When one reaches for the stars in an excellent education leading to a dream career, you’re bound to meet some of the already shining superstars at Truckee Meadows Community College.
Every year at the time of Commencement, the TMCC community recognizes its new tenure awardees, Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Regents’ scholar and faculty honorees, and regional excellence in teaching and service awards. Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Teachers of the Year and Classified Employee of the Year are also celebrated.
Regents’ Scholar 2016-2017
One student at each NSHE college is chosen by the Board of Regents each year as Regents’ Scholar, based on the student’s academic achievements, service activities and leadership strengths.
The Regents’ Scholar for 2016-2017 is Spencer Earl Schultz, a TMCC graduate who has now transferred to the University of Nevada, Reno. His double major there is Political Science and International Affairs, and he hopes to someday become an attorney and public servant.
Between high school and college, Schultz worked for three years in a casino resort to help support his family during the Recession and earn money for college. He now works in the President’s Office at TMCC, and teaches English to international students at the Intensive English Language Center, UNR.
“Spencer does the most volunteer work I’ve ever seen,” said Frankie Talbot, SGA member 2015-2016. “He has three jobs, takes a full load of classes and does volunteer work too.”
One of Schultz’s jobs for that academic year was fulfilling the responsibilities of SGA President at TMCC.
Faculty Tenure Recipients
Academic tenure is given to college faculty members who are committed to excellence in education and have shown dedication to their students and institution. To achieve tenure, instructors take on a rigorous multi-year process demonstrating their high-level subject expertise and involvement in college activities. Tenure provides security in their teaching position and the title of Professor. In alphabetical order, the 2016-2017 tenure recipients are:
- Sameer Bhattarai, PhD, Environmental Science
- Laura Briggs, PhD, Biology
- Gabriela Brochu, PhD, Foreign Languages
- Meeghan Gray, PhD, Biology
- Sandra Martinez, Dental Assisting
- Nancy O’Neal, Management
Classified Employee of the Year
In NSHE, classified employees are supportive staff members who serve in numerous positions—from media services, to academic and administrative support, to testing services. Each year, a stellar classified staff member is chosen who practices a high-level of skill and devotion to his or her colleagues and department. The finalists are:
- Heather Combs-Salley, Academic Advisement
- Terri Hull, English Department
- Amber Ka’ai’a, Nursing
- Carolina Martinez, Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language
- Helen Scott, Testing Services
- Linda Walker, Facilities Services
Ka’ai’a was presented as Classified Employee of the Year at the Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony on May 9.
She manages multiple projects at the William N. Pennington Health Science Center “with pride and grace,” said Brad Woodring, TMCC Foundation President, at the awards presentation. He noted that Ka’ai’a first began at TMCC as a student employee and continues to advance in her position through hard work and superior organizational skills.
WDCE Instructors of the Year
The TMCC Workforce Development and Community Education (WDCE) Division honors several exemplary instructors every spring.
Blanche Dieket has been named English Language Learner (ELL) Instructor of the Year.
“She begins each of her classes with an affirmation which is not only sound pedagogical practice, but the words themselves are uplifting, said Amy Williams, WDCE Director. “She also asks all of her students at the end of each session to prepare a PowerPoint titled their ‘ELL Journey.’ These presentations are not only professional but they are inspiring stories of growth and transformation.”
Karen Pencil was awarded the honor of High School Equivalency (HSE) Instructor of the Year. She works with students who enter the foundational programs with early primary reading and math skills and have faced many learning challenges.
“Karen is patient and kind, yet she is also rigorous and firm and has had great success working with our foundation-level students,” Williams said. “She has a wonderful sense of humor which enables her to reach her students, and also diffuse struggles and lift them up.”
Ron Sefchick is WDCE Instructor of the Year. He has taught Spanish classes at WDCE for 13 years. At the award presentation, he was praised for his preparation, enthusiasm, patience, and providing extra cultural and study materials for his classes.
“One student recently commented, ‘I thought Professor Sefchick was great,’” Williams added. “The student continued, ‘I really enjoyed the class. He went out of his way to provide us with wonderful materials. It was like a little piece of magic.’”
Part-time Faculty of the Year
Thirteen part-time instructors are especially honored for commendable teaching this year. They were recognized at the Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony. The honorees are the following:
- Aaron Gomez, English
- Ana Gallegos, Foreign Languages
- Angie Flynn, English
- Annie Gunter, Tutoring and Learning Center
- Billie Phelps, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- Erin Shearin, Visual Arts
- Janeal Godfrey, Anthropology
- Judy Byarlay, Veterinary Technician
- Kipper Horton, Social Sciences
- Laura Wilhelm, Anthropology
- Michael Dubon, English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Paul Villa, Core Humanities
- Scott Parker, Political Science
PTK Teachers of the Year
The Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Teacher of the Year tradition is a special, student-led project by the College’s honor society.
Regents’ Creative Activities Award
Candace Nicol Garlock, TMCC Art Galleries Curator and Art Instructor, will be honored at Commencement with the Nevada Regents’ Award for Creative Activities, an award which recognizes excellence in creative achievements. It is given to only one faculty member each year in Nevada.
Regent Jason Geddes, PhD, announced Garlock’s award at the Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony.
“Candace’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally,” he said. “She has been awarded the distinguished Nevada Arts Council Artist Fellowship in 2009 and has recently been awarded an honorable mention in Printmaking Today, a review of fine art printmaking at the Dedalo Center for Contemporary Art, and the Castle of Castiglione Museum, Abruzzo, Italy.”
He described Nicol’s artwork as truly Nevada-inspired.
“Her work has been described as a fusion between printmaking, painting, and digital photography,” he said. “Nicol’s work can also be seen in the book, ‘100 Artists of the Male Figure,’ by Eric Gibbons.”
RGJ TMCC Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award
The Reno Gazette-Journal TMCC Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award goes to an individual who has made outstanding achievements in instruction.
This year’s awardee is Olga Katkova, Chemistry Professor.
In her nominations for the award, Katkova is noted as receiving “a stellar collection of student evaluations,” and her class sections “have demonstrated the highest student success rates in the school.” To assist students who need additional help outside the classroom, she volunteers in the Tutoring and Learning Center, and hosts a TMCC Chemistry 121 Facebook page.
In 2016, students recognized her as PTK Teacher of the Year, Full Time.
Katkova is an active member of the Two-Year College Chemistry Consortium (2YC3), a part of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Chemical Education. In Spring Semester, she led the TMCC planning team to host the national 216th 2YC3 Conference, “Chemistry Inside and Outside the Classroom.” She is a volunteer science coach with the ACS Chemistry Ambassador program at local schools, and also volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club.
Model Dairy Excellence in Service Award
The Model Dairy TMCC Faculty Excellence in Service Award is given to a staff member who has contributed exemplary service and dedication to the College.
Julia Hammett, PhD, is this year’s honoree. She is an Anthropology Professor and the Anthropology Discipline Coordinator with more than 20 years of service at TMCC.
Hammett composed the degree and certificate proposals for the Anthropology Program, and has mentored both students and faculty during her tenure so far. She has served on numerous campus committees including Planning, Facilities Master Plan, Faculty Senate, Diversity, Campus Climate and Student Resources.
She has served as Faculty Advisor for the Native American Student Association, and recently secured a $1,500 grant for the Student Garden Club. Since 2012, Julia is TMCC’s Nevada Faculty Alliance Chapter President.
Hammett is TMCC’s first Sustainability Advocate, and the Implementation Liaison for Second Nature, a national nonprofit organization helping schools become more environmentally sustainable. Her service also extends to the community; she is the Northern Co-Chair of the Nevada Green Party, and she was recently elected Chair-Elect for the City of Reno, Ward 2 Neighborhood Advisory Board.
Note: SGA Student Club Advisor of the Year will be covered in an upcoming Student Government Association update news story.