Staff Council

2019 Making a Difference Award Recipients

Above and Beyond Award

Elizabeth Hoy, Director of Business Program and Development, Great Lakes Research Center

Her nominator says that “Ms. Hoy has tirelessly worked at all levels to make GLRC a welcoming, efficient, fair and exciting place to work for all. These efforts have occurred at all hours of the day and night, over holidays and at times when she has elected to put family and friends on the back burner to dedicate herself to the success of the GLRC family.”

A letter of support states “Beth is always thinking about how she can make other people successful. That kind of gift, the gift of tirelessly giving your time to help others, is one of the most precious gifts that can be given and Beth gives this gift without reservation and keeping score. She takes initiatives, thinks of creative solutions to help others and Michigan Tech to be all that they can be. I think the secret to Beth’s gift is her mental agility, a deep understanding of how processes work at Michigan Tech, and the willingness to take risks, no matter the time and effort required of her.

Behind the Scenes

Tammy Monette, Custodian, Facilities Management

As one letter of support states “When working in the residence halls, Tammy went above and beyond to encourage students to have a sense of ownership for their community. She took it upon herself to work with the Resident Assistants and created a plan explaining to residents what it meant to share their physical space and treat it with respect. In addition, Tammy coordinated efforts to teach students the importance of service to campus and the community. She feels a personal sense of responsibility to help them recognize that they can make a difference in the world. Even in their busy student lives, Tammy helped them realize that the simple act of collecting cans and bottles can have an impact. For the last 6 years she has returned the cans on her own time and contributed the funds to the Husky Food Pantry and Toys for Tots. Last spring, the year-end contributions exceeded $1,000. This semester she launched the initiative in the Library.

Another said “At the Library, we work hard to develop an atmosphere of support, creative study and joy. We had no idea that someone working so behind the scenes could add so much to realizing our core mission.”

The Legacy Award

Alexis Snell, Departmental Coordinator, Chemical Engineering

Alexis’s Department Chair and nominator says “She strikes the perfect balance between being friendly and approachable while ensuring that all tasks are handled in a professional and timely manner. It would suffice to state that I would be lost without her guidance and support, and there is little or no margin of error in my current position. I must add that Alexis is working towards an undergraduate degree in General Business. Since my joining here in July 2017 I have observed her taking 9 credit hours every term. Between working full time, taking a heavy course load, and tending to her family (including a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old) she amazes me. It is beyond comprehension how she manages to do all that work while balancing it with her family life. She is not only my hero, but she is an inspiration to all those whose lives she touches.

A letter of support states “Alexis has shown consistently outstanding performance over a variety of jobs at Michigan Tech for many years. After several years as staff support in the CM department, Alexis took other jobs across campus and when our departmental coordinator job became available we were delighted to have her return in that new role. Since then, in spite of shifting department chairs, plus numerous staff and faculty changes Alexis has helped hold our department together and to continue to operate smoothly. She is the chief promoter of coordination and teamwork among our staff and faculty.

Outstanding Leader

Allison Carter, Director of Admissions, Admissions

Allison’s nominator says that “Enrollment growth means more than just sending out mailers to more students. It is more applications that need to be processed, more physical files that need to be stored, and more admissions decisions that need to be made. Ali has never been on to sit behind her desk delegating to others what she herself is unwilling to do. Throughout this period of growth, Ali has been in the thick of it, reviewing applications, contacting students with questions, and talking with families. She is a wonderful example of tenacity and embodies the best of what Michigan Tech has to offer on a daily basis.

A letter of support states that “Though I have always looked up to her leadership and guidance as my team supervisor and the leader of our team, I see Allison as an invested partner and team member. She has never shied away from any task or job that comes her way, including those jobs that some bosses would view as below their pay-grade. When some of the admissions staff attends College Onsite Day in Detroit on a Saturday each fall, Allison is at her computer in Houghton helping us review applications in real time. She prepares materials to ship to us in advance so we have everything we need. She helps us load our vehicles with hundreds of boxes of brochures as we get ready to hit the recruiting road each fall. When we host events off campus, she actively helps us to set up and tear down event venues. No job is beneath her – a very Michigan Tech attitude to have.

Rookie Award

Rachel Store, Research Engineer/Scientist, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Rachel’s nominator states “In the 15 months that she has worked for the ME-EM Department, Rachel has made a HUGE difference in all areas of her job and activities that she has influenced. Though she graduated from Michigan Tech only a few years ago, her knowledge and drive rival that of someone with many more years of experience. Just before Rachel’s first day in mid-August 2018 - 5 brand new CNC metal lathes were delivered to the MEEM, replacing the old lathes that had been used for the ME2901 MEP1 course. Since she was taking over as laboratory coordinator for that course the task to install and set up these new machines fell to her. After the initial shock from realizing the complexity of the task (she not being a machinist) Rachel got down to work to unpack and inventory the new systems. Enlisting the assistance of other staff members, she muscled the 1800 lb machines into place and started the process to get them up and running. Knowing that these machines needed to be ready for the students by October, she diligently set up and tuned each machine, while concurrently developing teaching documents for her graduate teaching assistants. Through her persistence, all five machines were ready to go with time to spare.

A letter of support states that Rachel is “well liked and respected by her colleagues and is always willing to help others. In the past 1.5 years I have had the privilege of knowing her, she has proven both through her work and her relationships with others that she is a person of honesty and integrity.”

Serving Others

Valoree Gagnon, Director University-Indigenous Community Partnerships, Great Lakes Research Center

Valoree’s nominator says “Val gives of herself selflessly, to anyone who asks, including faculty, staff, students and communities. Her passion for promoting indigenous cultures serves Michigan Tech and our tribal partners from the region. Specifically, Val serves others through: advising graduate students and serving on graduate committees, mentoring undergraduates, teaching courses, moderating conference events, giving invited talks and participating in advisory groups and communities. All of these activities serve many stakeholders and are well beyond her job description.” “She has an amazing work ethic, she’s smart, she’s there for us at our school programs, she gets stuff done, teaches us things, and she’s fun. Such were the immediate accolades of praise that came from two Keweenaw Bay Indian Community high school students when asked about Valoree Gagnon. Community elders, too, light up and smile with acknowledgment of the many actions that Val has done to effect good for the KBIC. She is a doer and goes about volunteering for the KBIC with the genuine desire to serve. It is said that the best leaders are those who help people think more highly of themselves, and it is with this truth that Val’s volunteer service manifests itself. She is respectfully known as the KBIC’s number one volunteer.

Unsung Hero

George Hommowun, Production Manager/Tech Director, Rozsa Center for Performing Arts

George’s nominator states “George’s professional expertise, breadth of experience, and unwavering dedication to excellence make him a highly effective manager of the almost 200 events held at the Rozsa Center every year. His steady presence and exemplary attention to detail has allowed us to continuously improve the quality of each event we host, from large scale touring productions to intimate dinner receptions, and as a result we have nearly doubled the number of events hosted at the Rozsa Center since George starting working at the Rosza Center in 2015. As Production Manager, much of George’s work takes place behind the scenes, working closely with Rozsa Center clients to bring their event visions to life in ways that exceed their expectations or working with touring productions to ensure that our stage and production crew is amply prepared to handle the demands of a professional performing arts production.”

A letter of support states “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” This quote is one George Hommowun would likely agree to in the fullest! He is the man who makes things happen without anyone even realizing that someone is responsible for making them happen. George is the true definition of Unsung Hero. No matter what crazy request we have, or strange thing that happens in the last minute, George rolls with it. He doesn’t get flustered or upset, he simply finds a solution and expects nothing in return. He is most certainly a positive and steady presence. George makes us all look good.

Karma Kilpela, Office Assistant, Air Force ROTC

Karma’s nominator states “Ms. Kilpela is a UAW office assistant and has taken on the role of Staff Secretary for the Air Force ROTC program. She consistently takes initiative without being prompted and without fanfare demonstrating on a daily basis knowledge, professionalism, dedication, and outside-the-box problem solving that far surpasses every expectation for the position. Ms. Kilpela trained herself on the Air Force administrative data management system and now handles nearly all the routine administration for 85 AFROTC cadets daily. On top of her daily responsibilities Karma took on management of all cadet and student awards, she took control of the AFROTC Alumni program and made herself available to cadets in the program for support and counseling.”

A letter of support from a Lieutenant Colonel from the University of Alaska Anchorage states “What I enjoyed most about Karma was her warm welcoming nature and positive enthusiasm that made my time there so memorable. She exudes professionalism and a clear passion to support not only the other faculty and staff on the MTU and AFROTC team but every student and potential student that crosses her threshold. She is a humble and hugely effective member of the team who’s tangible and intangible contributions are widespread well beyond the wall of the AFROTC building.”