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Congratulations Summer 2015 Graduates!

Published September 11, 2015

The Department of Art Education would like to congratulate and commemorate our Summer 2015 graduating masters and doctoral students on their excellent achievement!


Art Therapy Masters Graduating Class:

Katelyn Bruns

Ashley Hammond

Chelsea Harris

Emily Hayes

Nicole Haynes

Erin Huntley

Ashley Jones

Alison Kearley

Lauren Laufer

Amber Jamie Nelson

Lorelei Voronin

Megan Welch


Art Education Doctoral Graduate:

Ansley Simmons

On April 30, 2015 , Ansley Simmons defended her dissertation, “Internship Training Programs in Academic Art Museums in Relation to AAM Standards.” Ansley’s major professor was Dr. Pat Villeneuve. Her other dissertation committee members included Dr. Tom Anderson, Dr. Lisa Waxman, and Dr. Antonio Cuyler. Ansley earned a Doctorate in Art Education with a specialization in Arts Administration and Art Museum Education.

In reflection of her experience at Florida State University, Dr. Ansley Simmons stated:


Ansley Simmons

“I am an artist and educator with experience in primary and secondary education, higher education at both the university and community college level, and within various arts non-profit organizations. I currently am a Visiting Assistant Professor in Arts Management at the College of Charleston. My research interests focus on constructivist museums, community outreach and engagement, curriculum design, and museum internship training programs. My dissertation research developed evidence-based literature on current practices within academic art museum internship programs by describing the programs from the perspective of museum administrators using a curriculum framework. It is titled: Internship Training Programs in Academic Art Museums in Relation to AAM Standards. My dissertation committee consisted of my professor directing the dissertation, Pat Villeneuve, along with Tom Anderson, Lisa Waxman, and Antonio Cuyler.

The components, intent, and practices of internship coordinators in AAM-accredited academic art museums were collected to develop evidence-based literature on the curriculum of internship programs using Van den Akker’s Spiderweb Model (2003) and AAM’s (1978) internship minimum standards as a model. The majority of museums are not meeting the AAM minimum standards but many are meeting or exceeding curriculum components. This study encourages the museum community to consider its own practices and re-evaluate the current minimum standards set forth by AAM.

Examining current practices in the field has revealed the need for self-evaluation and further development of socialization methods through formalization of internship program curriculum. Including evaluation methods will also provide the museum with evidence they can showcase to their host university and thereby reach their cited purpose: to increase their value, visibility, and perceived worth to the university while also expanding insight into their primary audience (students).”


Art Therapy Doctoral Graduate:

Sheila Lorenzo de la Pena

On June 29, 2015, Sheila Lorenzo de la Pena defended her dissertation, “Visual Expression and Resilience of Art Therapists.” Sheila’s major professor was Dr. David Gussak. Her other dissertation committee members included Dr. Marcia Rosal, Dr. Carolyn Henne, and Dr. Sara Scott Shields. Sheila earned a Doctorate in Art Education with a specialization in Art Therapy.

In reflection of her experience at Florida State University, Dr. Sheila Lorenzo de la Pena stated:

“There’s so much that goes into a dissertation that asking ‘how was it for you’ doesn’t begin to cut it. Nor will any answer suffice to accurately portray the challenges, hurdles, achievements, and sacrifices that are part of the experiences of doctoral studies. To put it simply, it is nothing short of a multi-year marathon requiring everything you’ve got (and often more).

Looking back, I had no idea of what I was signing up for. After years of being ‘out there’ in the cold and lonely world of ‘a real job’ I needed scholarly stimulation, and this (I was told)

Sheila Lorenzo de la Pena

Sheila Lorenzo de la Pena

was the way to get it. The interview committee must have believed I had the discipline and aptitude for it, which definitely put some fire behind my research interest (so much so, that it lasted throughout!).

As a fully employed, non-traditional PhD student I couldn’t take full advantage of being on campus and surrounded by my peers on most days. Nevertheless, the small class sizes were phenomenal, and provided that scholarly vibe I had been seeking. The seminar courses paved the foundation of the dissertation by pushing for new ways of thinking and understanding of the material.

My committee was wonderful, providing much needed feedback and constructive criticism; they helped shape my ideas into a full-fledged dissertation. Throughout every step of the way my committee chair, Dave Gussak, knew just what to say. Without missing a beat, he would cheerfully welcome my woeful tales, and see in them, and in me, something I couldn’t. Always, leaving his office inspired and full of direction.

While I still don’t have all the answers and certainly don’t know what the future holds, I know the top notch faculty and closeness of the Art Therapy program will be missed. In fact, I know I will be keeping tabs and reaching out to them for many years to come. You can’t ignore family.”

We also asked Dr. Sheila Lorenzo de la Pena what her plans are post-graduation:

“I plan to remain in my current role at the state hospital while I begin to search for and send out applications to other institutions. I plan to continue writing and blogging and am looking forward to much needed time with my visual journal, daily creative deeds, and mandalas.”