Class Notes, Spring-Summer 2011



Andrea Esguerra (MA), has accepted a position as registrar at Everest College in las Vegas, Nevada.

Anton Yanagisawa (MA) wrote a research paper titled “Poverty: Social Control over our labor force.” It will appear in the next volume of the International Journal of Social Economics, volume 38, issue 4, march 2011.

Jaya Bhumitra (MA) was awarded a fellowship with the prestigious New leaders Council Institute (NlC). The NlC Institute is a leading progressive leadership academy in the U.S. Through a rigorous, five-month political entrepreneurship program, fellows acquire acumen in entrepreneurship, advocacy, team-building, and other change-maker skills. NlC seeks out the best and the brightest of emerging progressive leaders.

Scott Mortensen (MA) brought his Participative Action Research project to life and raised $7,000 for the community of Pandytown, honduras, in to help them on their journey to- wards more economic prosperity. You can read more about his action research on Center for Collaborative action Research: cadres.pepperdine. edu/ccar/


Jen Notas (MA ) adapted the classic O. Henry story “Gift of the Magi” for the Hallmark Channel. The program aired in December.


Matt Keener (MA ’04, PsyD ’08) has been elected Navy Junior Psychologist of the Year by the Navy Clinical Psychology Executive Committee. He is division officer at the Marine Corps recruit depot in San Diego, California.

Haley Campbell Figueroa (MA ) has been teaching the Love and Logic parenting class for parents and guardians of children of all ages through the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, California, where she has worked since 2006.

Dr. Larry R. Hygh, Jr. (EdD), assumed the position of director of mission communications at the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries on September 13, 2010. He has been the communications director of the California-Pacific Annual Conference since 2002, having earlier worked with the Mississippi and Baltimore- Washington Conference. He also has extensive involvement in civic life. He was an intern at the House of Representatives and the White House in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Leadership Pasadena and Leadership Southern California, and a member of the Black Journalists of Southern California.


Robert Martellacci (MA ), president of MindShare Learning, a leading provider of educational technology strategy consulting, developed a partnership with San Diego-based Tech4Learning Inc., to win a bid to provide 21st-century skillbased creativity software to all public elementary schools in Ontario, Canada. These tools will help students build skills as they develop podcasts, online storybooks, videos, and Flash animations.


Lizabeth Fogel (MA ’94, MA ’99, EdD ’06), director of education at Disney, developed a collaboration between the Walt Disney Studios and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to cocreate a highly interactive exhibit at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in October. The hands-on experience blended themes from the motion picture TRON: Legacy with the NAE’s Grand Challenges for Engineering.


David Silverberg (MS ’96, EdD ’05) was nominated for Ashland University’s highest teaching honor, the Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award. Silverberg is associate professor in the department of curriculum and instruction at the Dwight Schar College of Education at Ashland University in Ohio.

Ilene Weingarten (MA ) presented a course at the Skirball Center, “Raising Financially Responsible Children,” in January. Ilene is a licensed psychotherapist and consultant in private practice in Santa Monica, California. She has a particular interest in the emotional dimensions of money and wealth and its impact on business and interpersonal dynamics, and is a workshop presenter and facilitator on various topics related to money psychology. She did post-graduate training at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, earning a certificate in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and has earned a certificate in mediation from the Center for Dispute Resolution. Ilene is an active member of the Family Firm Institute and a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).


KimMarie Cortez-Riggio (MA) published an article titled “The Green footprint Project: how middle School Students Inspired Their Community and Raised Their Self-Worth” in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) publication, English Journal, January 2011. For details about the article visit Cortez-Riggio is a third-year doctoral student at Hofstra University. Her dissertation will focus on the impact of digital literacies and popular culture on identity formation in pre-adolescents and pedagogy of the 21st century.


Richelle Lyon (MA ) and Julie Rees (MA ’10) have formed a business called Los Angeles Legal Strategy offering services such as jury selection, mock trials, and focus groups. Their blog can be found at:


Brenda Mosley (MA) is currently doing social work in Atlanta, Georgia. She plans to do some graduate work online via USC.


Marilyn Wright (PsyD) recently presented at a church conference in the Bay Area wherein she addressed her interfaith work and serving others.


Monica Rivera Mindt (MA) was recently awarded the APA Early Career Award for District 40. The award recognizes “member psychologists not more than 10 years postdoctoral degree, who have made a distinguished contribution to neuropsychology in research, scholarship, and/or clinical work.” Dr. Rivera Mindt earned her PhD at the University of Nebraska and is now associate professor of psychology at Fordham University. She is GSEP’s Distinguished Alumnus for Psychology for 2008.


Dr. Janice Collins (MA ’85, MS ‘89), received her EdD in educational leadership in 2009 from Azusa Pacific University. She currently serves as project director, U.S. Department of Education Smaller Learning Commuties (SLC) Grant Program and SLC specialist in the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and School Support at the Los Angeles Unified School District.


Dennis Palumbo (MA), was a guest on PBS’ Between the Lines author interview show to discuss his book Writing from the Inside Out and how to go about breaking through creative barriers. He cowrote the critically acclaimed, Oscar -nominated film, My Favorite Year and just published his first mystery novel Mirror Image through Poisoned Pen Press. It’s the first in a series featuring psychologist Daniel Rinaldi, a trauma expert who consults with the Pittsburgh Police. Mirror Image is available in hardcover, trade paperback, and as an audio book.


Doctoral student, Mari Lansford, (EDOL) received the first-ever Orange County Alumni Chapter Waves of Service Scholarship, an honor that she shared with two other students from the Irvine Graduate Campus. Mari’s extensive service involvement includes: loan review team leader Kiva—managing a team of editors who evaluate loan applications from small business owners in developing countries; volunteer editor, Kiva—editing microfinance loan applications from small business owners seeking capital to improve their professional prospects and their abilities to provide for their families; and service committee, MOMS Club of Monrovia—developing and implementing various service and fundraising projects for community organizations. The award was presented at the chapter’s “Freely Give for the Holidays” in December.

Michele Bowers, doctoral candidate (ELA P) was nominated by GSEP faculty for the Clark Seminar and she was selected and invited to participate. Michele travels to New Orleans, Louisiana, in conjunction with the 2011 AERA conference in April, to participate in this national seminar.

Hiking with Heart was founded by Jennifer MacDonell, a student in the MA in Clinical Psychology with MF T Emphasis program. Hiking with Heart inspires the cultivation of a healthy mind, body, and spirit through the combined experience of hiking and meditation. To find out more visit

Dalys Stewart, doctoral student (ELAP) in Cohort 8, was assigned as principal at Morris K. Hamasaki Elementary School in East Los Angeles. She was previously serving in the role of a district literacy coach.

Ronald Buenaventura, (ELA P) Cohort 7, will present at the Filipino Intercollegiate Network in Dialogue (FIND) Conference at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. His presentation is titled: “Uncovering a Pinoy Legend: The Legacy of Larry Itliong.” In this workshop students will be taken to an era when Filipino American labor leaders led the Grape Strike of 1965, the lessons that were learned, and the conditions that Filipino Americans faced. Ronald was also invited by the Carson City Counsel to chair the ad-hoc committee for Filipino American History Month.

In Memoriam

GSEP alumnus Floyd James McGarity (MA ’93) passed away in November. In addition to his degree in psychology, James was a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute. He loved the fine arts and painted every day until his death. He is remembered by his many friends as a kind and generous gentleman.

Alumna Gloria Mae Cook Sandwith (nee Devnich) (MA ’89) passed away in December. Gloria worked professionally as a dental hygienist in Huntington Beach, California, while she completed her master’s degree in psychology at Pepperdine University. A native of Canada, she relocated with her two daughters to Calgary in 1990 where she eventually met her husband David, whom she married in 1997. In addition to working as a well-respected dental hygienist until her retirement in 2009, Gloria was also a counseling psychologist, her clients benefiting from her knowledge and passion as a therapist. She was a long-standing member of Women in Psychology Calgary. She is survived by her husband, two daughters, and grandchildren.

Alumnus Rev. Kong Chhean (MA ’86), the well-known and beloved head monk at the Khemara Buddhikarama Temple, died at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in January after battling a series of ailments. Born in Cambodia in 1945, Kong was ordained as a novice monk at 12 years of age. He studied Buddhism and philosophy at Banaras Hindu University in India and received his doctorate in 1975. Unable to return to his native country because of the Khmer Rouge, Kong came to the United States in 1979 and set up his first temple in California in an apartment on Clarkdale Avenue in Hawaiian Gardens and his second in a home in Lakewood. As more Cambodian refugees arrived in the U.S., he began holding religious services at El Dorado Park. In addition to leading his congregation, he had a strong interest in mental health and worked with the Los Angeles County Mental Health Department to treat Cambodian refugees suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He earned a master’s degree in psychology at Pepperdine University in 1986 and a doctorate in clinical psychology in 1989. Among those who paid their respects at his memorial was assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, who knew Kong for two decades and helped him tackle issues in the Cambodian community during her time on the Long Beach City Council. Of Kong’s ministry she said “He took them into the temple. He helped them with community service. He turned their lives around.”

Former associate dean of education Terence (Terry) Ronald Cannings died peacefully with his family around him on Friday, August 13, 2010. A native of Australia, Terry was an inspirational leader, whose early life was shaped by his parents who were Salvation Army officers. He grew up playing in the Salvation Army Band with his dad as bandmaster. His childhood education was in a one-room schoolhouse, where his potential was encouraged by a favorite teacher. Terry was motivated by his desire to learn what was beyond his schoolhouse, beyond his small town, and beyond Australia.
As an 18-year-old, Terry began his teaching career at Epping West Public School. He later became a grade supervisor, and by 1970, earned his BA from the University of New England, NSW, Australia. He continued his studies at the University of Sydney to earn his master of education in 1974. Terry, always seeking ways to realize his dream of traveling, was granted a coveted Churchill fellowship in 1974. His publication, “Jack and Jill out of the Box,” resulted from his study tour through which he learned that “the object of teaching is not so much to convey knowledge as it is to excite determination in the child to acquire it for himself and to teach him how to go about acquiring it.” This philosophy guided him throughout his career.
In 1977 Terry was awarded a Study Leave Scholarship for long-term study abroad which enabled him to attend UCLA. He received his EdD from UCLA in 1980. His dissertation A Longitudinal Study of Educational Change resulted from work on a project funded by the Chancellor’s Research Scholarship. The California State Department of Education subsequently adopted much of his research. A scholar with an exceptional mind, Terry was awarded the UCLA Bronze Medallion and named outstanding Student of the Year.
Pepperdine GSEP Dean Emeritus, Oly Tegner, learned of Terry through a friend and set up an interview. Terry was hired as an associate professor of education at Pepperdine GSEP in 1981 and became full professor in 1986. In 1993 he became associate dean of the GSEP. During his nine years as associate dean he reviewed and revised all GSEP programs and began a national and international online master’s and doctoral program.
In 2002 Terry joined Azusa Pacific University as dean of education and behavioral studies. Under his leadership, program offerings at Azusa were enhanced. In time he sought a new leadership challenge at California Lutheran University (ClU) in Thousand Oaks, California, as dean of the School of Education in 2005. He established an international component to the doctoral program at CLU and took doctoral students on field studies in England and Australia. “For the short time he was at CLU, he had a huge impact,” said Charles Weis, former superintendent of schools for Ventura County, who joined one of the trips. Terry retired from CLU in May, 2008, celebrating 46 years as an educator.
Terry had a great capacity to motivate people to strive for worthwhile goals. He was known and beloved for his sense of humor and constant support and encouragement of those around him. He believed that his greatest accomplishments were in creating a culture of empowerment and collaboration. This dedication to task and the desire to bring people along with him lasted throughout his career. What he achieved had impact well beyond Pepperdine, Azusa Pacific, and California Lutheran Universities. Just ask his many students and colleagues. Terry Canning’s legacy endures.

Former associate dean of education Dr. Chester “Chet” McCall passed away peacefully on Thursday, March 3, 2011. McCall received his graduate degree in statistics at The George Washington University and went on to consult for the military and aerospace industry for 13 years. He decided to shift gears and consult in the education, emergency health care, and urban transportation industries, working with the Federal Transportation Department in Boston.
While consulting in Los Angeles, Chet saw an ad for a one-day session at the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) in institutional management. Unable to attend the information meeting, he sent a letter to then program director, Dr. Terence Cannings, expressing interest in enrolling in the program. To Chet’s surprise, Cannings called his home requesting not an application, but a copy of his resume. Chet joined Pepperdine University in 1982 and went on to become the first director of the organizational leadership program, a position he held for 13 years. As professor of education, he taught courses in data analysis, research methods, and a comprehensive exam seminar. Chet retired from Pepperdine in 2008.
During his more than two decades on the GSEP faculty, Chet taught and advised hundreds of graduate and doctoral students who today are fulfilling their dream as practitioners and professionals in leadership careers. The Chester H. McCall Endowed Fellowship was established by the GSEP in 2006; and eight students have since received funding in Chet’s name to continue their doctoral studies.

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