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K-State Today

October 13, 2020

Faculty and staff receive Division of Student Life awards

Submitted by Student Life Staff Development & Engagement Committee

On Oct. 2, the Division of Student Life presented several awards to K-Staters for their outstanding support of students. The Student Life Staff Development and Engagement Committee coordinated the awards nomination process and Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students, hosted the virtual ceremony where award recipients were recognized. Full award details can be viewed on the Vice President for Student Life website.

Outstanding unclassified professional: Brooks Hetle, Housing and Dining Services

Hetle is the ultimate team player who works tirelessly to provide care for our students, our staff and his colleagues. He is often the first to volunteer for a task and often the last there at the end. In the last few months, there have been many opportunities for our entire team to do what is necessary to support students and our department. Hetle has led the charge. That has included spending multiple mornings, afternoons and evenings stocking food in the apartments for students who needed a place to quarantine, filling in for furloughed staff in our main customer services area in Housing and Dining Services, ensuring that our new graduate assistants who arrived in early July had a video tour of their apartments and then the necessary furniture in their apartments, and supporting our dining services staff as they prepared to welcome students back to our communities. Hetle is a professional who always steps up and challenges himself and others to be better, intentional and action-oriented. He cares deeply about his department, this university, and those who call K-State a home.

Outstanding new unclassified professional: Kassi Sprecher, Housing and Dining Services

Sprecher's work ethic and attitude shined against the many challenges of the 2019-20 academic year. Her ability to continue to serve our students during uncertain times compounded with reduced staffing due to furloughs, personal leave and vacancies was exceptional. Her attitude never wavered and she put in extra effort to make sure our on-campus residents were supported and getting responses to calls and emails. She even continued a long-standing community garden program by personally helping prepare and clean up the grounds and organizing staff to support the program.

Outstanding graduate staff member: Enoch Akowuah, Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs

Akowuah serves as the graduate research assistant for intercultural learning and academic success. He is described by his nominator as a "cheerful and helpful presence that colleagues look forward to having in the office" and was instrumental in helping build the Safe Zone programming to its current busy schedule.

Dr. Susan Ariola Bosco Putting Students First Faculty award: Mike Finnegan, Staley School of Leadership Studies

Finnegan is an exemplary instructor and role model for becoming a knowledgeable, ethical, caring and inclusive leader. He is heavily invested in anyone's best interest and strives to accompany them on their road to success not only in the classroom but he also is willing to sit down with his students out of class and brainstorm ways in which they can conquer the obstacles in their life. Whenever he walks into a room it lights up. You can tell that he loves his job and loves connecting with all of the students.

Dr. Susan Ariola Bosco Putting Students First Staff award: Clara Valadares Kientz, Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, or CARE

Kientz is frequently the first person to volunteer for a project and one of the last people to leave the office at the end of the day. Regardless of how busy her schedule is, she maintains an open-door policy and is always available to provide immediate support to any colleague or student in need. Her heart has the purest of intentions and she is an incredible value to our campus community.

Ad Astra award: Jennifer Miller, Lafene Health Center

In her short time in the Division of Student Life, Miller has already made her mark at K-State by leading Lafene's Every Wildcat A Wellcat public health campaign. Shortly after the pandemic began for us, Miller was part of a small initial group in Student Life that met to discuss how we might message to students the importance of disease mitigation behaviors. Under Miller's leadership, that small group discussion turned into a universitywide effort that included partnering with the Division of Communications and Marketing, University Facilities, Housing and Dining Services, Human Capital Services and the Office of the Provost among others. It resulted in several thousand EWAW kits being distributed across campus, the development of the EWAW pledge, face-covering training, numerous videos and social media messages, among so many other innovative ways of reaching students, faculty and staff. She has also recently been overseeing our university's contract tracing efforts in partnership with the Riley County Health Department.

In addition, two recipients were recognized for the Friends of the Cats' Cupboard awards. This year's Friends of Cats' Cupboard Award recipients were donor Mark Crow of Salina and the Staley School of Leadership Studies. The Staley School was recognized for nearly two decades of engagement and activism in K-State's fight against food insecurity, including its innovative curriculum for LEAD 212 and HandsOn K-State's monthly mobile food distributions.