EL Faculty Fellows

Experiential learning is a core area to “empower students to make valuable contributions in their professional, civic, educational, and economic endeavors” (Athens State University Mission Statement, 2015). As part of our effort to equip our students to become the next generation of global leaders and channel their passions to spark social impact in a wide range of disciplines, the EL Faculty Fellowship program aims to support faculty who are doing work to advance the Experience|Success initiative.

Kimberly Bell Photo

Prof. Kim Bell

Associate Professor of Management

College of Business

Project: Assisting Organizations through Statistical Analysis to Provide Quantitative Data for their Continuous Improvements

Professor Kim W. Bell is an Associate Professor of Management with Emphasis in Statistics’ at Athens State University. She has previously served as statistician, instructor, and data consultant for a variety of business sectors and is considered an expert in the fields of Statistical Process Control, Statistical Analysis, Business Strategic Analytics, ISO Quality Standards, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, and Customer Relationship Management. She holds a Master’s Degree in Probability and Statistics from Auburn University, where she also taught Biostatistics for Undergraduate Students. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of North Alabama. Professor Bell received the Athens State University ‘Excellence in Teaching’ Award and has served as the Delta Mu Delta Faculty Advisor where she helped in re-establishing the Athens State Chapter as a nationally recognized STAR Chapter. She was also named ‘Educator of the Year’ by the University of North Alabama Alumni Association. She is currently the College of Business Advisor for the Phi Theta Kappa Alumni Honor Society at Athens State and is also a National Society of Experiential Education Faculty Member.

Vanessa Miller Photo

Dr. Vanessa Miller-Curtis

Associate Professor of Psychology

College of Arts & Sciences

Project: Poster Development and Presentation in a Classroom and Conference Setting

Dr. Vanessa Miller-Curtis is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Undergraduate Honors Program at Athens State Univesity. Dr. Miller-Curtis received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology (specialization – Cognitive Neuroscience) from the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Miller-Curtis received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Chapman University in Orange, California, and her Bachelor’s Degree is in Psychology and Social Behavior from The University of California, Irvine. Experiential learning in the classroom has always been an integral component to Dr. Miller-Curtis’s teaching style. In 2020, Dr. Miller-Curtis received the Athens State University, ‘Teaching Excellence Award.’ Dr. Miller-Curtis’s research interests are as follows: 1) Identification of risk and protective factors related to suicide among undergraduate college students. 2) effectiveness of therapeutic and educational programming for incarcerated individuals on their overall well-being and its use as a tool to address anger, anxiety and other mental health issues.

Dr. Elmer Ragus

Dr. Elmer Ragus

Assistant Professor of Marketing

College of Business

Project: Connecting Organizations to Community through Development of Marketing Plans

Dr. Elmer Ragus is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Athens State University. Dr. Ragus has 22 years of experience in his field and received his Ed.D. from University of Missouri and his Ed.S., MBA, and BS degrees from University of Central Missouri. Dr. Ragus’s interest with experiential learning started in 2015 when he started coursework for an Ed.S. in Educational Technology. Dr. Ragus immediately implemented what he learned in his own classroom. He also shared his experiences and expertise, collaborating with colleagues at the University of Central Missouri on various projects such as classroom renovations and instructional design projects. His research interests are in Active Learning in Higher Education, Adult Learning Theories, Branding Strategy, Consumer Behavior, Online Course Design, Online Learning Communities, and Qualitative Methodology.

Sunyung Song Photo

Dr. Sunyung Song

Assistant Professor of Education, English Language Learner (ELL)

College of Education

Project: Building a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Community of Practice through Teaching English to English Language Learners in Digital Service-Learning Spaces

Dr. Sunyung Song is an Assistant Professor of Education, English Language Learner (ELL) at Athens State University. Dr. Song originally comes from South Korea and began her teaching career as a full-time high school teacher in her home country. She received a Ph.D. degree in Foreign, Second and Multilingual Language Education from the Ohio State University and a Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Eastern Michigan University. As a teacher educator, she has focused on preparing K-12 pre-service and in-service teachers to better support the learning of ELL students. In addition, she currently coordinates and teaches in the TESOL Certificate Programs to prepare teacher candidates to teach English to adult and young ELL students in the U.S. and abroad. She has been a strong advocate for Experiential Learning (EL) and has integrated EL activities into her classes for many years. Her research interests include K-12 teacher education, bilingual/multilingual education, technology-enhanced literacy learning, service-learning pedagogy, and ELL family engagement.

Darren Waldrep Photo

Dr. Darren Waldrep

Assistant Professor of Management of Cybersecurity Operations

College of Business

Project: Using Virtual Labs to Mimic working in Cyber Operation Center

Dr. Darren Waldrep is an Assistant Professor of Management of Cybersecurity Operations at Athens State University, where he started in January 2016. The Management of Cybersecurity Operations program is relatively new at Athens State University, with an updated curriculum and hands-on labs to foster a more realistic approach to online learning. Dr. Waldrep has over 24 years of working as a Systems Administrator and Information Assurance Manager (Cyber Governance). Dr. Waldrep was the lead faculty in obtaining a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) designation for the Management of Cyber Operations program through the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Waldrep received his Ph.D. in Information Technology with a specialty in Digital Forensics from the University of the Cumberlands, a Masters in Cybersecurity from Bellevue University, and a bachelor’s degree in Management of Technology from Athens State University. His research interest is in Experiential Education, Cybersecurity, Human-Cyber based competencies, Internet of Things (IoT), and Information Technology.

Dr. Jing Chen

Dr. Jing Chen

Associate Professor of Computer Science

College of Arts and Sciences

Project: Health Information Collection, Analysis, and Mining

Dr. Jing Chen is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Athens State University. Dr. Chen received her Ph.D. and master’s degree in computer science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Dr. Chen has over 20 years of experience in data mining and data analysis for public health, education, and justice. Experiential learning is part of Dr. Chen’s course design, and she already implemented the experiential learning concept in some courses. Dr. Chen’s research interests are in the areas of big data analytics, data security, database management, and spatial analysis.

Wayne McCain PhotoDr. J. Wayne McCain

Professor, Management of Technology

College of Business

Project: Aerospace Systems Management Mission Control Simulation Enhancements

Dr. McCain has been a faculty member at Athens State for over 30 years and comes to the organization with an equal amount of experience from the Aerospace/Defense industry in Engineering, Marketing, and Project Management. He holds a Doctorate in engineering (UAH), master’s degrees in Space Systems (FL Tech) and Administrative Science (UAH), and a BAE in Aerospace Engineering from Auburn.  He is no stranger to Experiential Learning and is currently spear-heading the College of Business’s Aerospace Systems Management degree program which is laden with hands-on opportunities for students. On-going activities include the design, build, test and launch of a small radio astronomy satellite (STEMSAT-1) incorporating STEM activities for K-12 and college-level students. Another endeavor is the development of a Mission Control Laboratory which supports the launch (scheduled for mid-2024) of STEMSAT and mission simulations for several related ASM courses. Collaboration is underway with many institutions including Wallace State, Calhoun, UNA and others (part of a world-wide network of K-12 based satellite tracking stations and local/regional students). Dr. McCain’s project will entail development of a more realistic mission control lab environment to give ASM students valuable experience towards their roles in the ASM workplace. Included will be developing improved computerized simulations, communications hardware, planning, and software for space launch and control activities.

Marla Williams PhotoDr. Marla Williams

Associate Professor of Elementary Education

College of Education

Project: STEMulating Learning Project: Connecting Instruction with Real-World Classroom Experiences (Community-Based Learning)

Dr. Marla Williams is an Associate Professor of Elementary Education.  Dr. Williams has 27 years of teaching experience prior to coming to Athens State in 2017.  Dr. Williams received her Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership at the University of Alabama, ED.S. in Educational Administration at the University of North Alabama, Master’s certification in Educational Administration at the University of North Alabama, Master’s Degree in Elementary Education at Alabama A&M University, and BSED in Elementary and Early Childhood at Athens State University.  Dr. Williams also serves as the CAEP Coordinator for the College of Education and the Kappa Delta Pi International Educational Honor Society Rho Gamma Chapter Co-Counselor.  As a veteran teacher, Dr. Williams’ primary focus is to prepare future elementary educators to take on the demands and rigor required for the teaching profession.  Dr. Williams’ interests include STEM instruction for elementary grades and she received a STEM grant from Northrop Grumman to create a STEM Learning Lab currently located in the basement of McCain Hall.

EL Mentors

Dr. Katia Maxwell – Research, workplace, community-based, hands-on learning

Dr. Shannon Pittman – Research, expeditions, hands-on learning

Dr. Sara Cline – Research, hands-on learning

Dr. Leigh Hester – Hands-on, workplace learning

Dr. Kim Roberts – Hands-on learning

Dr. Liz Bowden – Workplace learning