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Duff named to ‘40 under 40’ list of community college achievers

Professor Suzanne Duff in Costa Rica
With the help of a selfie stick, Professor Suzanne Duff captures a hiking moment with students Veronica Ugarte and Paige Colucci outside a small village in a rainforest near Tortuguero, Costa Rica.

Up-and-coming movers and shakers don’t just populate the business world. Community colleges also have their fair share—for example, Professor Suzanne Duff, department chair for Human Services programs at Palm Beach State College.

Duff has been named to the 40 Under 40 list of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges. Launched this year, the list will recognize outstanding community college women under the age of 40 on an annual basis. The inaugural class features faculty, counselors, administrators and staff from across the country, honored for their creativity, innovation and leadership on campus and in the community. Duff alone represents Florida colleges.

The 2016 AAWCC 40 Under 40 awards were presented at the American Association of Community Colleges’ annual convention in Chicago last week. While Duff could not attend, Susan Caldwell, PBSC associate dean of social science, did.

“If anyone deserves recognition, Professor Duff is the one,” remarked Caldwell. “Her energy and enthusiasm are amazing, and her students catch it. Students are always saying how much she’s inspired them and impacted their lives.”

Duff’s passion is her commitment to promoting care and concern for those less fortunate and giving her students fieldwork experiences where they can make a difference—both here and abroad.

This will be the third summer that Duff has taken students to Costa Rica to help people in need. Students taking the 2016 study abroad trip will work with an orphanage near the Arenal Volcano. In prior years, Duff and her students taught English, helped Costa Rican villages rebuild schools, worked with the country’s largest social service agency and enjoyed unique experiences like spending a day with the Bribri indigenous tribe.

“Service work and international travel are close to my heart, so to see students share my passion and work alongside me is a humbling and exhilarating experience,” said Duff. “My goal is to prepare dynamic and committed students who are ready to serve their communities. Being selected for AAWCC’s 40 under 40 list is a very special honor that means I’m on the right path.”

Duff is just as active on the Lake Worth campus and in the community. As advisor to PBSC’s Psychology and Human Services student club, she focuses on projects that raise student awareness, like Stand Up to Suicide, which encouraged those struggling with mental illness to seek help, and the Homeless Bag Event, where students put together resealable plastic bags of food to give out to homeless people in Palm Beach County.

“I just watched one of her club events,” Caldwell added. “Students of different religions spoke about their faith in the spirit of cultivating a respectful and knowledgeable culture at PBSC. I just can’t say enough good things about Professor Duff. She is one of those people you just wish you could clone!”

Starting as a PBSC adjunct instructor in psychology and human services before going full time in 2012, Duff became Human Services department chair in 2013. She has a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University and is working on her Ph.D. in educational leadership at Florida Atlantic University.

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5 comments on “Duff named to ‘40 under 40’ list of community college achievers”

  1. Congratulations, Suzy! You certainly deserve recognition for being such a positive force at PBSC!

  2. Very well deserved! I have had the opportunity to work with Professor Duff and her enthusiasm is contagious for both, colleagues and students. I cannot think of anyone who deserves this honor more than her. Congratulations!

  3. As a former student of Prof. Duff, and still current student here at PBSC, Prof. Duff has always been there for me to talk to and get advice and guidance from, even after my time in her class had passed. I continue to look up to her and am so proud to be part of the legacy she’s creating amongst us. She is truly an excellent teacher, and an exceptional human spirit.

  4. Congratulations, and thank you for all that you do at PBSC. The recognition could not have happened to a more deserving professor, advisor and just great-all-around person!

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