By Marco Schimizzi
During the 2022 academic year, the College of Education awarded almost $775,000 in scholarship support through 140 scholarships. The impact from donors alleviates the financial burden for students by allowing them to focus on their education and map out their futures.
Wyatt Humphrey: The Power of Persistence
Class of 2022 Teacher Preparation Program (TPP) graduate Wyatt Humphrey-Phillips finished his internship year of student teaching at Okemos High School, but his path was not an easy one. As a dual major through James Madison College’s Social Relations and Policy program, the workload was already substantial heading into 2020.
As a result of COVID-19, he returned home in March 2020 and worked at three restaurants owned by his family in the Bad Axe, Michigan area while continuing his classes fully online.
In my situation, I worked a full-time job that was unpaid and then went to my secondary job that helped put gas in the car, pay for rent and keep the refrigerator stocked. Scholarship support is so crucial.
The pandemic hit the restaurant industry hard, and his family was no exception. The added stress, coupled with the demands of being a full-time student and employee, made for a challenging experience.
Sitting in a booth at an empty restaurant, he would briefly mute his microphone during classes to take orders and deliver them – an unfortunate, but common practice during that semester.
“Seven days a week, it was waking up and going to the restaurant while working on school,” he said. “That lasted spring to summer until we [Humphrey-Phillips’s family restaurant] opened back up half capacity in June 2020.”
Despite the difficulties, he persevered and successfully completed his internship year, where he taught U.S. history and supported the high school football team in a minor coaching role.
He is grateful for the support he received from the Glenn and Thelma Buell College of Education Endowed Scholarship, which is intended solely for students in their internship year.
“In my situation, I worked a full-time job that was unpaid and then went to my secondary job that helped put gas in the car, pay for rent and keep the refrigerator stocked,” he continued. “Scholarship support is so, so crucial.” Humphrey-Phillips waited tables at a restaurant down the road from Okemos High School while completing his teaching internship.
With graduation in his rear view, his sights are set on moving to Wyoming in pursuit of a teaching position or staying local – all with the intention of leading the next generation. “I want to help kids no matter what,” he finished.
Francesca Genoese: A Knack for Research
Kinesiology Ph.D. student and scholarship recipient Francesca Genoese is pursuing what she loves. As a certified athletic trainer, she provided sports medicine care for high school athletes in Kentucky and Colorado before starting her Spartan journey.
“During that time, I really had a draw to go back to school for research,” she said.
In her research at MSU, Genoese has focused on the psychological response someone faces after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and subsequent surgical reconstruction, which she hopes to continue long after her degree is complete.
It [the academic scholarship] benefits the student in so many more ways than ‘here’s some extra money.’ It allows us to find inspiration in those individuals.
Most recently, Genoese and her colleagues have looked at how psychological aspects of pain, such as pain catastrophizing — the tendency to amplify and exaggerate the negative thoughts and emotions associated with pain — can negatively impact outcomes in patients with ACL reconstruction and who may be at risk of developing symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. In 2023, their work was published in the International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training.
Aside from research, Genoese has found great joy teaching both undergraduate and graduate students and is looking to stay in academia following her dissertation.
“I love to teach and I’ve had a phenomenal opportunity to do that here at MSU, which I’m tremendously grateful for,” she said. “That’s really where I feel fulfilled: developing relationships with students and helping them comprehend sports medicine and injury management.”
Genoese’s dreams are being fueled by scholarship support, specifically through the Michael B. Salwen and Okhee Lee-Salwen Endowed Scholarship, which was established by alumna Okhee Lee-Salwen in memory of her husband Michael (see Life Lessons for Spartans by Okhee Lee to learn more to learn more).
“It [the academic scholarship] benefits the student in so many more ways than ‘here’s some extra money.’ It allows us to find inspiration in those individuals,” said Genoese.
In December 2022, Genoese had the opportunity to meet Lee-Salwen when she visited campus to speak at commencement – a day she is very thankful for.
“What a phenomenal experience it was to sit down and hear her story,” she said. “MSU provides opportunities to connect donors with students so they can see what impact they’re making in a student’s life.”
When she’s not teaching or at the Athletic Injury and Rehabilitation Labs (AIR Labs) on campus, Genoese enjoys traveling, hiking and practicing her long-time hobby of photography.
Laxmi Ojha: Empowering Transnational Learners
Laxmi Ojha’s journey to the MSU College of Education began in a rural village on the Western end of Nepal, where each day began with a 45-minute walk to school.
Coming from a highly educated family, Ojha saw the value of education at an early age. At 18, he relocated to the United States, where he completed his second master’s degree at Minnesota State University.
Now in his third year of the Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education (CITE) doctoral program, Ojha is researching language and literacy as it relates to transnational learners – students who are not learning in their country of origin. Having walked the same path, Ojha understands the struggles that transnational learners face.
“How do they [students] feel about being in U.S. society? Do they have a sense of belonging to the U.S. schools and society? How do they position themselves?” said Ojha, when describing what his research aims to uncover.
Specifically, he is focused on middle school and high school students.
As a beneficiary of the Cotterman Family Endowment for Education, which funds a doctoral student whose research has practical application, Ojha was able to conduct research in the summer of 2022 that he will apply to his dissertation.
How do they [students] feel about being in U.S. society? Do they have a sense of belonging to the U.S. schools and society? How do they position themselves?”
During that time, Ojha worked with two immigrant families whose children are living transnational lives. Having them write autobiographical reflections about themselves is one way that Ojha is evaluating their experience in U.S. schools and society.
Long-term, he aims for better partnership between parents and educators for improved support for such students. Changing instructional strategies and materials are a few considerations that can be made by educators, he noted.
The scholarship support for Ojha, who is also raising his toddler son, came at a critical time for his family.
“This scholarship didn’t just help me advance my scholarly research, it supported my family for a summer,” he said.
To learn more about impacting the lives of students and education, please contact the College of Education Office of Development and Alumni Relations by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (517) 432-1983.