2023 Doris Prince Scholars in Their Own Words

by | Nov 3, 2023 | Awards and Achievements, Featured

This fall, the Doris Prince Foundation awarded scholarships of $15,000 each to six graduate students earning master’s in education and/or doctorates in educational leadership degrees at San José State University’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education. The foundation, established in memory of longtime Bay Area educator Doris Prince, ’54 MA Social Science, annually recognizes school leaders in the region.

According to the foundation, Prince was the first woman to be appointed district officer in Santa Clara County, where she founded monthly women leadership seminars for aspiring principals, superintendents and other school leaders. Prince also taught abroad in Japan and Germany, valued community work, and was recognized for her leadership skills and vision. Her endowment honors her commitment to women as leaders. The scholarship supports women education leaders who are currently enrolled in SJSU master’s and doctoral programs in educational leadership, said Ferdinand Rivera, interim director of San José State’s educational leadership doctoral program and professor of mathematics and statistics. 

“We need to support our women education leaders,” Rivera added. “Our SJSU EdD Program, which started in 2014, is home to 162 pre-kindergarten through grade 12, community college, and higher ed leaders. About 68% of this total are women leaders, and every admitted new student cohort has more female than male leaders. What they all have in common is their deep commitment toward addressing inequitable outcomes in their respective contexts in order to increase the life chances of all individuals they serve, especially those that come from minoritized groups. What I like about the Doris Prince Scholarship is its intentional celebration of their presence in our SJSU EdD community and especially their important role in transforming our communities with their justice-driven research initiatives.” 

Learn more about 2023 recipients Jen Daby, Jannet Galicia Castreejon, Amanda Lubbs, Kelly Marquez, Preeti Jha and Abigail Smurr in their own words

Jen Daby, ’25 EdD

Jen Daby

2023 Doris Prince scholarship recipient Jen Daby.

Receiving a Doris Prince scholarship means that I am being recognized as a woman leader for the impact that I have had and continue to have on my students and communities at home and abroad. My contributions as an educational leader are being acknowledged, honored, and appreciated. Receiving this award also is a reflection of my own epistemology and emphasizes why I do this work: to empower others and create positive change.

My time at SJSU has helped me as an educator by providing skills and tools that I can apply in my practice and has inspired me to constantly reflect on my practice to improve my role as an educational leader in the classroom and beyond.

 I wish people knew how much I truly care about the communities I serve and work alongside and how much these communities have given me a sense of belonging that I longed for most of my life. My students have taught me so many lessons. They have taught me to be resilient and continue fighting regardless of the challenges or obstacles that lie ahead. They have also taught me the meaning of belonging to a community and creating genuine connections with each other to create collective change.

The main message that I would like to share with members of the SJSU community is that education extends far beyond the walls of the classroom. Education exists in all aspects of our life and influences the way we make sense of our worlds and those around us. More than anything, though, it is the connections we make, the relationships we foster, and our connections to community that transform education and create long-lasting change.

Jannet Galicia Castrejon, ’23 EdD

Jannet Galicia Castrejon

Jannet Galicia Castrejon

I’m honored to be a recipient of this award and hope to honor Doris Prince’s memory through my work as an educational leader on the East Side of San José. This award will allow me to continue to examine and challenge the inequities in our current educational systems. I am more passionate than ever to continue on my doctoral journey. 

I am so appreciative of my time at SJSU because I’ve been able to learn from so many passionate professors and leaders who are actually familiar with the community I serve. This makes learning practical and relevant to my everyday work.

There has been a lot of progress in education. Sometimes we get stuck in thinking only about the areas of growth or the achievement gap, but there is so much great work happening in schools and classrooms. While there is still a lot of work left to do, I am grateful that students today are afforded more opportunities to express themselves in ways that are authentic to themselves. 

My students have taught me the importance of authenticity. We all need community. Take the time to connect with others who share the same passions, and you’ll find that your experience here at SJSU will feel much more meaningful and purposeful.  

Amanda Lubbs, ’00 Teaching Credential, ’26 EdD

Amanda Lubbs

Amanda Lubbs

Receiving a Doris Prince scholarship means I can continue with my cohort. Receiving this scholarship allows me to continue my doctorate pursuit at San José State. Without this support, I was considering a pause in my program. More broadly, it refills my spirit as I juggle career, learning, researching and parenting. It is an encouragement that my research is needed. It is an honor to be recognized as a leader among my colleagues in educational leadership. It is humbling to be trusted with the support to continue my education. It is an example to my own two children and to my 120 current eighth grade students that learning is a lifelong pursuit. 

My career as a California educator began in San José. I grew up here and graduated from San José High. After attending undergraduate school in the midwest, I returned to San José State to earn my California teaching credential through the Lurie College of Education. 

From those foundation courses, I learned the importance of asset-focused teaching. I was introduced to project based lessons and cross-curricular unit planning. I developed an awareness of cultural attributes that enrich student experiences. After more than 20 years in education, I return to my doctoral classes at SJSU encouraged by continuing research that supports those habits and norms I have built into my classrooms. SJSU continues to help me celebrate the things my students can teach me and challenge the systems that have told them their stories were not worth sharing.  

The work I do is hard, and it fills my soul. I leave school every day exhausted but satisfied. The research work I do is driven by making every day with my students even more satisfying. Math is a subject that sparks emotions in all of us. Just reading the word “math” makes some of you laugh, some of you cry, and most of you panic. My work is inspired by those emotions. I want to understand those responses and challenge the foundations that created them. If we can rebuild math education in a way that incorporates research from the fields of neuroscience, ethnic studies, gender studies, data analysis and educational theories, we can help mitigate math anxiety.  

My students teach me that there is so much more out there beyond what I know or have experienced. Their patience, humor, strength, perseverance, kindness, curiosity and respect  remind me daily that I can learn from them just as much as I’d like them to learn from me.  

The strength of the SJSU community is its diversity. It is a gift that teaches us compassion and patience. By celebrating what each community member can bring to the discussion, our classes and decisions can be enriched in ways that assure supportive outcomes for all members.  

Preeti Jha, ’26 EdD

Preeti Jha

Preeti Jha

I have been an educator for more than two decades and am currently working as an elementary teacher overseeing a diverse classroom of fourth and fifth graders. My purpose and mission is to provide a rich learning environment based upon the belief that when provided equitable opportunities, children can reach their personal and academic potential with equal opportunity and access regardless of any racial, socioeconomic or ethnic biases. With these core values and the awareness I have gained as an emancipatory leader, I plan to stay focused on essential and critical questions, such as: What needs to be emancipated in education to ensure greater equity? How do we see that in action? Where are the opportunities to advance educational equity?

I look forward to exemplifying the essence of true education by embracing diversity, inclusion and equity and by providing educational foundation through freedom, motivation and making choices. With my continued work in education, I intend to foster the development of global citizens aiming at creating a peaceful world. I seek knowledge and encourage open dialogue using cultural wealth and experiential stories, and hope to create transformational experiences for students to prepare each one to be forces of humanitarian change. 

My positionality is deeply and closely rooted in my cultural heritage and traditions that bring together the three aspects: the mind, body and spirit, to bring significant contributions and change. In this journey as I look inward and evolve, I want to recognize others for their strengths and to be empowered with resilience, compassion, and love. My vision is to forge what I want for myself and I want for everyone in the world.

Kelly Marquez, ’24 MA Educational Leadership

Kelly Marquez

Kelly Marquez

Receiving the Doris Prince Scholarship has given me the opportunity to pursue my master’s wholeheartedly and without limits, giving me the motivation and enthusiasm to continue pursuing my dreams and be fully invested in my academics and research.

SJSU has helped me deepen and expand my practice by re-imagining the educational landscape for the academic, social and emotional success of all learners through dialogue-rich classes centered on equity and inclusion with incredible professors and a supportive cohort — all of which have breathed new life to my calling as an educational leader.

I wish people knew why I do the work that I do. I do this work because everyone remembers having the one teacher who believed in them and saw their potential. I always ask myself, ‘Why can’t we have more teachers like that in our schools?’ This is what inspires me to lead.

My students have taught me that my professional growth is a direct investment in their future because when I grow, they grow. This fuels my desire to continue unlocking my educational potential to the next level.

Goals and dreams are worth fighting for. If you feel passionate about something, follow your heart because dreams do come true. We just have to stay the course to see them come to fruition.

Abigail Smurr, ’25 EdD

Abigail Smurr

Abigail Smurr

I am deeply honored to carry on Doris Prince’s legacy of being a woman in leadership. I commute from Fresno to SJSU for school and hope to share all the resources and knowledge I am gaining in the E.d.D. program with my students as well as to bridge networking from San José and the Central Valley.

Being a doctoral student at SJSU has broadened my perspectives and immersed me with a strong, professional community of practice to critically think about all the aspects of education. I have appreciated the diversity of my teacher’s pedagogies, the opportunity to hear my colleagues’ stories, and exposure to new concepts to bring to my district in Fresno.

I wish people knew teaching often can be isolating and lonely, but my students have taught me to be my authentic self. They show me new ways to engage others and build a classroom that can honor all humans.

I want to share my deepest gratitude for the opportunity to receive this scholarship. My goal is to continuously network with others because education is a collective movement where all stakeholders need equity of voice. 

Learn more about the doctorate program in educational leadership at SJSU.