Skip to Content
Walden News // Mar 06, 2019

Walden University Names Social Change Fellows

Walden University Center For Social ChangeMinneapolis, Minn.—March 6, 2019—Walden University announced it has named 10 Social Change Fellows and funded seven research and applied projects, the largest number since the founding of the program. The Research and Applications for Social Change Grant was established in 2017 to assist members of the Walden community who want to make a significant and meaningful change in academic and social communities, both locally and globally.

The Social Change Fellowship is awarded to applicants who submit outstanding proposals that reflect the university’s mission to foster social change through research and the education of scholar-practitioners as well as Walden’s determination to uniquely effect positive social change worldwide.

This year’s recipients include students, faculty and alumni who will be conducting research on critical areas in the fields of education, health sciences and public policy. For example, 2019 Social Change Fellow grant recipient and Walden faculty member Dr. Bettina Casad will research the stress of daily exposure to racism via social media and its potential impact on educational achievement in college students.

“Social media is a pervasive, but understudied, source of racial bias that contributes to chronic experiences of racism,” said Dr. Casad. “If daily race-related stressors trigger cognitive decline and poorer test performance, this has significant implications for racial minorities’ academic achievement.”

Three Social Change Fellows will use their grant to study relationships between older adults and family members who serve as their caregivers in rural America. America’s 3,142 rural counties struggle to care for over 40 million older adults, according to researchers Dr. Bessie DiDomenica, Dr. Cynthia Hickman and Julie Smith Hinders. Their study will look at the availability of nutritious foods and health education, as well as the unmet needs of caregivers, including training and counseling.

“The Social Change Fellowship further demonstrates Walden University’s founding commitment made nearly 50 years ago to prepare scholar-practitioners to effect positive social change,” said Dr. William Schulz, director of Walden’s Center for Social Change. “We are proud of what our previous Social Change Fellows have achieved and look forward to seeing the results from our latest cohort of change agents.”

The full list of Walden’s 2019 Social Change Fellows is as follows:

  • Dr. Bettina J. Casad, faculty member in the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership, Racial Discrimination and Education Inequalities: The Role of Daily Stressors from Social Media
  • Dr. Bessie DiDomenica, PhD in Public Policy and Administration alumna; Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman, Master of Science in Nursing and PhD in Health Services alumna; and Julie A. Smith Hinders, PhD in Health Services student, Older Adults and Caregivers: Food Policy and Healthcare in Rural America
  • Dr. Linda Marc, faculty member in the College of Health Sciences, Early Childhood Chess Intervention for Children from Immigrant Families of African Descent
  • Beth Nastachowski and Dr. Sarah Prince in Walden’s Writing Center, Walden Writing Center Internship: Altering Recruitment Strategies to Increase Diversity in the Writing Center Field
  • Dr. Holly Pedersen, Doctor of Education alumna, 3D Connections Empowering Fathers of Children Who Are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Olivia Pollard, PhD in Management student, A Delphi Study Analysis of Best Practices for Data Quality and Management in Healthcare Information Systems
  • Shannon Stanley, PhD in Public Policy and Administration student, States with Hyper-Aging Populations: The Importance of Understanding Functionality in Home and Community-Based Care and the Impact on Costs as America Ages

Walden University anticipates accepting applications for the 2020 Social Change Fellowship in October 2019.

About Walden University
For more than 45 years, Walden University has supported working professionals in achieving their academic goals and making a greater impact in their professions and communities. Students from the District of Columbia, all 50 states in the U.S. and more than 150 countries are pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees online at Walden. The university offers more than 80 degree programs with over 385 specializations and concentrations. Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, It is also one of more than 35 institutions in 10 countries that make up the Laureate International Universities network. For more information, please visit