Thank you to everyone who made our inaugural year such a success! The event was only made possible by the contributions of our amazing participants, judges, and donor.
Congratulations to our Big Pitch 2020 winners!
Vinh Q. Tran was born in Japan but spent most of his childhood in Vietnam. After high school, he enrolled at Soka University of America and became a member of the class of 2015. As an undergraduate, he chose Environmental Sciences as his concentration; specifically, his research topic was the genetic compositions of methane-producing microbes (methanogens) in urban freshwater wetlands. However, he decided to shift his academic focus to Education Policy as a graduate student; the change was partially due to the influence of The West Wing TV show. His overarching research interest is identifying the most suitable K-12 STEM Education policies and practices for each US state/territory. As a Ph.D. Candidate of the SES Department at CGU, he aims to create the foundation for his vision by developing a mechanism for effective K-12 STEM Education policy transfer, detailed in his upcoming dissertation. Tran is also (technically) a certified bartender.
2nd Place & Audience’s Winner
Amber Kea-Edwards, Psychology, “Development or Discrimination?: An Intersectional Lens on Multi-Source Feedback”
Amber Kea-Edwards is a Ph.D. candidate in Positive Organizational Psychology at Claremont Graduate University. Her research interest includes race, leader identity, and leader development. As a research associate at LeAD Labs, she has presented at both national and international conferences and has a publication in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies. She currently teaches organizational behavior at California State Polytechnical University, Pomona in the school of Management and Human Resources.
Katrina Denman, History, “Angels “Leaning In”: Uncovering Women’s Roles in Academic History”
Katrina Denman is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern European History. Her dissertation focuses on professional women historians in Victorian and Edwardian England, as well as the development of history as an academic discipline in the U.K. Her other research interests include women in the history of science and the experiences of women of color in Victorian Britain. She received her M.A. in History and Archival Studies from CGU in 2009 and has a background in special collections, including as a manuscripts archivist at the Huntington Library. She is currently a consultant and writing fellow at CGU’s Center for Writing & Rhetoric and a writing tutor at Harvey Mudd College. When not trying to finish her dissertation, she is usually photographing animals, both wild and domestic. She would like to particularly thank her dogs, Evie and Phineas, for refraining from barking for three minutes during the making of her competition recoding.
Congratulations to all of our finalists!
Amanda Castillo, Education, “Strengthening Teacher Evaluation Systems in K-12 Public Education”
Amanda Castillo graduated from USC with a BA in Theatre and Loyola Marymount with an MA in Education. She began her teaching career as a 2006 Teach for America corps member and was placed in a high school charter school where she taught 10th and 11th grade English. She was also a non-profit director with organizations College Track and Citizen Schools in which she managed instructors and other staff working to support student achievement. Her focus on instructional coaching was prompted by her experience as a Dean of Students at Achievement First and also Teach for America, New Jersey; both roles required intensive coaching of new teachers, facilitating formal teacher evaluation and turning around struggling classrooms. Now a PhD candidate, she hopes to focus her research on building teacher skill, particularly in classroom management and culture.
Kerri Dean, History, “(re)Imagining the Evergreen”
Kerri Dean is currently a PhD candidate in history at Claremont Graduate University, where she also earned her master’s degree in 2015. Her focus is in American history, environmental history, and museum studies. Her dissertation explores the history of the Christmas tree in American culture. Her M.A. thesis, Christmas Lights in America: The Intersections of a Modern Christmas, American Culture, and Postwar Suburbia, tells the history of lights while using them as lens to American suburban history. Her passion for holiday history provides unique opportunities for creativity in a niche field. She has received recognition for her research through grants and interviews with the New York Times and Time magazine. For over five years she worked for CGU’s marketing and communication team and held various leadership roles for student organizations. Kerri is currently an Exhibitions Assistant and Project Manager at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Tamar Salibian, Cultural Studies, “Reading Reality TV: Publicizing, Promoting, and Commodifying the Self”
Tamar Salibian is a Media Studies PhD candidate in the Cultural Studies program at Claremont Graduate University. Her area of concentration is reality TV. Tamar received her BFA in Photography from Massachusetts College of Art and her MFA in Film/Video from California Institute of the Arts. After film school, she worked in film and television post-production, most notably on the reality programs Survivor and The Apprentice. Tamar is interested in the different ways one can lead, educate, and mentor, and her unique background lends itself well to this ongoing inquiry. She currently works as a Media Specialist crafting and sharing content on social media for the Career Development Office at CGU. In addition to her academic endeavors, Tamar teaches dance-fitness classes in the Los Angeles area and online and enjoys hanging out with her adopted pet, a former street cat named Savvy.