Ed K-12 Education Administration degree in 2005, from Southern Illinois University.  Before entering our doctoral program, he served as principal and special education coordinator for Tri-County Special Education in Murphysboro, Ill.  Doctoral students who nominated Thompson described him as a “peer leader in the doctoral program” and a role model for other students.  He has published regularly in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national conferences.  In addition, Thompson was commended for having “sought out opportunities to teach independently, and has been the sole instructor for two separate MSW courses where he received excellent evaluations from his students,” and “Apart from his excellent statistical and writing skills, Aaron is a talented teacher who genuinely enjoys connecting with students.”  Recommenders also noted that Thompson “has consistently maintained a commitment to social workers in the community that extends well past the expected duties of a doctoral student.

Thompson has regularly volunteered his time and expertise in Durham Public Schools to provide school and district-wide training to promote the use of evidence-based and effective interventions with students.”  In 2010 he was awarded a grant from the Armfield-Reeves Innovation Fund to support his dissertation research – a randomized controlled trail of an intervention that he himself developed.  As one faculty member noted, “this is a huge endeavor and rare among our students, especially among those who complete the program within four years.”

Webber received her MSW from the University of Maryland at Baltimore in 2002. Before entering our doctoral program, she was a program evaluator for the Center for Partnerships to Improve Education, College of Charleston, where she worked on selective initiatives including increasing parent and student engagement.  Students and faculty who nominated her noted her “generosity toward other students in the Ph.D. and MSW programs.”  Webber “supports and advises other doctoral students, and willingly meets with prospective doctoral students to encourage them to enroll in our program.” A fellow doctoral student added that, “Krysti is the best kind of collaborator, because she is able to bring fresh and innovative thinking to a project, as well as to help others develop their ideas to full potential.”

During the past four years, Webber has secured funding, published manuscripts in peer-review journals, presented research at national conferences, and taught/guest lectured courses at the School of Social Work. In 2008, Webber was awarded a UNC Graduate School Merit Scholarship and in 2010 she was awarded a Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the North Carolina Center of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (NC-ACE).  Also, she was one of 24 doctoral students from North America and Europe selected to attend the European Association for Research on Adolescence and Society for Research on Adolescence’s International Summer School, held in Tucson in May 2011.

Dr. Kathleen Rounds, doctoral program chair, presented Webber and Thompson their awards during the doctoral program graduation reception on Friday, May 11.