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"Point Park is an amazing school. I've had so many professors who are experienced in this field and have guided me. The courses they offered set me up for success."

Khasim Halawani '24

On the eve of Point Park University's 64th Commencement and Hooding ceremonies, the School of Education faculty and staff gathered with undergraduate and graduate students to mark the end of the academic year with the Celebration of Student Teaching for bachelor's and master's degree programs, as well as the Celebration of Excellence for doctoral graduates. 

“We are immensely proud of our students and their commitment to this vital field,” said Shari Payne, Ed.D., dean of the School of Education. “They have chosen a career path that is crucial to the function of society. Especially with the nationwide teacher shortage we are facing, we really need qualified educators who are passionate about teaching our youth and future generations. Their dedication to this work is appreciated and important.”

It was a banner year for the School of Education as it launched several innovative programs, including:

The celebrations on April 25 focused on the accomplishments of undergraduate and graduate students who completed their student teaching placements, as well as graduates who successfully defended their dissertations in the Ed.D in Leadership and Administration program.

At the Celebration of Student Teaching, students received certificates from faculty recognizing their hard work, and President Chris Brussalis, Ph.D., and Michael Soto, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs, shared remarks about the importance of teachers. 

A slideshow highlighting each student, including their student teaching placement and reflections on the experience, played throughout the evening. 

"Point Park is an amazing school," said Khasim Halawani, who earned his bachelor's degree in secondary education and completed his student teaching at Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12. "I've had so many professors who are experienced in this field and have guided me. The courses they offered set me up for success."

Like his fellow School of Education graduates, Halawani is excited to make a difference.

"It's important that someone guides and molds the next generation," he said. "Someday they'll be our teachers, lawyers, engineers, mechanics, and so much more. It's about nurturing their curiosity." 

The following students were selected by faculty to share essays about the most memorable moments from their teaching experiences:

Pictured is Allie Plassio and her grandmother. Photo by Nadia Jones.
Allie Plassio '24 poses for a photo with her grandmother at the Celebration of Student Teaching.


At the Celebration of Excellence, Linda Hippert, Ed.D. delivered a poignant presentation about the journey the Ed.D. graduates navigated to complete their degrees and the characteristics that helped them along the way.

When students start the doctoral program, Karen McIntyre, Ed.D., professor and director of the program, gives each student a rock with an inspiring word they've chosen painted on it. It's a token to encourage them to add their own rock to the mountain of research in education. The 2024 graduates' words were perseverance, balance, purpose, tenacity, joy, persistence and unbreakable. The following students completed the Ed.D. program this year:

  • Amy Balsbaugh, Ed.D.
  • Kimberly Damcott, Ed.D.
  • Dominique Furrowh, Ed.D.
  • Shavonne M. Johnson, Ed.D.
  • Jah-Chant Robinson, Ed.D.
  • Craig Stage, Ed.D.
  • Candy Wagner, Ed.D.

As they move on to the next chapter, they will no doubt carry with them the Ed.D. program's mantra: "Who you are is how you lead."

Pictured are Linda Hippert, Ed.D., and Dominique Furrowh, Ed.D. Photo by Nadia Jones.
Dr. Linda Hippert shares a joyful moment with Ed.D. program graduate Dominique Furrowh at the Celebration of Excellence.


Learn more about School of Education students and alumni:

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