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PBSC employees awarded for extraordinary service

Professors Christopher Schmersahl and Kanathy Haney, the 2016 Bravo Award winners
Professors Christopher Schmersahl and Kanathy Haney, the 2016 Bravo Award winners

Two faculty members received Palm Beach State College’s Bravo Award, the top honor for employees, at the annual Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony this morning at the Duncan Theatre on the Lake Worth campus.

Professors Kanathy Haney and Christopher Schmersahl were selected from a college-wide pool of 32 contenders nominated by their PBSC colleagues. All nominees shared the distinction of going to extraordinary lengths to serve the College and community, each performing above and beyond the call of duty. The final selection was made by a committee representing all classifications of employees.

Haney, associate professor of Health Science and Education, Lake Worth campus, was honored for her efforts to stop human trafficking, a tragedy that permeates the globe, including Palm Beach County. With clarity of purpose, Haney goes beyond teaching about human trafficking in her classes to educating the entire College and local community. She organizes documentary film showings, guest speakers and training sessions in partnership with local human trafficking organizations. What started small has grown into standing-room-only events. The ongoing interest of students, faculty and staff fuels her passion and has led her to develop a service learning course to prepare PBSC students to become advocates for victims of human trafficking. A volunteer advocate herself, Haney also collaborated with an outside agency to create a scholarship program for these victims.

“I’m very honored to win the award because it recognizes the issue of human trafficking and brings more awareness and prevention to the community of what’s going on in the world, the country, the state and in our backyards,” said Haney. “If anything that I’m doing can help shed more light on the people who are victims of this crime against humanity, then we can all work together to emancipate human souls.”

Schmersahl, associate professor of English, Belle Glade campus, won the award for his work to help students seek and earn scholarships. Schmersahl tackled the chief obstacle that students face in completing scholarship applications: writing a personal statement. Bringing together a team of Student Services staff and English faculty members, Schmersahl developed a two-part workshop to address this problem. He led off with a lecture on how to write a personal statement, followed by a hands-on session in which he and the other instructors coached the students in drafting their statements. Student Services staff then assisted the students in the application process. Eight students won $4,000 in scholarship funds as a result of the workshop, which is nearly 100 percent of the workshop attendees.

“Oftentimes the barrier for the students in applying for the foundation scholarships is the personal statement,” said Schmersahl.  “They are a little bit afraid of having to do that, and this scholarship workshop helped them overcome that fear and barrier. I’m very pleased to be honored in such a way, and I’m thankful that I have such great co-workers that helped me with this project.”

The Bravo Award winners received an engraved plaque, a $75 cash prize, and will have a luncheon with PBSC President Ava L. Parker.

In addition to the Bravo Award recipients and nominees, the ceremony honored 173 employees marking milestones in their length of service at the College, ranging from five to 30 years. Collectively, they represent 1,925 years of employment. For more information about employee recognition at PBSC, visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/ERC.

Length of Service Award Recipients

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