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HDFS doctoral student nationally recognized for leadership, community service

Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2018

OSU-Tulsa doctoral student Zach Giano is the recipient of a National Council on Family Relations Honors Student Recognition Award for spring 2018.

Zach Giano, an OSU-Tulsa doctoral student in human development and family science, recently received a National Council on Family Relations Honors Student Recognition Award for spring 2018.

He is the first OSU student to receive the award since 2012, according to the NCFR. The award recognizes undergraduates and graduate students for exceptional scholarship, leadership and community service.

“Zach consistently demonstrates excellence in his teaching and research and he is generous in service to the university and community,” said Dr. Karina Shreffler, professor and graduate coordinator for the OSU department of human development and family science. “We are very proud of him for receiving this award, which is only given to a few dozen students across the U.S. each year.”

Among his achievements at OSU-Tulsa, Giano was named to the inaugural cohort of Tulsa Schweitzer Fellows in 2016-17. The prestigious fellowship required him to implement a year-long service project addressing the root causes of health disparities in underserved communities.

During that year, he implemented a tutoring and educational enrichment program for children at the nonprofit program Pearl’s Hope, a transitional living shelter in Tulsa for homeless mothers with children.

“I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of a program that helps individuals in need,” Giano said. “Pearl's Hope is a place of refuge while helping strengthen mothers and children. Thinking about my time at Pearl's Hope reminds me of why I chose human development and family science as a major.”

He also worked with Tulsa’s large Burmese refugee population by providing weekly English language lessons and family support, In addition, Giano was a graduate student assistant for the Center for Family Resilience at OSU-Tulsa, a community outreach and research program focused on equipping families to support its members in achieving their fullest personal and social potential.

In 2016, Giano spent six weeks during the summer with Project Hope teaching English to Palestinian children in the West Bank and learning how their circumstances affect their lives.

“I feel like my time at OSU-Tulsa refined me and made me a better teacher,” he said. “I went in there with some tools – developing lesson plans, implementing strategies that help with my understanding of the family in a world perspective – that I wouldn’t have had without my educational experiences and that I am so grateful to have learned at OSU-Tulsa.”

As part of his doctoral studies, he has had five peer-reviewed articles published and has made presentations at 12 national conferences. Giano will graduate this May with a 4.0 GPA.

He plans to pursue an assistant professorship in human development and family science and to further his research efforts. Giano’s research interests include disadvantaged adolescents, adolescent delinquency and high school attrition.

“While there are plenty of universities across the country that offer doctoral programs, not every university provides students the opportunity to become actively engaged and thrive in both internal and external ventures,” he said. “Studying individuals in a family context is a passion that OSU has instilled in me and I feel fortunate to be supported by the numerous students, faculty and administration at OSU.”


Media Contact: Aaron Campbell | 918-594-8046 |