2020 Career Impact Award winners

Awards in the shape of Ram's Horns

Awards from last year’s Career Impact Awards ceremony.

Story by Samantha Boren

For the past three years, the Colorado State University Career Center has hosted the Career Impact Awards, a celebration to recognize the many members of the campus community, as well as external partners, who have had a significant impact on students’ careers and career readiness.

The annual awards ceremony scheduled for April 7 was cancelled this year due to CSU non-essential operations going virtual. However, the Career Center would still like to name and recognize this year’s winners and thank them for their extraordinary contributions to students and their careers.

This year, the nomination review committee members received 142 nominations total, with 114 unique nominations. The number of nominations rose nearly 50% from the previous year, and the committee was very impressed with the dedication and quality of work that all nominees displayed. Each nominee is an exemplary example of commitment to and celebration of career.

Winners of 2020 Career impact Awards

With excerpts from their nominations.

Alum of the Year: Christina Hadera (B.A. Communication Studies ’16) – City and County of Denver
“Christina is currently a recruiter with the City and County of Denver and has never forgotten her alma mater: She regularly attends career events and has spoken to incoming students at RamWelcome, helping students decide how to best bring their talents, values, and identities to a career. We most love to welcome her back for Diversity Connect, the diversity-focused career event that she helped create when she was a student at CSU.”

Distinguished Faculty: Susan Opp – Department of Political Science
“[Dr. Opp] successfully cultivated and sustained a local government internship program for the Department of Political Science that has launched many of our student’s careers in public service. I saw Dr. Opp’s devotion to career development first-hand when I team taught a study abroad class with her last year. The course, comparative public policy and law in the U.S. and UK, integrated the classroom with public sector careers both in Fort Collins and overseas. Dr. Opp brought in community partners dealing with diverse and under-served populations such as those experiencing homelessness and mental health issues. Our students completed policy analyses for their term projects, an exercise that provided excellent practical career preparation.”

Distinguished Staff Member: Patrice Palmer – College of Business
“Patrice Palmer has a keen focus on ensuring all students have an equal opportunity to truly find success. As faculty advisor for the Business Diversity Leadership Alliance, [Palmer] worked to bring companies to campus with a focus on diversity. Patrice has been instrumental in developing the first-ever College of Business Inclusion Summit, which will bring companies to campus who are seeking tools, data, strategies, and the confidence to implement new approaches in the interest of a more inclusive workplace.”

Employer of the Year: FirstBank
“[First Bank is] a company who genuinely lives their mission through their commitment to their employees, their customers, and their communities. Their diversity and inclusion efforts are having a significant positive impact on their recruitment and retention of employees with diverse identities. Collectively, their employees can speak over 30 languages, which helps to establish them as a bank of choice among diverse communities throughout Colorado. We know our students and alumni are in good hands because FirstBank puts people at the center of their organization.”

Recruiter of the Year: Amber Spiewak – Charles Schwab
“The best part about working with Amber is the value she places on recruiting diverse talent in a meaningful way. She has personally reached out to the SDPS offices, ALVS, and the Academic Advancement Center to share about opportunities and offer her assistance to helping students in their search. She also actively promotes Schwab diversity initiatives such as affinity groups knowing how important it is to not just recruit diverse talent but help them find a company culture that will be supportive enough to retain them. Amber goes above and beyond her role of recruiter to make sure CSU students feel empowered in their search and feel like a person not just a number in the Schwab process.”

Student Employee of the Year: Angela Nemecek – Campus Activities
“[Angela’s] excellent work ethic and intangible skills have enabled her to be the youngest manager we have ever had on staff. She continues to seek new opportunities, serve as role model for others, critically analyzes inefficiencies, explores different ways of doing things, and continues to seek her own personal and professional growth and development. Whether it is addressing alumni and parents as they call responding to a situation or handling internal conflict with staff members (not surprising with a staff of 25!), Angie does an excellent job of mediating, listening, providing resources and options, supporting, and problem solving.”

Student Group of the Year: Los Caminos
“The goal of the Caminos Program is to address specific Latina/o/x and Indigenous academic needs and provide access to understanding higher education opportunities while affirming cultural and racial assets. Currently, the program serves 90-100 bilingual Latina/o/x and Indigenous high school students at Fort Collins High School supported by 20 CSU Caminos fellows. The CSU Caminos fellows promote and advocate career pathway connections as they role model how they entered their education at CSU and they mirror for the high school students how to apply, attend, and make a path toward their future careers.”

Supervisor of the Year: Jacqui Goldring – Walter Scott Jr. College of Engineering
“Jacqui has implemented a multi-faceted training/professional development program for ambassadors and has skillfully facilitated conversations around issues of inclusion and equity in engineering. Jacqui has provided a plethora of recommendations and even more moral support as ambassadors apply for internships and jobs and has an even larger impact on their careers by focusing on their development as young professionals. Students learn professionalism, public speaking, customer service, cultural competency, and communication skills from Jacqui, which make them sought-after engineers.”

Outstanding Career Advocate

The culminating award is the Outstanding Career Advocate: Career Impact Award. This award is given to a person who integrates the value of career throughout their work. They go above the call of duty to build connections to career opportunities and resources for CSU students. The nomination review committee determined the winner of this award after reviewing all nominations and selecting the nominee they feel contributed the most to CSU students and the career ecosystem in a given year.

This year, we are pleased to recognize Arthur L Valdez Jr., who is a 1992 graduate of the College of Business and a current Target store executive.

Outstanding Career Advocate: Arthur L Valdez, Jr.
“Arthur Valdez Jr. has given his time, expertise, and resources to CSU in a number of ways since he graduated. He’s established scholarships to support First Generation students of color, he sits on the College of Business Global Leadership Council … and he mentors students on their own career pathways. This past year he mobilized his HQ team to create a large engagement strategy on campus to educate and attract talent to all the career opportunities that exist within Target. Arthur’s team spent two full days on campus attending classes, judging case studies, giving keynotes, and hosting a special networking event with students. The common thread running through all these activities was one that spoke to diversity, equity, and inclusion – values that Arthur has espoused time and again and one that he’s worked to weave throughout all of Target’s culture.”

The Career Impact Awards were established in 2018 to recognize and celebrate the many career partners and career advocates across the campus and community that promote the “career for all” mentality. For more information on the awards or to view all this year’s nominees and winners, visit the Career Center website.