Pitt Education Student Ambassadors

Welcome prospective students!

We are the Pitt Education Student Ambassadors. We are excited to show you how Pitt Education has ignited learning in our lives and prepared us to be leaders in education.

We come from all over the world, have varied interests and goals, and represent different academic programs. View our profiles below to get know us and our Pitt Education experience!  For questions, please contact soeinfo@pitt.edu

Click the links to jump to our student ambassadors:

Meet our 2020-21 Student Ambassadors

Yin-Tung (Ivy) Chou

Program of Study: Master of Education in Higher Education Management

Expected Graduation Date: April 2022

Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan

Post-Graduation Career Plans: To work in a nonprofit public or private university/college as an advisor or student affairs program coordinator.

Favorite Professor: My favorite professor is Dr. Gina Garcia. She is a fierce woman, and I love how she is unapologetic about disrupting the system and reconstructing higher ed settings.

Student Organization: I'm the International student representative and social media manager of the Council of Graduate Students in Education (CGSE).

Best Campus Spot: The Hillman Library on the first floor. On the right side, where the computer lab is, there are a row of single tables by the windows. There is great lighting and it is quiet enough, but also close to the printers...perfect for studying.

Favorite Place to Eat in Pittsburgh: Cafe 33. It is a Taiwanese restaurant in Squirrel Hill. The food reminds me of home, and the owner reminds me of my mom.

Hobbies: Recently, it has been scrolling through Netflix or finding good anime to watch after a long day of working/studying. On the weekends, I enjoy playing board games with my friends.

Current Playlist: I am a BTS fan. Whenever they drop new songs they are on repeat for weeks. Recently, I found this Japanese band called Official HIGE DANdism, and their songs are really good, too.

Favorite TV Shows: BBC Sherlock is a classic and all-time fav. More recent ones would be The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor.

I really enjoy the environment of Pitt, the approachable-ness of Pitt Education faculty, as well as the social-justice focused lens of the Higher Education Management program.


Sophia Colarusso

Program of Study: Combined Accelerated Studies in Education (CASE) Program

Expected Graduation Date: April 2022 

Hometown: Allentown, Pennsylvania

Post-Graduation Career Plans: I want to go home and work in my hometown for a few years. My goal is to teach 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade.

Favorite Professor: Dr. Arlotta-Guerrero. Not only is she very kind and passionate about education, but she cares very much about the well-being of her students and educating them to be the best teachers they can be. 

Volunteer Work: For the past three years, I have been a part of the America Reads Challenge (ARC) program here at Pitt, through the Office of PIttServes. This program has given me an opportunity to tutor children in Pittsburgh Public Schools and increase my skills working one-on-one with a student.

Best Campus Spots: Posvar Hall. I love how modern it is and all the study spots! I also love to hang out on the Cathedral lawn and on the lawn by the Peterson Event Center.

Favorite Places to Eat in Pittsburgh: The Porch.I love to get their breakfast sandwiches in the morning before class. When I get a chance to go off campus, I love to go to Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33 in Squirrel Hill. We go there every time my mom visits!

Hobbies: Playing the guitar and ukulele, reading, listening to music, and playing basketball.

Current Playlist: Ben Rector, Ben Platt, Kelsea Ballerini, and Maddie & Tae.

Favorite TV Shows: One Tree Hill, New Girl, Dancing with the Stars, and Friends.

I chose Pitt Education because of all the in-class experience it offers before you even graduate. I felt that the CASE program with both its educated professors and opportunities in the classroom would greatly prepare me to be a teacher one day. 


Mia Krawczel

Program of Study: Combined Accelerated Studies in Education (CASE) Program

Expected Graduation Date: April 2021

Hometown: Rockville, Maryland

Post-Graduation Career Plans: I plan to get my master's in education at Pitt and then to move back to Maryland to teach special education. Eventually, I would like to become a principal and a dance instructor.

Favorite Professors: My favorite professors are Theresa Ames and Michelle Sobolak. Theresa Ames has such interesting stories and experiences working with families in the communities through her work as a developmental therapist for early intervention. Michelle Sobolak is so kind and so willing to assist you in any way she can. She gives us meaningful assignments that better ourselves as educators and I really enjoyed the discussions we had in her class regarding reading/writing strategies for children and current issues in education. Both teachers created safe spaces for their students to share, and that is something I will strive to do when I become a teacher.

Student or Professional Organizations: I am in clubs and organizations at Pitt such as Controlled Chaos, Pitt Band (I'm the feature twirler), and Kappa Kappa Psi (a national honorary band fraternity). Controlled Chaos volunteers at the Shadyside Boys and Girls club to teach dance to kids after school.

Best Campus Spots: I love hanging out and eating food at Schenley Park, but I love twirling in the dome on upper campus.

Favorite Places to Eat in Pittsburgh: In no particular order - The Yard, Asia Tea House, Fuel and Fuddle, Noodlehead, Chipotle, Stack’d, Primanti Bros, and the Milkshake Factory!

Hobbies: When I’m not studying, I enjoy dancing with Controlled Chaos and performing around campus and Pittsburgh with them. I also love twirling with the Golden Girls in Pitt Band and practicing my routines with my coaches.

Current Playlist: So hard to choose…Beyonce, Rhianna, Miley Cyrus, The Black Eyed Peas, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Doobie Brothers, The Black Keys, Cage the Elephant, Sufjan Stevens, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Megan Thee Stallion, the list goes on...

Favorite TV Shows: The Great British Baking Show, Haunting of Hill House/Bly Manor, The Queens Gambit, Glow, Schitts Creek, and Mindhunter.

I chose Pitt Education because I wanted to be a teacher ever since high school but was not entirely sure what kind. I was so excited when I found out I could be certified to teach PreK-8 and special education PreK-12.


Jinx McLean

Program of Study: Master of Education in Higher Education Management

Expected Graduation Date: May 2022

Hometown: New Port Richey, Florida

Post-Graduation Career Plans: I plan on working in a position that offers me the greatest access to work with Queer Black, Native, and Latinx first-generation students in a historically white institution, HBCU (historically Black college/university), or community college. Then, I want to pursue a PhD in English to study how patriarchy has affected the relationships and identities of Queer Black, Native, and Latinx communtiy members and how colonialism has impacted spirtual beliefs in the Pan-African diaspora.

Favorite Professors: I do not believe in favorites, but the faculty I respect, as their research represents my identities and they actually challenge students to think critically, would be Dr. Darris Means, Dr. Gina Garcia, and Dr. T. Elon Dancy.

Student Organizations: I am vice president of programming for Pan-African Graduate and Professional Association (PANAF) and the vice president of internal affairs for the Minoritized Orientation & Gender Identities Graduate and Professional Alliance (M.O.G.I).

Best Campus Spot: I like the Schenley Plaza area as it offers a beautiful view of the campus. 

Favorite Places to Eat in Pittsburgh: 5801 Bar and Grill as they are a Queer location and practice social-distancing very well.

Hobbies: I like to watch Black excellence cinema or anime, read historical romance novels, and play video games. I am also a writer and am the creative director for my blog Firstgenjinx.org.

Current Playlist: My top artists are Aina Breiyon, Indie Arie, William Singe, Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, BTS, Beyonce, Cardi B, Hayley Kiyoko, Teyana Taylor, Kehlani, and Tupac.

Favorite TV Shows: Supernatural, Lovecraft, Fairytale, Fruit Basket, Criminal Minds, Law and Order: SVU, Lucifer, Psych, Star, and Insecure.

I chose Pitt over an HBCU due to the fact I would gain access to better financial resources compared to the HSI (Hispanic-serving institution) and HBCU institutions I looked into as a low socio-economic identifying student. 


Zakaria Miller

Program of Study: Master of Education in Higher Education Management

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2022

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Post-Graduation Career Plans: I plan to move to the D.C. area or back down south to work at a local university or community college with students from marginalized identities and first-generation statuses.

Favorite Professor: My favorite so far is Dr. Gina Garcia because I feel like my writing has improved tremendously from the great notes given to me to help improve my essays.

Volunteer Work: I was a Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Youth & Arts full-time volunteer for a year. As a career specialist, I worked with high school students who attend Pittsburgh Public Schools to help them figure out what they wanted to do post-high school graduation.

Best Campus Spot: Cathedral of Learning! I feel like I am in a Harry Potter movie whenever I am inside the building. The architecture is breathtaking.

Favorite Places to Eat in Pittsburgh: Rita’s Italian Ice during the summer for custard and slushies. Ramen Bar located in Squirrel Hill, and Hook Fish & Chicken located on the Northside are also favorites.

Hobbies: I love to watch movies and shows on Netflix & Hulu. I love to listen to music and read romantic comedies or coming-of-age books. Also, I am trying to learn how to play the ukulele. It is much harder than I expected it to be.

Current Playlist: BTS, Harry Styles, Leon Bridges, Amy Winehouse, Hozier, Jackson 5/Michael Jackson, Sufjan Stevens, 2pac, Florence & the Machine, Meg Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Paramore, Taylor Swift, and many more.

Favorite TV Shows: Avatar the Last Airbender, Sex Education, Parks and Rec, and New Girl are some of my favorites. Also, I grew up watching great 90's shows like Martin, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saved by the Bell, and Boy Meets World.

I chose Pitt Education because it has a strong focus and research interest in equity and justice. It’s a unique focus compared to other universities with similar programs. 


Ashley Shafer

Program of Study: PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology 

Expected Graduation Date: April 2022

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Post-Graduation Career Plans: I am planning to apply for tenure-track positions at R1 universities, and am also interested in working at government and research organizations. I am aiming for a career in educational research and policy. I am particularly interested in improving the early childhood education experience through building teacher capacity. I am passionate about social-emotional development, teacher-child relationships, and socially just teaching practices.

Favorite Professors: Some of my favorite professors are Dr. Shannon Wanless, Dr. Lindsay Page, Dr. Rip Correnti, Dr. Leigh Patel. I name these four professors specifically because they take a holistic, humanist approach to their teaching and mentoring. Not only are they incredible teachers who have a wealth of knowledge, they also care about you as a person. They take the time to get to know you and check in with you, send you articles/opportunities you may be interested, and are all-around good people.

Volunteer Work and Professional Organizations: Volunteer Work - Beratung Advisors, Cuddles for Kids, Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Home. Professional Organizations - American Educational Research Association (AERA), Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), National Research on Early Childhood Education (NRECE), Society for Prevention Research (SPR), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education (KDP), Student Advocates for Graduate Education (SAGE), Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT), Council for the Promotion of American Graduate Education (CPAGE)

Best Campus Spots: Cathy of course! Also, the 8th floor of the Union, Schenley Plaza, Phipps and the rooftop of Spirit and Tales.  

Favorite Places to Eat in Pittsburgh: Tessaro’s (best burgers), Noodlehead, Point Brugge, Cafe Moulin, Paris 66, and Fioris (best pizza).

Hobbies: Eating at one of the restaurants I listed above, hanging out with friends, or going to a show in the Cultural District. Now with COVID-19, most of these aren’t options, so recently I’ve been diving into my ancestral lineage and learning about ways my ancestors have been in relation with each other and the land, and how I can honor them through these practices.

Current Playlist: I’m listening to a lot of Regina Spektor and Rilo Kiley. I just made a "feel good" playlist with a lot of Avett Brothers, Animal Collective, Cardi B, Beach Boys, Cold War Kids, Beyonce, Florence + The Machines, J-Lo, Grouplove, Lily Allen, Local Natives, Noah and The Whale & Sylvan Esso. Really just a big mix of all the genres.

Favorite TV Shows: All-time favorites would have to be Adventure Time, The Sopranos, Leftovers, Bob’s Burgers, Schitt’s Creek, Channel Zero, True Blood, Rome, and I’d like to say Game of Thrones, but we all know how disappointing that ending was.

I’ve attended Pitt for all my education. I had the typical undergrad experience of changing my major a few times until I found a class that sparked my interest. This class happened to be Introduction to Education Psychology. Here, I was introduced to the ways research impacts education and education impacts research. This resulted in me taking more classes on education, development, and research methods, which ultimately led me to the School of Education, and I haven’t left since. I haven't left because the School of Education has offered me unbounded experiences from working with the Pittsburgh community as an undergrad, to my master's program where I interned at a local professional development agency and got to create a training for early childhood educators that focused on integrating social-emotional skills into math lessons. Now, as doctoral student, I have had numerous experiences from instructing classes to conducting research both independently and collaboratively.


Lauren Skillinge

Program of Study: Combined Accelerated Studies in Education (CASE) Program

Expected Graduation Date: April 2021

Hometown: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Post-Graduation Career Plans: After graduation, I’m planning to stay in the Pittsburgh area. My goal is to work in an elementary school within the Pittsburgh Public School District.

Favorite Professors: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but a few of mine are Anna Arlotta-Guerrero, Katrina Bartow Jacobs, Jen Tepe, and Amy Srscic. These professors have all set a positive example for establishing relationships with students and truly listening to their needs. All four of these women are role models because of their hard work, dedication, and understanding of their students.

Volunteer Work and Professional Organizations: Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education (Pitt Chapter Secretary 2019-20, 2 year member), volunteer for JumpStart, former member of The Imagination Project at Pitt, and former founding member of the Pitt Plogging Club.

Best Campus Spots: Although it might seem cliché, the Cathedral of Learning (or Cathy as we Pitt students like to call her) is one of my favorite spots on campus because you can’t find anything like it at any other school! I also love going to Schenley Park to relax, get some fresh air at Flagstaff Hill, or go hiking on one of the many trails.

Favorite Places to Eat in Pittsburgh: Some of my favorite places to eat around campus are The Porch, Fuel and Fuddle, and Asia Tea House. I also love Shady Grove in Shadyside because they have the best pierogi pizza in town!

Hobbies: I enjoy reading, hiking, listening to music, spending time with friends and family, singing, dancing, and working out.

Current Playlist: I have a variety of artists that I love including Grande, Fleetwood Mac, Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Train, Dolly Parton, Lizzo, and Queen (just to name a few).

Favorite TV Shows: My favorite shows are Bob’s Burgers, Arrested Development, and my guilty pleasure is any type of reality TV.

I chose Pitt thinking I was going to pursue a career in speech-language pathology. However, during my freshman year, I realized that I was ignoring my true passion of teaching. After talking to my academic advisor, he pointed me toward the CASE program and I decided to apply. Although I did not originally come to Pitt with a plan to pursue education, I could not be more thankful that I received my training and education from the Pitt School of Education.


Sierra Vogel

Program of Study: Combined Accelerated Studies in Education (CASE) Program

Expected Graduation Date: 2021

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Post-Graduation Career Plans: I will be attending a graduate program for my MEd.  Ideally, I would love to continue my studies and work towards a PhD to conduct my own research inside and outside of the classroom. I want to challenge and intersect my passions by pursuing and studying environmental sustainability and the relationship it has with young children and education. I hope to work within the Department of Education to advocate for sustainable change within our education system and provide equitable opportunities for all learners.

Favorite Professors: I have had the most incredible professors during my time with Pitt Education. Jennifer Tepe, was an incredible professor because you could see and feel her passion for her students. Cheryl Capezzuti brought such an incredible energy to the classroom that was constantly positive and reinforced my love for art. Another professor that filled the room with energy and positivity was Sally Sherman. Not only did she teach me so many things inside the classroom, her class taught me so much outside of the classroom. Anna Arlotta-Guerrero has been one of the most selfless professors I have experienced at my time at Pitt because she continuously puts her students first.

Volunteer Work and Professional Organizations: Learning Research and Development Center, Student Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Urban Impact, and Gamma Sigma Sigma.

Favorite Spots on Campus: Schenley Plaza for picnics or hammocking.

Favorite Places to Eat in Pittsburgh: Noodlehead, Thai Me Up, Mola, Square Cafe, and Whitfield Ace Hotel.

Hobbies: Water skiing, snow skiing, surfing, boating, kayaking, hiking, yoga, cycling, and painting.

Current Playlist: The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, Greta Van Fleet, Jack Johnson, Maggie Rogers, Alabama Shakes, and The Beach Boys.

Favorite TV Shows: Parks & Rec and The Office are my favorites.

I chose Pitt Education because it provided me with all the necessary opportunities to thrive: a city, an affordable education, renowned programs, diverse people, etc. Growing up, we watched an immense amount of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and my family promoted his philosophies inside and outside of our home. I knew Pitt Education was where Mister Rogers grew in his own philosophy, and I believed it could instill those values and allow me to continue to grow within my own values. I also had a lot of Pitt encouragement because my father graduated from Pitt in 1992.