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UW-Eau Claire student affairs professionals, program receive NASPA awards

October 29, 2012
Dr. Beth Hellwig
Lissa Martinez
EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Beth Hellwig, vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and the Blugold Beginnings program, under the direction of Lissa Martinez, have recently been honored by NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Hellwig has been awarded the 2012 NASPA IV-East Award for Outstanding Performance as Senior Student Affairs Officer. The IV-East region includes Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and parts of Canada. This honor is considered one of the region's most prestigious awards.

"We have been extremely fortunate to have received recognition by NASPA in the past for outstanding individuals, programs and services in student affairs and I know that it is wonderful to feel appreciated and valued for the work we do," Hellwig said.

Hellwig has worked in higher education since the beginning of her career and has been committed to the success of students ever since.

"My entire adult career has been committed to working with college students to find ways to help them be successful in the classroom and in their co-curricular experiences," she said.

Hellwig has found her career to be very fulfilling as well.

"I never imagined such a marvelous career as that of working in higher education and being lucky enough to work with outstanding colleagues and students," she added.

Teresa O'Halloran, special assistant to the chancellor for affirmative action, was one of many UW-Eau Claire individuals to recommend Hellwig for the award. She believes that Hellwig's demeanor and commitment is what makes her stand out.

"Dr. Hellwig's outgoing and warm personality, her hard work and positive reputation on campus and her evident connection with and true caring for our students all contribute to her unique effectiveness as a student affairs leader," O'Halloran said.

As an award recipient, Hellwig will be considered for the national Scott Goodnight Award. Hellwig also will be recognized at the upcoming NASPA IV-East Regional Conference Nov. 6 in Madison.

Martinez and the Blugold Beginnings program also were honored by NASPA, receiving the NASPA IV-East's Innovative Program of the Year Award.

"It is an incredible honor for the Blugold Beginnings program to be recognized for the innovative implementation of college access programming using UW-Eau Claire students' meaningful service to promote post-secondary education," said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, program founder and associate dean of students. "This program is truly a community effort and is an honor for all those who have made the program possible."

Through the Blugold Beginnings program, approximately 350 college students educate more than 1,600 fifth-grade students about what higher education has to offer. They also try to instill in younger students the idea that education is important, attainable and available to them.

Responses from those involved in past years help the program to remain innovative through constant development and progress.

"Each year improvements are made based on feedback from college students, teachers and faculty and staff, and the results of the assessments completed by the fifth-graders," Martinez said. "Factors like these keep this program innovative, forever-changing and improving to serve its campus and community."

According to Martinez, the incorporation of both college and elementary school students, as well as the support from outside individuals, help make the program unique.

"The program engages hundreds of college students in a meaningful way with the opportunity to work with area youth, while learning about barriers to higher education, poverty, diversity and making a difference in the community," she said. "The partnership with sister programs, inclusion of community volunteers, faculty, staff and community schools also demonstrates the universal support of the program's mission."

Blugold Beginnings will be introduced at NASPA's national conference awards luncheon in addition to being recognized at the Nov. 6 conference.



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