February 07, 2014

Wentworth Members Awarded for Work in 2013

Award winners Jennifer Cheng, Jennifer Casavant, Steve Rossi, and Heather Miller

The Division of Student Affairs recently awarded eight members of the Division in recognition and celebration of work which exemplifies the guiding principles of the Division. These awards were designed to reflect the goal of Wentworth to Inspire, Empower, and Innovate as the Division works with students, faculty, and staff.

Nominees for these awards must show a commitment to students through their daily work, service on committees, and actions which support the Division and/or Institute. Awards were handed out on January 14 to award work completed in 2013.

Inspire Award

This award is given to an individual who is influential in creating an inspirational work environment. The person is someone who encourages the involvement of others through teamwork. The recipient helps others be successful through role modeling, encouragement, and inclusivity. This individual is able to positively impact, engage, and support the Wentworth community.

This year, two individuals received the Inspire Award. The first recipient is 2013 Jennifer Cheng, program coordinator.

Cheng’s nominator wrote how she is an amazing role model for the division. She has a positive attitude that is always present, an amazing work ethic where she constantly puts the wellbeing of students first, and a wonderful idealistic outlook that makes her want to create the best environment for all in the Wentworth community. She has built wonderful relationships with student organization members, her FYS class, and all the students who work in or visit campus life/diversity programs. From celebrating accomplishments and providing tough feedback, to informal conversations and joking around, Cheng interacts with every student in a realistic and caring manner that resonates with them and always results in a positive experience.

Cheng has volunteered for several initiatives surrounding inclusion because she wants to help create an inclusive environment for all here at Wentworth. She was part of the Student Affairs Diversity Task Force, which created a statement on diversity for the Division of Student Affairs, she is an active member of the Student Experience Diversity Committee, and she jumped at the opportunity to join a cross campus team that attended a diversity conference last summer to talk about inclusion on an institutional level. She engages in challenging conversations, is willing to learn and listen, and advocates for all voices to be heard. Her dedication and commitment to the ideals of our profession inspires me on a daily basis.

The second recipient of the Inspire Award is Jennifer Casavant, associate director of housing and residential life. Casavant is best characterized as being an incredible supporter and motivator for students, staff, and the overall Wentworth community. She best promotes inclusivity in the community by developing meaningful and supportive relationships. She invests time developing relationships through every student interaction; whether it’s an FYS student, a Resident Assistant, or a student expressing concern, Casavant is always warm and encouraging to students.

It’s quite evident that the student’s value their relationship with Casavant – it’s very common for RAs just to drop by her office to talk about a program, their classes, or just to say hi. Casavant's commitment to developing an inspirational work environment is also evident in her work with the residential life professional staff. She is an incredibly supportive advocate and role-model for the live-on Resident Director staff. She understands the unique challenges RDs face; she’s always willing to help out, no matter how simple or complex the issue. Casavant has been inspirational within the Division of Student Affairs over this past year.

Casavant’s work with professional staff, faculty and students has strengthened the Wentworth community as a whole. She has worked diligently on improving the Diversity Link educational program for staff and faculty. Her ability to collaborate with faculty, staff and students to put together a thoughtful and inspiring program, has created opportunities to share campus experiences. The Diversity Link program reaches a cross-section of campus that identifies potential allies, educates, and provides tools to improve the climate on campus. She has proven to be a leader in diversity and inclusivity initiatives that positively impact the Wentworth community.

Empower Award

This award is given to an individual in recognition of work that has demonstrated the principle of putting students first. This individual provides programs or services that balance educational needs with customer service. The recipient strives to develop procedures, programs or services that are both welcoming and efficient in order to enhance the overall student experience and encourage personal growth. This individual provides opportunities for students to be empowered within their academic and social lives at Wentworth.

The 2013 recipient of the Empower Award is Heather Miller, director of new student programs. Miller has improved the first year experience by updating orientation and welcome programs as well as re-structuring the First Year Seminar curriculum. By implementing an Appreciative Advising model to First Year Seminar, she has given students the opportunity to connect with a staff or faculty member on campus serving as a guide throughout their entire semester. The new model gives facilitators additional tools.

In addition, Miller’s thoughtful planning and scheduling provided timely interventions for students in need. By meeting with students individually not only are facilitators able to learn more about the first year experience, but students are all given space to ask questions, voice concerns, or seek help individually. These changes to the curriculum empower our students to ask questions, seek advice and learn from our knowledgeable facilitators. Miller also empowered her FYS staff by providing thorough training, outreach and follow-up to facilitators throughout the semester.

Innovate Award

This award is given to an individual who demonstrates innovation through the development or enhancement of programs or services that meet the changing needs of the campus. The individual has an ability to be creative in the usage of people, budgets or technology. Their efforts contribute to creating a positive and inclusive work environment as well as providing quality service to students.

The 2012 recipient of the Innovate Award is Steve Rossi, assistant director of campus life. Rossi’s nominator wrote about the tremendous amount of work that has been done surrounding the Wentworth Leadership Institute which so many of our students benefit from their participation. The complete overhaul of the program has resulted in a new phase being "unveiled" each year which has required a tremendous amount of work on Steve's behalf. In addition to Rossi’s work with the Wentworth Leadership Institute, he has created a new Leadership Program - LEAP. This new program has had two successful events this fall - a whitewater rafting and hiking trip. Two of my FYS students have participated in LEAP events and gave me such positive feedback. The students appreciated the opportunity to get off campus and learn more about leadership and meet other students with interests similar to their own. This innovative program has the potential to attract a wide variety of students who many not have otherwise participated in the Leadership Institute.

Collaboration Award

This award is given to a committee or special project group for demonstrating great work that exemplifies collaboration, communication, and community. The recipients work to create, support, or strengthen an environment of being a “team player.” Their collective work has demonstrated the creation of new programs or services, improvement of current program or service, and has resulted in high quality outcomes. This group exemplifies teamwork, inclusion, and consensus-building as they work to achieve Divisional goals and objectives. Nominees for this award can either be within one department or include individuals from various departments.

The recipient for this year’s Collaboration Award is Weekends@WIT. The Weekends@WIT committee is made up of representatives from Campus Life, and Housing and Residential Life. Each week, the committee gathers to plan weekly Saturday night programs for students. Over the past two years, programming efforts and attendance has increased significantly, and a new variety of programs have been introduced. Weekends@WIT is always trying to challenge themselves to create new and innovative programs, and in 2013 they introduced Mystery Bingo, the Price is Right, and Paint Nite, three successful events that can be duplicated in the future.

The committee embodies the definition of a “team player” and is always willing to step in and assist with other campus programming. For example, the committee presented during New Student Orientation and attracted more than 150 students per session. This exposed Wentworth’s new students to Weekends@WIT before the semester started and helped establish Weekends@WIT as a “go-to event.” They have also shared best practices with other institutions and recently received positive feedback after presenting about Wentworth’s weekend programming efforts at NACA. The committee embodies teamwork and inclusion, and should be recognized for its hard work, consistently fun and high-energy meetings, and quality programming outcomes.

A special thanks to the Selection Committee:

  • Annamaria Wenner, Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs/Dean of Students
  • Peter Fowler, Associate Dean of Students
  • Jenn Kosses, Assistant Dean of Students
  • Joseph Santacroce, Associate Professor, College of Engineering and Technology
  • Christopher Aulf, Biomedical Engineering, Class of 2016

Editor's Note: An an earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed quotes to Jenn Kosses. 

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