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Foundation Presents Outstanding Achievement Awards


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Foundation Presents Faculty/Staff Outstanding Achievement Awards

The Jefferson College Foundation recently presented its annual Outstanding Achievement Awards to honor the exemplary accomplishments of Jefferson College faculty and staff who were nominated from four employee constituent groups.

2020 Outstanding Achievement Award recipients include:

Melanie Gowdy, Adjunct Faculty - Sociology Instructor

Chris Otto, Faculty - Associate English Professor (not pictured)

Shannon Schoenky, Classified Professional Staff - Senior Administrative Assistant, Vice President of Student Services Office

Dr. Joel Vanderheyden, Faculty – Music Professor

Stacey Wilson, Certified Professional Staff - Registrar

Jefferson College Foundation President Jennifer Collins Hansen presented the awards. As part of the recognition, each Outstanding Achievement Award recipient also received a $250 stipend.

Adjunct Faculty recipient Melanie Gowdy defines herself as an eclectic social work practitioner. Specializing in macro community practice, she dedicates herself to empowering communities through agency and the pursuit of social justice. As an adjunct instructor at both Jefferson College and Washington University Brown School of Social Work, she has helped equip the next generation of social justice advocates. She has been an advocate for some of our state’s most vulnerable residents as a social worker at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. As Director of Social Work Services at 1st Choice In-Home Care Services, she empowers individuals to live with dignity. Some of Melanie’s accomplishments include being awarded UMSL’s Community Building Fellowship and being featured in the St. Louis Business Journal’s People on the Move as well as the St. Louis American’s Health Profile.  A strong believer in being an agent of change, she believes in the capacity of the human spirit to grow, thrive, and shine. 

Faculty recipient Chris Otto graduated from Truman State in 1993 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. He earned his Master’s degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University in 1995, and in 2002 finished his Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Mizzou. Chris is involved and supportive of colleagues through his work with the Faculty Senate, JCNEA and Speaker Series events. He has been active in working with efforts such as Library presentations, community presentations in a variety of topics related to historical events, the Osage Removal, and the German exchange program. He demonstrates an excitement for learning and works to infuse it into his classes. His colleagues commend him for being a positive influence and focusing on the good work he sees in the College and in his students.

Classified Professional Staff recipient Shannon Schoenky has had a distinguished career at Jefferson College dedicated to Student Services. She began as an Enrollment Services Receptionist in 1993, and has held positions as Student Support Services Secretary, Records Assistant II, and Secretary to the Registrar. For the past 13 years, she has been the Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Student Services. Her colleagues commend her for performing her work quickly, efficiently, and always with a smile.

Faculty recipient Dr. Joel Vanderheyden has been part of the Music Department at Jefferson College since the fall of 2010. As a saxophonist, he has performed regularly with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Union Avenue Opera, and with jazz and pop music groups at venues around the city like Jazz St. Louis, The Fabulous Fox, and The Sheldon. He has performed overseas at festivals in the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Scotland, and Croatia, and was named a quarterfinalist for the 2018 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. In addition to his duties at Jefferson College, Vanderheyden serves as the saxophone instructor at Washington University, and he is the past president of the Missouri Association for Jazz Education. Six of his students have been selected for the prestigious Missouri All-Collegiate Jazz Ensemble, including three who were first chair in their sections. Many of Dr. Vanderheyden’s former students are now his colleagues, teaching music in schools around Jefferson County and beyond.

Certified Professional Staff recipient Stacey Wilson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice from UMSL and has been an employee at Jefferson College since 2008. She began her career at the College as an Employment Specialist and laid the foundation for the Employment Services Office. She transitioned to an academic advisor role in 2010, and then into the registrar’s role after earning her Master’s Degree in Higher Education from UMSL in 2016. In each position, she has served students, faculty and staff with exceptional care and devotion. In the past three years, Missouri’s system of transfer and articulation has changed tremendously, and Stacey has maintained and projected a quiet professional competence for her peers. Her colleagues recognize her for her positive, upbeat demeanor and dedication. She has met the ongoing demands of overseeing commencement, transfer/articulation issues, working on Higher Learning Commission issues, veterans’ issues, and much more with unfailing optimism and energy.

Since 1991, the Jefferson College Foundation has actively encouraged private contributions to assist the college in areas such as capital projects, program development, and providing financial support to students that traditional funding alone often does not support.

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