PBSC honors employees for going ‘above and beyond’
Two faculty members and one staff member 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 Michelle Biferie and Dr. Sankaranarayana Chandramohan and Counseling Center Representative Sheila Nichols were selected from a collegewide pool of 23 contenders nominated by their PBSC colleagues. All nominees shared the distinction of going above and beyond the call of duty to serve PBSC students, the College and the community. The final selection was made by a committee representing all classifications of employees.
Biferie, a professor of communications on the Lake Worth campus, was honored for her successful efforts to fuse learning with community projects. Herself an advocate for human rights, animal rights and animal rescue, she involved her students with Kibblez of Love, a local nonprofit pet food bank and animal rescue organization. Since spring term 2017, Ms. Biferie’s students have collected donations totaling 2,330.65 pounds of dry and canned food for the organization. In such community projects, her students experience firsthand how communication theory can be applied to public advocacy and result in real-world impact. Through her transformational leadership, Biferie challenges and inspires her student to not only excel academically, but also to innovate as engaged community members.
Chandramohan, known as Dr. Chandra, is a professor of math and science on the Lake Worth campus with a passion for making STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—accessible to all children. In February 2017, he started STEM Saturdays, held at the campus’s Natural Science building, to introduce children (Pre-K to 12) to STEM through interactive exhibits and activities. To date he has organized 10 STEM Saturdays, each attracting more than sixty participants and 150 families overall. On September 22, 2018, Chandramohan teamed up with the Institute of Excellence in Early Care and Education and its STEAM Preschool (“A” for arts), and the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, as well as PBSC faculty and students to host Palm Beach STEAM Fest at the Lake Worth campus. The event drew nearly 800 guests—436 children and their families—to the Lake Worth campus.
“The Bravo award means a lot to me because it’s a validation of all the hard work we do at PBSC for students,” Chandramohan said. “Nothing happens without a team.”
Sheila Nichols, a representative for the collegewide counseling center based on the Lake Worth campus demonstrated her deep concern for PBSC students by advancing the Panther’s Pantry from a concept and a cabinet to the resource that now serves all campuses. After researching best practices and models of college food pantries, in 2016, Nichols began an unofficial food pantry by accepting donations from coworkers and friends. She enlisted volunteers to stock the shelves, registered the College to receive boxed meals from FEMA, and facilitated Panther’s Pantry’s membership in the Palm Beach County Food Bank. Nichols continues to strive to bring innovative ideas to the Panther’s Pantry with the goal of expanding and enhancing its reach to ease the food burdens of students and strengthen our community.
“Being here for just five years and to be recognized for something that wasn’t really a part of the school until we started it…the Bravo award means a great deal to me,” Nichols said.
Each Bravo Award winner received an engraved star award and a $250 cash prize. The three winners also will have a luncheon with PBSC President Ava L. Parker. The finalists for the 2018 Bravo Awards were Judge August Bonavita, adjunct instructor in the Paralegal program; Dr. Matthew Klauza, English professor; Anton Pastuszak, welding instructor; Natasha Terry-Ulett, communications adjunct instructor; and Sofia Toledo, associate administrative assistant.
In addition to the Bravo Award recipients, finalists and nominees, the ceremony honored 201 employees for their length of service at the College, ranging from five to 35 years. Collectively, they represent 2,330 years of service. The breakdown: 83 have been employed for five years, 48 for 10 years, 27 for 15 years, 20 for 20 years, 14 for 25 years, seven for 30 years, and two for 35 years.
For more information about the Bravo Awards at PBSC, visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/EERC/Bravo-Awards.
View the photo album of the 2018 PBSC Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony.