By Ashlyn Kelly
Framingham State announced the four recipients of the Distinguished Faculty and Librarian Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Advising, Scholarship, or Service in an email to faculty March 16.
Vincent Ferraro, sociology department chair, received the Excellence in Advising award.
Jeri Nelson-Peterman, food and nutrition department chair, received the Excellence in Scholarship award.
Sarah Pilkenton, chemistry and food science professor, received the Excellence in Service award.
Lina Rincón, sociology professor and assistant director of The Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, Scholarship and Service (CELTSS), received the Excellence in Teaching award.
According to Ellen Zimmerman, interim provost and vice president for Academic APairs, individuals are nominated by their colleagues during the spring semester for the awards.
The recipients are decided on by the four college deans and the dean of the library, and announced by the provost.
In May, they are recognized at commencement, and during the fall semester, CELTSS holds an event to honor them.
Ferraro said he started teaching at Framingham State in the fall of 2011.
“Right when I started, my focus on advising was just on my formal advising,” said Ferraro.
He said now his role has “expanded to include many of our majors and minors, and students who might just be interested,” as well as helping colleagues “navigate the department, expectations of the University, and the various offices.”
According to Ferraro, he most enjoys “helping students set out a plan and make sense out of it, and then seeing in them that their goals are achievable and it’s just a matter of knowing what the processes are.”
Ferraro said, “I am deeply thankful for the acknowledgment from my peers and from the University of the work that I’ve been doing.”
Nelson-Peterman said the scholarship award is “just another word for research” and the reason “we use scholarship rather than saying research is that there are faculty who are engaged in other work that isn’t necessarily research per se, but it’s considered scholarly.”
According to Nelson-Peterman, her research is focused on immigrants coming into the U.S. food environment.
Nelson-Peterman said while she was working as a dietician for a refugee agency, “a lot of the scientific literature ... was very immigrant blaming.
“It really troubled me that, in my field, instead of taking a wider look at what the food system is, and thinking about how everybody interacts with the food system whether you were born here or whether you come in, that dietitians are kind of automatically blaming clients for what’s basically universal behavior in the U.S.,” she added.
Nelson-Peterman said she is “really delighted” to be recognized “with such great people who got the other awards.
“I admire all three of them [Ferraro, Pilkenton, and Rincón] so much, and to be in the same year as they’re getting awards is pretty amazing,” she said.
According to Pilkenton, the service award is “how we contribute to the University and our disciplines at large.”
Pilkenton said she has served on committees such as the Academic Policies Committee and University Curriculum Committee. She was department chair for three years and took over the graduate program in food and nutrition. She is also on the union executive board and has contributed to outreach programs.
She said faculty from the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics departments “would run a weekend experience for middle-school age girls and their moms who would come in and do some experiments and learn about science.”
Pilkenton said her favorite part of being involved is “getting to know my colleagues, and getting to know more about the University.”
“When I saw that email, I was kind of shocked and I just felt honored that my colleagues nominated me for it. I work hard because I want Framingham State to be a great place, and I’m glad that my hard work has been recognized,” said Pilkenton.
Rincón said her work in CELTSS focused on creating “community to work with students and really teaching the students in front of us.
“With that, I mean really understanding where they are coming from, what their previous experiences were before coming to Framingham State, how those experiences, depending on where they are coming from, really shaped what happens in the classroom, and how those experiences can enrich any topic that we’re learning about,” she added.
According to Rincón, her favorite part of teaching is when “everyone is connected ... to the topic that we are discussing.
“That’s hard to get, but when I get it, I know that I’m doing a good job – I’m serving my students in the right way,” she added.
“It’s a huge recognition ... but it’s also a reminder that I have to keep pushing,” said Rincón. “I have to keep learning about how to do my job well, because there’s a lot to learn.”