The Outstanding Doctoral Student of Cal State San Bernardino’s College of Education, Cherina Betters, and the Outstanding Graduate Student, Olivia Bushem, will be honored at CSUSB’s College of Education commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 16, at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario at 4 p.m.

Betters, who works with at-risk students as a secondary school educator, will receive her doctoral degree in educational leadership.

“I chose to gain my doctorate in educational leadership because I view my role in education as a reflection of my identity and as a connection to my life’s purpose,” she said. “My own education journey was largely constructed by the experiences I had with my teachers and other adults in my schooling process.”

Betters wrote her dissertation on teacher-student relationships, detailing “elements and levels of teacher care for students; ways in which teachers could recognize students in meaningful ways; and the importance of classroom and school culture, teacher mindset, and current legislation specifically designed to account for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.” 

“All students, but especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, need teachers to be a source of positivity and encouragement in their lives,” Betters said. 

While in college, Betters juggled her life as a single parent raising six children, working a full-time job and going to school full time. Despite all of her responsibilities, she managed to complete her doctorate a year early.

“Nothing was easy,” she said. “But every sacrifice, every late night, every missed birthday and holiday, every dollar spent on Starbucks to power through those 14-20 hour days was all worth it because now I am in a better position to reach back and give back to all those who, too, desire to achieve.”

Betters received her bachelor’s in political science, her single-subject credential in social science, and master’s in political science from Cal State Fullerton, and another master’s in education and technology from National University in San Bernardino.

Betters, who considers herself a “lifetime learner,” plans to pursue other advanced degrees and possibly a terminal degree in a field outside of education. As for her career, she will continue working in public school administration at the site level, but would like to eventually become a principal and then move to an assistant superintendent position in human resources. She is also open to teaching at the collegiate level.

“I have achieved a lot in my lifetime. I have been recognized as teacher of the year in my school district, honored with accolades from my union activism, but the greatest accomplishment today is building the life I have with God, my family and friends,” Betters said. “I am most proud of the relationships I work to build with the people in my everyday life and everything I do is a reflection of the gifts those relationships represent in my life.”

The Outstanding Graduate Student, Olivia Bushem, is graduating with her master’s in counseling and guidance with the goal of becoming a school counselor.

“I chose counseling and guidance as my major because I have always had a passion for education and being a part of the system of support for others in their academic goals, socioemotional needs and career pursuits,” she said.

Her mentor, John Winslade — professor of special education, rehabilitation and counseling, and former associate dean of the College of Education — introduced Bushem to the art of narrative therapy when completing her undergraduate degree at CSUSB in 2015, confirming her passion for the subject.

“The techniques in communication and compassionate listening were unique and interesting — a movement I knew I wanted to be a part of early in my educational career,” she said. “In sharing his knowledge of narrative therapy and applying it to the educational setting, integrating such a communicative art form in conversation with individuals and within communities has facilitated creative compassion for humanity.”

Throughout her studies, Bushem has conducted extensive research for school assignments and projects concerning alternative forms of counseling and theories, as well as college and career readiness, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) model, crisis and trauma, grief and loss, among others. She has also presented at Riverside Polytechnic High School on the College/Career Indicator Model — academic measures that the state is implementing in preparing students for life after high school — and in doing so, collected data that she used for her graduate special project.

Following graduation, Bushem hopes to obtain a school counseling position either in the Inland Empire or out of state. She also plans to continue to accrue clinical hours toward becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), and would someday like to pursue her doctoral degree in education.

“The accomplishment that I am most proud of is building comradery with an exceptional group of future counselors in my particular cohort of the counseling and guidance program at CSUSB,” said Bushem. “Getting to know and befriend these individuals has facilitated my academic and personal success in this program. I have found that struggle builds character, and when you’re not alone in the fight it makes the process that much easier to get through and more gratifying once goals have been met. I share this Outstanding Student Award with them.”

For more information about CSUSB’s College of Education, visit its website at