October 8, 2013
13-281

Jessica Pope
Communications Specialist

VSU’s Dr. Travis York Wins International Dissertation Award

VALDOSTA — Dr. Travis T. York is the winner of the 2013 International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement Dissertation Award.

“It is an incredible honor,” shared York, an assistant professor of higher education leadership in Valdosta State University’s Department of Curriculum, Leadership, and Technology. “When I first found out that my advisor was even nominating me, it was a huge honor. I think that, for most doctoral students, your dissertation is often your first solo project of this size and nature, and it can be very intimidating.

“I think … that dissertating students are our own harshest critics, and we go through time periods where we question our abilities,” he said. “So to have such a respected association of scholars, many of whose work has been so influential to my formation as a researcher and scholar, recognize my work as being good … I can’t express how incredible it is.”  

The IARSLCE Dissertation Award annually recognizes a dissertation that advances research on service-learning and/or community engagement through rigorous and innovative inquiry. York’s dissertation, “Exploring Service-Learning Outcomes and Experiences for Low-Income, First-Generation College Students: A Mixed Methods Approach,” explores how service-learning curriculum may be related to increased college success for students from limited financial and cultural capital backgrounds. His research led to several discoveries, one of which indicates that low-income, first-generation students who participate in service-learning courses are more likely to earn better grades and have a higher grade point average.   

“I want so badly to help figure out ways that we can help underrepresented students not only gain access to higher education but to succeed in college,” he said, adding that the IARSLCE recognition makes him want to continue doing this type of work.

York joined VSU’s faculty in August, at the start of the fall semester. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in student ministries, with a minor in humanities, and a master of arts in higher education, both from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., a Graduate Certificate in institutional research from Pennsylvania State University in State Park, Pa., as well as a Doctor of Philosophy in higher education from Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa., which he completed in May. He has worked as a research assistant, assessment analyst, teaching assistant, special projects manager, residence life coordinator, and residence hall director, all in higher education. He is a published researcher, with several articles in progress or under review, an award-winning presenter, and a member of the American Education Research Association, Association of Institutional Research, Association for the Study of Higher Education, College Student Educators International, and International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement.

Contact Dr. Travis T. York at (229) 333-5633 or ttyork@valdosta.edu to learn more.