HARRISBURG – Three faculty members at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, have received national recognition from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) for their professional accomplishments.
Amy Kennedy, professor and director of the surgical technology program and Marjaneh Talebi, professor of art and director of the graphic design program, both at the Harrisburg Campus; and Shelly Blanchette, assistant professor in counseling at the York Campus, will be recognized with the NISOD Excellence in Teaching Award at NISOD’s annual International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence, held at the Austin Convention Center, Austin, Texas, May 27-30.
All were selected by a committee of HACC students, faculty and administrators for their commitment to students, teaching and counseling, professional growth and college service.
Kennedy has been with the college for nine years and is the only full-time faculty member for the surgical technology program. In addition to teaching, she is responsible for advising the students within the program and working with each one as they advance through the curriculum. Having worked in the field prior to joining the faculty, she brings real-world experience into the classroom and has developed many innovative teaching tools for use in the classroom and lab.
Kennedy’s commitment to the students is seen in the program’s high completion rate, high pass rate and high employment rate.
“I always encourage the students to be all that they can be, to stretch professionally,” she said. “That is part of healthcare. They need to understand their commitment. It isn’t a job; it is a career, a profession.”
For her profession Kennedy completed the necessary requirements to serve as an evaluator of curriculum and standards of practice of surgical technology programs. In addition she has served on a variety of college-wide committees, including Scholarship, Professional Growth and Development, Academic Policies and Student Affairs, and Faculty Personnel Policies.
When Talebi was hired as director of the graphic design program, the program was small and in need of larger lab facilities. Today, the program resides in a space three times the original size and prepares students for job and transfer opportunities.
To maintain the program’s excellent reputation, Talebi requires her students to perform at high levels to give them real world experience.
“They can do wonderful work, you just have to push them,” she said. “If you don’t show them what they can do, they won’t know it.”
Talebi also showcases her students within the community and provides interaction with top design agencies and professionals. In addition to making regular visits to agencies in New York City and Washington, D.C., her students have participated in workshops with internationally known artists, such as New York City designer Luba Lukova and international artist Chaz Maviyane-Davies.
Talebi continually updates her skills and has been active in a variety of college service activities, including the Harrisburg Campus Academic Technology Advisory Team; the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee; Rose Lehrman Gallery Committee; the Barrett Scholarship Committee; and the Staff Recognition Committee.
One of the first hires for HACC’s York Campus, Blanchette has served the college for nearly eight years. During that time, she has focused a large part of her efforts on helping students who are disadvantaged economically or academically. Her passion is counseling students and helping them be successful, not only at HACC, but also within their communities and families.
“We need to make sure they have what they need in the classroom and also have that extra layer of support outside of the classroom,” Blanchette said. “Every student who comes back and has found that sense of empowerment or confidence they didn’t have before, adds up to the huge accomplishments that keep you going.”
Currently, Blanchette is exploring ways to assist HACC students with criminal backgrounds, as many times the issue creates a barrier to pursuing a chosen career. Working with the librarian at the York Campus, she is creating a library resource for students to research what opportunities are open to them.
A nationally certified counselor, Blanchette is committed to professional growth. Also, she participates on the college-wide and York Campus Behavioral Intervention Team model, college-wide Transfer and Articulation Oversight Committee and the college-wide Training Team.