Student Profile

Heather Newberg

A master's student in the Exceptional Student Education K-12/ESOL Endorsement program, Heather Newberg was originally encouraged by her aunt, who is an exceptional education teacher, to work as a substitute teacher to gain experience. After working as a behavior assistant with two brothers who have autism, Newberg was inspired to teach students with autism and thanks UCF for her passion for this field. "The professors at UCF are truly concerned with the student's learning. My initial perception of graduate school was that my professors would be distant and cold. This was definitely not the case from my experience at UCF," she said.

Dena Dillenseger

Dena Dillenseger earned her BA in Government and International Politics with a minor in History from George Mason University. A mother of two, she became involved in her own children’s education as a classroom volunteer. She enjoyed being in the classroom and working with students, so she began substitute teaching and working primarily with students that had learning disabilities and behavior disabilities. This led to her decision to enroll in the Exceptional Student Education MA program.

One of the many aspects Dillenseger appreciates about the program is its relevance to daily life in the classroom. “I am learning the skills and strategies that I need to make me an effective teacher with my diverse population of learners,” she states. “I am not just learning theories, but am able to apply what I am learning to benefit my students. The profession of teaching is constantly changing and evolving based on student needs, legislation and other forces – this program is flexible and fluid and changes with it.” She also appreciates the guidance of her advisor, Mary Little, PhD. “Dr. Little has been inspirational since the beginning. Her reach extends far beyond UCF and she has provided me with resources and opportunities for professional development and advancement in my career as an educator.”

After graduating, Dillenseger plans to continue teaching and to pursue her doctoral degree at UCF.

student photo