The “Rio Star” recognition highlights specific incidents of an individual employee going the “extra mile” to benefit a student(s), colleagues and/or the campus community that took place within the last year. Nominations submitted @ Staff Recognition Nomination Form
Awarded to: Dr. Kevin Smith
In appreciation for going Above and Beyond in utilizing campus resources to create engaging, welcoming, and accessible online courses to support the success of diverse students.
Dr. Kevin Smith has taken the time and utilized the resources provided by our campus to build accessible online classrooms, thus being able to serve diverse groups of students on campus. Our DSPS program often hears from students how supportive Dr. Smith is and whenever he has questions he reaches out, always eager to learn more. DSPS has had two students report to us that they were excited to be learning from Dr. Smith and taking his Psychology course, they also expressed how welcomed they felt and comfortable with discussing
their academic accommodations.
Thank you for your commitment to excellence and creating an accessible community!
Awarded to: Frank Carlos
In appreciation for his above and beyond efforts to create a safe and welcoming space for all students.
At DSPS, we pride ourselves in making special connections with the students we serve. Frank Carlos is the latest staff addition to our department this semester after transitioning from Financial Aid. We know how fortunate we are in having him. It was brought to our attention that a student interacting with Frank contributed to their journey of being comfortable and open as an LGBTQIA+ student. The student credited Frank as being instrumental in creating a safe space at Rio Hondo and always went the extra mile in assisting and providing answers. Frank Carlos exemplifies our mission at DSPS and deserves to be recognized as a Rio Star.
Awarded to: Rebecca Green
In appreciation for his above and beyond efforts to bring Study Abroad opportunities to Rio Hondo students.
Wednesday the 25th was the deadline to register for Study Abroad in Madrid for Spring 2022. Rio Hondo had a record 7 students sign up for the experience. A big kudos to Rebecca Green. She is a faculty member teaching on the trip and she became the de facto study abroad coordinator, since the district had not flown the position over the last year. She personally visited many classes to discuss the trip with students to advertise the experience. She has advised many students via email and countless zoom meetings and, in the end, successfully recruited students for this trip. In doing so, Professor Green demonstrated her commitment to her students, the campus, and the program by spending countless hours of her personal time working to ensure the program would be a success. She truly has gone above and beyond.
Awarded to: Jason Dwyer
In appreciation for his above and beyond efforts to offer compassion and support to a student in distress and connect her to available resources on campus.
On Aug 24, a little after 4 pm, Jason Dwyer came into my office to inform me a student was upset in the hallway of the A building and having a hard time. He asked if I would go with him to talk to the student about all of the services and programs we offer. Jason told me he would drive me in his cart. He took me to the A building. The student was sitting on the floor with Joe, the facilities director. Jason approached the student and sat with her on the floor. He knew she was hungry and only had $2. He bought her a smoothie, corn dog, chips and water. Jason sat with the student while I explained all of our services and programs. Jason accompanied me and Joe as we took the student to see the RioSource room, EOPS and the Health Center. Jason spoke calmly to the student and made sure she understood that we are all here for her and we have a lot of resources to assist her. We all say that everyone is responsible for student success but often times we get so busy in our work space, we overlook a student in need. But Jason recognized a student in need, got assistance and immediately provided her with the basic need she needed at that moment, dinner. It was remarkable to witness his compassion and empathy for this student.
Awarded to: Kathy Burdett
In appreciation for her above and beyond efforts to ensure that the curriculum process is efficient, accurate, and timely.
As Curriculum and Articulation Specialist, Kathy does a lot of behind-the-scenes work that is not always visible, but is critical for the functioning of our college. She is extremely detail-oriented and helpful in providing support to faculty working in our curriculum management system to make proposals for new and revised courses and programs – she is our campus CurricUNET administrator, without whom we would not be nearly as efficient nor effective in our curricular work and efforts.
Beyond her regular duties, Kathy does not hesitate to go above and beyond to serve the college. When asked to join the Guided Pathways mapping team given her familiarity with college courses and programs, she accepted the challenge and has been a reliable team member ever since, contributing to the creation of a website that has garnered statewide recognition.
She also consistently “goes the extra mile” to help faculty move course and program proposals through the approval process. Again, while not technically in her job duties, she monitors the CurricUNET queue on a daily basis and makes sure that faculty and administrators review, edit, approve, and provide feedback on proposals in a timely manner. Whenever anyone has a question about how to navigate C-net, she is always willing to jump onto a phone call, Zoom call, or meet with them in-person to walk them through the technicalities of working in this platform. All of her efforts ensure that our course and program proposals move through the curriculum process in a timely and efficient manner.
Kathy is one of those individuals who works quietly, competently, and diligently behind the scenes, never calling attention to herself, but without whom this college could not function as it does.
Awarded to: Charlene Nakama
In appreciation for her above and beyond efforts to efficiently, professionally, and compassionately serve in Human Resources to keep the campus community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charlene has stepped up since the start of the pandemic to ensure that our employees and campus community are safe. The work that she has done has been so much more than what her title of employee benefits specialist suggests. She has coordinated with COSMOS, our on-campus testing site to ensure smooth provision of testing services, walked to testing locations to physically put-up signs, 6 feet stickers, and testing information, tracked hundreds of proof of vaccination or exemption requests, helped people upload their documentation, answered questions, and stayed abreast of constantly changing government mandates. With the omicron spike, where we were at times averaging 25+ positive cases a week, Charlene single-handedly notified and responded to all those who had tested positive and their close contacts.
She coordinates with our county liaison, provided contact tracing information, and drafts the lengthy updates for Rio Connections. Her patience and empathy is unmatched. I have never seen her lose her cool even when dealing with very stressful or frustrating situations. She responds quickly, politely, and professionally to each person’s unique questions and circumstances, whether they be the employee, their manager, the employee on behalf of a family member, etc. Additionally, the tasks require a great deal of organization and confidentiality. Every email or correspondence Charlene sends has to be exact and include the right people. This is on top of the work that she already does, a lot of which happens on the back end that people don’t see. They don’t see how she has to put into spreadsheets the medical bills and benefits that need to be paid monthly. They don’t hear the sensitive conversations she has with employees regarding their injuries. They don’t know about the administrative work she has to do to set up interactive meetings, or about keeping tabs on claims.
Charlene also takes time to check in on everyone’s health and wellness in the office. She reminds us to take lunch or go for a walk, asks others if they need a heater because it’s cold, and coordinates celebratory lunches (i.e. birthdays). She is never too busy to help, and what she does, she does with flawless execution and excellence.
Awarded to: Glenn Heap
In appreciation for his consistent above and beyond efforts to enthusiastically and compassionately support the mental well-being of students and the entire campus community.
If this recognition is about honoring those who go “the extra mile” for students, colleagues, or the community, Glenn Heap surely fits the bill. Glenn provides tireless mental health services to our most vulnerable students. Not only does he run regular support groups for our undocumented, formerly incarcerated and single parent populations among others, but he volunteers his time to support EOPS/CARE student functions, and assists staff in serving students in the midst of a mental health crisis, an all too common occurrence during the pandemic. While his official job duties are focused on supporting students, when Staff Development approached he and Dr. Denna Sanchez about offering workshops to help employees manage “Return to Campus Anxiety” he didn’t hesitate to offer his time to facilitate two sessions. And when he received feedback that some attendees at the 2nd session wanted more strategies to cope with anxiety, he spent part of a holiday weekend to create a follow-up video to provide this information. Glenn’s positivity and passion for helping others makes him a bright light on the campus and in the community.
He truly is the epitome of a Rio Star!
Awarded to: Manuel Halim
In appreciation for his exceptional work to create and enhance key college web pages including the construction of a Guided Pathways site described by a regional GP Coordinator as “..the best, most comprehensive website I’ve seen!”
Manuel Halim has done and continues to do extraordinary work designing high quality, informative, and user-friendly websites for the college and its students. His work includes the creation of numerous CTE pages and an upcoming Outcomes website and Teacher Preparation Pathways webpage. Of particular note has been his work with the Guided Pathways website workgroup. Over a 2 ½ year period he funneled all of the input from multiple sources to bring to life our Pathways site that now houses educational plans including General Education pathways for all programs and certificates. Despite iterations too numerous to count, he never lost his focus or patience and played a key role in constructing a site that received kudos from our Guided Pathways regional coordinator who stated “I’ve shared your pathways site with many other colleges as an exemplary in-house site. It’s the best, most comprehensive I’ve seen!” Bravo Manuel!
Awarded to: Elvira Aguilar
In appreciation for providing Above and Beyond assistance to ensure a student received a well earned “Dean’s Honors” recognition.
Elvira Aguilar is a Senior Instructional Assistant who has been helping in the Virtual Welcome Center (VWC) on the chat. She always goes the extra mile to find out an answer for a student no matter what, and is known for following up with students and being available in case the student needs more help. In this instance, Elvira got a VWC chat from a student who said she hadn’t received her honors certificate in the mail. Rather than referring the student to the honors website, or worse yet, simply saying “I don’t know”, Elvira did the legwork. She contacted a Dean, who contacted Melissa Rifino-Juarez, who oversees the Honors Program. Melissa looked up the student’s name but could not find it. Melissa realized the student must be referring to the Dean’s Honors List, so she contacted Markelle Stansell, Administrative Assistant to the V. P. of Academic Affairs. Markelle looked up the student and saw that the certificate had been mailed. However, after a further conversation with the student, they realized the college did not have her apartment number so a replacement certificate was soon on its way. Kudos to Elvira who proactively helped resolve a complex question.
Awarded to: Sable Cantus
In appreciation for providing Above and Beyond expertise to a faculty member to solve long standing email, zoom and audio challenges, and offering additional time-saving technological tips that support both instructor and student success.
I would like to nominate Sable Cantus for Rio Star! I’d been having a specific hard to pinpoint technical issue that prevented me from reading emails sent from outside our institution. I made several unsuccessful attempts to deal with this. In less than 5 minutes with Sable, he diagnosed and resolved the problem. Not only did he help address an issue that had limited my capacity all semester long, but he also spent the remaining time helping me resolve other major issues with my zoom audio and video that he noticed during our call. Additionally, he provided me with essential tips on how to support my productivity with amazing “add ons” to my browser that will save me a ton of time moving forward. I’m so grateful that he went above and beyond to help me resolve the tech challenges I’d been struggling with this semester, but it’s also not the first time Sable has been so supportive. Every time I go to him, he’s able to resolve my issues with expedience. Both me and my students get the benefit of having a much better remote class instructional experience because of his attention to detail and overall brilliance when it comes to all thing’s technology. We are blessed to have Sable in our Rio family!
Awarded to: Albert Bretado
In appreciation for providing Above and Beyond expertise allowing students to access technology support and resources from the Library to enable remote work during the pandemic, and for offering ongoing and crucial direction to the Guided Pathways team to ensure the RHC website is more efficient, sensible, and user-centered.
Albert regularly goes above and beyond to help colleagues: whether I have been working directly with him or merely observed the work he’s doing with staff, faculty, and administrators while serving on various committees, I am continually impressed not only by Albert’s web design/architecture sense and coding skills, but his professionalism, courtesy, promptness, and willingness to work collaboratively with partners to actualize what they want in a web page. Most recently, I worked with Albert on three separate occasions to develop online PHP forms by which patrons can request Library services and resources—forms by which faculty can request to place (or acquire) books for reserve; by which all patrons can suggest new library books for purchase; and, perhaps most importantly, by which students can request technology to support their learning while working remotely during the pandemic. I also have observed the crucial and indeed fundamental advice and deliverables he’s provided to Guided Pathways as he works with that group to make the RHC website a more efficient, sensible, and user-centered tool. I have often referred to Albert as a “magician” and “wizard,” and these appellations work as perfect shorthand for what he does and how he does it!
Awarded to: Sheila Lynch
In appreciation for going Above and Beyond in support of students, colleagues and the college through your work in promoting Open Educational Resources.
“Wow! It is hard to list just one event, but I will focus this nomination on Sheila’s work to reach out each semester to promote Open Educational Resources (OER) and her willingness every term to help those who chose to take on the transition. As she is doing yet again in Spring 2021, Sheila has on multiple occasions, across disciplines, across semesters worked to promote OER adoption and continued OER use. She hosts OER workshops at practically every Flex Day each semester. She meets individually with individual faculty, as she did with me, to promote the use of OER resources and to promote accessibility and ethical attribution of OER resources. She has contributed so much to promoting OER with insufficient recognition. She is an amazing, giving, supportive, much-valued colleague. Thank you, Sheila, for all you do!”