2019 Spotlighting Winners

On May 10, 2019 SBVC hosted the 24th Annual Spotlighting Our Success Awards, an awards ceremony that celebrates our hardworking and dedicated staff and faculty. 

The night began with the MC's Dr. Todd Heibel and Dr. Dirkson Lee acknowledging the Academic Rank Recognitions. Tammy Allen, Dr. Jessy Lemieux, Dr. Joel Murphy, Abena Wahab, Keenan Giles, Dr. Craig Luke, Debbie Orozco, Theresa Weaver, and Janice Wilkins advanced in academic rank to Assistant Professors. Virginia Evans-Perry, Kristin Hauge, Denise Knight, and Yolanda Simental advanced to Associate Professors, while Joseph Notarangelo and Patricia Wall advanced to Proessor. Dr. Marie Mestas advanced to the rank of Professor Emerita. 

The Achievement Awards followed, with nominees from various divisions on campus. 

The winner of the Academic Success and Learning Achievement Award was:

Ron Hastings; Director, Library & Learning Support Services

 In the five years he's been at San Bernardino Valley College, Ron Hastings has transformed the school's library into a place accessible for all students and staff members. As director of library and learning support services, Hastings has gone above and beyond to make improvements to this educational hub. He has devoted himself to this career — before coming to SBVC, Hastings, who grew up in Perris and lives near Devore, was a library director at a boarding school for 15 years. The SBVC library was completed in 2003, and Hastings has helped modernize it, bringing in new furniture and carpeting and rearranging tens of thousands of books and materials to create spaces for students to study and meet. He also filled two classified positions that were open for a decade, easing the work load of library staff and making more people available to help users. "Our mission is to create sophisticated, discriminating consumers of information — a skill that is ever more critical today," he says. His dedication to the library and can-do spirit was rewarded this spring, when Hastings received SBVC's Academic Success and Learning Achievement Award. He doesn't work hard for the accolades, though — he does it for the campus community. "My favorite part of the job is seeing students, so many of whom are first-generation college students, excited about pursuing higher education," Hastings says. 
 

 

The winner of the Administrative Services, Office of the President, VPI & VPSS Achievement Award AND the Excellence Award was:

Judy Rodriguez; Administrative Secretary, Administrative Services

Judy Rodriguez is making San Bernardino Valley College a better place, for students and employees alike. Rodriguez is an administrative secretary in the Office of Administrative Services, as well as president of the Classified Senate. She understands where everyone is coming from, as she was once a student at Valley College herself. 
"I'm proud to say that I work here at SBVC, especially being an alumna," she said. "I am always encouraging my nieces and nephews to start here at Valley before going anywhere else. It's what I did and because of that, I was able to qualify for the position that I am in." Born and raised in San Bernardino, Rodriguez was the first in her family to earn a college degree. She still lives in town, and loves it. "This is home, and I know that big things are coming to this city again," she said. "I'm excited to be a part of it." Rodriguez has worked at SBVC since 2010, and is known for her institutional knowledge and great customer service skills. In the spring, her colleagues nominated her for a Spotlighting Our Success award, and she was honored with two: Administrative Services Achievement Award and Administrative Services Excellence Award. 
 "In my years here at SBVC this was the first time to be nominated, which was an honor in itself, but to turn around and win both, it was great," she said. Rodriguez looks forward to seeing what her future at SBVC will bring, and is glad she chose to stay at her alma mater.  "I love the community and population we serve here," she said. 

 

 

The winner of the Arts & Humanities Achievement Award was:

Emily McNichols; Secretary II, Arts & Humanities

Emily McNichols is the MVP of the Arts and Humanities Division. As the division's clerical assistant, McNichols is always hard at work on something that helps students or faculty members, from coordinating art shows in the gallery to providing administrative assistance for meetings. The Riverside resident started working at San Bernardino Valley College in 2007, and her responsibilities have grown every year. Her colleagues say she is always ready to answer any questions that come her way, and gives helpful advice. 
 "I am very grateful to have amazing co-workers," McNichols says. "I work with some pretty amazing people. I also love seeing the excitement of our students when they see a new art exhibit we have on display that they are interested in." Because of her dedication to the arts, McNichols was nominated for SBVC's 2019 Arts & Humanities Achievement Award. When she found out she won, it felt "pretty good," McNichols says. "It was nice that people thought of nominating me for the award. The nomination makes me feel really appreciated." 
McNichols works hard behind the scenes at the gallery, and in her spare time, focuses on her own creative outlet: photography. She earned her bachelor's degree in art for photography, and enjoys snapping pictures whenever possible. If she's not taking photos, you might find McNichols at the Happiest Place on Earth — one of her favorite places to go is Disneyland. 

 

 

The winner of the Applied Technology, Transportation & Culinary Arts Achievement Award was:

  Norma Alejandra Campos; Grant Clerical Assistant, Applied Technology, Transportation & Culinary Arts

Alejandra Campos consistently goes above and beyond to assist anyone in need of budget information, grant processing and tasks outside of her job title. She always has information ready at her fingertips when asked, and does a superb job training new employees. Alejandra’s attitude is consistently positive, helpful and encouraging.

 

The winner of the Couseling & Matriculation Achievement Award was:

Yancie Carter; Matriculation Coordinator, Counseling & Matriculation

Yancie Carter is always there for students, whether they need a question answered or just want someone to listen without judgment. A counselor at San Bernardino Valley College since 2015, Carter says he decided to go into the field "once I developed a deeper understanding of the importance of education." Carter, a native of Chicago, is involved with several groups on campus, including the Student Success and Support Committee, Student Services Council, and the Extended Opportunities Programs and Services (EOPS) Advisory Board. Carter appreciates his role in "shaping students' self-confidence towards achieving success," and says one of the most important things he does is "actively listen to students from a place of understanding. Many times students need an ear more than they do direction and guidance." Through being a counselor, Carter has made a powerful observation. "He who says he can and he who says he can't are both right," Carter says. "In life, it is our attitudes and perspective which determines our success and perceived failures." His colleagues rave about Carter's collaborative spirit, strong communication skills, and ability to set and reach goals, and were inspired to nominate him for SBVC's 2019 Counseling & Matriculation Achievement Award. It felt "great" to win, Carter says, but he believes it can be shared by the entire campus, because "when one person wins, we all win."

 

 

 The winner of the Science Achievement Award was:

Patricia Jenkins; Lab Technician, Physics

Patricia Jenkins loves science, and wants to help students of all ages develop an appreciation for it. Jenkins has worked as a physics lab technician at San Bernardino Valley College for almost nine years. She came to SBVC because she thought it would be "a great way to work in the field of my degree," and has found the position to be "interesting and fun."  When the George F. Beattie Planetarium's specialist retired, Jenkins stepped up and offered to help run the facility while a successor was found. She also advocated for a new system that would allow the Planetarium to offer more shows. "I wanted the program to continue without a break until a replacement was found, for the public and our own students, and for the area schools who come to the Planetarium for field trips," she said. Jenkins' dedication to SBVC's Planetarium and passion for her job inspired her colleagues to nominate her for the Spotlighting Our Success Science Achievement Award this spring. When Jenkins learned she had won, she was "stunned, amazed, and very appreciative." Jenkins enjoys the camaraderie she feels with her co-workers, and the positive environment found across campus. "The people who work here are all really nice, and the students seem truly interested in learning," she said. 
 
 

The winner of the Social Sciences, Human Development & Physical Education Achievement Award was:

Romana Pires; Professor, Sociology

With every class she teaches, Sociology Prof. Romana Pires aims to do one thing. She remembers what it was like to be a student, going back to college in her mid-30s with a "backpack filled with life's ups and downs." Pires said she found "validation and comfort as I immersed myself in sociological perspectives and ideas, many that challenge the status quo. Consequently, my goal when teaching sociology courses is for every student to have at least one personal transformational moment that they will carry in their knapsack as they journey toward their own aspirations." Born and raised in Prague, Pires was nine years old when her family moved to the United States. She began teaching at San Bernardino Valley College in 2007, and is also the sociology faculty chair. This spring, she was nominated for and won SBVC's Social Sciences, Human Development & Physical Education Achievement Award. "I am honored to receive this award, especially since I consider many of the faculty in the division to be my role models," she said. Pires enjoys working with San Bernardino Valley College's "diverse staff and student population," and says they continuously push her to grow as a person. "Every semester, students and staff continue to contribute to my own professional and personal development," she said. 

 

 

The winner of the Student Equity & Success Achievement Award was:

 Amanda Moody; Administrative Secretary, Student Equity and Success

Amanda Moody has a unique view of San Bernardino Valley College. She is an alumna of San Bernardino Valley College and current administrative secretary, has worked on the campus for over 15 years. She aims to assist students through her efforts with the Valley 360 Resource Center, a program that offers fresh & nonperishable food, hygiene items, and clothing to in-need students. Every week, the resource center gives out between 100 and 150 bags of these items, where center workers hear how it “helps students get through the day.” Every Thanksgiving, Valley 360 holds a special luncheon to celebrate its anniversary, which includes opportunity drawings and door prizes. "I love working with the students of this community because I was born and raised here in San Bernardino,” she said. “I love giving back." Her efforts allow students to focus less on food insecurities and more on completing their degree or certificate that will lead them to employment in the career of their dreams. Her co-workers note that Moody always has a positive attitude, knows school and district policy like the back of her hand, and will go out of her way to offer assistance. This spring, she received the Student Equity & Success Achievement Award, and said she was "excited and humbled that my division nominated and voted for me."

 

 

The winner of the Honored Retiree Award was:

Chris Clarke; Retired Planetarium Specialist, Science

When it came time to choose a career path, Chris Clarke decided to reach for the stars. In January 1978, Clarke, a Rialto native, enrolled in an astronomy class at San Bernardino Valley College. The George F. Beattie Planetarium had just opened at SBVC, and "I immediately fell in love with it," Clarke says. He became a student volunteer, and even after he left SBVC to finish his bachelor's degree in art at the University of California Riverside, he remained connected to the Planetarium, designing and painting a floor mural for the lobby's pendulum pit. By 1980, Clarke was presenting shows to visiting school groups, giving astronomy lab demonstrations, and helping produce and put on Friday night public astronomy programs. He did this part-time, while going to school and working other jobs, until 1992, when he was hired full-time to essentially run the Planetarium and Observatory. 
"I have been an amateur astronomer since I was a child and once I became part of this wonderful facility at age 18, it truly became a life-long passion," Clarke says. "I believe that it was something that I was born to do and it has undoubtedly been the most important thing in my life." Clarke retired in 2017, but stayed around as a volunteer to keep the Planetarium program running until a full-time replacement could come on board. His dedication earned him the Honored Retiree Award during this spring's Spotlighting Our Success Awards. "Valley has not only been an integral part of my life, but also with the rest of my immediate family," Clarke says. "For myself, after being on this campus for 42 years now, it has truly been home to me." 

 

 

 The winner of the Innovator of the Year Award was:

Rania Hamdy; Coordinator, Professional & Organizational Development

Rania Hamdy’s willingness to bring new ideas to boost the campus morale and professional development is genuine and contagious. She is a visionary and a servant leader who encourages others to give their best.

 

The winner of the Manager of the Year Award was:

Robert Jenkins; Director, Facilities, Maintenance & Operations

Stuck door? Light that won't work? A leak that won't stop? Robert Jenkins will fix it. Jenkins is the Director of Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations at San Bernardino Valley College. Before coming to SBVC in September 2014, the Washington, D.C., native and married father of five earned his master of public administration degree from BYU. Every day, Jenkins and his team work behind the scenes to keep SBVC running, getting things done quickly and efficiently.  There is no such thing as a typical day for Jenkins, as his job is "90 miles an hour" with "gusts of 110. Needed in four different compass points/directions at the same time. Starting work equals getting shot out of a cannon." He jokes that his actual title is "Director of Now What?" and working 12 hours is considered a half day. Last spring, Jenkins received the Manager of the Year Award at SBVC's 24th Annual Spotlighting Our Success Awards, with his nominator praising him for his leadership skills and patience. Jenkins was "surprised" by the win, saying it was "a bit humbling." He loves collaborating with his team and other colleagues to "solve problems. There are many very talented people in the district and it's great to work with them. Irrespective of the size/scope of the project, it's nice to see where I've contributed to the goals which allow the campus to run better." 
 

 

The winner of the Outstanding Service Award was:

Ernest Guillen; Library Technical Assistant II, Library & Learning Support Services

Ernest Guillen is a familiar face on the San Bernardino Valley College campus. Guillen, a library technical assistant, is active with several committees that make a difference in the lives of students and staff. He is chairperson for the Arts, Lectures & Diversity Committee; vice president of the Classified Senate; vice president of the Latino Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association; and communications officer for the Classified Union. He is also involved with the Professional Development Committee and Safe Spaces Advisory Committee, which aims to empower and improve the college experience for SBVC's LGBTQ students. "We as staff members are fortunate enough to work in an environment where our voices and opinions are being asked for," Guillen said. "It’s important for employees to exercise this allowance and participate in the shared governance process. This process ensures that decisions being made for the college, decisions that affect students as well as fellow employees, are made in an equitable way and that concerns stemming from all possible vantage points, whether that be the vantage point of a manager, faculty member, or classified employee, are taken into consideration." Guillen is from Colton, and first came to SBVC in the 1990s as a student, majoring in art. He has worked at the college for more than 20 years, starting as a student assistant with the Arts & Humanities office. Guillen's colleagues describe him as someone who is always willing to give a helping hand, whether it's making flyers to promote an event or just listening to students share their concerns. In the spring, SBVC honored him with the Outstanding Service Award, a celebration of his commitment to making the college a better place. 
 


The winner of the District Employee of the Year Award was:

 Heather Jedinak; Manager, Valley Hills Federal Credit Union

Heather Jedinak's ability to be resourceful and innovative in any situation doesn't go unnoticed by her colleagues. Jedinak is the manager of Valley Hills Federal Credit Union, which serves San Bernardino Community College District employees and their immediate families. Her hard work and positive attitude was rewarded this spring, when the Ontario resident won the District Employee of the Year Award. Jedinak, who has worked at Valley Hills Federal Credit Union for nearly 10 years, was "surprised" by the honor. She says her favorite thing about working at Valley Hills FCU is getting to know the members, and "watching some of them go from struggling to get bills paid and, with the help of the credit union, being debt-free."  Outside of work, Jedinak used to perform with a belly dance troupe, but now focuses much of her time on caring for her stepmother. She is also a mother of two daughters, and is excited to welcome her first grandchild, a boy, this November. 

 

The winners of the Outstanding Professor Award were:

Dr. Amy Avelar; Faculty Chair, Chemistry

 When she looks at her students, Dr. Amy Avelar sees herself. Avelar, a chemistry professor and the department's chair, has been teaching at San Bernardino Valley College for more than a decade, but she first stepped foot on campus as a student.  Back then, "I never imagined I would be back as a professor," Avelar said. "I was just trying to make it each semester and juggle family and adult responsibilities. When I reflect back, I know that it was my professors here at SBVC who made the difference. Their belief in me when I sometimes doubted was instrumental in completing my degrees." The path to SBVC wasn't easy for Avelar. The oldest of ten children, the San Bernardino native grew up poor, and was a teen mom who worked in a fast food restaurant. As a first-generation college student, "I know the odds were not in my favor, but that didn't make me stop," she said. "I didn't allow the naysayers to convince me I should stop." She completed her studies at SBVC in about six years, graduating with an associate's degree in chemistry, and then transferred to the University of California Riverside, where she earned a bachelor's degree and doctorate in chemistry. Through teaching, Avelar said she's found that "helping others understand chemistry is very rewarding. There is something about seeing others understand a difficult subject that makes one's day." 
 Avelar is married, with three sons and two granddaughters. Her favorite thing about working at SBVC is the students, as she knows firsthand how going to college can change so many people's lives for the better. In the spring, Avelar's talents were rewarded as she was honored with the Outstanding Professor Award during the 24th Annual Spotlighting Our Success ceremony. Her colleagues praised her for the hard work she puts in as the California Teacher Association's lead negotiator, department chair, and member of the Accreditation Committee, District Assembly, and Academic Senate. "I felt humbled and grateful," she said. "I believe in what I do and try to make long- lasting and positive changes for our college, students, and community." 

 

Joan Murillo; Faculty Chair, Biology

For Prof. Joan Murillo, there's no better feeling than watching her students succeed. Murillo, a biology instructor and department chair, started at San Bernardino Valley College in January 2011. The Beaumont resident's lifelong love of physiology and fish inspired her to go into the sciences, and her initial goal after graduate school was to work for the National Marine Fisheries Service, conducting biochemical research and focusing on shark ecological physiology. Throughout graduate school, she taught anatomy, chemistry, and physiology courses, and kept at it as shark jobs fell through. "After teaching at various colleges, I decided I wanted to focus on helping students succeed in Anatomy and Physiology and their Allied Health careers," she said. "I feel I have a knack for making complicated body processes easier to understand for students." 
Murillo keeps students and faculty members up to date with the latest conferences and work opportunities, and is instrumental in ensuring SBVC offers certificates and programs like phlebotomy and sterile processing technician training. "I enjoy seeing how students grow, mature, and progress through human physiology and other prerequisites for Allied Health programs and then in their professional programs like nursing, physician assistant, and medical school," she said. "I love seeing students reach their educational goals and knowing I had a role in that." 
Murillo's colleagues appreciate not only her hard work on behalf of students, but also her dedication to keeping department morale up by holding celebrations for special occasions and milestones. This spring, she was nominated for and won SBVC's Outstanding Professor Award, a prize that left her feeling over the moon. "I have outstanding colleagues and I felt very honored and humbled to be chosen by them for this award," she said. Murillo relishes in seeing her students walk away with newfound knowledge, and hopes that each one leaves her classroom able to "appreciate how amazingly complicated our bodies are and develop a love of learning for the rest of their lives." 

 

 

The winners of the Classified Employee of the Year Awards were:

Bonnie Rodriguez-Cruz; Secretary II, CalWORKS & Workforce Development

 Bonnie Rodriguez-Cruz is on the Board of Directors for the SBVC Valley Hills Credit Union, where she also serves as secretary, striving to make our membership more beneficial. Bonnie also participates in association with Job Corps as part of student training, making sure they are qualified and properly oriented for successful placement and retention in new Job Corps worksites. As an employee of SBVC, specifically in the CalWORKs & Workforce Development Department, it is a pleasure to work with a most talented co-worker. She is a vital part of the CalWORKs office team, working hard to acknowledge, support and promote students to reach their educational and career goals. Her involvement with Workability Ill and CalWORKs Work-Study has helped to successfully place students into job positions on and off campus to benefit themselves and their families. When it comes to special events for the campus her decorating talents are especially admirable. Her attitude towards co-workers is positive and supportive, she is quick witted, kind, and a powerful brainstorming promoter as situations arise taking the lead to resolve or celebrate appropriately. As a co-worker, she is the part of a successful team who inspires students to go further, to dream higher and find inner strength to accomplish their goals. Students and coworkers alike are delighted to be associated with Bonnie; she is a positive attribute to the San Bernardino Valley College campus.

Phylicia Sanchez; Administrative Secretary, Development and Community Relations

 Phylicia Sanchez's hard work pays off for San Bernardino Valley College students. Sanchez is the administrative secretary for Development and Community Relations, acting as support staff for the San Bernardino Valley College Foundation. The SBVC Foundation raises money for student scholarships, sports equipment, supplies, and activities, and Sanchez loves working closely with the board of directors and donors. 
 "They are dedicated to assisting the students in accomplishing their goals and dreams," the San Bernardino resident said. Sanchez knows all about what SBVC students dream about — she is a 2008 graduate. After transferring to California State University, San Bernardino, Sanchez earned her bachelor's degree in criminal justice. She returned to SBVC in 2016, excited to be back at one of her alma maters.  "I wanted to work at SBVC because I wanted to be able to help students succeed with their educational goals and I also know this is a great place to work," she said. Through her role with the SBVC Foundation, Sanchez serves as a link between the campus and community. She is also closely connected to her fellow employees — she is treasurer of the Classified Senate and a member of the Latino Faculty, Staff and Administers Association; the Arts, Lecture, & Diversity committee; the Scholarship Committee; and the Spotlighting Our Success Committee.  Known for her innovative thinking and fundraising techniques, Sanchez recently planned a trip for the LFSAA that raised money for the association's graduation ceremony and helped triple the Classified Senate's financial accounts.  "The foundation is my first priority and I take it from there to fit everything else in my schedule," she said. Her colleagues, impressed by Sanchez's commitment to serving the student population and empowering co-workers, nominated her this spring for the Classified Employee of the Year Award. Sanchez's devotion to students is just one of her admirable traits — as her colleagues wrote in the letter nominating Sanchez for the award, "She has proven to be extremely dedicated to serving our student population, understands their various challenges, and advocates on their behalf whenever the opportunity presents itself."