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UT Project GRAD Administration and Staff

Dorian L. McCoy – Co-Director

Dorian L. McCoy is an Associate Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  He serves as coordinator for the College Student Personnel program and co-directs the UTK-Project GRAD Summer Institute.

Dorian teaches Introduction to Student Affairs Administration, Multiculturalism in Higher Education, Introduction to Qualitative Research, and coordinates the practicum experience.  He received his PhD in Educational Leadership and Research from Louisiana State University, has a Master’s of Education (Higher Education – College Student Personnel) from the University of Arkansas and a Bachelor of Business Administration – Management from Henderson State University.  Dorian has 10 years of administrative experience, having worked in student life/affairs and human resource management at the University of Florida and Louisiana State University.  Prior to joining the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, he was a G. W. Henderson Post-Doctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont.

Dorian’s research focuses on People’s of Color experiences in higher education. More specifically, his research explores the socialization and transitional experiences of faculty, administrators, and graduate students from historically underrepresented groups and issues of access to higher education.  His research is typically framed in critical race theory or social reproduction theory.  He is currently collaborating on a study that explores how students acquire/develop aspirational capital and their pursuit of graduate/professional degrees.

Shawn Spurgeon – Co-Director

Shawn L. Spurgeon is an Associate Professor of Counselor Education at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, currently serving as Coordinator of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.  He received his Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education in 2002 from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  He has published articles on African American male development and Professor Counselor identity development and has presented at several national and regional conferences on these subjects.  He served as the faculty advisor for the Upsilon Theta chapter of Chi Sigma Iota for 9 years.

Shawn was a member of the American Counseling Association’s 2014 Ethics Revision Task Force and served as Chair of the ACA Ethics committee for 4 years.  He is a Past-President of the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC) and the Southern Association of Counselor Educators and Supervisors (SACES).  He is the inaugural recipient of the Cortland C. Lee Multicultural Excellence Scholarship Award.  Currently, he serves as a Board Member for the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Shawn has previously worked as a mental health counselor in a family services agency, a private practice, and a community mental health center.  His work has included couples, families, and adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems.  He is currently licensed as a Professional Counselor (LPC) in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Shanna E. Smith – Administrative Coordinator

Shanna E. Smith earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The University of Tennessee at Martin, and her Master of Science in Psychology from The University of Memphis. Shanna is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pellissippi State Community College, and is a PhD Candidate at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the Higher Education Administration Program in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Prior to her work in higher education, Shanna spent over seven years working with at-risk children and families in the Memphis City School System, and Knox County and ten surrounding counties, within the fields of education and mental health.

Shanna’s research focuses on Students’ of Color access, retention, engagement, and experiences in higher education. Her responsibilities for the Project GRAD Summer Institute include organizing and coordinating the Summer Institute, recruiting and training Pre-College Mentors (PCMs), collaborating with community service organizations, coordinating on-campus housing for Project GRAD scholars; and serving as a liaison between the PCMs and the Project GRAD Administrative Team.

Pre-College Mentors (PCMs)

The Pre-College mentors (PCMs) are full-time, live-in mentors with the Project GRAD scholars during the Summer Institute. The PCMs work as a team during the two one-week sessions to provide much of the “backbone” to the Summer Institute. Their responsibilities include providing constant support to the scholars, facilitating various events and programs, mentoring the scholars through their work, responding to any crisis situations that arise, and providing assistance to the scholars after regular hours, as well as many other tasks that arise. The PCMs are a diverse group of students who range from sophomore to senior undergraduates.

Team Leaders (TLs)

Team Leaders are Project GRAD-Knoxville (PGK) staff comprised of academic advocates, campus managers, college support coaches, and college access coordinators who are housed in the participants’ high schools. Team Leaders are current PGK staff members.

The Team Leaders’ work reflects the maturity and expertise needed to train the next generation of college-aged leaders and to energize and inspire Summer Institute participants. The spirit brought into the work environment is one of collaboration, acknowledging the long, rich history between the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Project GRAD-Knoxville in providing excellent pre-college experiences. We collectively embrace the mantra, “It’s all about the kids.”


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