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ASC Doctoral Peer Mentors: Doctoral Peer Mentor Bios

Christy Fraenza, Coordinator, Doctoral Peer Mentors Program

Christy Fraenza, Ph.D.

  • PhD in General Psychology (Educational Track)
  • MS in Psychology
Location: Pennsylvania
Research Interests: cultural differences in online learning; imposter phenomenon; first-generation college students
Social Change Interests: animal protection; equal pay
Joined Walden: 2014
About Christy: At Walden, I enjoy supporting doctoral students in multiple ways, as both the Coordinator of the doctoral peer mentor program and in my contributing faculty role in the Academic Skills Center. I have a PhD in General Psychology (Educational Track) and MS in Psychology, both from Walden University. I have experience teaching psychology courses face-to-face and online and have supported online learners as a writing and learning specialist. Outside of Walden, I enjoy hiking, painting ceramics, and spending time with my family and many pets.

Robin Bales

Current Walden Program: PhD in Forensic Psychology


  • BA in Mass Communication – University of Missouri
  • MA in Intelligence Studies, Criminal Intelligence concentration – American Military University (current student)

Location:  Missouri (central time zone)

Research Interests:  Crime statistics, organized crime, human and drug trafficking, and law enforcement safety

Hobbies and interests: Exercise/fitness, photography, traveling, and spending time with my dogs

Advice for a new Walden student: Your key to success is time management and scheduling. Don’t try to eat the whole elephant, take it one bite (step) at a time.

Megan Bledsoe

Current Walden Program: PhD in Public Health focusing on Community Education

  • BA in Biology
  • MS in Clinical Research Administration

Location: Kansas City, MO

Research Interests: I want my dissertation to focus on Community research participation (particularly rural subjects). I currently work at Children’s Mercy Hospital in KC as an Infectious Diseases clinical trials coordinator II. In my daily job, I work in studies involving vaccines, infectious diseases, and community outreach.

Hobbies and interests: I have four dogs, who keep me pretty busy. I’m part of a research organization for the Kansas City area. Whenever I do have free time I like to go see movies (especially Marvel) or read.

Advice for a new Walden student: Make sure you don’t get bogged down in the workload. You need to maintain a work/life balance in order to stay sane!

William Clements

William Clements

Current Walden Program: PhD Program of Public Policy and Administration


  • BS in Justice Studies
  • MS in Forensic Psychology (I went to Walden for my Master's degree program as well!)

Location: North Carolina. Go Panthers!

Research Interests: I am interested in economic policies, international trade relations, social mobility, educational policies, and social marginalization of target populations.

Hobbies and interests: I enjoy jogging, spending time and conducting research with my wife, video gaming, reading, and speaking publicly at engagements. I also very much enjoy speaking with mentees! It is one of my greatest pleasures.

Advice for a new Walden student: Pace yourself and learn all you can! Don't rush through your courses and let valuable information pass you by. The courses at Walden are informative and a major asset of attending the university. I look forward to sharing in your unique, academic experience.

Deanna Deaton

Picture of Deanna Deaton

Current Walden Program: Forensic Psychology, PhD 


  • BS Psychology
  • MA Human Services

Location:  Kentucky

Research Interests: Anger Dysregulation and Help-Seeking Behaviors in Combat Veterans; Violent Juvenile Offenders as Adolescent Mothers; Neonaticide, Filicide, Infanticide and Adjudication Disparities

Hobbies and interests: I am a staunch advocate for off-the-track thoroughbreds. Every retiring racehorse deserves the chance at a second career. I also have a heart for three-day eventing, dressage, and foxhunting.

Advice for a new Walden student: Do not let the excitement of your journey drain your stamina.  Remember to take a mental break, even if you do not feel the need to do so.  Also, remember that this process and your dissertation entails a perpetual learning experience, thus always focus on maintaining progress before perfection.​

Justin Goldston

Current Walden Program: PhD Management - Leadership and Organizational Change


  • BS Supply Chain Management - North Carolina A&T State University
  • Master's Degree in Supply Chain Management - Penn State University

Location: Pennsylvania (Eastern Time Zone)

Research Interests: online student retention, management, leadership, and enterprise applications

Hobbies and Interests: officiating baseball and offshore fishing

Advice for a new Walden student: Begin thinking about your dissertation topic early. This will allow you to integrate your research into the coursework, giving you a head start on your final study.

Emir Gonzalez

Picture of Emir Gonzolez

Current Walden Program: PhD Curriculum and Instruction


  • BS Biology
  • MA Secondary Education

Location: California (Pacific Time Zone)

Research Interests: academic intervention, articulation process between high school and colleges

Hobbies and interests: Reading, working out, and spending time with my family

Advice for a new Walden student: The journey will be a marathon so embrace the experience, be patient, and enjoy every step of the way. You will go through some difficulties but be mindful that overcoming these difficulties will make you a better person!

Sheree H. Keitt

Picture of Sheree H. Keitt

Current Walden Program: Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


  • BA in Advertising - Michigan State University
  • Graduate Certificate in Public Health - University at Albany, SUNY
  • Master of Management in Public Administration - University of Phoenix
  • Master of Public Health in Community Health - Walden University

Location: Maryland

Research Interests:  Health disparities, racial equity, life course theory, and maternal and child health

Hobbies and interests: Reading, community service, traveling, and spending time with family

Advice for a new Walden student: Be patient, stay motivated, and keep pushing. Every sacrifice you make now will pay off later and every step you take, you are closer to the finish line.

Valerie (Val) Krage

image of Val

Current Walden Program: EdD Early Childhood Education

  • BS Child Development and Family Life, University of Wisconsin-Stout
  • MS Educational Leadership, Minnesota State University Moorhead

Location: Minnesota

Research Interests: Cognitive Impact of Poverty, parent involvement, sleep, mental health.

Hobbies and interests: Animal rescue, reading, exercise, time with family, holistic health.

Advice for a new Walden student: Take it one day at a time and enjoy the journey!

Kimmy Porter

Current Walden Program: PhD in Educational Technology


  • BS in Early Childhood & Elementary Education - Salisbury University
  • MS in Curriculum & Instruction - Hood College

Location: Maryland

Research Interests: Educational Technology, Professional Development, Educational Trends, GSFE

Hobbies and interests: Baseball (Go O's!), traveling, and spending time with my family & friends

Advice for a new Walden student: You are stronger and capable of much more than you believe. Take a breath, believe in yourself - you can do this!!! Follow your passion and trust your gut - it will lead you to your dissertation topic.