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Oakton faculty and staff recognized for excellence

Demonstrating Oakton Community College’s commitment to faculty and staff excellence, President Joianne L. Smith, Ph.D., recognized individuals who've made outstanding contributions to the college community throughout the past year. Awards were presented during a virtual event on Jan. 11.

Megan Klein, associate professor of anthropology and sociology, and Jennifer Dadivas Hong, ESL faculty member, are the recipients of the 2020 Ray Hartstein Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Named for the Oakton Community College Board of Trustees’ founding chair, the accolade epitomizes “excellence in teaching and respect for students and peers.” Nominations for the Ray Hartstein Excellence in Teaching Awards are made by Oakton students to the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Excellence in Teaching Selection Committee. Finalists are then forwarded to the Oakton Educational Foundation Board with an SGA representative participating in the interviews and final determination.

Klein, a full-time faculty member from Evanston, earned her Ph.D. in sociology at Loyola University Chicago. She has been teaching at Oakton since 2006 and was acknowledged for making sociology relevant to her students’ daily lives by incorporating current examples from social media, memes, videos and other resources.

Dadivas Hong, a part-time faculty member from Arlington Heights, earned her master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Teaching at Oakton since 2005, she was praised for building relationships of trust with her students that enable them to feel comfortable reaching out for help and allowing them to reach their goal of improving their English skills.

Anna Shipulina, a Skokie resident, received the Staff Excellence Award. This honor is presented annually to a staff member who goes “above and beyond” their job responsibilities, using creativity and compassion to serve students and the community.

Oakton’s Staff Excellence Award Committee reviews the nominees and then narrows the pool to three candidates before selecting the winner. Shipulina, who serves in the role of curriculum navigator, started at Oakton in 2000 as a student employee. She played an integral role in moving the college course catalog to an online format, streamlining the process for approving new programs and courses and facilitating the publication of over 80 pre-majors and pathways. During the pandemic, she moved swiftly to organize an emergency curriculum committee meeting to ensure newly designed courses and programs were available to students in time for the fall semester.

This year’s Living Diversity Award winner is Stephanie Herrera, learning specialist. To make Oakton a more inclusive, diverse, and anti-biased institution, Oakton’s Diversity Council awards a colleague who demonstrates a commitment to promoting equity, inclusion, care, compassion and respect for people of diverse backgrounds and abilities.

The Chicago resident came to Oakton in 2018 and is renowned by her colleagues for her infectious enthusiasm and commitment to supporting students from diverse backgrounds, especially Latinx students. In her role, Herrera coordinates one-on-one tutoring for students and strives to build rapport to ensure students receive additional support needed. Since arriving at Oakton, Herrera has played a prime role in planning and executing Latinx Heritage Month programming. She earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and her master’s degree in higher education leadership and development from Northeastern Illinois University.

The Oakton Educational Foundation generously underwrites a monetary recognition for award recipients.


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