Graduate Student Spotlights  -  June 2024


Alexandria "Lexi" Tomkunas

Lexi TomkunasLexi Tomkunas will complete her PhD in Spring 2024. For her dissertation, she conducted a state-wide analysis of codes of conduct and exclusionary discipline outcomes in Florida as well as semi-structured interviews with educators to explore how mindsets underlie the discipline process. Lexi entered the program having taught kindergarten at a Title I elementary school in Miami, Florida, and has continued teaching elementary school throughout her time at UConn. Her passion for education equity and bridging the research to practice gap underscored her experience in the program.

At UConn, Lexi has collaborated with her advisor, Dr. Maria LaRusso, on research related to children’s social, emotional, and behavioral well-being and educator well-being. Additionally, she worked with Dr. Beth Russell and Dr. Rachel Tambling on a research project focused on family relationships during the pandemic. Lexi has also collaborated on research projects with various faculty in the Neag School of Education. She completed both the Culture, Health, and Human Development and College Instruction graduate certificates at UConn, as well as a graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis at the Florida Institute of Technology. Furthermore, she was a Southern Education Foundation “SELI” fellow in the summer of 2021 and engaged in research and policy work related to Georgia’s school discipline practices. One of Lexi’s favorite experiences as a doctoral student was having the opportunity to teach the course Diversity Issues in Human Development four times on two different campuses.

Lexi has accepted a role as the lead of a special education program at a public Waldorf school in Florida. She looks forward to continuing to support students, educators, and families in this role.


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