Success Stories

Student awarded grad fellowship

Cynthia Luxford

When Cynthia Luxford first began taking classes at Grand Valley, she was still in high school and wanted to pursue her passion of high school education. Six years later, she's still passionate about education. Luxford is working towards her Ph.D. in Chemical Education and has been recently awarded a doctoral fellowship that will help her through her five-year program.

Luxford was one of seven students awarded the fellowship at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The Chemistry Education Research Doctoral Fellowship will waive her tuition and provide a stipend, a laptop computer, medical insurance, and travel expenses to two national conferences per year.   

“I never thought I would be working towards a Ph.D. I realized that even if you think that you have your life plans figured out, you should explore other areas within your passions. If I would have shot down my opportunity for graduate school, I may have never realized my passion not only lies with teaching, but also with researching ways to understand how students learn,” she said.  

Luxford began conducting research at Grand Valley the summer after her freshmen year in 2004. She assisted at Dr. Dalia Kovacs’ lab and worked on organic chemistry research projects. She even had the opportunity to present their findings at the National American Chemical Society (ACS) Conference in San Diego. “I really liked being able to add my own insight and ideas to our research project,” said Luxford. She then joined the Target Inquiry research group, which allows teachers to conduct research in a specific area of chemistry, and presented her research findings at the 2007 National ACS Conference.

Once she began her student teaching as part of the secondary education requirement, Luxford left the Target Inquiry research group. But the group found its way back to her -- her student teaching mentor was part of the program, so she was able to use the new materials and information that they had researched and designed throughout her teaching experience.
Luxford was introduced to the doctorate program at Miami University by her research mentors. Within four months, Luxford was, and currently is, working alongside Dr. Lowery Bretz at the university conducting research in chemical education. 

by Leah Burns

This story was filed with the tags: Academic Excellence, Fellowships, Top Graduate School