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Education doctoral student earns honors

November 20, 2007

Daniel Gulchak has been named the Outstanding Graduate Student Member of the Year by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the largest and most prestigious professional organization in special education.

Gulchak is a doctoral student studying special education in the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education who expects to graduate next year. His research focus is children with emotional and behavioral disorders. He believes all special educators should be involved in CEC for their own professional development and to stay current with changes that affect students and educators.

Samuel DiGangi, an associate vice president with the University Technology Office and an associate professor of curriculum and instruction with the Fulton College, nominated Gulchak for the award and lauded him for his CEC work, emphasizing Gulchak’s passion for the field of special education.

“Before getting his teaching degree, Daniel had already found his calling working with individuals with exceptionalities,” DiGangi says. “He worked in a group home for individuals with mild disabilities, taught independent living skills to adults with disabilities connecting them with services and additional community support, and was a coordinator at a vocational training workshop helping clients engage in meaningful employment in their community.”

Gulchak worked as a special education teacher in a low-income minority community in southern Phoenix with children with severe retardation, multiple disabilities, autism, physical disabilities and a variety of health impairments. He took his students to local events, parks and zoos, and Super Special Olympics.

He also worked with middle school and high school students with emotional and behavior disorders (EBD) in an alternative school program, and moved the program onto a general education campus to allow inclusion of his students in the public school environment.

Jane Legacy, a clinical associate professor of psychology in education with the Fulton College, says Gulchak’s energy and enthusiasm are evident in his classes at ASU, and his numerous hours of community work has exceeded his curricular requirements.

“It is a professor’s dream to work with a student that has such passion for teaching and learning for exceptional children,” she says. “Dan has fulfilled this dream for me. He is truly a gift to ASU and all those students whose lives he has already touched. He has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the needs of exceptional children and has dedicated meaningful ‘real world’ teaching to his students throughout his graduate program.”

CEC is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities and gifted students. CEC emphasizes appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides continual professional development, serves as an advocate for newly and historically underserved individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice.

“I feel this award recognizes my commitment to advocating for children and for our profession,” Gulchak says. “The late Dr. Robert Rutherford and Dr. Jim Middleton are both role models for me. They emphasized the importance of service and membership in professional organizations in our field of education.”

Verina Palmer Martin,
(480) 965-4911
Mary Lou Fulton College of Education