Espinosa named CEC’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student of the Year

Mathematics Potential Lab members present at national conference

Mizzou undergraduate research was highlighted at an international conference focused on helping children with disabilities – including taking home one of the highest awards.

Katie Espinoza with award
Senior Katie Espinosa received the CEC’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student of the Year Award.

Members of the Mathematics Potential Lab, led by Jessica Rodrigues, assistant professor in the Department of Special Education, attended the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) national conference in San Antonio, Texas in March. Senior Katie Espinosa received the CEC’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student of the Year Award, and four of her peers presented National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research.

“Katie’s CEC award is truly such a prestigious and competitive award,” said Rodrigues. “The award recognizes her dedication to supporting the success of young learners with disabilities, which she has demonstrated in several ways throughout her time at Mizzou: She serves as the President of the Mizzou chapter of Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC), she played a major role along with the full SCEC Executive Board in running the 2023 and 2024 SCEC Research-to-Practice Conference which brings together researchers and local K-12 educators in Missouri, and she contributed to special education research in Dr. Chad Rose’s Bully Prevention Lab.”

More information on the Mathematics Potential Lab

The four undergrads in the Mathematics Potential Lab presented posters focused on knowledge mobilization, or dissemination, of mathematics intervention research for supporting K-12 students with disabilities. Their attendance at the conference was made possible through generous support from the Cinelli Family Foundation. The undergraduate researchers include:

  • Szymon Ślusarz-Kowalczyk, first-year undergraduate student studying Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Taylor Geneux, second-year Mizzou undergraduate student studying Environmental Science and Sustainability in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
  • Emma Ellison, second-year undergraduate student at Mizzou studying Sociology
  • Rhiannon Sicht, third-year undergraduate student in Mizzou’s College of Health Science studying health science with an emphasis in leadership and policy

Also attending the conference were Executive Board members of the Mizzou chapter of Student CEC, including:

  • Katie Espinosa, SCEC President, senior in Special Education 
  • Ella Castro, SCEC Vice President, junior in Special Education
  • Lanie Derhake, SCEC Secretaryjunior in Special Education
  • Erin Johlie, SCEC Treasurer, senior in Special Education
  • Kelsey Cockrum, SCEC PR Rep/Social Media, junior in Special Education
Five students pose for a photo
Entire MU SCEC Executive Board at the conference, left to right: Kelsey Cockrum, Lanie Derhake, Katie Espinosa, Erin Johlie and Ella Castro