Image of Shamini DiasShamini Dias, Ph.D.

At age 9, I decided I was going to teach. Decades later, I still find it a most rewarding, intriguing, perplexing, and joyful thing to do. I’ve had the opportunity to teach in multiple contexts working with people ages 4 through adult, in K-12, tertiary, and corporate contexts; with museums and libraries, and in formal and informal settings. Teaching in diverse settings has deepened my conviction that excellent teaching is excellent leadership. Educators do far more than just teach content; we lead minds to nurture life-long learners who engage ethically with the world. Teaching, done well, is a rich and fulfilling experience for both teacher and student.

My work as a teacher-scholar focuses on integrating ideas from complexity science, design thinking, play and the power of the arts, and learning motivation and development. At the core, I explore imagination as a creative, adaptive capacity. My research shows me that this is increasingly important for flourishing in constantly changing, diverse, and inter-connected contexts that define our world today. It is especially important in becoming inclusive leaders who strive for educational equity for all learners.

I hope in engaging with the PFF program, you will become a true teacher-scholar seeking excellence holistically in both areas. Whether you are working toward a career in academia, in corporate, non-profit, or entrepreneurial settings, understanding how people learn and what engages others helps you become a leader of minds.

Assistant Director

Image of Shelby LamarShelby Lamar, M.A.

I grew up in a small town in rural Oklahoma and was introduced to the joys of teaching through my mother, who was an elementary school teacher. My upbringing was shaped and centered by education, and I realized from a very early age that I have a passion for teaching.

While working on my BA at the University of Oklahoma, I had incredible professors who inspired me to pursue a career in education. Yet, as a queer nonbinary person, I also realized that there was a lack of LGBTQ+ representation in educational spaces. Visibility is incredibly important, especially in academia, and part of my motivation to teach is to help provide other LGBTQ+ students with the inclusivity and visibility that is needed in academic spaces.

I currently serve as the Assistant Director of Preparing Future Faculty (PFF), and I am also a doctoral student in Critical Comparative Scriptures at Claremont Graduate University (CGU). I earned my BA in Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and an MA in Religious Studies at CGU. My dissertation is focused on developing and documenting queer hermeneutical practices in the Book of Mormon. Additionally, my teaching-related research interests include higher education assessment methods, grading strategies, and the development of inclusive teaching practices in educational and professional settings.

I am fortunate to have experience teaching graduate, undergraduate, and community college students. I have worked with the Preparing Future Faculty program at CGU for five years and love helping future and current faculty develop specific practices that increase student engagement and learning. The PFF program is a valuable asset to anyone working in an educational culture, and I am proud to be a part of such a skilled team.

Admin. Assistant & Teaching Fellow

image of Sarah EckertSarah Eckert, M.A.

Sarah is a doctoral student in Religion with a focus on the History of Christianity at Claremont Graduate University. Her research interests include heresy and orthodoxy, the history of the Devil, and ideas of gender and sexuality in early Christianity. She is currently conducting dissertation research on 1 Enoch and the Book of the Watchers. She earned her Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies from the Claremont School of Theology. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Anthropology from the University of South Florida.


Teaching Fellows

Image of Catherine ConnerCatherine Conner, M.A.

Prior to becoming a doctoral student in English/Early Modern Studies at CGU, Catherine earned her BA in English from the University of Southern California and her MA in English from California State University, Long Beach. Her dissertation focuses on female characters in drama and how their speech acts facilitate their participation in male-dominated spaces and patriarchal discourse. Further, these speech acts serve as oblique arguments that women could effectively employ the skills of rhetoric and oration on a par with men.

Currently an instructor at Orange Coast College and the University of La Verne, Catherine’s approach to teaching integrates humanist principles with a task-based rationale that addresses basic skills, global issues, and critical thought, without leaving behind the stylistic conventions of writing. Her commitment to flexibility and a student-centered curriculum creates a dynamic classroom environment that challenges her students and empowers them to achieve both personal and academic success. Catherine brings to PFF her experiences as an instructor, tutor, and mentor and is excited to support you in your journey to becoming a teacher.


Image of Jonathan AragonJonathan Aragon, M.P.H.

Hi, I’m Jonathan, it is a pleasure to meet you. I call myself a teacher-scholar-leader. The concept of adding the dash between teacher and scholar is borrowed from Kenneth P. Ruscio. I use these dashes to indicate that these are not separate but linked. My scholarship is part of my teaching and my teaching is a part of my scholarship. I add in “Leader” to indicate my advocacy for social justice, and how that too, is not separate from, but a part of my teaching and scholarship. I am tempted to add “artist” since I am always involved in something creative and playful, but that would break the rule of three.

My philosophy on teaching is that student flourishing, and societal good, can be achieved through teaching that is authentic, student-centered, evidenced-based, and community-driven, with an ethical, transdisciplinary future-focus.

I am a doctoral (Ph.D.) student in health promotion sciences and my research seeks to promote well-being through positive professional development, implicit teaching, and transforming education culture.

Working with PFF students and alumni continues to make me a better person and professional. With each class/ coaching session/ webinar, I glean from diverse personal and disciplinary perspectives that enrich my own life and discipline.

I am very proud to be a part of the PFF team, which continues to provide transformative experiences for our higher education community.


Image of Noah RinglerNoah Ringler, M.A.

My name is Noah Ringler, and I’m a Ph.D. student in Positive Developmental Psychology.  Within the program, I’m especially interested in the fields of moral development and wisdom.  I hope expanding research in these domains may assist us in living more wisely and navigating difficulties more skillfully.

Despite acknowledging the tremendous value of education, very few classes kept me engaged.  As a result, for much of high school, I suspected that school might not be for me.  However, towards the end of high school and beginning of college, I came across teachers who changed my life. They connected the topics we were discussing in class to more significant philosophical issues about life. These teachers have radically shaped my thoughts about myself and how education can be approached.

Blending personal-development techniques and knowledge of pedagogical research, Preparing Future Faculty is an incredibly valuable asset to anybody who wants to maximize their role as an educator.


Image of Shamini DiasCristal Briseida Almonte,M.A.

Cristal B. Almonte is a first-generation, graduate student of color pursuing her doctoral degree in Education with a concentration in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Claremont Graduate University. She is focused on exploring the experiences of first-generation, working class, undocumented students within higher education and beyond. She aims to inform policy, practitioners, and other researchers through her work to support the access and persistence of undocumented students in higher education. During her time in CGU, she earned her M.A. in Education, the Allies of Dreamers Certificate, and the Women’s and Gender Studies Certificate.

Prior to enrolling in CGU, Cristal was a seventh-grade mathematics teacher in Chaparral, NM. Her experience in the classroom influenced her decision to pursue a Ph.D. in Education. She earned her B.A. in psychology at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR.


Lizbeth Bayardo Cardenas, MPH

I am a doctoral (DrPH) student in the School of Community and Global Health with a focus on Leadership and Management. My research interests are in community health, health systems, primary and preventive care, and the use of systems thinking and interdisciplinary approaches to address and evaluate complex public health challenges.

I am passionate about building healthier and equitable communities. As a director and project manager, I have performed in various capacities while overseeing public health programs and initiatives and leading cross-functional teams and collaboratives. I have stewarded funding from foundations, government agencies, and corporate sponsors at the federal, state, and local levels. I enjoy being part of many realms of education – including community health education, workforce development, and student-centered learning.

I earned a Master of Public Health degree from Loma Linda University, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
I would like to teach courses in community health, foundations of public health, systems thinking, and public health management. The PFF program is a fantastic opportunity for anyone seeking to be an inclusive and agile leader of minds.

Emeritus Teaching Fellow

Image of Elizabeth Craigg-WalkerElizabeth Craigg-Walker, M.A.

Elizabeth Craigg-Walker came to Claremont Graduate University with a diverse background, as she has completed both undergraduate and graduate work in the following fields: english and public administration.  While attending Claremont Graduate University, she received a certificate in Women’s Studies and master’s degrees in Educational Studies and Political Science.  She is currently completing her doctorate in Educational Studies.  She has worked in academia for 11 years as a college instructor in face-to-face settings and in online learning communities within the fields of English, public administration, political science, developmental reading, developmental writing, critical thinking, academic strategies, and communication.  In addition, she has worked in learning resource centers, research labs, and advancement.  She has worked for private and public colleges in 2-year and 4-year settings, as well as in Christian and secular environments.  Her wealth of knowledge allows her to be a great asset to understanding how to help guide future college instructors.