Honoring Legacy and Inspiring Futures: CEHHS Holds Annual Dr. Melvene Draheim Hardee Hooding Ceremony

Melissa Powell

Hardee Hooding 2024 Graduates

On Friday, May 3, ahead of Florida State University’s Spring 2024 commencement ceremonies, the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences celebrated its master’s and doctoral graduates from the Higher Education program during the annual Dr. Melvene Draheim Hardee Hooding Ceremony.

The hooding ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate master’s and doctoral graduates and present them with a symbolic hood representing their academic discipline and accomplishments. 

Professor Christine Mokher introduced the program’s six doctoral graduates, each hooded by their doctoral advisor. The master’s program celebrated 16 graduates, introduced by Assistant Professor Annie Wofford and hooded by Associate Professor Tamara Bertrand Jones.

The event, hosted by the esteemed Hardee Center for Leadership and Ethics in Higher Education, also honors the enduring legacy of Dr. Hardee, a trailblazer in higher education. Hardee established FSU’s “LifeNet,” a support system of higher education graduates. Each of the 22 graduates honored at the hooding ceremony become members of the LifeNet.

LifeNet member and two-time graduate of Florida State University, Craig Stanley, delivered the keynote address. Stanley received his doctoral degree in higher education from CEHHS in 2014 and earned his Master of Social Work at FSU in 1997. He currently serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Special Projects in the Office of Faculty Development and Advancement at FSU.

During his address, Stanley reflected on his role in helping a standout student gain scholarships and admission to a graduate program earlier in his career. He acknowledged the impact of his mentors (many of whom tie back to Hardee directly), university values, and his experiences in FSU’s Higher Education program for shaping his ability to help students. 

Stanley encouraged the graduates to carry on Hardee's legacy in higher education. “While Dr. Hardee directly impacted hundreds of students at FSU, think of the thousands of students, including yourselves, that she has impacted through her strings that run through people like me and now through you, too,” Stanley said. “How will you embody the values and the vision that Dr. Hardee instilled in the field of higher education? How will that string run through you to continue that legacy and address what lies ahead? Welcome to that legacy; it is an exciting time.”

Stanley left the graduates with three pieces of advice:

  • “Be curious. Never stop learning, never stop asking questions, and never stop exploring new ideas. Higher education is a dynamic and diverse field, and you need to keep up with the latest trends and developments as well as historical and cultural contexts.”
  • “Be courageous. Never be afraid to challenge the status quo. Never be afraid to speak up for what is right, and never be afraid to take risks and try new things. Higher education is a field that needs innovation and change, and you need to be the agents and advocates of that change.”
  • “Be compassionate. Never forget the human element. Never forget the impact that you have on others. Never forget the responsibility that you have to serve the public good. Higher education is a field that impacts the lives and futures of millions of people, and you need to be the leaders and role models that they deserve.”

For Stanley’s full remarks and to hear from other notable speakers, view the live stream of the ceremony.

Doctoral Program Graduates:

  • Dr. Tory Elizabeth Dellafiora
  • Dr. Antonio Ruiz Ezquerro
  • Dr. Yang Li
  • Dr. Kiaira Denise McCoy
  • Dr. Daniel Sheets
  • Dr. Challen Simone Wellington (Sherrill W. Ragans Leadership & Service Award recipient)

Master’s Program Graduates:

  • Matthew R. Anderson
  • Joshua Burns (Peer Leadership Award Recipient)
  • Zachary Collins
  • Dary Felix
  • Dylan Marshall Fields
  • Ta’lia Alexia Gordon
  • Payton Noelle Krumholz
  • Anthony Kurza
  • Madison Lee Merrill (Dr. Barbara Mann Award recipient)
  • Savanna Perry
  • Sydney Yvonne Pickett (Sherrill W. Ragans Leadership & Service Award recipient)
  • Daniel Read
  • Corbin Hunter Ryder
  • Martin Saldana Jr.
  • Venus Jene Skowronski
  • Gabrielle McCune Ulate

The Higher Education program also honored Danielle Porter, assistant director of retention and engagement at FSU, with a Mentorship Award. Meanwhile, Laura Vaughn (Carrie G. Hall Scholarship) and Derrick Pacheco (Dr. Glenn Wayne Stillion Award) also received recognition.

Hardee Hooding 2024 Award winners holding plaques

FSU’s Higher Education graduate programs focus on three central pillars: student success, leadership, and social justice. The master’s degree program prepares individuals for careers in administration, management, and leadership. The Ph.D. program is designed for individuals interested in higher education research and/or policy analysis. To learn more, visit cehhs.fsu.edu/higher-education.