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Faculty/Staff That Inspire Career Paths

Dear JMU Dukes: Have you been inspired by someone at JMU in deciding what to do after graduation? Has someone taken time to talk with you about your future, helped you make a decision or made connections for you? If so, you can show your appreciation by nominating that someone for the Career Champion Award! This can be an advisor, instructor, supervisor, or any JMU faculty/staff member that has made a difference in your career path.

Nomination form and details will be available soon!

About This Award

The Career Champion Award - formerly known as the Make Your Next Move Award - has been recognizing faculty and staff members each year (since 2012) for their outstanding work helping students move forward with their career goals and plans, whether those plans have included finding an internship, deciding on a career path, or graduate school.

Who is eligible?

Any person in the JMU community who demonstrates a devotion to helping students make their next move in their career development. This could include major, career field, graduate school or other post-graduation plans. However, no member of the University Career Center (UCC) can be nominated. UCC will award one faculty member and one staff member with a Career Champion Award each year.

The UCC team solicits the nomination of individuals who exhibit the following characteristics when working with students:

  • Nominees who are passionate about and invest time in supporting students in their professional growth
  • Nominees who help students make connections to prepare them for life after JMU
  • Nominees who provide opportunities for students to develop the skills they need to make their next move
  • Nominees see potential in their students and provide support and opportunities for reaching that potential

Prior to 2012, our UCC team (formerly Career and Academic Planning or CAP) knew that faculty and staff were helping students in these ways, but there was not an award or acknowledgement in place for their efforts. We established this to celebrate and formally recognize individuals who help students with their career plans. The final decision is always difficult to make, as all the nominations are inspiring and everyone nominated is very deserving.

2020 Recipients: Anna Loso & Kevin Mc Millian
Anne Loso 2020 Award Recipient

Quote about Anne from nominations: "Ms. Loso has served not only as my boss but as an amazing mentor. I feel as if I can turn to her beyond education needs. She has helped me with career advice and has helped me grow as a future educator."

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Quote about Kevin from nominations: "Professor McMillan has always encouraged me to go above and beyond; he suggested I join the Honors College, encouraged me to perform a one-woman opera for my thesis, helped me prepare auditions for roles in operas I never thought I could sing, and supported me as I applied for research grants. He's always mentored me from the angle that I am capable and worthy and helped me make decisions with courage, confidence, and determination. The most amazing thing is, this isn't special treatment: Professor McMillan is a life-long, loving mentor to each of his students."

2019 Recipients: Erica Foltz & Ingrid De Sanctis
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Quote about Erica from nominations: "Erica is continuously supportive of students in UREC, students in her academic classes and her professional coworkers. She goes above and beyond to meet with students about their resumes, cover letters and upcoming interviews. This time of year it is very common for students to begin to worry about submitting applications and Erica seems to be meeting with several students every day to make sure their materials are ready and showcase their abilities."

Quote about Ingrid from nominations: "She introduced me to the world of playwriting - being an esteemed playwright herself - and helped me realize that I can still pursue a career in the performing arts but through a different vessel. I would not be in the place that I am if it were not for her presence in this department."

2018 Recipients: Robe Mertens & Lori Pyle
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Quote about Lori from nominations: "Overall, Lori has enabled the students around her such as myself to be critical analyzers of the education and opportunities we seek. Lori's passion for student development is evident in all that she gives to the students and I am extremely thankful to have had her as my supervisor and mentor."

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Quote about Rob from nominations: "Professor Mertens is the epitome of the type of faculty that grows our programs and enables our students to achieve. Professor Mertens speaks to us as fellow artists, creating a progressive relationship in which students are empowered to take agency over our own careers. Having studied with him changed the trajectory of my career for the better."

2017 Recipients: Neil Martin & Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe
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Quote about Shelly from nominations: "Shelley went above and beyond her duties to help me land my first collegiate coaching job after graduation.  She relentlessly advocated on my behalf for months after graduation and has remained a huge part of my moral support system."

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Quote about Neil from nominations: "Neil inspires by living life to the fullest and bringing out the best in people. Neil helps students become confident in their strengths and gives them tools to improve upon. He has touched countless lives and continues to make an impact on many. Before graduation, Neil has his students ready for their next move and well beyond."

2016 Recipients: Samantha Collier and Dr. Brad Striebig
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Quote about Sam from nominations: "She encouraged me to get involved, which has led to me joining Massachusetts Society of CPAs and Beta Alpha Psi. If it wasn't for her, I would still be unsure of what I want to do with my accounting degree and where I see myself in just a few, short years. I feel a lot better about where I stand and look forward to pursuing a degree in Accounting."

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Quote about Brad from nominations: "Dr. Striebig was essential in helping me to determine my career path and next steps after graduation as well as for helping prepare me during my time at JMU. He mentored me as well as many other students and assisted us to gain skills and unique experiences that would distinguish us in our field and make us competitive in the job market and future endeavors."

2015 Recipients: Paula McMahan & Cindy Allen
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Quote about Paula from nominations: "I never knew what direction I wanted to take when it came to career choices. Paula helped me realize my passion for the sports world and how I wanted to make it my life.  She has made a lasting impression on me and I can never thank her enough for all that she did for me during my four years at JMU."

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Quote about Cindy from nominations: "Cindy truly dedicates her profession to showing students their potential in their future careers, and helping to utilize and advance upon the tools they need after graduating."

2014 Recipients: Dr. Robert McKown & Frank Ameka
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Quote about Robert in nominations: “His passion for the novelty of research was contagious and I started seriously considering going to graduate school.”

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Quote about Frank in nominations: “I can honestly say that this job has prepared me better for life after graduation than any classroom experience thus far.” 

2013 Recipients: Dr. Bill Evans & Holly Bailey
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Quote about Bill from nominations: “I myself have had the opportunity to travel to Uganda with him, and experienced first-hand the wonderful work that is being done there. As a result of that trip, I have decided to pursue a career in counseling.”

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Quote about Holly from nominations: “She always makes the time to sit down and talk about my future plans and concerns. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate her help and guidance.”

2012 Recipient: Dr. Ramon Mata-Toledo
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Quote about Ramon in nominations: “Overcoming a challenge knowing that he believed in me was very rewarding. This wouldn’t have been possible without his support and encouragement.”

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