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Student Profiles

Note: The list of current M.Ed. students is incomplete and still in the process of being updated. Keep checking back for new profiles as they are added!

Current Ph.D. Students

Caitlin Eley



Caitlin Eley was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in English from Williams College, she began teaching, first as a Williams Teaching Fellow at the Pine Cobble School in western Massachusetts, and then as a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher in Mission, Texas. She was voted Teacher of the Year for her campus for the 2012-2013 school year. Caitlin was introduced to culturally relevant pedagogy at a professional development session, and became passionate about how to incorporate the cultures of diverse learners into the classroom environment. She is currently a PhD student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program, and she is interested in supporting emerging bilinguals by leveraging their unique linguistic and cultural strengths in the classroom, as well as second language acquisition, borderland communities, and multimodal literacies. Her favorite part of Vanderbilt is the collaborative environment created by both students and faculty to support mutual learning and development.




Min Oh is a Ph.D. student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program. As a former English language learner from South Korea, Min is curious about the language and literacy development of ELLs and immigrant children. Additionally, she is interested in the components of academic literacy, which poses an additional challenge to the students who struggle to acquire both English language and academic content. As a Stamps Scholar at Mercer University, Min studied in Denmark, Turkey, and Scotland to understand the diverse learning environments of second language learners. She has also taught English literature in middle and high schools in Macon, Georgia. Prior to Vanderbilt, Min completed her Ed.M. in Language and Literacy at Harvard, where she assisted research projects focused on language and literacy development of young and adolescent learners. At Vanderbilt, she wants to engage in research that can support ELLs’ long-term academic achievement and teachers who face continuous demographic shifts in their ELL population. Her favorite part of Vanderbilt is the diversity of courses that not only deepens what students want to know, but also offers what they need to know to be critical thinkers and researchers.



Janna McClain was born and raised in rural Tennessee. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in German from the University of the South, she began teaching high school German in Williamson County, TN. She later received an M.Ed in ESL from Middle Tennessee State University and taught for 7 years as an EL specialist and academic interventionist at Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro, TN, where she was voted teacher of the year in 2011. She is also a Teacher Consultant for the Middle Tennessee Writing Project, a subsite of the National Writing Project. She is currently a PhD student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program, and her research interests include writing instruction, development of academic language, and teacher education/professional development. She is truly thankful to be immersed in the supportive and rigorous community she has found at Vanderbilt University.




Alexis Mcbride was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She majored in Spanish at the University of Pennsylvania and studied abroad at the Universidad de Alicante in Spain. After completing her B.A., she relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, earning her M.A. in Hispanic Studies at Boston College. She later taught a variety of language and literature courses as a lecturer at Boston College and at Salem State University. Now at Vanderbilt University, Alexis is pursuing a doctoral degree in Learning, Teaching, & Diversity, specializing in Language, Literacy, & Culture. Her research interests include post-secondary English language learners (ELLs), multilingual education strategies, and Spanish heritage language learners. In addition to her studies, Alexis has also served as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching, where she continues to facilitate the graduate student Certificate in Humanities Teaching and Learning (CHTL) program.


Current M.Ed. Students

7 1 yu

Alumni Profile

heatherHeather Dunham participated In PROPEL and completed her Master’s of Education in English Language Learning.

"Collaborating with fellow teachers and Peabody professors has had such a great impact on my instruction. Learning the best ELL practices has given me valuable tools to help improve the lives of my students."

Heather Dunham recently moved to Nashville in 2009 from Marietta, Georgia to attend Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies. She is currently working as a second grade ELL teacher and works as a member of the school’s Instructional Leadership Team. Working while participating in the ELL M. Ed program (Propel) has given Heather the ability to adapt lessons and strategies based on her findings in class on a day-to-day basis. Heather is interested in discovering the best service model to meet the needs of the large ELL population within her school. Heather identifies the challenges of meeting the needs of ELL students while abiding the laws and how the Vanderbilt program has helped support her to create the best model for instruction. During her time at Peabody, Heather utilized the library and professors who tailored her program to help fit her needs. “The best thing about Peabody and the ELL program is how knowledgeable the staff is and how willing they are to collaborate with teachers,” states Heather Dunham. Professor’s interest with research amplifies the quality of the courses at Peabody, giving professional students opportunities and support to implement new theories and strategies in the classroom. Heather is working towards becoming an ELL coach and recommends Peabody to those interested in English Language Learning. She writes, “If you have the opportunity to attend this college, I wouldn’t pass it up. There’s no other place I can imagine that will give you both the content and support you need to be successful.”

Serena Guo is originally from central China. She is currently working as a Mandarin Teacher at Rogers Park High School of UNO Charter School Networks in Chicago, IL. Her responsibilities include designing curriculum and lessons for high school Mandarin courses, monitoring students progress through assessments, and supporting twenty-one sophomore girls emotionally and socially during Advisory time. The school population is made up of 80% Hispanic Students, and over 30% of students are English Language Learners.The practicum and use of Peabody Career Services and courses targeted many aspects of ELL education, helping Serena achieve her goals in her current field. She hopes to one day teach Chinese at a college level. Her experience at Vanderbilt provided her with a strong understanding of assessment, curriculum, analysis of teaching, and language acquisition theory.
"Peabody College's outstanding educators and staff contributed greatly to my overall personal development as an effective ESL teacher.  I always felt welcomed and encouraged to do my best with their daily support and easy accessibility."


Ruochen Li, completed her Master's of Education in English Language Learning.  Now she's working at Affiliated High School of Peking University, Beijing, China.

"The Transformation from a ‘student’ to a ‘teacher’ is not an easy one, and I was lucky enough to have gone through this process at Peabody College, under the guidance of great professors and among insightful cohorts. Now I am determined to be an informed and responsive language teacher in my own classroom. I hope to not only help my students in language learning, but also facilitate their growth into stronger individuals."