Annual Award Winners

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University of Washington, Seattle

Debra Bragg is Director of Community College Research Initiatives at the University of Washington in Seattle, and she is also the Founding Director of the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was also named an endowed university professor.


Dr. Bragg’s research focuses on transitions and transfer from K-12 education to community colleges and universities, as well as to employment. In recent years, Dr. Bragg led the study of Credit When It’s Due (CWID) to assess changes in transfer policy to confer associate degrees through reverse transfer. She is currently leading a study of high-performing transfer partnerships with higher than predicted baccalaureate attainment rates for students of color and low-income students.


Dr. Bragg’s research portfolio also includes a national study of applied baccalaureate degrees conferred by community colleges nationwide. New America, the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), the Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCBA), and other groups are valued partners in this work.


In April 2015, Dr. Bragg was recognized as a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and she received the Distinguished Career Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) in November 2016.

Previous Winners: 

Charlene Stinard (2017)

E. Elaine Moore (2016)

Thomas J. Grites, Rebecca McKay, Robert T. Teranishi (2015)

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Associate Vice Provost for Student Success and Community Engagement

California State University, Channel Islands

As a first-generation college graduate and transfer student herself, Amanda is a powerful advocate of educational opportunity for historically undeserved students, including transfers. She has held multiple leadership positions and has developed, administered, and evaluated transfer-focused programs at the campus, system, and state level. CSUCI is a transfer-majority HSI institution, and Amanda raised $26 million in external funding to lead initiatives that build capacity for promoting educational equity and opportunity and increasing student success outcomes. Recently, she has been a key leader in a regional strategy aimed at streamlining the transfer process by aligning practices, curriculum, and policies between local institutions.

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Assistant Vice President in Enrollment Management and Services

Florida International University

Janie founded Transfer & Transition Services, a unit that today serves the fifth-largest transfer student enrollment in the nation, with over 9,000 new transfers annually. Together with her dedicated team, she implemented best practices around transfer credit evaluation and shaped some of the earliest support services for transfer students, including veterans. Most recently, she successfully evolved FIU Connect4Success, a nationally recognized guided transfer pathway and bridge advising program for Florida college students. Currently, Janie is working to accelerate FIU’s prior learning assessment program, which will support adult learners in particular, most of whom are transfer students.


Director, College Learning Communities
University of California, Los Angeles 

As the director of College Learning Communities at UCLA, Heather works collaboratively with departments campus-wide to establish robust academic and community-building support for underserved students. In her current and previous role as director of the UCLA Transfer Student Center, she focuses her work on advancing institutionalized receptivity and restructuring policy for underserved communities through strategic partnership and practice. Heather is currently working with the Transfer Success Team to develop and implement a transfer-student learning outcomes model for UCLA. She is enthusiastic about developing the nationwide transfer support network as the founder of Transfer Nation, a forum for professionals working with transfers.


Director of Educational and Career Pathways
George Mason University 

Kerin brings nearly twenty years of experience in the design and implementation of transfer-focused initiatives that bridge post-secondary equity and completion with guided and career pathways. She was the founding director and operational designer of Northern Virginia’s Pathway to the Baccalaureate initiative, a pioneering and award-winning K-16 holistic transfer success model.  At George Mason, Kerin collaborates with Virginia community colleges to design and implement STEM programs that blend curricular, navigational, and career pathways, providing students with the information and resources they need to be successful at Mason from their first campus visit through their first year on campus. 

Previous Winners:

Eboni Zamani-Gallaher, John Fink, Paulina Palomino, Russell Baker (2019)

Barbara Lerner, Lisa McIntyre, Nancy Lee Sanchez (2018)

Kathy Silberman, Maria Campanella, Artis Gordan (2017)

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Transfer Specialist and Chair of the Mānoa Transfer Coordination Center 

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 

Jenn splits her time between UH-Mānoa and Kapi'olani Community College, working with colleagues to support and advise students as they prepare for transfer. As a part of both the sending and receiving institutions, she bridges the gap between the two and has played a pivotal role in improving relationships and emphasizing shared goals. As one nominator noted, Jenn has “become the ’go-to’ transfer problem solver” and has “helped everyone…embrace supporting transfer students.” Her leadership, scholarship, and advocacy have fueled a growing focus on transfer within the UH system, and her student-focused initiatives have measurably simplified and improved the transfer process.

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Transfer Admissions Director

University of Kentucky

Sara is deeply committed to transfer success and “legitimately is the face of transfer students” at UK. An unwavering advocate, Sara leverages her busy calendar to keep transfer needs and challenges top-of-mind for her many campus partners. Under her leadership, transfer admissions has become a comprehensive service-center, ensuring that incoming students have access to transfer-affirming staff, resources, and programs. As one nominator noted, her exceptional team is a direct reflection of her leadership. According to her staff, Sara “inspires us daily to give our utmost,” and, “We do exactly that because she does it all, too, tirelessly, every single day.” 


Assistant Director of Academic Advising

Ivy Tech Community College, Sellersburg

As one nominator stated, Alex is “a force to be reckoned with.” She serves as the single transfer advocate for a student body of approximately 3,000, where she has demystified transfer and transformed a very hands-off transfer culture into a “community of allies and practitioners.” A “tireless advocate for transfer students and transfer initiatives,” Alex has fostered partnerships with multiple four-year institutions, including a successful reverse transfer agreement with one of the campus’s large neighboring institutions. In addition to this work, Alex serves on several statewide committees for transfer, where she is a crucial leader in developing advisor training materials.

Previous Winners: 


Crystal Flowers, Jason Dodge, Robert Charlebois (2019)

Holly Herrera (2018)

Carmen Robinson, Rajan Shore (2017)

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College of the Sequoias ▪ California State University, Channel Islands

Like many of today’s students, Kaylee got a jumpstart on her college journey by taking dual enrollment classes throughout high school. She planned to attend a four-year university right after graduation, but a fluke in her class schedule led to the worst-case scenario. Despite intense studying and tutoring, she failed a required math course by a micro point and lost her college admission and scholarship. Although Kaylee felt crushed, she pushed forward and stayed at the College of the Sequoias, determined to be successful. After a few semesters, she transferred to UC-Channel Islands, but was caught off-guard by feelings of isolation and culture shock. Everything changed when she was awarded an opportunity to research whales and ecotourism during winter break. Even though the study didn’t match her career ambitions, the trip fueled her drive to make the most of her college experience. Now Kaylee is a club president, a peer mentor, and is pursuing two independent research studies focused on transfer. She says, “Being a transfer student is more than just a label to me—it’s a part of my identity. I’m determined to prove that transfer students can be just as accomplished and successful as any traditional university student.”

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Richard Bland Community College ▪ Morehouse College

Jahine readily admits that taking classes at Richard Bland Community College felt like his only option after being denied admission to several colleges and universities. Despite knowing that his weak academic credentials reflected legitimate learning disabilities and not his true potential, he struggled to hold on to his dream of earning a bachelor’s degree. When an academic advisor encouraged him apply to Morehouse, Jahine doubted his chances of being admitted. But flexible admissions processes allowed his abilities to shine, and Jahine enrolled after one year of community college coursework. Although the adjustment was hard—due, in part, to Morehouse’s unabashed focus on freshmen transitions—he felt a strong affinity for the traditions and brotherhood that were specifically tailored to Black men. Finding the right fit—personally, socially, and academically—has helped Jahine thrive. In addition to his community service work with children who remind him of himself, Jahine holds several high-level campus leadership positions and plans to start a Transfer Student Association soon. He says, “Through it all, I have never forgotten my transfer roots. I dedicate my time to mentoring other transfer students and hope to be the catalyst for change that Morehouse needs to improve the experience for my brothers.”   

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Moorpark College ▪ University of California, Los Angeles

Tania’s transfer journey began when, through no fault of her own, the financial aid package at her dream school fell through. Although she was able to enroll in her second choice college with a substantial scholarship, she withdrew within two weeks after overt acts of racism left her feeling unsafe. Tania returned home in time to start classes at Moorpark College, but for a while, she felt disappointed by the commuter campus culture. Then, harnessing the same drive and determination that helped her become high school valedictorian, she took charge of her situation and engaged in a number of high-value experiences, including participating in the Honors Program, serving as a leader for the Mock Trials team and Spectrum Club, and conducting research through the CC2PhD Scholars Program. Now a student at UCLA, Tania uses her story to connect with students as a Student Success Academy mentor. She says, “Sometimes I still doubt whether I deserve to be here, but then I remember that, if everyone feels this way, the problem isn’t entirely us. And that’s why I’m here:  to share my story, pay it forward, and help other transfer students succeed.”

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Hinds Community College ▪ Mississippi College

Although she desperately wanted to start college at a four-year university, Macia decided to take classes at Hinds Community College to avoid accumulating too much debt as she fulfills her dream of becoming a medical doctor. Despite rumors that community college would feel like “the 13th grade,” she was pleasantly surprised by the rigor of her classes and the many opportunities for co-curricular involvement. In addition to being an avid community volunteer, Macia completed honors contracts in chemistry and Spanish and worked as a peer tutor for beginner and intermediate algebra—all key courses for her intended career. Ever mindful of her long-term goals, Macia used every occasion to network and learn, and her strong academic performance earned her an invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa. Macia transferred to Mississippi College after one year at Hinds, but she plans to earn her associate degree through the reverse transfer process. She says, “I want to promote the idea that community colleges can help students explore their future careers. I learned to apply myself at Hinds. I had a vision, and I did what I could do to confirm my decision to practice medicine.”

Previous Winners: 


Jevaughney "Jay" Francis, Jennifer Hernandez, Bianca Hill, Taylor Smith (2019)

Diana Castro, Brandon Cheatham, Veronica Sanders, Louis Veloz (2018)

Bianca Dirige, Jordan Gomes, Hillary G. Allen, David Nguyen, Erin Georgia (2017)

BKT Dissertation Winner_Laura Yavitz_Pro


University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Vicki J. Rosser, Dissertation Chair)

Vertical Transfer and Baccalaureate Completion for Adult Community College Students: Milestones and Momentum Points that Matter

This study examined the impact of the academic momentum theoretical framework on adult community college students. The results show that academic momentum impacts adult success on the transfer pathway, but also suggest that the effects of momentum variables differ between adults and traditional-age students. Findings challenge widely accepted interventions that may need adjustments when considering adult community college students. For example, full-time enrollment was not shown to be essential for adult students, who may have other strategies to be successful. Finally, through the study’s design, Yavitz developed a model that institutional researchers can use to better understand transfer outcomes in their student populations.

Previous Winners:

Dalinda Martinez, Ph.D. (2016)
Michigan State University, Marilyn J. Amey, Dissertation Chair
Transitioning: The Transfer Student Experience 

Loni Bordoloi Pazich, Ph.D. (2015)
New York University, Robert Teranishi, Dissertation Chair
Influencing Transfer and Baccalaureate Attainment for Community College Students: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Texas


Erin E. Shaw, Ph.D. (2014)
University of Missouri, Cassandra E. Harper, Dissertation Chair
Sense Making for Community  College Transfers Entering a Public,  Liberal Arts University

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Texas A&M University

Collaboration in Transfer Student Work: A Cultural Historical Activity Theory Study at Four-Year Institutions

Practitioners’ ability to effectively collaborate with colleagues both inside and outside of the institution is critical to creating and sustaining transfer student programs and services. Despite a burgeoning field examining this issue, little is understood about how practitioners collaborate in transfer student work, particularly at four-year institutions. This study will examine two four-year institutions as contextual case studies of practitioner collaboration in transfer student work. Qualitative methods and an Activity Systems Analysis (ASA) framework will be used to understand the individual and social interactions of these collaborations in greater detail. A deeper understanding of the practitioner perspective of transfer student work will help institutions in the execution of the transfer student experience.

Research questions for this study: 


  1. How do different practitioners contribute toward collaborative activity in transfer student work?

    • What are the motives associated with those actions?

    • How do these motives differ based on the practitioner’s sub-culture in their institution?

  2. How do practitioner actions impact the collaborative activity of the transfer student experience?

Previous Winners:

Catherine Hartman (PI) & Jeffrey Mayo (Co-PI), University of Texas at Austin (2018 Winner)
Examining Vertical and Horizontal Transfer Student Experiences and Identity Development at Four-Year Institutions in Texas

Yu Chen (PI), Linda Serra Hagedorn (Co-PI), Ran Li (Co-PI), Iowa State University (2017 Winner)

International Reverse Transfer in Iowa: Perspectives from Both Sides

Erin Lynch-Alexander (PI), Virginia Linares (Co-PI), Austin Peay State University (2017 Winner)

Perception of Campus Climate for Military Affiliated or Military Connected Transfer Students

Mary Von Kaenel (PI), Clemson University (2016 Winner)

Examining the Transfer Pipeline Connecting a Two-year College and a Four-Year Research Institution in South Carolina


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