Student Ambassadors 2022-2023

Aerial shot of campus with a blue tint and text: Pitt Education Student Ambassadors 2022-2023

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.

View our profiles below to learn about our Pitt Education experiences. For questions, please contact soeinfo@pitt.edu

Click the links to jump to our student ambassadors: 

Undergraduate Students

Master's Students

PhD Students

Meet Our 2022-23 Student Ambassadors

Brianna Hennigh

Program of study: Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science

Expected graduation date: Spring 2023

Hometown: Fredonia, PA

Favorite spots on campus: The Cathedral is one of my favorite spots and I have studied there since freshman year! It is so beautiful. Something about the lighting in there really helps me focus (lol). I also love Trees Hall! I love the fitness center and pool there but my favorite space is the dance studio! 

Favorite professors: My favorite professors are Dr. Sally Sherman and Dr. Elizabeth Nagle. They are professors in the Department of Health and Human Development. They both make it their goal to lead, encourage, educate and inspire students. 

Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: There is absolutely nothing that beats the view driving into the city! But I also am a HUGE Pittsburgh sports fan so I love going to all the games! 

Post-graduate career plans: My goal is to stay at Pitt and pursue a masters in clinical exercise physiology and then I am going to see where life takes me! I have always wanted to be a physician assistant, so I am most likely going to apply to PA school after pursuing the masters in clinical exercise physiology. 

The professors really take us under their wing and ensure that we have the best possible experience. Not only are the professors great, but the coursework has allowed me to grow in so many ways. Not only am I gaining knowledge in the field of exercise science and exercise as a form of preventative medicine, I am learning how to lead as a teacher and educator through the fitness instructor courses. I have a great relationship with all of my peers within the major, and I consider them to be some of my closest friends. I am currently the president of the Exercise Science Organization and have enjoyed connecting with students across all majors who share the same passion for fitness and exercise. I have loved my experience so much that I am currently considering pursuing a masters in clinical exercise physiology through the School of Education, as well! 


Michelle Pilyugin

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

Expected graduation date: Spring 2024

Hometown: Staten Island, NY

Favorite spots on campus: The Posvar Global Hub because the history and stories presented always seem to inspire me. I also find it easiest to focus when I study or do schoolwork there. 

Favorite professors: My favorite professors have been the most understanding ones. College is a big transition for a lot of people, and it seemed to be even harder for my class since we all started during the COVID pandemic. The professors that I have appreciated the most were always flexible with students and made sure to accommodate us in any possible way. I have also enjoyed and appreciated professors that are visibly passionate about the courses they are teaching. I have had some of the most supportive, enjoyable, and passionate professors ever since I entered the School of Education and a few of them were inspiring enough to remind me why I am studying in the field that I am. 

Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is the pride that locals have with the sports teams. I have always been a football and hockey fan so I love seeing the excitement that everyone shares when it comes to game days. I have never really been a big fan of baseball but the fans make the games so fun and enjoyable. 

Post-graduate career plans: I am hoping to start off my career by teaching a pre-K, kindergarten, or first grade class. I would like to teach for the board of education for some years and then, possibly, eventually, open up a daycare/preschool of my own. 

I have always dreamed about becoming a teacher. I spent my first year and a half in college as a chemistry major looking to go into physical therapy, but I finally realized that was not what I wanted to do. My love for little kids and working with them came about when I was really young and I decided to follow that dream of pursuing early childhood education. My experience in the School of Education has made me even more excited to teach and the opportunities I have encountered thus far are preparing me to be the best teacher I can be for my future students.


Headshot of Abigail FrankAbigail Frank

Program of study: Master of Education in Higher Education

Expected graduation date: Spring 2023

Hometown: Columbus, OH

Favorite spots on campus: My favorite spot on campus would have to be Schenley Plaza. I love taking my lunch break or studying in this spot when the weather is nice. Having some green space in the middle of Pitt's city-like campus is extremely refreshing to me while staying busy in my graduate and internship endeavors.

Favorite professors: Within my MEd program, my favorite professors would have to be Dr. Darris Means, Dr. Gina Garcia, and Dr. Mary Utter. These professors are extremely passionate about their research, the School of Education's Mission and Vision, and their overall work in higher education. I always feel inspired and motivated to be the change in my field of study after leaving their classes.

Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is how community-driven and old the city is. I enjoy attending community events, trying new cultural foods, and exploring the many eclectic restaurants around the city.

Post-graduate career plans: After I graduate, I would like to pursue a position that combines my undergrad and graduate program experiences. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from THE Ohio State University, and with my MEd in Higher Education, I hope to work in a performing and/or visual art program, supporting students through their professional and artistic endeavors.

I was sold after hearing the School of Education's Mission and Vision. I resonate deeply with Pitt Education’s actions towards providing social equity and justice in education. Since deciding to come to Pitt, I have had the pleasure of developing intentional mentor and professional networks, as well as grown in my professional philosophies that I plan to take with me in my career.


headshot of Marcie JohnsonMarcie Johnson

Program of study: Master of Education in Higher Education

Expected graduation date: Fall 2023

Hometown: Pittsburgh

Favorite spots on campus: Cathedral of Learning, nothing else like it!

Favorite professors: Dr. Max Schuster and Dr. Darris Means – great at what they teach and also very understanding.

Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: The sports because it brings people together.

Post-graduate career plans: Stay at Pitt and work towards improving the alumni/student experience!

I decided to help expand my knowledge when it came to Higher Education. The program has been a great opportunity to learn more and also they talk about relatable things that are happening currently within the world of Higher Education.


Headshot of Jennifer KaplanJennifer Kaplan

Program of study: Master of Education in Higher Education

Expected graduation date: Spring 2024

Hometown: Mars, PA

Favorite spots on campus: I love the Frick Fine Arts building! The courtyard in the center of the building is a beautiful breath of fresh air on a busy campus, and the library looks like something out of a fairy tale. It’s one of my favorite places to study, hang out, or read.

Favorite professors: My favorite professor in the School of Education is Dr. Katrina Bartow Jacobs because she is a wonderful, supportive teacher. She is always willing to learn with and from her students as well as share her wealth of knowledge.

Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is the arts/cultural scene! I enjoy visiting the many museums around the city and attending shows and performances in the Cultural District downtown. The Nutcracker ballet is a must-see at Christmastime! I also love wandering through the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, which is located right near Pitt’s campus in Oakland.

Post-graduate career plans: After earning my master’s degree in higher education, I plan to work at a university in the field of student affairs. I’m especially interested in a career where I can support students on a personal level, such as in first-year advising, study abroad, or career services. And who knows, I may return to Pitt at some point for a PhD!

I decided to pursue graduate education at the Pitt School of Education after earning my bachelor's degree from the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences here at Pitt. The School of Education is an inviting, supportive, and progressive environment. I have made connections with amazing professors and researchers changing the field of education, and I am so excited to join them as a I pursue a career in higher education.


Headshot of Kelsey ThompsonKelsey Thompson

Program of study: Master of Education in Pre K-12 Special Education

Expected graduation date: Spring 2023

Hometown: Honey Brook, PA

Favorite spots on campus: Schenley Plaza has to be my favorite spot on campus. The green space is the perfect outdoor break from lecture halls and the library, and you can typically catch some cool events there throughout the spring and summer months.

Favorite professors: Every professor I have had in the School of Education have been incredible, although Professor Matthew Paterra has been one of my favorites so far. Not only does he have a wealth of teaching knowledge and experience that he displays throughout class, he takes the time to get to know each of his students individually. Professor Paterra struck the perfect balance between informational lecture and hands-on application that really allowed his students to become comfortable with a variety of evidence-based practices. I have already applied some of the teaching practices he modeled in my student teaching placement this semester!

Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is that it is a big city with a small-town feel.

Post-graduate career plans: Following graduation, I plan to become an elementary school special education teacher. Eventually, I would like to return back to school and pursue my EdD in Special Education to serve in school leadership.

As a returning Pitt student, Pitt’s School of Education was the perfect fit for me. The Pre K-12 Special Education program is three semesters long, which will allow me to return to the workforce quickly and with a new set of skills obtained through relevant classes, participation in engaging assignments and projects, and valuable student teaching experience.


Sierra UngermanSierra Ungerman

Program of study: Master of Education in Applied Behavior Analysis

Expected graduation date: 2023

Hometown: Pittsburgh

Favorite spots on campus: My favorite spot on campus has to be the lounge area in Posvar Hall. I have made many friends and shared many meals in that hall before classes. It will always be a place of community to me.

Favorite professors: My favorite professor is Dr. Doug Kostewicz. He has provided me with opportunities and counsel that I would have never had with anyone else. He is personable, supportive, and challenges my thinking in every conversation we have.

Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is that it is the community aspect of the city. I am fortunate to have my family really close by, but I have also found a diverse social community that helps me explore new depths to the city!

Post-graduate career plans: Pursue a PhD in Education Policy at Pitt and start a non-profit for children with autism and complex needs.

I decided to come to the Pitt School of Education because I wanted superior educational and networking experiences. My experience during my time at Pitt has drastically changed my life. I have been able to take intentional steps towards my long-term goals with the support of very accredited and supportive professionals including advisors, professors, and colleagues in my co-hort.


Jennifer Ponce CoriJennifer Ponce Cori

Program of study: PhD in Educational Policy

Expected graduation date: 2025

Hometown: San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima, Peru

Favorite professors: Dr. Maureen Porter, because of her guidance when I was a new student. Also, her feedback about my stories helped me grow. Dr. Maureen McClure, because of her energy to involve all the class despite the virtual scenario. Dr. Jorge Delgado enabled me to connect to the critical issues from the Latin American region. Professor Oronde Sharif thought about the power of dancing and made me think about it as part of my spirituality. Professor Ana Paula Carvalho thought to be aware of errors and pay attention to the details in my Portuguese pronunciation. Dr. Louis Picard helped me to go back to roots in Political Science.

Since I first learned about the School of Education, I have loved how it embraces social justice and its commitment to make the world a better place for everyone. As soon as I participated in a Zoom meeting for admitted students, I felt very welcomed and well treated by professors and other staff members. I saw how the social relationships between students, professors, and other staff members were based on horizontality and kindness. My studies at the Pitt School of Education provided me with academic tools and the ability to be sensitive to new realities to understand intercultural awareness.


Headshot of Shaun TomaszewskiShaun Tomaszewski

Program of study: PhD in Education Leadership

Expected graduation date: 2023

Hometown: Bethel Park, PA

Favorite spots on campus: 35th floor of the Cathedral... Comfortable furniture. I was an Honors College grad.

Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh has an incredible balance between cost of living and professional opportunities. Especially for those pursuing a career in education, it can't be beat!

Favorite professors: My favorite profs were in the Neurosci Department (Stricker, Meriney, and Johnson) and in the Bio Department (Roberts and Hatfull). These folks deepened by content expertise and pushed me to learn more about the world.

I chose to pursue education after being asked to serve as a TA in the Chem Department. I fell in love with teaching, and I never looked back. I'm currently a principal, and I'm a certified superintendent. I would like to continue my professional career in public education by seeking a superintendent position in the coming years.