Four SUNY Oswego staff members recently earned awards from statewide organizations for succeeding in a number of ways on behalf of students, the campus, professional organizations and beyond.

SUNY Career Development Organization (SUNYCDO) awards honored three of those staff members: Tina Cooper, internship coordinator in the Experiential and Courses and Engaged Learning (EXCEL), received the Career Catalyst Award;  Jacqueline Wallace, career coach for education, public and human services for Career Services, received the President’s Award; and Sheila Cooley, associate director of EXCEL, received the Unsung Hero Award.

In addition, Karen Archibee, an academic planning coordinator with Extended Learning and previously in the Office of Admissions, was one of two recipients of the 2022 Inclusion, Access and Success Award from the New York State Association for College Admissions Counseling (NYSACAC).

Career-focused support

In nominating Cooper for the Career Catalyst Award, Mallory Bower –- the college’s first-year coordinator –- noted that Cooper’s inventiveness, personal skills and diligence resulted in a 500 percent growth of the on-campus internship program in the past three years, which provides greater access opportunities for students.

“The success of this program comes not only from her ingenuity, but from the partnerships she has built with on-campus site supervisors, financial aid staff, faculty sponsors and upper-level administrators,” Bower wrote. “As an added benefit of the relationships she built, she has increased access and quality of opportunities for students by influencing all of our campus departments to utilize Handshake for both internship and work-study positions.”

Cooper also implemented the inaugural On-Campus Internship Expo in fall 2021, and many student attendees did not realize until then how many internships were in reach, Bower said. Cooper also has engineered prestigious employer partnerships off campus, including one with American High Film Productions, where she not only developed an internship program with the  company for multiple institutions, but “even led the planning, logistics and execution of an upcoming theatrical movie screening of ‘I Love My Dad,’ starring Patton Oswalt,” Bower noted.

On a statewide level, Cooper has taken on increasing leadership roles with SUNYCDO and chairs the SUNY-wide Applied Learning Community of Practice, generating high-level SUNY discussions and advocacy for system-wide applied learning support. Regionally, Cooper spearheaded a Central New York Internship Showcase bringing together multiple institutions.

Ongoing contributions

Chris LaGrow, the past president of SUNYCDO, and a staff member at SUNY Fredonia, nominated Wallace for the President's Award for being “a leader in SUNYCDO even before joining our board this month for the coming year.”

President's Award recipients are traditionally given to members on the basis of extraordinary service to SUNYCDO and/or to honor a specific accomplishment on behalf of the organization. Wallace was one of three selected this year.

“I chose Jackie for this award because of the great contributions she made to our organization in recent years, particularly over the last two,” LaGrow noted. In 2020-21, Wallace served as a key member of the organization’s Professional Development Committee, which planned a comprehensive one-day remote conference. 

“She handled the whole technical side of making the event happen, and she was also instrumental in finding our keynote speakers,” LaGrow said. “This year she again helped with our conference, which returned to its traditional in-person, three-day format. But she also was part of our Strategic Planning Committee, leading focus groups and helping us identify and focus our new strategic plan goal statements, which we do every five years.”

Before then, Wallace co-chaired the 2017 conference, a massive project taking more than a year to plan. “Jackie has always been great to work with, always willing to help out or take the lead as needed, and always full of great ideas,” LaGrow explained. “Even in an organization like ours with many contributors, she stands out.”

The Unsung Hero Award recognizes a SUNYCDO member who has not been widely recognized for their work but has played a significant role behind the scenes in creating a positive impact for students, their campus and the career services/experiential learning field –- while inspiring others through their dedication, contributions and commitment to excellence.

Since she was someone who has made major contributions to the organization but in a behind-the-scenes, understated but very competent way, I think the Unsung Hero award was perfect for Sheila,” LaGrow said.

“Sheila served on the same committee as Jackie and I in 2020-21 and was also a big contributor,” LaGrow noted. “This year she played a major role in working with our keynote speakers, who got rave reviews at the conference.” 

In addition, Cooley was a member of the organization’s Strategic Planning Committee as part of contributing to the organization and its ability to serve students in multiple ways, LaGrow added.  

Championing inclusion

Archibee’s honor of the Inclusion, Access and Success Award, which she shared with Danny Robinson of SUNY Maritime, recognizes “an individual or program that champions the issues of access, and making post-secondary opportunities available to historically underrepresented students,” NYSACAC explains in its award materials. “The award receipt is commonly known to serve as a voice for inclusion, access and success on behalf of the state association.”

The organization noted that Archibee and Robinson achieved this by creating a special interest group within it named WE-WISH, which stands for White Engagement: Work on Identity and Status for Healing. This group works to challenge inequities through addressing and dismantling racial privilege.

WE-WISH coordinates monthly engagements through book clubs, podcast/articles/movie reflections, discussions on a state level and much more.

This special interest group, the award noted, is the only one within the nation, although discussions have started on expanding this group to other state affiliates and eventually to a national level at the related National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC).

SUNY Oswego's Karen Archibee and Danny Robinson of SUNY Maritime earned a statewide award for their support of access and inclusion in admissions activities

Karen Archibee, an academic planning coordinator with SUNY Oswego Extended Learning and previously in the Office of Admissions, and Danny Robinson of SUNY Maritime received the 2022 Inclusion, Access and Success Award from the New York State Association for College Admissions Counseling.