Nominated by their colleagues, Staff Spotlights shine a light of appreciation on the amazing people working within the Division of Student Affairs. Staff are nominated for accomplishments such as presenting at conferences, winning awards, excellence in supporting students, and exhibiting behaviors or character worth mentioning.
Please join us in celebrating this month's Staff Spotlights!
Karen is one of the most incredible people. She helps raise everyone around her, both colleagues and students. Students come to Karen for help in school, leadership info, and just to talk. Karen makes everyone feel welcome and never gives up on people. Her dedication to KSU students is unmatched! During COVID Karen created many events both in-person and online so students could connect with each other as well as with staff. Karen gives her all to KSU and our students, and it shows in how much our students love her.
Cheryl is a passionate, student-focused employee that continues to seek out ways to grow the Aquatics program. Even during the campus closures, Cheryl challenged herself to find creative ways to serve our patrons. One of the most innovative programs was the development of the virtual aquatic safety lessons. She developed eight lesson topics with options for children and adults. This inventive approach earned the attention of Campus Rec Magazine, which featured a story on the program. Additionally, Cheryl applied for and earned her third Swimming Saves Lives Grant for 2021 which allows OwlAquatics to provide six private swim lessons to facility members in need of foundational swimming skills at no additional charge. Cheryl does a wonderful job balancing the needs of all user groups while offering a variety of in-house aquatics programming including youth and adult swim lessons, special events, and instructional programs. Thank you for all your hard work Cheryl!
Previous Staff Spotlights
Nikki is a rock star. Her commitment to our students is impeccable and is reflected in the customer service she delivers. She can consistently be observed giving every student she speaks with space to share their concerns and be heard. Furthermore, one wouldn't know our office is a staff member down because she's effortlessly jumped in to make sure the extra work gets done. We couldn't run the SCAI office without her. If that's not enough, she recently completed her doctoral coursework not two weeks ago and already has an internship lined up for this fall. Student conduct work is almost always a thankless job. There couldn't be a better candidate for this spotlight.
Bonna goes above and beyond in her position with SDS as Deaf and Hard if Hearing Services Manager. During the 5 days of commencement ceremonies - morning and evening Bonna was there for all ceremonies making sure everything was in place and running smoothly. She meet each of her co-workers that were working the event and guided them to were they needed to go. Bonna she is always so willing to help and is a rock star.
Carrie builds up an entire team of interns at least twice a year to provide unparalleled case management to students experiencing homelessness, on the verge of homelessness, in crisis, and/or recovering from the foster care system. During the times when every other staff person is able to take a breath and recharge for the upcoming semester, Carrie takes on each and every student's case with the same level of care, concern and professionalism they receive throughout the semester while also excelling in her day to day responsibilities. The level of support she's providing to these students with little or no assistance is admirable and deserving of every award!
Savana Alexander has really stood out in the last few months in doing her job and taking on additional responsibility. Savana is a learning specialist that works with our student-athletes, and she has a very full caseload of students she works with. In addition to her regular students, Savana has taken on students who needed her help and also stepped in to be our tutor coordinator the past few months. She spends hours and hours each day on zoom patiently working with students who need help with organization, time management, and study skills. Every athletic team was competing this spring, so balancing schedules, assignments, and expectations have been tough. Earlier in the semester Savana took on the responsibility of scheduling for the tutoring sessions and ensured things were running smoothly with tutoring. She is always looking for ways to improve our processes and is also the resident Excel and PDF expert in our office helping with everything from spreadsheets to flyers! Savana has been very valuable and works behind the scenes to help our student-athletes succeed and deserves to be recognized for her hard work!
Dalida Brown has great enthusiasm and dedication to the field of public health and this is evident in her work in Health Promotion and Wellness. She does a great job planning, implementing, and evaluating health education programs. She is a great team player and is well regarded by colleagues and students. She treats others with respect, is courteous, acknowledges the contributions of others, and seen by peers and her supervisor as someone they can rely on. She takes initiative on projects and addresses any concerns in a timely and professional manner. She contributes to a positive work environment and maintains a positive attitude even during challenging times. Dalida is a strong supporter of student well-being and this is visible in the student programs she currently manages including the Peer Health Outreach and Wellness Leaders (OWLs) and the Wellness Peer Mentors. Dalida achieves the goals she sets for herself and the department. Her professionalism and integrity make her a great colleague as well as a great advocate and educator for student health and wellness.
Cindy Butson has demonstrated her commitment to the Division of Student Affairs and student success. Her permanent position is with the Student Affairs Marietta team, where, in addition to ensuring that we have all the tools needed to support our students and their engagement activities, she has overseen the student assistants at our front desk. She has done everything for the student affairs team at Marietta and has always demonstrated a high level of professionalism with everyone she encounters. She is very quick to complete her work and we are always looking at ways she can support beyond those areas in her role. Last year Cindy was recommended to support our Vice President for Student Affairs and the senior leadership team by moving to Kennesaw Hall. In this transition to support a larger group in a different location she has had to learn the style of three new senior leaders and she has done that very well. She has been a great asset to all of us and while we miss not having her here at Marietta, we know she is learning a lot. Cindy is a true team player, she keeps calm in times of stress, and asks questions to ensure she is doing what we need. She is a strong supporter of KSU and a very dedicated to supporting our staff in order to ensure our students are successful.
Lindsay is an excellent example of exactly what one would hope for in a colleague. She is continuously willing to be of service, whether that is to KSU students, our staff here at CYAAR, collaborating departments, or community constituents to the university. During the past year she has navigated ways to serve students through the pandemic in innovative and exciting ways. She stepped in and took a lead with promoting the 1000 programs DSA accomplished in the fall while being one of the DSA professionals putting the programs on; only to turn around and do the same thing in the spring! She serves on numerous committees around campus, including leading the ATOD Coalition and serving on staff senate. She is such an integral part of our team here at CYAAR and even more so for our division and university.
Norman Reid shows his commitment to the Division of Student Affairs and our students in a host of ways. His professional demeanor when working in a team environment is notable as he confidently seeks collaborative solutions to enhance the student experience. His advocacy for the Esports program and the students he represents rises above his job responsibilities, and he continues to patiently educate KSU staff, faculty, and administrators on best practices in this field. Norman is always professional and supportive when interacting with colleagues. He is also able to hold his own, demonstrating a unique blend of humility and confidence as he advocates for more resources and state of the art technology for the Esports program. If you have not met Norman, you may want to take the opportunity to introduce yourself and learn more about his expertise and passion.
Jennifer has been a full-time employee at KSU since 2011 and she is a proud graduate of our institution. Her love for KSU is evident in how she brings her son and family to KSU football games and other student activities like our Marietta Pumpkin Launch. However, her work is what brings her to be recognized as a divisional employee. Jennifer takes much pride in the work she was doing as manager of the Wilson Student Center at Marietta and always looking for ways to enhance the facility so that students, faculty, and staff find their sense of belonging on our campus. In her role as manager of student centers she has been able to develop student assistant positions that provide a career progression with clearly identified leadership development and professional development skills that are transferrable to any career, and thus contributing to students' career readiness. She holds her staff accountable and has high expectations, particularly as it relates to offer the best customer service experience to all who visit the student centers. Jennifer is a dedicated professional, committed to student success, and someone who understands that our student centers are the living room of campus and everyone should feel at home and safe in those places. She is open to new ideas, is innovative in her approach, and is always looking for the next challenge or how best to support our divisional efforts. She is a young mid-manager in our division who is eager and hungry to learn new things and is always looking for ways to develop as a manager, supervisor, and leader in higher education.
Sean Brinkley, Jr.
Sean is extremely dedicated to his students and to KSU. He is an alumni who has a strong passion for helping students along their journey to find their true selves. Sean goes above and beyond leading his student groups, he learned how to host a virtual conference for students in leadership. He is always pushing his limits to learn and grow as a professional and personally. I have seen Sean create new and exciting ways to connect with students, including using Play-Doh! Sean doesn't stop at the end of the work day, he stops when the job is done. He inspires his students, and staff around him to go that extra mile for KSU.
Alan Hall maintains the highest level of commitment to the Department of Sports and Recreation. He always maintains a positive attitude and disposition, while working to meet and exceed expectations. In addition to quickly responding to the needs of the patrons, Alan makes it a priority to allot time to work alongside student assistants to support them in completing their daily duties and assigned projects. He takes initiative to support his colleagues in ways that are not his direct responsibility. For instance, he happily hangs items in their offices, picks up trash and water bottles on the tennis courts, and even lends a hand with moving equipment between facilities. Alan's selfless persona, strong work ethic and desire to support the department and division makes him a pleasure to work and a significant asset to Kennesaw State University.
Aaron is a hardworking and dedicated Student Affairs professional. In the relatively short amount of time that he has worked with us he has produced tremendous growth in the fitness programs, including the staff. When the Sports and Recreation facilities closed in March of 2020, Aaron and his fitness team had to work quickly to find creative ways to serve the patrons. They developed a “Workout with OwlFit at Home” series and he quickly modified existing programs to continue to serve patrons such as virtual small group coaching and personal training. He and his team are regular contributors to the Division of Student Affairs Health and Wellbeing Newsletter and they continually innovate new programs such as the Wake-Up Workout Challenge. He is well respected and liked by his peers and subordinates. Aaron shows a genuine passion for personal and student learning. He is a wonderful strategic planner and flexible in an ever-changing environment. He continues to seek ways to improve his program areas through thoughtful, intentional priorities and goal setting.
Simeon Stoyanov takes care and time with each client he serves. He is kind, supportive and a strong collaborator. Simeon provides incredible IT support to the DSA and has done so for years. He is selfless, committed and highly knowledgeable. Simeon responds to each request he receives quickly, efficiently and as if it is the only request he has that day. Simeon's ability to problem solve, think critically and make thoughtful decisions are key characteristics of his management style. Simeon is a strong project manager who balances the needs of the individual with the overarching needs of the division. His work ethic is outstanding and his sense of humor is greatly appreciated.
Jessica has evolved into being one of the very most vital members of our division. Having started at KSU as a student, Jessica manifests her passions into successful traditions and practices that make us all better! She has pivoted seamlessly from overseeing advocacy services for GLBTIQ students (a program that she built to its current momentum), to an assessment savant! She is able to manage and manipulate Owl Life software to develop meaningful and useful assessment tools for the division, which is appreciated. Jessica's contribution to the division have opened up the ways in which many of us can understand data collection and put it to good use for making informed decisions for our departments.
Tonya Baker McPherson
Dr. McPherson provides strong leadership, direction, and guidance for the department of Student Activities and the individual staff members within it. In addition to her job responsibilities, Dr. McPherson is also leading the efforts to engage students on campus through Homecoming, Weeks of Welcome, and 2,000+ programs in the spring semester. Dr. McPherson gives space for the staff to get creative with the tasks at hand to encourage us to take ownership and try out new opportunities to get students connected on campus. The success of the department's fall and spring programming wouldn't have been possible without Dr. McPherson, from the planning to the execution. She leads by example constantly, showing that no task is too big or too small. From picking up trash after an event to moving boxes to storage, Dr. McPherson is always with her staff. She has an impressive ability to check in with the staff and allow them to express their thoughts and feelings in an open and constructive manner.
Jenna goes above and beyond to help students and student organizations with space reservations on campus. Jenna demonstrates excellent customer service and always provides solutions to students' questions and challenges. Jenna's strong interpersonal skills, especially when working with campus partners to coordinate student organization events, including Event and Venue Management, Facilities, Sports and Recreation, and Environmental Health and Safety are impressive. Even while working temporarily with the KSU Contact Tracing team in the fall semester and now once per week in the spring semester, Jenna still assists the Department of Student Activities and communicates with clients. Jenna does all this with a positive, upbeat attitude that is contagious in our office!
Melissa is committed to her students, position, and Kennesaw State University. As an alumni of KSU, Melissa shows deep pride for her alma mater in everything she does as a full-time professional. Even with all of her previous experience as a student leader, Melissa centers the experiences and growth of her students on the Kennesaw Activities Board (KAB). Melissa is always an advocate for students' needs and wants within our department and the division. Melissa is often the last person to leave work because of her evening programs to accommodate student schedules. Melissa is truly a student-centered professional who her students and colleagues adore and respect.