Skip to content

Recent Posts


Crossfit with the Dean

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and shoes

On Monday November 14th, 2016 the GSA hosted its first annual Crossfit with the Dean! The dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, Jeannine Perry, welcomed the GSA to join her at Crossfit 1st Due. Perry is a regular member at the gym and wanted to share her love for crossfit with all of the graduate student body. Meredith Peck, GSA’s past president, also attended Crossfit 1st due and planned the event with the dean. They thought it would be a great way to share one of the ways they have fun working out with graduate students while also contributing to GSA’s goal of building a strong graduate student community.

The event lasted for an hour, beginning with a basic introduction to a crossfit warm-up. After the initial round of squats and lifting weights, the students got to have some fun crossfit style. They split into two teams and were each given a large foam die. The dice were thrown across the gym and the number that was “rolled” corresponded to the workout that had to be done (e.g. 4 means box steps or 6 means squats). When the entire team completed the exercise, the score was recorded on a white board. After 30 minutes the teams were told to stop and the scores were tallied. Some of the graduate students who attended expressed nervousness at the beginning, they were worried about the workout being too hard or not being able to keep up. By the end of the workout, everyone was very happy they attended and did not feel left behind or discouraged from the work out at all.

The GSA finished the event by giving away a few prizes. The prizes ranged from CGPS padfolios to a free 3 month crossfit membership. Georgia Skipper, GSA’s vice president, won the membership to the gym. This event began a series in the spring semester hosted by the GSA called “Fitness Fridays” over the course of which the GSA took part in yoga, ballroom dancing, and zumba. The GSA plans to host this event again during the Fall 2017 semester.


1 comment

December Graduation Reception

On Friday, December 2, 2016 the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and College of Graduate and Professional Studies (CGPS) hosted the first ever December Graduation Reception. This reception was hosted to honor and recognize all of the August and December graduate degree recipients. The GSA and CGPS thought this was an important event to host because many of the graduates from August and December are not able to come back in May for the full commencement ceremony. By holding an event like this, the attending graduates were able to celebrate with family and friends and receive the recognition they deserved. The event was held at Charley’s and the graduates were encouraged to invite all those that they believed would want to celebrate with them. The graduate students, family members, friends, Longwood graduate faculty, and GSA officers were all in attendance to celebrate all of the graduates’ accomplishments. During the reception, graduates were given a wooden Longwood ornament, had their names and earned degrees recognized, and were able to try on graduation regalia for pictures. The GSA and CGPS wants to wish all of the August, December, and May graduates the best of luck as they move onto whatever the next adventure in their lives hold!

1 comment

Longwood University’s First Death Cafe

Image may contain: 10 people, people smiling, people standing

This past spring on March 28, 2017, Longwood University played host to the first death café in Farmville. The event was organized by Dr. Maureen Walls-McKay, Dr. Kat McCleskey, and the counselor education Grief, Loss, and Trauma class. Death Cafés were originated by Jon Underwood in 2010 when he wanted to host a series on death and came across the work of Bernard Crettaz. Underwood took his inspiration from the writing of Crettaz and modeled the Death Café after his ideas, hosting the very first one at his East London house in 2011. Sue Barsky Reid, a psychotherapist and Underwood’s mother, served as the facilitator for the pilot event. From there on, the two worked together to write and publish a guide for hosting and running these events all over the world.

The goal of the death café hosted here was to provide a relaxing environment in which members of the community could come and discuss their opinions, views, and experiences with death. The counselor education students and faculty felt this was an important opportunity because death is something we all experience but typically do not get the chance to openly discuss or process. Attendees of the event were provided with light refreshments, given some history of the death café, and were broken into small groups, each led by a student of the Grief, Loss, and Trauma class. Each group was provided with a list of questions to help facilitate discussion, however, the environment encouraged members to take the conversation where they felt was needed and appropriate. The Grief, Loss, and Trauma class prepares graduate level students aiming to work in the counseling field to openly discuss these tough experiences with clients. Having this forum to practice facilitating these difficult discussions not only provided a learning experience to the students but also gave them a chance for reflection, insight, and to increase their own comfortability with death. Walls-McKay and McCleskey have already indicated that they would love to host the event again next year so those whose missed out, be on the lookout for the next time this unique event comes to campus.

Comment on this

Graduate Student Association: Newsletter Initiative and Website

This year, the Graduate Student Association (GSA) had a whole list of activities and strides made towards better serving the graduate student population. Two of the new developments that came from the organization were the release of monthly newsletters and the publication of a website. The first newsletter was released in November 2016 and there has been one edition released every month since. The newsletters provide information on the GSA and keep readers informed of the events that have been held in the previous month. Additionally, the newsletters have a calendar of upcoming events listed on the back so all readers can know when and where the current and next month’s events are. They are created and updated by GSA’s president, Brittany Bishop. Newsletters are distributed on Facebook, to graduate program coordinators, and released via canvas. They have also been posted for review on GSA’s new website.

GSA’s new website was created in April and serves as a central location for all information for the GSA and links for graduate students. It features a homepage where users can click on links to other pages including an About the GSA page, Calendar and Events, News, Forms and Resources, and Contact. The About page allows users to read the mission of the GSA and introduces the executive board. The Calendar and Events page has information for upcoming events, pictures from past events, and hosts the calendar for the current school year. The newsletters are all hosted on the News page and users can click on the pictures of each newsletter to read the front and back. The Forms and Resources page is the most useful for all graduate students. This page contains several links to important information. The first opens a page to information on requesting funding from the GSA, a new initiative introduced to help graduate students fund professional development opportunities not covered by travel grants. Other linked resources include the Graduate Canvas page, College of Graduate and Professional Studies main page, Graduate travel grants information page, Graduate spotlights blog page, graduate travel blog page, student resources page, and graduate assistantships page. The last feature on the website is a Contact page where students can find phone numbers and the e-mail address for the GSA and can fill out a form to contact the GSA with any questions. The GSA hopes that the website will help increase involvement in GSA meetings and events, provide students with easy access to the most useful resources they need as graduate students, and show promote graduate studies and community at Longwood. The website is and is active now.

Comment on this

Joyanna Struzzieri Reflects Upon Her Thesis Experience

Joyanna Struzzieri, 2017 Communication Sciences and Disorders Graduate Student, successfully defended her thesis recently!  Congratulations, Joy! She writes about her experience below:

My thesis was on identifying and measuring different foods and liquids administered by speech-language pathologists (SLPs) during evaluations of swallowing function and how SLPs’ over or underestimation of these amounts during the evaluation can impact recommendations and treatment.

From beginning to end, the process for completing the thesis was always an interesting journey. When I decided to pursue a thesis in the fall of 2015, I thought I knew what the trajectory would be, but I certainly underestimated the complexity of conducting research! Once my advisor, Dr. Kellyn Hall, and myself had mapped out the process that semester, the thesis slowly came together, inch by inch.  After I obtained Longwood’s institutional review board’s approval, I began to collect data from practicing SLPs. After the data was completed, the data analysis and the writing process began. My efforts culminated in the successful completion of my thesis defense on April 11, 2017. Along the journey, I had opportunities to share my research with other professionals. I presented the results of my thesis at the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s national conference in Philadelphia in the fall of 2016 and at the Speech-Language Hearing Association of Virginia’s conference in Richmond, Virginia in the spring of 2017.

Throughout the process, I would often remind myself of a quote a science teacher once told me, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”  The process of completing the thesis often felt overwhelming, but slowly I would complete one section or one aspect of the thesis at a time. I celebrated each milestone while always keeping the next objective in mind. I was fortunate to have a strong support system of my thesis advisor, faculty, peers, and family to help me and cheer me on along the way. Completing the thesis was a daunting task, but the feelings of pride and accomplishment I have now make me extremely happy I pursued this option.

Comment on this

Lancer Learning Community

Lancer Learning Community Overview

By Dr. Jeannine Perry, Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies

The Lancer Learning Community initiative is part of our effort to establish a vibrant Continuing Education presence at Longwood University under the facilitation of the College of Graduate & Professional Studies.  Many other universities in the commonwealth and across the nation have continuing education and/or professional studies departments and Longwood had one many years ago.  These departments can bring additional learning opportunities to the university and the community that are not part of traditional programs of study.  Continuing education offers non-credit classes to promote life-long learning and includes those offered by the Lancer Learning Community.  Professional studies offers for-credit classes to be taken by people who are not in a Longwood program but would like to add additional college credits to their resume, earn a certificate, or gain specific knowledge for their profession.

This past year, the College of Graduate & Professional Studies was able to dedicate the time of two people to the immense task of rebuilding Continuing Education and Professional Studies.  Shelly Madden, Professional Studies Coordinator and Cindy Harris, Lancer Learning Community Coordinator.  Dr. Jeannine Perry, Dean of the College of Graduate & Professional Studies, is also spending a portion of her time overseeing the new projects involved.

This article is focusing on the Lancer Learning Community portion of the larger project described above, so Cindy Harris and Dr. Perry will answer the questions.

1. Dynamic: How do you think this will change the dynamic between the Longwood community and the FarmVille community as a whole? 

Cindy Harris: The intention of Lancer Learning Community is to offer fun, purposeful and inexpensive non-credit classes showcasing the talents of residents, students, merchants, faculty and staff of all educational institutions in the area.  In so doing, we anticipate social, informative and interesting classes uniting the community as participants, teachers, and attendees.  Additionally, by choosing a variety of venues, we hope to impact the economy of Farmville/Prince Edward County by using and showcasing their businesses.  We see Lancer Learning Community as a win, win, win situation; particularly because we anticipate the eventual reinvestment of some of the funds into the community’s needs.  People learn, socialize, spend nominal funds in the classes AND community needs are met…We don’t think it could get any better than that!

Dr. Perry:  I can answer this question from a very personal perspective.  Last week, I took my dad (a senior citizen in the community) to a coffee class offered at the Woodlands where we learned really cool facts about coffee and sampled a variety of different coffees.  I also attended one of our Right Brain Alley classes at Mainly Clay and joined in creativity and laughter as we all made dishes out of clay.  Finally, on Friday night I had an amazing experience as a longwood graduate student, Brittany Bishop, taught a group of us how to do a dance called the hustle.  Each time, I met new people and learned something new.  Each time I was able to interact with college students, senior citizens, community members, business owners, and Longwood faculty and staff in a meaningful and fun way.  I ended the week firmly committed to making this initiative work.  It is just what our wonderful Farmville community needs.  It will bring Longwood (and hopefully Hampden Sydney) faculty, staff and students together with the community members in very special ways while promoting a love of learning for all ages and stages in life.  It is an amazing initiative—now we just need everyone out there to try it and see just how amazing it is!


2. Idea: Where did this idea exactly come from? 

Cindy Harris: Back in September, three of us began brainstorming the concept.  We desired differentiation from other life-long learning programs.  We truly desired a program that would inspire the entire area to attend and teach, to showcase and harness the talents in this community.  We brainstormed names, engaged with students to create a logo, met with merchants, faculty and staff and started talking about our concept.  The concept’s reception was met with excitement, energy and exploded from there.  Now we continue to grow the program by expanding the programs, speaking at meetings, social media outlets, newspaper ads and radio!

Dr. Perry:  Ms. Harris is a consultant who is only supposed to work 20 hours a week but who is so committed to this initiative that she has invested far, far more time and personal commitment than those 20 hours to build, and often rebuild, this idea that is now just over 6 months old.  Shelly Madden has also spent many, many hours above and beyond her tasks in professional studies to support and participate in the Lancer Learning Community development.  I think the idea reflects a love of learning and a desire to share that with many different people from many different walks of life.  Farmville is already a unique and exciting community.  We felt the Lancer Learning Community would build on what is already here and increase the opportunities available for everyone to live and learn together.


3. Funding: Where does the funding for these classes come from?

Dr. Perry:  For this year and next, we are using a small portion of revenue from other professional studies initiatives to get the Lancer Learning Community started.  After that, it will need to pay for itself through the fees paid by participants.  As an institution of learning, we are not looking to ‘get rich’ from the Lancer Learning Community but we will need to break even so we can cover all costs and not require any additional funding from the university.

Cindy Harris: Our objective is to become self-sustainable and utilize excess funds to financially benefit a need in the community.


4.  Students: Are Longwood students able to attend these classes? 

Cindy Harris:  We welcome everyone!  By making all feel welcome, we further engage the entire community in this endeavor, prompt multi-generational conversation and, once again, show the immediate and surrounding areas, the talent and provisions of Farmville and Prince Edward County!

Dr. Perry:  Absolutely!!  We have already had both graduate and undergraduate students attend.  Lancer Learning Community classes make great gifts if parents or friends are looking for something unique, reasonably priced, and meaningful.  They provide a great venue for student groups to spend an hour or two engaged in something fun and different right here in Farmville.


5.    Teachers: Who teaches these classes? 

Cindy Harris:  We have retired teachers, Longwood students, Longwood’s Provost Dr. Neff, merchants, residents, farmers and anyone who wishes to share their hobby, passion, talent and knowledge.  We all feel better when we learn and even more energized when we teach and share!

Dr. Perry:  that’s one of the most exciting things about the Lancer Learning Community—people can not only attend classes but teach them.  Our dance instructor, Brittany Bishop, exchanged her instructional time for a free seat in two of our other classes but she also hopes to promote dance in Farmville as she misses that opportunity from her home in northern Virginia.  Many people are passionate about a talent or skill they have developed and eager to share it with others.  That is as much a part of bringing a community together as attending the classes!!

Comment on this

Longwood University CSD Graduate Students Win Big at 2017 SHAV Conference

Longwood University graduate students entered seven research projects into the poster session at the 2017 Speech-Hearing-Language Association of Virginia Conference on Friday, March 25th.  Congratulations to the following winners:

1st Place: Joyanna Struzzieri, second year graduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) program.  Her project was titled, “Comparison of Bolus Sizes and Consistencies Used During Dysphagia Evaluations.”

Research Abstract: “This study investigated whether speech-language pathologists (SLPs), with experience in the assessment and treatment of dysphagia, could accurately estimate bite and sip sizes of various consistencies that they use during adult dysphagia evaluations.  The research suggests that SLP estimates of the volumes given to patients with dysphagia varied from what they would have therapeutically recommended.  The results indicated overestimation or underestimation of all consistencies.  Because the protocols differed across SLPs and evaluation types (FEES, MBSS, CSE), further investigation with more subjects is warranted to determine if these observations are significant.”


2nd place: Kayla Stramat, second year graduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) program.  Her project was titled, “Hearing Screening of Seniors at Skilled Nursing Facilities.”

Research Abstract: “The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association identifies that the incidence of hearing loss is approximately 80 percent at skilled nursing homes.  The presence of hearing loss in seniors living in skilled nursing facilities, without appropriate amplification, causes social isolation, with the resulting poor health outcomes created by isolation.  This study investigates the usefulness of Kathryn Dowd’s AuD, CCC-A, word list as a screening protocol for adults living in a skilled nursing facility.  Since audiometers are not always available in these facilities, this research compares a listener’s performance on repeating a list of words to the listener’s performance on a pure-tone screening.”


3rd place: Stephanie Fields, Lauren McGonagle, Anna Powers, and Hunter Reese, four first year graduate students in the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) program.  Their project was titled, “Knowledge of Vocal Hygiene and Abuse in Longwood Education Majors.”

Research Abstract: “Previous research has concluded that teachers are hyperfunctional voice users.  Additionally, the implementation of training modules addressing various aspects of vocal hygiene and abuse has proven to be effective.  The purpose of this study was to garner information on the amount of vocal hygiene/abuse instruction contained in the Longwood undergraduate educational program.  In addition, this study provided information on vocal hygiene specifically related to educators via a training module in order to assess its perceived importance and likelihood for future implementation.  This study provided information on how vocal hygiene/abuse instruction would benefit teachers in their educational programs.”


Reading, Literacy and Learning Smashing Success at VSRA

We are thrilled to share the remarkable presence and participation of the Reading, Literacy and Learning (RLL) program at the Virginia State Reading Association Conference last week.

  • Dr. Snow and Dr. Blanchette both presented at the conference.  The relevance of their topics clearly hit the mark, because they had “don’t call the fire marshal” crowds at both sessions.  Between the two sessions, the professors were able to speak to over 130 Virginia educators and showcase Longwood University.
  • For the first time ever, RLL held an Alumni Event at the conference. It was a small start, and we are thrilled to now have a structure in place that can grow over future years.
  • We ran into past, current, and FUTURE students at every turn! I personally connected with a handful of RLL alumni, and it was a delight to have several of them either attend our sessions or at least stop by because they “had to say hi!” Five of our current full-time students and at least one of our current off-campus students were there, as well as one of the prospective students who will be joining RLL this summer.
  • This year was the 50th Anniversary of the VSRA Conference, which only fed the momentum the RLL program is building with connections to our state reading association. RLL program goals include fostering the RLL presence and participation at VSRA toward the end of establishing a habit of participation in valuable professional development as an investment in oneself as a citizen leader in the field of education. This habit and connection to Longwood will be supported by the opportunity for ongoing alumni connections at VSRA for years to come!
  • Thank you to Dean Chapman and Dr. Doyle for their support in funding faculty participation in conferences with Dean’s Grants.
  • Thank you to Dean Perry for her support in funding student participation with Student Travel Grants.
  • Thank you to Assistant Dean Kathy Charleston for providing Longwood “swag” items we were able to use for promotional give-aways at our Longwood gathering and conference sessions.
  • Thank you to our GA, Kenzie Melton, who is also a GSA member along with another RLL student, Georgia Skipper; both students supported the preparation for and events at VSRA.
  • Thank you to all our students, past, current, and future, who attended and are setting an example of excellence and leadership in the field.
Dr. Snow and Dr. Blanchette would also like to thank Provost Neff. The general support for Graduate and Professional Studies that Provost Neff and President Reveley have voiced and backed is critical and appreciated. The RLL program is poised to benefit from smart growth steps informed by the work of the Graduate Task Force, learning from related subcommittees, and continued vision of Dean Perry and Assistant Dean Charleston. The RLL success at VSRA this year was definitely one of those smart steps!

Kathryn Starke, Graduate Alumna, Creates Tackle Reading

Tackle Reading is a movement that will make a major impact on America’s illiteracy rates. The USA has 32 million adults, 14% of the population who can’t read. 80% of 9 year olds from low-income schools read below grade level.  Over 45 literacy experts, authors, NFL players, celebrities, and educational foundations collaborated to create a book complete with lessons, reading activities, and inspiring stories.  Thousands of Tackle Reading books will be donated to inner-city elementary schools nationwide. This book is created in conjunction with, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to support injured athletes with educational support.

The reading resource will provide quality reading instruction for children of all ages. In addition to the book, author Kathryn Starke will kick off a Tackle Reading tour that will provide professional development opportunities, literacy coaching, and speaking engagements to elementary schools across the country. Starke has over a decade’s worth of experience coaching and training urban elementary teachers and administrators in reading instruction. She successfully brings failing schools to full accreditation in one year.

Starke founded Creative Minds Publications, LLC, to promote creative and educational materials for children.  For information regarding the Tackle Reading book, tour, and speaking engagements, email or contact her at 804-357-0104.

We are so proud of our graduate alumna as she pursues her dreams!  Check out her feature in the local newspaper: and Kathryn’s blog post:


Southern Virginia Elementary Mathematics Coalition to Enhance Student Achievement through Teacher Professional Development

Masters of Education students are currently taking advantage of a grant written by Dr. Emerson-Stonnell of the Mathematics Department.  She offered information about the program below.  We are so excited to have this opportunity for our students and are so proud of her work to help her students here at Longwood.

Southern Virginia Elementary Mathematics Coalition to Enhance Student Achievement through Teacher Professional Development is a Virginia Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership grant. Longwood University’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department is partnering with the College of William and Mary and Old Dominion University to provide professional development for mathematics teachers in grades K-5. Five participating elementary Virginia schools are grant partners during 2015-2018 grant period.

Longwood University is working with Prince Edward County Elementary School in Farmville and Clarksville Elementary School in Mecklenburg county. Dr. Virginia Lewis and Dr. Maria Timmerman design and lead seven days of mathematics professional development each academic year at Prince Edward Elementary School and at Clarksville Elementary School, respectively. Each professional development day is designed to meet the individual needs of the school. Because they are offered during the regular contract hours, each mathematics teacher is expected to attend each day.

Suzanne Towler, a Longwood graduate of the Elementary and Middle School Mathematics master’s program, serves as a part-time mathematics specialist at Prince Edward Elementary School. She is a grant employee who works with teachers throughout the school year.

Longwood University is also teaching graduate courses to mathematics leaders in each school. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the professional development creation and implementation will gradually shift from Longwood University to the school’s mathematics leadership team. After the grant ends, the school leadership team will support mathematics teachers by continuing to develop and lead mathematics professional development based on the school needs.