Dr. Shenita E. Williams wins VCU and SOE dissertation awards

School of Education alum will be recognized during commencement ceremonies this December.

Shenita Williams for VCU News article (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)
Dr. Shenita E. Williams (Tom Kosjcsich, University Marketing)

VCU School of Education alum Shenita E. Williams, Ph.D., is the recipient of both the VCU Distinguished Dissertation Award and the School of Education Distinguished Dissertation Award for the 2021-22 academic year.

This is the second year in a row that a School of Education alum has received the VCU award in the field of Social Sciences, Business and Education. Last year’s recipient, Portia Newman, also won both the VCU and SOE awards.

Williams’ dissertation was entitled “Supporting The Mental Health of Black Students: A Framework for Comprehensive School-Based Mental Health Systems.” She will be recognized during commencement ceremonies this December.

Williams’ research interests include examining how race, culture and class-related stressors impact the mental health of Black students.

Each year, the Graduate School at VCU recognizes outstanding doctoral dissertations in four broad academic fields. Each dissertation is reviewed by a faculty committee and is evaluated on the basis of methodology, substantive quality of the work, and significance to the discipline.

The SOE Distinguished Dissertation Award is presented each academic year to a Ph.D. in Education student who has exhibited excellence in their dissertation research and dissertation defense for that academic year. Faculty within the school nominate students from the various concentrations in the Ph.D. in Education program, and an award committee selects the recipient based on the substantive quality of their work and the significance to their discipline.

Williams, who is director of field education in the VCU School of Social Work (effective July 11), completed her Ph.D. in Education, Concentration in Educational Leadership, Policy and Justice this spring. Charol Shakeshaft, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, was her dissertation advisor.

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