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Paulina Whitehat

Ph.D. Candidate, Special Education

Paulina Whitehat is Diné, a member of the Navajo Nation of northern Arizona. She earned a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, with school principal certification, from the Pennsylvania State University, and a Master’s degree in Bilingual & Multicultural Education, and completed a reading specialist program, from Northern Arizona University. She gained 13 years of teaching and school leadership experience in indigenous and diverse communities. Her goals are to improve educational and wellness outcomes for students without/with disabilities, who identify as indigenous, at risk for academic failure, and in marginalized communities.

Her research is focused on (1) identifying and creating effective interventions to build capacity for trauma-informed instruction and care approaches in school systems and communities; (2) implementing culturally responsive interventions that redress the effects of adverse childhood events so that individuals have opportunities to experience academic success; (3) effecting educational policies and countering the effects of poverty and trauma (to include historical, intergenerational, and complex trauma) experienced by indigenous and marginalized students.

She plans to attain a Ph.D. degree, merge her teaching experience with research activities, and apply and share this knowledge with colleagues, educational agencies, practitioners, and educators to positively engage students in school to improve their lives and communities.

She speaks Diné bizaad, the Navajo language, fluently and enjoys listening to stories about history, cultural practices and teachings, wisdom, and indigenous knowledge during conversations with her mother, elders, and others who have important knowledge to share.