During Sweet Briar’s 107th Opening Convocation on Aug. 29, the College also honored several staff members with the annual ROSE Awards.
“It’s always a special pleasure when I have the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the staff who serve our College seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year,” said President Jo Ellen Parker.
Nominations for the ROSE awards — which are given for recognition of staff excellence — come from co-workers and must have the support of each nominee’s supervisor. This year, the College received 19 entries nominating 14 individuals in two categories, “Excellence as a Team Member” and “Excellence in Service.” For each category, two recipients were named.
The award for “Excellence as a Team Member” is given to an employee who exhibits teamwork and cooperation in his or her own department and across campus.
The first ROSE Award in this category went to Katia Suntseva, of Sweet Briar, constituent systems manager in the alumnae and development office.
Parker congratulated Suntseva for transforming a “cumbersome data system into a useful tool,” but also praised her for helping out with duties that are not part of her job description.
“Besides her technical skills, Katia pitches in to help with all alumnae events, from driving a van, to working registration desks and delivering lunches, or doing anything else that is needed,” Parker said.
Assistant director of physical plant Melissa Staton, of Amherst, also was honored for “Excellence as a Team Member.”
“Melissa is the glue that binds the physical plant department together,” Parker said. “She skillfully handles multiple priorities, adapts to many daily changes and is always cordial, collegial and helpful, no matter how many tasks she’s juggling.”
Parker also applauded Staton for “making the physical plant department a more pleasant and enjoyable place to work.”
The award for “Excellence in Service” honors employees who provide outstanding support to others, including internal or external customers, alumnae or visitors. The first of two recipients was Amherst resident Jack Staton, who was nominated by seven members of his team.
Parker noted that “his dedication and skill touches all of us.” Staton, she explained, was “responsible for a great deal of the plumbing and electric systems around campus, and manages the boilers to keep us warm, as well as the pool so we can swim and relax. All of Sweet Briar appreciates his knowledge and hard work on our behalf.”
Technical assistant Mona Browning, of Amherst, was also named a recipient of the “Excellence in Service” award.
“Mona supports the teaching and research missions of the biology department with intelligence, ingenuity and grace under pressure,” Parker said. “A typical week may find her shopping for botany specimens at Food Lion, arranging for veterinary care for Azula, the department’s blue‑tongued skink, planting seeds, feeding catsharks and updating records for hazardous waste disposal.”
Parker cited one of her many nominators, who commented that “[w]e couldn’t do half of the things we do if it weren’t for Mona.”
After presenting the awards, Parker took a moment to thank everyone involved in the campus cleanup after the June 29 derecho.
“Thanks to all of you who showed your dedication to our community and helped it recover so quickly,” she said. “Well done, all.”