June 17, 2022
Joelle Park and Jennie Burel, both graduate program coordinators in ASU's School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, were recently recognized with notable awards.
Park was honored with the Michelle Howe Staff Award for Outstanding Service, the top award for staff within the school. Burel was named Outstanding New Staff Member by the Graduate College.
Graduate program coordinators Joelle Park (left) and Jennie Burel were recently recognized with notable awards. Park was honored with the Michelle Howe Staff Award for Outstanding Service and Burel was named Outstanding New Staff Member by the Graduate College.
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“Jennie and Joelle go above and beyond to make sure that our students are supported throughout their journey in graduate school. Their dedication and hard work contribute in a crucial way to their academic success and overall experience at ASU,” said Donatella Danielli, director of the school and professor of mathematics.
The Michelle Howe Staff Award for Outstanding Service is based on nominations by faculty and staff in the school. Sharon Crook, associate director for graduate programs and professor of mathematics, nominated Park because of her outstanding service to graduate students.
“Joelle is knowledgeable about the program and always able to answer any question efficiently. She also provides a warm and welcoming environment for our students — this is so important. She makes the graduate office a better place every day. She always has a smile on her face and is quick to give every effort to helping our students,” Crook said.
Select faculty nominations included these positive comments about Park:
“I am so impressed with the grad program office these days. Joelle has made a real difference; she is warm to the students, but manages to make sure everything gets done. Also, as a faculty member, it does not matter what I ask her, she always finds the answer. I can't imagine anyone more worthy. She has been a major bonus for the grad program, which is so important for (its) vitality."
“Joelle was incredibly efficient in bridging the transition in the graduate office happening in summer 2021. We had a change in graduate directors simultaneously with a change in the office staff. This was happening at the same time as we were all dealing with the continued COVID disruptions. As a result, while usually the summer months June and July are time to take a breather in the graduate office, they were very busy. Joelle was putting in many extra hours, on weekends and evenings, to deal with all the resulting issues. It is largely to her credit that the graduate program and the graduate office came through the summer of 2021 with flying colors and that TA teaching in fall 2021 started without any significant problems.”
Park grew up in the village of Poland, Ohio, an idyllic town of 2,336 residents. She attended Bethany College, a small liberal arts college in West Virginia, which provided each student a memorable, personalized experience.
“It was meaningful to be in such a trusting and supportive environment. It was with that trust that you were able to focus on developing yourself and your academic success,” Park said. “It has always been my goal to model my student advising after that experience and provide each student an interaction that leaves them knowing they are respected, valued and supported.”
Park joined ASU in October 2017. During her job interview, it was emphasized that the school was student-focused and she would be challenged to prioritize students’ changing needs in her role. In her second year at ASU, a graduate student she was advising called her “Coach Park” because the guidance Park provided helped the student keep a positive outlook and stay on track.
“At that moment, I knew that I had achieved in delivering that experience. From what I have learned about Michelle Howe, this was her standard of excellence as well. It means a lot to me that I am able to live her legacy by delivering that level of service to students,” Park said.
Joe Davis, assistant director for Academic Services in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, supervises both honorees and believes their recognition is well-deserved.
“Joelle and Jennie both work with a student first mindset," he said. "Their primary mission is to support the students of SoMSS is achieving their academic goals. They do this through utilizing empathy, creativity and dedication.
“It is not uncommon to see them both putting in extra effort, and sometimes extra hours, to ensure that the students get the support that they need. In times of crisis, they have both been available to help students resolve issues with a personal touch. The grad students have often commented that they have gone the extra mile in the support that they offer."
The Graduate College Staff Awards for Excellence were established to recognize the prodigious role Arizona State University staff members play in the success of graduate students at the university, and to shine a spotlight on the tireless work of ASU staff members who play a critical role in the college's mission.
“Jennie Burel is highly deserving of the Graduate College Award for Outstanding New Staff Member. She is very organized and is quick to respond to every request for data. We call her the ‘spreadsheet queen.’ She also brings so much energy and knowledge about how things work at ASU to our graduate office. She is a joy to work with every day, with a great sense of humor and always a warm but professional attitude,” Crook said.
“Jennie’s attention to detail and her connections across the university give her a unique insight into student processes and experiences. She has saved the day on numerous occasions with her knowledge and understanding,” Davis said.
He applauds how Park and Burel have worked hard to make the graduate office into a community for the students in the school.
“Through hosting smaller events, the graduate coordinators strove to bring together graduate students. This community supports the retention efforts of the university by forming connections between faculty, staff and students,” Davis said. “From a graduate student’s beginnings with the graduate recruitment weekend, to being on the field during graduation to greet and mingle with the graduating students, they are involved with supporting our students.”
Burel was born in New Jersey but grew up in Florida. She moved to Arizona in 2018 when her husband took a faculty position with the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at the Polytechnic campus. She joined ASU in 2019 in the Office of the Registrar, and moved to the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences in July 2021.
While working in records and enrollment, she became interested in working closely with students and driving their success on a more personal level.
“I love working with graduate students because of their passion for what they do. As a former graduate student myself, I understand many of their struggles and issues. I believe that (the school) especially has a very high quality of positive and highly motivated students, and I do my very best to provide them with everything they need to be successful,” Burel said.
Crook feels lucky to work with Park and Burel as the school's graduate coordinators.
“I know I can count on them and that the students will receive the help that they need. It's so important that our students feel comfortable in the graduate office and that they are welcome to ask any question. I know they feel that Joelle and Jennie will give them the time and help that they need,” Crook said.