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Notable Alumni

Careers and Alumni

Our graduates help improve lives

Our alumni are a continuing sense of Lumberjack pride. They are a positive reflection of the university, embodying a strong sense of scholarship and leadership that SFA has instilled in them. Curious about the kinds of career opportunities that await you with a degree in human services and education leadership? Read about the diverse career paths of some of our graduates.

Featured alumni

Melanie Taylor, Class of '86
BS in rehabilitation services

Melanie Taylor

After she graduated from SFA with a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation services, Melanie Taylor was planning to move to Colorado and earn a master’s degree in her field. Instead, she decided to pursue a job locally at the same center where she completed a life-changing internship as part of her SFA degree program.

“My internship experience at Burke prompted me to seek employment in a field that I may never have considered if not for the course requirement,” Taylor said.

Burke Center serves 12 counties — Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler — and is one of 39 centers the Texas Health and Human Services Commission contracts with to deliver mental health services to communities across the state.

Winter 2020 Sawdust Magazine feature story

Gerald Fonzie, Class of '08 and '10, and Tom Miller, Class of '80 and '96
Principal and former principal, Brooks-Quinn-Jones Elementary School

Gerald Fonzie and Tom Miller

SFA alumni Gerald Fonzie and Tom Miller connected over Lumberjack basketball, similar educational philosophies and being men in elementary education during their six years together at Brooks-Quinn-Jones Elementary School in Nacogdoches. In 2020, Fonzie was promoted to principal when Tom Miller retired from the role.

Before working together at BQJ, Miller and Fonzie earned master’s degrees in education, as well as their principal and physical education teacher certifications at SFA. Also, Miller was a graduate assistant in basketball at SFA from 1978 to 1980, and Fonzie played for the team from 2005 to 2008.

“SFA definitely played a big role in the relationship we have,” Fonzie said. “It allowed us to connect from an education and athletics point of view.”

Dr. John Denson, Class of '11 and '17
EdD in educational leadership

Dr. John Denson

Dr. John Denson, an educational leader at the district and school levels, received the 2017 Area VI Outstanding Media award from the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas. His article, “Looking at the Future of Vocational Education: Vocational Agricultural Technology,” was published in The Journal of School and Society.

At SFA, John completed master’s and doctoral degrees and received the Honorary Lone Star FFA Degree, the highest honorary degree given by the Texas Future Farmers of America. “The experience and knowledge I gained from getting my doctoral degree are shaping what I do outside the classroom,” he said.

John also teaches a dual-credit college class in animal science as an adjunct professor at Northeast Texas Community College and coaches FFA teams that compete at the state level every year.

Mark Wagner, Class of ’99
BS in communication disorders and psychology

Mark Wagner

From the Naval Air Systems Command to the Department of Defense, Mark Wagner has an impressive résumé that begins with his time at SFA. Wagner received a degree in communication disorders and psychology from the university and worked as a financial advisor before deciding to pursue a career at the Department of Defense. He now serves as deputy to the commander of the Corpus Christi Army Depot, the largest rotary wing repair facility in the world.

Fall 2018 Sawdust Magazine feature story

Donalyn Allen, Class of ’12 and ’15
MS in speech-language pathology

Donalyn Allen

After serving Texas school districts for three years, Donalyn Allen started her first contract assignment as a travel speech-language pathology therapist in 2018. Since then, she has worked in four states as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands in settings ranging from schools to skilled nursing facilities. Travel therapy has given her the opportunity to experience different places and work settings and people from other cultures.

Dr. Josh Staley, Class of ’07, ’09 and ’15
PhD in school psychology

Josh Staley

Dr. Josh Staley received special recognition for his vision of bringing esports to the forefront of campus life by serving as the head coach for the varsity esports team and for developing an esports management minor. The minor is designed to prepare students for a career in the industry of esports at amateur, collegiate and professional organizations.


Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership
Faculty Directory

Human Services Building
Suite 302

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 13019, SFA Station
Nacogdoches, Texas 75962