Stay CLASSy, Liberal Arts!
Every year, the College of Liberal Arts Superior Service (CLASS) Awards Program recognizes individuals who provide outstanding service to the college and demonstrate leadership, ingenuity, job excellence, and support for diversity. Here are the winners for 2020.
by Heather Rodriguez ’04
Every year, the College of Liberal Arts Superior Service (CLASS) Awards Program recognizes individuals who provide outstanding service to the college and demonstrate leadership, ingenuity, job excellence, and support for diversity. While the awards ceremony looks different this year, what hasn’t changed is the pride with which the college presents these awards to these deserving staff members.
Each honoree receives a $750 cash award and an engraved plaque. Read on to meet this year’s winners.
While Christi Barrera has served as a senior administrative coordinator I for the Department of Sociology for almost 5 years, she has worked with the department for almost 15 years and the college for over 20 years. In her position, she wears many hats, including personal assistant to the department head, administrative support to faculty members, office manager, and supervisor and mentor of student workers.
A quote from her nomination letter reads, “I believe it is no exaggeration to say that Mx. Barrera is the backbone of our department, an unparalleled source of stability and strength that helps us weather many storms.”
Barrera has also served in many leadership positions in the college and the university, including chair of the Liberal Arts Life Enhancement Committee; unit coordinator for the State Employee Charitable Campaign; and STEP-IN, STEP-UP facilitator, an organization that is responsible for facilitating three workshops to the Aggie community on stepping in to become active bystanders to prevent sexual harassment, violence, and to support survivors of trauma.
“I am truly humbled and honored to be selected as one of the recipients of the 2020 College of Liberal Arts CLASS Award,” Barrera said. “I love my job and I enjoy assisting those around me. I am thankful I’m surrounded by such wonderful individuals that advocate for those that serve.”
Carrie Kilpatrick has served as executive assistant I to the head of the Department of Political Science for almost six years, but she has worked with the department almost 21. She has been described as “keeping the trains running on-time,” which is another way to say she is essential.
Her extensive job duties include helping conduct faculty searches, maintaining the head’s calendar, and helping process high-level confidential information, correspondence, and files. She also helps the assistant department head in coordinating the department head’s action items, prepares tenure and/or promotion dossiers, and she serves as the department’s record management coordinator. And these are just a few of her duties.
“It is important to recognize the incredibly valuable work Carrie does all the time, as it helps to make Texas A&M, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Department of Political Science a great place to work,” a quote from Kilpatrick’s nomination letter said.
Kilpatrick said, “I am extremely honored to receive the College of Liberal Arts Superior Service Award.”
Rubi Ruiz, a business coordinator II for the Department of Communication, has been with the department for eight years. While she has always stood out as an exemplary employee, her nomination packet said that this year, she took it to another level by overseeing two major projects. The first began in May, and was COVID preparation for her department. She took it upon herself to find creative ways to obtain and distribute supplies (including masks, hand sanitizer, face shields, and plexiglass) to the department, often coming to campus at the risk of her own health.
At the same time, she served as project coordinator of the renovation of Bolton Hall, which included updating three classrooms, installing new flooring in all public hallways, painting the interior of the building, updating building signage, and ordering new furniture for hallway seating and three conference rooms. This required coordination across multiple units, during a pandemic and while performing normal duties of administering transactions of department accounts.
“It has been a pleasure to have Rubi as a colleague, and I believe she plays an irreplaceable role in our department,” a quote from her nomination letter said.
As if that wasn’t enough, this summer Ruiz also received Green Dot bystander intervention training, designed to help reduce violence and intolerance on campus.
Of receiving the CLASS award, Ruiz said, “I feel very grateful and appreciated by my department for being nominated for this prestigious award.”
Penny Scott joined the Public Policy Research Institute (PPRI) in 2018, where she serves as a business administrator. Her daily role includes assisting in management of financial transactions of PPRI; preparing and auditing research contracts; assisting with complex financial and statistical analyses and summaries; and attending all necessary meetings. However, this year especially, her role is so much more: PPRI has been located off-campus for several years, but, according to the nomination packet Scott was instrumental in the unit’s recent move back during COVID.
“Her primary focus is business operations, but her positive attitude and the many visible improvements ripple through the department,” a quote from her nomination letter states. “…Her efforts with the move, being one of the few people providing support in the office during COVID restrictions, and the numerous employee development or social activities where she is an active planner/participant show her constant modeling the type of employee we want.”
Scott also expanded her support team, who she gives partial credit to, while she also feels grateful for the entire team at PPRI.
“I feel privileged to be nominated and honored to be chosen,” she said. “However, I am so lucky to be able to work for and with two great directors and the best associate director at A&M. And I couldn’t do my job without my business coordinator who makes me look good. I can not find the words to express my gratitude, but thank you to everyone at PPRI for allowing me the opportunity to work with them.”