CORE Trainee Research Award

Michele A. Schutz

November 22, 2021

This award was established in 2015 by the Council on Research and Evaluation and recognizes outstanding research accomplished by a current or recent AUCD trainee.


Michele A. Schutz, Student

Vanderbilt Peabody College, Nashville TN

Michele entered her undergraduate program with long-held dreams of becoming a special educator.
Although her aim was originally toward elementary students, she began to catch glimpses of the pressing
needs facing youth with severe disabilities who were on the cusp of adulthood. For too many of these
students, their aspirations for a good life after graduation rarely materialized. In response, she accepted
her first teaching position at Ridgewood High School in urban Chicago. There, her interest in transition
transformed into a passion. She was asked by her district to develop a new model for transition
education that would elevate outcomes for so many struggling and underserved students. She developed
new staff roles from scratch and set about to wholly rework the way they addressed students' preparation
for college, career, and community life. Her commitment to doing this work well led her to an advanced
special education master's degree (through Project PULSSE) focused on serving transition-age youth
with severe disabilities from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Michele entered our doctoral program with the goal of developing the experiences and expertise she
needed to (a) carry out an impactful line of research, (b) prepare the next generation of transition
educators, (c) equip and support underserved school districts, (d) advocate for change nationally, and (e)
serve the field well.