STC staff and faculty honored with NISOD award for igniting student success
As a member organization with the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), South Texas College honors those who are at the heart of student success, and who are achieving extraordinary work on STC campuses. This year, STC recognized 16 staff and faculty with NISOD Excellence Awards, and over the course of two decades, has recognized hundreds of dedicated employees.
South Texas College is among institutions across the nation that take part in an annual effort to recognize staff and faculty who are making a difference for students and their communities.
As a member organization with the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), STC honors those who are at the heart of student success, and who are achieving extraordinary work on STC campuses.
This year, STC recognized 16 staff and faculty with NISOD Excellence Awards, and over the course of two decades, has recognized hundreds of dedicated employees.
“Many times, we do things daily for the students, and not really looking for any award or recognition. So, this is a unique opportunity for us to be able to take time and pause and thank our recipients because they have put in so much hard work and dedication,” said Jessica Galloso, associate dean of STC’s Teaching and Learning Center. “They do it without expecting the kudos, but they are really the heart of what makes our students successful, so this is a great opportunity to be able to come together as a college and community to be able to recognize their efforts and thank them for everything because it doesn’t go unnoticed.”
This is a unique opportunity for us to be able to take time and pause and thank our recipients because they have put in so much hard work and dedication. They do it without expecting the kudos, but they are really the heart of what makes our students successful…it doesn't go unnoticed.
Every year in the fall, STC asks leaders within their respective divisions at the college to nominate outstanding faculty and staff they feel are deserving of the award. Recipients are then recognized at a banquet held during NISOD’s national conference in Austin over Memorial Day weekend in May.
STC recipients of the award are each recognized for inspiring student success in their own unique way.
History Instructor Robert Kennedy, for example, is known for taking his students on daily walks around campus which he counts as a modest extra credit assignment. The benefits of walking, Kennedy said enhances focus and attention, which leads to better retention of unfamiliar information and concepts.
“Given the many demands of juggling work, family and school, a walking habit can provide our students a much-needed natural stress-reliever, as it triggers the release of anxiety that comes with sedentary habits that often accompany a busy schedule. My humble hope is by reducing stress and anxiety in this manner, it can lend itself to a more conducive environment for learning at STC,” Kennedy said. “My approach toward success is to just be respectful to students…by having high expectations with a clear path to a successful completion of the course while being as accessible as possible.”
Associate Degree Nursing Advisor Elizabeth Parra has worked for STC for more than 20 years in different levels of student engagement and support services. The real reward, according to Parra, has been watching students complete their programs and achieve their goals.
“My drive and work ethic come from my heart and the desire to serve our community,” Parra said. “This award makes me feel seen and that I am making a difference. My department recognizes the hard work and long hours that my dedication represents. The secret to my success is remembering where I came from. I treat everyone with the same level of respect and compassion because their success is my success.”
Associate Art Professor Rachael Brown says the secret to her own success all comes down to working with the same purpose in mind; to provide the best educational experience for students.
“I ask myself ‘What provides the best outcome for the student, ultimately?’ It might be in relation to a really big idea, or something small and practical, but what's going to make the best, long-term outcome,” Brown said. “A few lessons we have to teach are difficult... personal responsibility lessons being some of the most challenging…as a role model of success for my students, I have to hold myself to a high standard. I'm not competing with anyone but myself and striving to uphold that standard of excellence.”
Crista Hirmas, instructional coach with STC’s Teaching and Learning Center says the award is a symbol of excellence, and highlights those making a difference for the community and students.
“We are very grateful for the dedication and service from everyone, and their commitment to excellence,” Hirmas said. “We should never forget that at South Texas College, our entire purpose is to support our students and to help them develop the skills and knowledge that they need to be successful in their own academic journeys, and we know that helping each individual student acts as a ripple effect, which makes waves in the long-term for all of our surrounding communities.”
The 2023 NISOD Excellence Award recipients are:
Yvette Gonzalez, Dual Credit Programs project manager
Maricela Oliva, Ph.D., Equity and Access with the Division of Business, Public Safety and Technology manager
Hector Cavazos, Welding program department chair and instructor
Samuel Solis, Electrician Technology instructor
Robert Kennedy, History instructor
Rachael Brown, Art associate professor
Jason Chapa, Communication instructor
Ron Schemerhorn, Music-Percussion instructor
Raul Galvan, Biology instructor
Jesus Munoz, Ph.D., Biology instructor
Hilaire Saint-Pierre, Ph.D., Medical Health and Services Management department chair and instructor
Dalina Medina, Division of Math, Science, Information Technology and Bachelor Programs project manager
Elizabeth Parra, Associate Degree Nursing Program advisor
Melissa Chavez, Associate Degree Nursing Program instructor
Federico Perez, Pharmacy registered lab assistant
Aimee Castro, Division of Nursing and Allied Health senior administrative assistant