Mercer’s Inaugural Cohort of Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellows Announced at State Capitol


ATLANTA – Gov. Nathan Deal and Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, at the State Capitol on Wednesday announced Georgia's second class of Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellows, including 12 who will study at Mercer University.

Sixty individuals were selected to receive Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships in Georgia during the 2016-2017 academic year. The highly competitive fellowship program is offered at Mercer, Columbus State University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University and Piedmont College.

“The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship is about putting well-trained, committed educators in not only the fields of highest demand in our technology-driven age, but in the schools of highest need here in Georgia,” said Deal. “STEM education plays a critical role in our state's competitiveness and future economic prosperity and the most important thing we can do for our students in this field is ensure they have effective teachers. This opportunity for teachers is leading to a brighter future for students as they prepare for the 21st century workforce.”

“Under Gov. Deal's leadership, Georgia has demonstrated a strong commitment to identifying, recruiting and preparing top candidates for STEM teaching careers throughout the state,” said Levine. “Across the nation, we hear of struggles to get exemplary teachers, particularly those who teach subjects like science and math, to serve in high-need schools. Through the hard work of the governor, the legislature, partner universities and local school districts, we are working together to ensure Georgia's urban and rural communities have the strong teachers our children need to learn and succeed in the 21st century. Together, we are committed to meeting the staffing needs of Georgia's high-need schools.”

Among this class is Mercer's inaugural cohort of Fellows, recent graduates or career changers with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math who will be prepared to teach in high-need secondary schools. They include Wesley Adams from Gainesville; Jessica Baker from Auburn, Alabama; Frances Clay from Broadview, Illinois; Serge Farinas from Miami, Florida; Catherine “Beth” Harvey from Madison; Caitlin Hochuli from Evansville, Illinois; Xiaojuan Liao from Auburn, Alabama; Shekita Maxwell from Macon; Laura Rogers from Decatur; Michael Sommer from Portland, Oregon; Sara Stover from Augusta; and Khelsea Willis from Atlanta.

Maxwell (CHP '13), Adams (EGR '15) and Stover (CLA '16) previously earned undergraduate or graduate degrees from Mercer. Additionally, alumna Dhwani Patel (CLA '16) is among Piedmont's cohort of Fellows.

“Mercer's inaugural group of Woodrow Wilson Fellows has been in Macon only one week and has already completed a robotics workshop with Dr. Anthony Choi in the School of Engineering and started classes. They are eager to make a difference in the lives of their future students, and they are currently gearing up for the middle school STEM camp that they will be running in June for our partner districts in Bibb, Dodge, Houston and Monroe counties,” said Dr. Sharon Murphy Augustine, chair of teacher education in the Tift College of Education and program director of Mercer's Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships.

Each Fellow receives $30,000 to complete a specially designed, cutting-edge master's degree program based on a yearlong classroom experience. In return, Fellows commit to teach for three years in the urban and rural Georgia schools that most need strong STEM teachers. Throughout the three-year commitment, Fellows receive ongoing support and mentoring.

Woodrow Wilson is administering the program, with in-state coordination by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and support from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Current project funding is $9.36 million.

The university partners, selected in a statewide review by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, have spent the past year-and-a-half tailoring their teacher preparation programs to meet the Fellowship's standards for intensive clinical work and rigorous related coursework.

All five participating universities received $400,000 matching grants to develop their teacher preparation programs based on standards set by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. For each of the program's three years, the participating Georgia colleges and universities will be able to enroll 12 Fellows, totaling 180 Fellows over that three-year period.

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation is also partnering with a wide range of school districts across the state on this effort. The Bibb County School District, Dodge County Schools, Houston County Schools and Monroe County Schools are partnering with Mercer in Central Georgia.

Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio are currently Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship states. The Georgia program brings the Woodrow Wilson Foundation's total commitment to the Fellowship to more than $90 million nationally. For more information, visit

About the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation ( identifies and develops the nation's best minds to meet its most critical challenges. The Foundation supports its Fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American society.

About the Tift College of Education

Mercer University's Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University's three Regional Academic Centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. The College offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Practitioner,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.