Cal Poly Student Affairs Professionals Recognized by Industry Associations

 Top row – Soukita Thipsouvanh, Laura Hunkler, and Erika Wagner. Bottom row – Denise Lazar, Jack Sandoval, and Melinda McCann.
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Several Cal Poly Student Affairs professionals were recognized recently by industry peers for their contributions to advancing social justice, orientation and transition programming, leadership and service, and student conduct.

Staff members in Career Services, New Student and Transition Programs, the Office of the Dean of Students, and University Housing received awards from the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA), respectively.

“These industry awards speak to the professionalism and care that our staff emphasizes in helping our students achieve success during their time at Cal Poly – and beyond our campus too,” said Keith Humphrey, vice president for Student Affairs. “I’m grateful for their efforts and accomplishments because it’s the students who ultimately benefit most from their support.”

Andrene Kaiwi, director of New Student and Transition Programs, received the NODA Circle of Excellence Award at the association’s regional conference held in Las Vegas Feb. 21-23. The award recognizes individuals who have served as professionals, teachers, leaders and scholars in the fields of orientation, transition and retention in higher education.

Nate Alcorn, former senior coordinator for New Student and Transition Programs, also received the Outstanding Orientation, Transition, And Retention Professional Award for his contributions to Cal Poly orientation programming. Alcorn is currently assistant director for student engagement, visits and events at Arizona State University.

Cal Poly second- and third-year students Emily Taketa, a history major, and Cameron Zamora, a liberal studies major, were recognized for the Best Case Study Response. Third-year students Caleigh Smith, an English major, and Nina Groleau, a liberal studies major, received the Creative Case Study Response award.

Cal Poly’s Cross Cultural Experience received NODA’s Innovative Programs award. Established in 2018, the CCE offers alternative orientation programming experiences during Week of Welcome for incoming first-year and transfer students from traditionally underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds. 

In addition, the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) recognized Cal Poly Career Services with its Commitment to Social Justice in Career Services Award. The organization acknowledged the following staff members for their comprehensive approach to creating services and partnerships that foster equitable access and inclusion for students:

  • Laura Hunkler, College of Liberal Arts career counselor and graduate student advisor/intern lead.
  • Denise Lazar, office analyst and Diversity Funding Committee chair.
  • Melinda McCann, senior recruiting lead and employer relations.
  • Jack Sandoval, career counselor/Freshman Focus Team.
  • Soukita Thipsouvanh, senior event planner and Career Partners Program coordinator.
  • Erika Wagner, recruiting associate, Employer Services Team and Professional Clothing Closet chair.

In addition, ACPA lauded Career Services for its work with first-generation students, infusing diversity and inclusion into its Career and Life Success model, and hosting career-focused events for veterans, women-identified, international, undocumented, and LGBTQIA students, among other efforts. 

University judicial coordinator Matthew Armas was recognized by the association’s Commission for Student Conduct and Legal Issues as its New Professional of the Year. Armas was commended for his intentional approach of focusing on student development and understanding by combining restorative practices and his knowledge of student rights, responsibilities and health into student conduct issues.

In addition, director for leadership and service Jason Mockford received ACPA’s Mid-Level Community of Practice Recognition Award. Mockford is responsible for the oversight and management of the Center for Leadership, the Center for Service in ActionFraternity and Sorority Life, and Student Clubs and Organizations.

Jo Campbell, associate vice president for Student Affairs and executive director of University Housing, received ACPA’s Annuit Coeptis Senior Professional Award. The award recognizes student affairs professionals who challenge their contemporary and junior colleagues through personal and professional sharing, good humor and intellectual debate.

Staff members recognized by ACPA will receive their awards at the association’s annual convention this week in Nashville, Tennessee.  

Andrene Kaiwi
Andrene Kaiwi

Matthew Armas
Matthew Armas

Jason Mockford
Jason Mockford

Jo Campbell
Jo Campbell

In the photo at top, from left to right: Top row – Soukita Thipsouvanh, Laura Hunkler, and Erika Wagner. Bottom row – Denise Lazar, Jack Sandoval, and Melinda McCann.

Contact: Diego Abeloos

March 4, 2020

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