Bravo! Faculty and staff honored for positively impacting lives of students

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Bravo award winners (from left) Mary Burns-Coral, Gloria Velarde, Tonya McNew, Elizabeth Connors, Kiela Samuels, and Valerie Greaves. (Photo by CJ South)

It was nothing but smiles as Washtenaw Community College faculty and staff recently gathered for the second annual Bravo awards luncheon.

WCC faculty and staff from various areas and disciplines, including English, music and dance, biology, IT, and Financial Services, gathered at the Morris Lawrence building to be recognized for positively impacting the lives of WCC students.

As WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca noted during her remarks, “a Bravo award needs to be earned and the way it is earned is by going above and beyond what is expected. Average isn’t good enough.”

All Bravo award recipients had to be nominated by students. Several submissions were read aloud during the ceremony, including:

  • “He radiates positive energy!”
  • “She never discouraged me because of my age (over 55) and has been tremendous to the core!”
  • “In the midst of a storm of numbers, this instructor stands calm and unflappable, always ready to help each student see the logic behind math!”

“Students come into Student Activities all the time and they open up about a professor they really love. We want to give them a mechanism that allows them to share those stories in greater detail,” said Rachel Barsch, coordinator of WCC Student Activities. “We know teacher evaluations exist, but stories are warmer and more impactful than numbers.”

The beauty of the Bravo awards is that WCC staff (Financial Aid, Bookstore, Testing Center, etc.) are recognized as well as faculty. Generally, students meet staff members before ever stepping foot in a classroom, Rachel says, so they often serve as a student’s first impression of the college.

“It’s an honor to receive a Bravo award and to know our efforts touch the lives of others,” said Jennifer Nakhleh, WCC Counseling & Career Planning administrative assistant. “Dr. Bellanca and her staff and everyone involved went out of their way to make us feel especially honored and appreciated.”

As Dr. Bellanca pointed out, it can be easy to lose sight of the impact we have on others in the day-to-day demands of work and life. The Bravo awards serve as a reminder that hard work and passion rarely go unnoticed.

Before concluding the ceremony, Dr. Bellanca left the honorees with some inspiring words: “The reason you are here is because our students have closely watched as you guide and lead them on their educational journey.”

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2016 issue of On the Record.

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