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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition


See the current and past Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates.

2020 Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates

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Amy Baldwin

Amy Baldwin is a pioneering educator and educational entrepreneur. She is the director of student transitions at the University of Central Arkansas and teaches college literacy and student success courses. For more than 20 years, she has taught and guided first-year community college and university students. She has co-authored the student success textbooks The College Experience and The Community College Experience with Brian Tietje, Ph.D., and Paul Stoltz, Ph.D. Her research interests include at-risk and first-generation college students.

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DeOnte Brown 

DeOnte Brown is the interim associate dean of students and director of Student Transitions and Family Programs at Clemson University. DeOnte is strongly committed to creating opportunities for all students to thrive in college and has invested significant time in supporting first-year students to establish a strong foundation for their collegiate experience. Until recently, DeOnte’s work with the first-year experience was with students of color in Clemson’s CONNECTIONS and Renaissance MAN Programs. Through these initiatives DeOnte created meaningful change in the first-year experience of students. His work with these programs has allowed him to develop meaningful relationships with students to understand their needs and connect them to opportunities to enhance their experience. DeOnte’s vision of comprehensive support for first-year students of color has led to CONNECTIONS embracing its identity as a Living-Learning Community with a common seminar course he helped develop, along with peer mentoring and personal development workshops. By also acknowledging the complexity of the first-year transition for men of color, DeOnte collaborated with graduate assistants to develop a program that provides tailored support to this population by understanding what it means to navigate college and life through their various identities.

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Carol Dochen

Carol W. Dochen is the director of the Student Learning Assistance Center (SLAC) at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. She is also the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) coordinating prelaw advisor and has taught University Seminar 1100 since 1994. Carol participates in state, regional, and national professional organizations for student success, developmental education, and prelaw advising as a mentor, presenter, author, and consultant. She received Texas State’s Mariel M. Muir Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2019, and she received the Texas State University System Regents’ Staff Excellence award in February 2020. Carol earned a bachelor’s in Psychology/Guidance Studies and master’s of education in School Psychology from Southwest Texas State University. She earned her doctorate in Higher Education Administration, with a minor in Educational Psychology, from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been employed at Texas State University since 1974.

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Julie McLaughlin  

Julie McLaughlin is professor and chair for the First Year Experience (FYE) Department and the Leadership Certificate. In the last decade Cincinnati State has built its program from a one credit, non-structured FYE course to offering three structured FYE course options (one, two, and three credits). Retention for students who successfully complete one of the FYE courses is higher than the general student population. Julie helped develop the three FYE courses, its standardized syllabus, and its instructor training. She was named Most Outstanding Club Advisor (Leadership Club) in 2016 and is an eight-time House/Bruckmann Faculty Excellence Award Nominee. She co-authored the book Thriving in the Community College & Beyond: Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development for FYE Courses at the Community College Level. She has also served as institute faculty for the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition for the institute on Developing and Sustaining First-Year Seminars as well as the institute on First-Year Student Success in the Community College. Julie has a master’s in college student personnel from Eastern Michigan University.

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Katherine Powell  

Katherine Powell has worked with first-year students throughout her career at Berry College, as a writing instructor and, for the last 22 years, as director of First-Year Experience. In this role, she coordinates the college’s first-year seminar course, recruiting, training and supporting faculty instructors and peer mentors, and works closely with a First-Year Advisory Committee to regularly assess, review and improve course content and processes. She also helps coordinate first-year student advising, scheduling and orientation and coordinates the first-year common reading program. During her tenure in the FYE office, she has helped create the college’s First-Year Service Day and led students in developing MAD Theatre, a performance piece addressing healthy relationships that is performed for new students each year. As a member of the college’s Care Team, she provides advocacy and support for at-risk students.

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Rebecca Royal  

Rebecca Royal is dean of Student Success at Union County College where she leads a team comprised of the Advising, Career and Transfer department, Career Services, Disability Support Services, the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program, and two graduation initiatives: Operation Graduation and Project Achievement. These departments are committed to fostering a supportive environment where students receive guidance and services to achieve their educational goals. Through efforts such as mandatory orientation, advisor assignment, completion of educational plans, monitoring of progress during the term, and coordination with academic affairs, the college has seen significant increases in graduation rates and in raw numbers of graduates.

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Gregory Singleton  

Gregory R. Singleton is the associate vice president and dean of students at Austin Peay State University. With more than 32 years of experience in higher education, he holds an associate degree from Jackson State Community College, a bachelor’s from the University of Memphis, a master’s in Student Personnel Services and Counseling from the University of Memphis, a master’s in Educational Leadership from Florida International University, and has completed his doctoral studies in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Florida International University. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Harvard University Higher Education Management Development Program. He has previously served at the University of Memphis (1987-1994) as the coordinator for Fraternity/Sorority Affairs; at Purdue University (1994-1997) as the assistant dean of students; at the University of Miami (1997-2007) as the associate dean of students/director of judicial affairs; and currently at Austin Peay State University as associate vice president for Student Affairs/Dean of Students (2007-present) and was the interim vice president for Student Affairs at Austin Peay State University from July 1, 2018 until January 28, 2019.

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Heather Thrush  

 Heather Thrush, associate dean for Student Engagement and Success. She has 20 years of experience in student services in higher education and has worked at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN, for the past 10 years. At Wabash, she coordinates disability services, new student orientation, Title IX, and the Wabash Interaction Network (Early Alert System). She also oversees the Counseling Center and Student Health Center employees. Heather has a passion for working with college students and helping them navigate college and achieve their educational goals.

On a personal note, she is married to her husband Cory, and they have three cats: Cheddar, Flounder and Stoney. She enjoys spending time with family, landscaping, gardening, watching Wabash sports, yoga, swimming, and traveling.

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Mary Ellen Wade

Mary Ellen Wade is an innovative, mission-centered, and creative leader who uses data to work with faculty, administrators, and student leaders to improve the first-year experience within Messina, the universal first year living learning program at Loyola University Maryland. Using research on living-learning communities, national best practices, and internal data, Mary Ellen developed a robust, systematic assessment plan for Messina. She has helped to change institutional culture around assessment to move from evaluation and surveying to one that places a primary emphasis on student learning and reflection. Recently, Mary Ellen collaborated with divisional partners to develop an early intervention student reflective tool that provides first-year students individualized strategies for academic success, campus involvement, and personal wellness. Mary Ellen is also a mentor to first-year students in Messina, supporting their holistic transition into the Loyola community.

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Annette Walstad  

Annette Walstad has been a consistent driving force in ensuring that Carroll College students have an impactful, meaningful experience tailored to their individual academic goals and ensuring that they have access to high-impact practices. Annette leads a team of advisors to create tailored course schedules for all first-year students and is an advocate and leader in creating a robust orientation session for parents of first-year students. In 2018, Annette consolidated the Office of Academic Advising, Career Services and Internships, Global Learning, Testing Services, and the Office of Veteran Affairs into a one-stop shop, the Saints Success Center, to better serve students. She has been the main organizer of Sophomore Retreat and the Carroll Success Network, which is designed to discuss and formulate comprehensive responses to at-risk students. Annette opens up her home several times each semester to welcome students for dinner and an evening of games in an effort to ease homesickness and build camaraderie. She is a champion for Carroll College students.


Past Recipients

Year Name Institute
2019 Crystal Benedicks Wabash College
2019 Katie Chartier College of the Desert
2019 Anneke Chy University of Texas at Austin
2019 Robin Cunningham Seton Hall University
2019 Brigitte Lahme Sonoma State University
2019 Don Nix University of Arkansas
2019 René Sawyer Greenville Technical College
2019 Calley Stevens-Taylor Ceder Crest College
2019 Lorett Swank Southeastern Louisiana University
2019 John Wegner Angelo State University
2018 Courtney Bringley  Paul Smith's College
2018 Tim Cairy  Widener University
2018 Christopher Francisco Oklahoma State University
2018 Lynn Gillette Nicholls State University
2018 Ernest Jefferies Davidson College
2018 Amber Morgan Greenville Technical College
2018 Paz Oliverez California State University, Dominquez Hills
2018 Joanne Pederson California State University, San Marcos
2018  David Rizzo  University of California, Davis
2018 Jennie Towner Hartford Community College
2017 Alan Bearman  Washburn University 
2017 Lauren Bell Randolph-Macon College
2017 Gary Bowling Northwest Vista College
2017 Herbert Bruce Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
2017 Jodi Calvert Three Rivers Community College
2017 Deirdre Heistad University of Northern Iowa
2017 Marisel Herrera Arizona State University
2017 Beverly Kahn Farmingdale State College
2017 Michael Puma Loyola University Maryland
2017 Jennifer Young Calumet College of St. Joseph
2016 Dante Cantú State University of New York at New Paltz
2016 Chris Caplinger Georgia Southern University
2016 Jenn Daniels Lyon College
2016 Brenda Dede Clarion University
2016 Patsy Fischer Seward County Community College/Area Technical School
2016 Sonia Maria University of New Mexico
2016 Erin Kimura-Walsh Santa Clara University
2016 Nacy KingSander Texas A&M University – Kingsville
2016 Gerald Poe Wilberforce University
2016 Marnelle Alexis Stephens MacCormac College
2015 Gregory Budzban Southern Illinois University 
2015 Michele Campagna Montclair State University
2015 Frank Collins University of New Brunswick
2015 Richard Gebauer Cabrini College
2015 Christy Henry Wesleyan College
2015 Vincent J. Kloskowski III Saint Joseph's College
2015 Shannon McCasland Aims Community College
2015 Ann Seavey Gordon College
2015 Jill Simons Arkansas State University
2015 Maria Villaseñor California State University, Monterey Bay
2014 Barbara Boyette Guilford College (undergraduate institution: Washington University)
2014 Peter Ellard Siena College (undergraduate institution: Fordham University)
2014 Tracy Gottlieb Seton Hall University (undergraduate institution: Seton Hall University)
2014 April Heaney University of Wyoming (Undergraduate institution: Casper College)
2014 April Mann University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (undergraduate institution: Mississippi State University)
2014 Colin J. Morris Manhattanville College (undergraduate institution: University of Manchester (UK))
2014 Cynthia Mosqueda El Camino College (undergraduate institution: University of California, Los Angeles)
2014 David T. Ouimette University of Connecticut (undergraduate institution: Gettysburg College)
2014 Shelagh Rose Pasadena City College (undergraduate institution: Pasadena City College)
2014 Phyllis Simpson Our Lady of the Lake College (undergraduate institution: Louisiana State University)
2013 Darian Burwell Gallaudet University
2013 Tamara Clunis Amarillo College
2013 Keisha L. Hoerrner Kennesaw State University
2013 Brad E. Hollingshead Medaille College
2013 Virginia McAleese Paul Smith’s College
2013 Sally K. Murphy California State University, East Bay
2013 Gregory D. Robinson Olive-Harvey College
2013 Michael Salmon Marymount Manhattan College
2013 Cheryl Spector California State University, Northridge
2013 Jayme Millsap Stone University of Central Arkansas
2012 Margaret Garroway Howard Community College
2012 Andrew Grant Walsh University
2012 Nicole Hendersen Southern Connecticut State University
2012 John Lanning University of Colorado Denver
2012 Katherine Lehman Otterbein University
2012 Amybeth Maurer Elgin Community College
2012 Christine M. Nowik Cedar Crest College
2012 Karen Palmunen Saint Joseph College
2012 Andrew Person Mercy College
2012 Karen Weathermon Washington State University
2011 Julie Amon Case Western Reserve University
2011 Michelle Bandla SUNY Oswego
2011 Fabania DesRosiers Dominican College of Blauvelt
2011 Lizabeth Doherty Mohawk Valley Community College
2011 Rachel Duff Anderson Siena Heights University
2011 Marsha Fralick Cuyamaca Community College
2011 Keldon Henley Ouachita Baptist University
2011 Marilyn Kurata University of Alabama at Birmingham
2011 Kia Kuresman Goucher College
2011 Denise Rode Northern Illinois University
2010 Christine Benson Madonna University
2010 Dale B. Billingsley University of Louisville
2010 Harvest Collier Missouri University of Science and Technology
2010 Christa D. Fye Hampden-Sydney College
2010 Stacy Gilbert Louisiana Tech University
2010 Richard Reid South Dakota State University
2010 Sarah K. Shutt J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
2010 Stanley D. Singleton Paine College
2010 Tonya Strickland Bainbridge College
2010 Nancy Walburn University of Alabama at Birmingham
2009 Debra K. Borden Corning Community College
2009 Lisa Harris Bortman Whittier College
2009 Felicia L. Ganther College of Lake County
2009 Jennifer Griggs Butler University
2009 Steven Higgins Ohio State University at Lima
2009 Christy Price Dalton State College
2009 Ralph J. Rascati Kennesaw State University
2009 Michele Rasmussen Duke University
2009 D. Kim Sawrey University of North Carolina, Wilmington
2009 Gayle A. Williams Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
2008 Carrie Brimhall Minnesota State Community and Technical College – Fergus Falls Campus
2008 Nannette Commander Georgia State University
2008 Lynita Cooksey Arkansas State University
2008 James Diedrick Agnes Scott College
2008 Robert H. Garvey College of the Holy Cross
2008 Russell Lowery-Hart West Texas A&M University
2008 Steady H. Moono Montgomery County Community College
2008 DeLaine Priest University of Central Florida
2008 Alison Ridley Hollins University
2008 George Roundy University of Puget Sound
2007 Rebecca Ament Zane State College
2007 Robert J. Anderson The College of New Jersey
2007 Paul Arcario LaGuardia Community College, The City University of New York
2007 Tim Boatmun Southeastern Oklahoma State University
2007 Leanna Fenneberg Saint Louis University
2007 Mariana J. Lebron Syracuse University
2007 Pamela M. Milloy Grand View College
2007 Pamela Person University of Cincinnati
2007 Maria C. Bennett Rose Fairmont State University
2007 William J. Tenbrunsel Roanoke College
2006 Dolores Bertoti Alvernia College
2006 Aaron M. Brower University of Wisconsin – Madison
2006 Dorothy Harris Trinity University (Washington)
2006 Laurie Lynn Hazard Bryant University
2006 Jennifer Ounjian-Auque Contra Costa College
2006 Adele Pittendrigh Montana State University
2006 Zaide Pixley Kalamazoo College
2006 Adrian Rodriguez Butler Community College
2006 Joni Webb Petschauer Appalachian State University
2006 Peter White University of New Mexico
2005 Dennis Cook Gloucester County College
2005 Phyllis Cremer Woodbury University
2005 Marcella H. Esler SUNY College at Brockport
2005 Lois Fennelly Bethune-Cookman College
2005 Mabel G. Freeman The Ohio State University
2005 Carole L. Isaak Elizabethtown College
2005 Richard Kirk Texas State Technical College – Harlingen
2005 Cheryl A. Rice State University of West Georgia
2005 Philip Shahbaz Azusa Pacific University
2005 Maggy Smith University of Texas at El Paso
2004 Earl G. Bagley Columbus State University
2004 Rosemary King Carr Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
2004 Kathleen S. Evans State University of New York College at Oswego
2004 Jason Finkelstein Bronx Community College
2004 Jeffrey L. Hale Southeastern Oklahoma State University
2004 Patricia Maestro Mount San Antonio College
2004 Eric L. Newhall Occidental College
2004 Janice Odom North Carolina State University
2004 Robert M. Smith Slippery Rock University
2004 Dorothy P. Ward University of Texas at El Paso
2003 Cassandre Giguere Alvarado University of Texas at Austin
2003 Valery Y.R. Bates-Brown Virginia State University
2003 Kay Dean Bethea Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – Jefferson Davis Campus
2003 Glenn Blalock Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
2003 Emily F. Cutrer Arizona State University West
2003 Michael A. Dunn Radford University
2003 Vivia L. Fowler Columbia College
2003 Joel Nossoff University of New Mexico
2003 David Rehm Mount Saint Mary’s College
2003 Laurel Williamson Lower Columbia College
2002 Sarah J. Bumgarner University of North Carolina at Asheville
2002 Mona J. Casady Southwest Missouri State University
2002 Andrew Dunham Albion College
2002 Kathleen Ann Gover Brooklyn College, The City University of New York
2002 Robert E. Hawkinson Willamette University
2002 Loann King Kennedy-King College
2002 Rhonda Mandel Oswego State University
2002 Francine G. McNairy Millersville University
2002 Valdrie Walker Sweet Briar College
2002 Katie Watkins Dean College
2001 Theresa P. Ammirati Connecticut College
2001 Eija Ayravainen CUNY, Hunter College
2001 Ingrid M. Blood Pennsylvania State University
2001 Joseph B. Cuseo Marymount College
2001 Duncan S. Harris University of Wyoming
2001 Gail H. McKee Roanoke College
2001 Ruth Ann Policella State University of New York at Potsdam
2001 Chris Staub William Rainey Harper College
2001 Margaret Moore Willen Eastern New Mexico University
2001 Fran Zaniello Northern Kentucky University
2000 John Back Biola University
2000 John Burney Loras College
2000 Luther Hughes Western Kentucky University
2000 Patricia Kowal Blackburn College
2000 Jerry Pattengale Indiana Wesleyan University
2000 Candace Ready Piedmont Technical College
2000 Judith Smith University of California, Los Angeles
2000 Kurt Spellmeyer Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
2000 David Whitman University of Wyoming
2000 Allen Zimmerman Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute
1999 Susanne Adams Sandhills Community College
1999 Eugene Bales Bethany College
1999 James Brink Texas Tech University
1999 Mildred Church Dandridge The Sage Colleges
1999 Lisa Donato Essex County College
1999 Douglas Gaffin University of Oklahoma
1999 Vivian Garcia Conover State University of New York at Fredonia
1999 Becky Houck University of Portland
1999 Nancy King Kennesaw State University
1999 Arthur Mori Chaminade University of Honolulu
1999 Joseph O’Sullivan Bronx Community College
1999 Susan Schapiro State University of New York at Buffalo
1999 Raymond Schwarz State University of New York at New Paltz
1998 Debra Bell Baker Aims Community College
1998 Andrew Bushko Widener University
1998 Linda Carter Cumberland College
1998 David DeFrain Central Missouri State University
1998 Scott Evenbeck Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis
1998 Kathy Fish Cumberland College
1998 Sally Roden University of Central Arkansas
1998 LaVell Saunders Utah State University
1998 Adrian Schiess Xavier University
1998 Deborah Shaw Conner Auburn University
1998 Kathleen Skubikowski Middlebury College
1998 JoAnn Vicks Mary Holmes College
1998 Arthur Wheeler University of Portland
1997 Catherine Andersen Gallaudet University
1997 Patricia Bayer Richard Ohio University
1997 Rennie Brantz Appalachian State University
1997 Dan Fredricks Saint Francis College
1997 Fred Hinson Western Carolina University
1997 Michael Kerman Adirondack Community College
1997 Michael Moore Georgia Southern University
1997 John Slade Forsyth Technical Community College
1997 Morris Wray High Point University
1997 W. C. Burriss Young Harvard College
1996 Jeanne Block Goodan Midway College
1996 Jay Chaskes Rowan College of New Jersey
1996 Alan Dillingham Illinois State University
1996 John Gillen Castleton State College
1996 Sandra Gregerman University of Michigan
1996 Audrey Harrigan-Lamont LaGuardia Community College
1996 William Potter Alma College
1996 Bill Ramage Castleton State College
1996 Judith Rizzi University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
1996 Mary Seeger Grand Valley State University
1996 Beverly Slaughter Brevard Community College
1996 Amanda Yale Slippery Rock University
1995 Grant Cornwell St. Lawrence University
1995 Nancy Dishner East Tennessee State University
1995 Joan Ehren Saint Xavier University
1995 David Gilbert Linfield College
1995 William Hartel Marietta College
1995 Connie Hood Tennessee Technological University
1995 Judith Hooper Mission College
1995 Sung Bok Kim State University of New York University at Albany
1995 Margaret Maguire State University of New York College of Oneonta
1995 Nancy Mergler University of Oklahoma
1995 Richard Wallace College of Alameda
1994 Claudia Barrett Kent State University at Salem
1994 Thomas Carskadon Mississippi State University
1994 Glenda Crippen Purdue University
1994 David Eggebrecht Concordia University, Wisconsin
1994 Gretchen Gall Marian College of Fond du Lac
1994 Dee Allen Goedeke High Point University
1994 Jane Kennedy Brevard Community College
1994 Neil Rudin State University College at Buffalo
1994 Timothy Walter University of Tulsa
1994 Christine Wolf University of Texas at San Antonio
1993 Lorene (Sallie) Brown El Camino College
1993 MaryKaye Cochran Longwood College
1993 Asa Eldh Wheaton College
1993 Bruce Janasiewicz Florida State University
1993 Sandra Powers University of Charleston
1993 Stuart Rubner University of Wisconsin – Parkside
1993 Kathleen Schur Inver Hills Community College
1993 Eleanor Terry William Jewell College
1993 Myron Umerski St. Cloud State University
1993 Jerry Warner Northern Kentucky University
1992 Carson Carr University of Albany, State University of New York
1992 Thomas Flynn Mount Saint Mary’s College
1992 M. Cecile Forté Suffolk Community College
1992 Karen Greenberg Hunter College of The City University of New York
1992 Carol Henley Howard University
1992 Gary Kramer Brigham Young University
1992 Natalie Krawitz Stephens College
1992 Robert McKelvain Abilene Christian University
1992 Meryl Sussman LaGuardia Community College
1992 Ana Maria Torres Aybar Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico
1992 Carl Wahlstrom Genesse Community College
1992 Neari Warner Southern University
1991 Ralph Anttonen Millersville University
1991 Dena Beeghly Cecil Community College
1991 Betty Ruth Cully Enterprise State Junior College
1991 Joyce Donatelli Wilson College
1991 Richard Guarasci St. Lawrence University
1991 Jay Mechling University of California, Davis
1991 W. Laurance Quane Illinois State University
1991 Cynthia Sellers Fort Valley State College
1991 O. Kenneth Webb Appalachian State University
1991 David Woodyard Denison University
1990 Ann Ferren American University
1990 Peter Gold State University of New York at Buffalo
1990 James Iaccino Illinois Benedictine College
1990 Douglas Kenny Westchester Community College
1990 Mary McMann Onondaga Community College
1990 Jack Meiland University of Michigan
1990 Mary Oestereicher Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
1990 Brenda Rust-O’Beirne University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
1990 Lois Sculco Seton Hill College
1990 Maria Vallejo Bergen Community College

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