Graduate Student Activities
Graduate Student Activities
Graduate Student Representatives

Stephanie Sowl
Senior Graduate Student Representative, 2020-2021
Iowa State University
Stephanie Sowl is a PhD candidate and research assistant in Higher Education at Iowa State University. Her research interests explore college trajectories of first-generation, working-class rural students by examining the roles of space, communities, and higher education institutions in supporting, recruiting and engaging this population. Prior to her doctoral studies, Stephanie worked at Arizona State University in higher education administration and research. She received a master’s degree in higher education from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and accounting from Blackburn College.

Selyna Perez Beverly
Junior Graduate Student Representative, 2020-2021
University of Michigan
Selyna Perez Beverly is a Ph.D. Candidate in Higher Education with a concentration in Academic Affairs and Student Development in the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is also pursuing a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. Her research interests include race and gender inequity in STEM, effects of instructors and peers on underrepresented populations in STEM, masculinity in engineering culture, and feminist research methodologies. Selyna has a Masters Degree from Michigan State University and a Bachelors degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Taylor Hallmark
Member-at-Large, 2020-2021
Penn State University
The Ohio State University
Tyler Hallmark is a Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Studies at The Ohio State University with a specialization in Higher Education and Student Affairs. In addition to his Doctoral coursework, Tyler is pursuing a graduate interdisciplinary specialization in Demography. His research focuses on three strands of scholarship: (1) critical and intersectional perspectives on social class; (2) the role of place, space, and social origin in higher education, and; (3) the cultivation of inclusive organizational cultures. Before attending OSU, Tyler earned his Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his Bachelors degree from the University of Colorado.

Ali Watts
Social Media Chair, 2020-2021
Penn State University
Ali Watts is a fourth year PhD candidate and research assistant with the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Penn State University. In addition to her doctoral coursework, she is also pursuing an interdisciplinary minor in Social Thought, with a focus on critical theory, social stratification, and philosophies of race. Prior to coming to Penn State, Ali worked for over a decade in K-12 and higher education administration. Her current research interests focus on racial equity, critical whiteness studies, and qualitative research ethics. She holds masters degrees in higher education administration (Boston University) and rhetoric/literature (University of Georgia). 

Samantha Silberstein
Ex-Officio Graduate Representative, 2020-2021

Indiana University
Samantha Silberstein is a doctoral student at Indiana University in the Higher Education Administration program and a project associate for the National Institute for Transformation and Equity (NITE) the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Her research focuses on critical whiteness and institutional approaches to creating inclusive environments. Samantha earned her M.Ed. in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership at William & Mary. Prior to pursuing her M.Ed., Samantha served as a program coordinator for the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program at Northeastern University.

If you are a registered Division J student and supplied your email address to AERA, you will receive informative emails through our e-mail list ( If you are not registered but would like to receive these emails, please email

Graduate Student Travel Fund 2020

Check here for information on AERA 2021 Virtual Conference and funding support.


#DivJChat is an initiative meant to foster conversation about a hot-topic in higher education amongst the Division J community. #DivJChat leverages Twitter’s open and engaging platform and insights from renowned scholars who are invited as guest facilitators to provide access and visibility to important conversations that are influencing higher education. 

We will host two #DivJChat Twitter chats this fall. In September, the discussion will be on “Surviving and Thriving during COVID” and in November, “Experiences of a Postdoc Appointment.” More information on both of these topics will be shared on Twitter and Slack as we get closer to those dates.

Have an idea for #DivJChat? Share it with us!

Apply to be a DivJ Graduate Representative

Stay tuned for our call for new graduate representatives for 2021! 

Want to volunteer in the meantime? If you’re looking for ways to get engaged with DivJ Grad Council (and a line on your CV, of course), please consider filling out our Volunteer Form. We’d love to add your expertise to our team!

Virtual Writing Sessions

Since April, the DivJ Grad Reps have been holding weekly virtual writing sessions. We originally started these groups as a quick way for grad students to connect despite the cancellation of the 2020 AERA Annual Meeting, but they have turned into a sustained and supportive scholarly community made up of grad students from all over the United States and Canada. 

We are excited to be extending these sessions into the Fall 2020 semester! We will be hosting weekly sessions on Wednesdays from 7-10pm Eastern time (September 9 - December 2). You are welcome to drop by at any time and stay as long (or as short) as you’d like! Email for the Zoom link.

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