|Nashona Andrade, Sam Rigby, Chancellor Neault, Natalija Worrell|
A mentor for former foster youth, a key worker at a child development center and a professional development expert were lauded at a college district Governing Board meeting Tuesday night for epitomizing excellence.
Nashona Andrade, a District Services Professional Development specialist; Sam Rigby, Grossmont College NextUp specialist; and Natalija Worrell, Cuyamaca College Child Development technician, each received the 2020-2021 Chancellor and Classified Senate Award recognizing the excellence of classified, or non-instructional, staff at the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.
“This annual award recognizes the exemplary work of the best of our classified professionals whose skills and collaboration help us to better serve students and the community,” Chancellor Lynn Neault said. “This year’s award focused on the districtwide commitment to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion within our institution. The three award recipients strongly reflect this priority in the work that they do.”
Nashona Andrade joined the district in August 2018 as a professional development specialist. She has proven to be an inspirational role model through her numerous connections with colleagues, leading professional development programs for new employees, classified staff, and the Classified Senates at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges and the district office.
Multiple co-workers nominated Andrade for the award, citing her skill at presenting and organizing trainings, webinars and events that have brought about a culture change in the district. They expressed appreciation for her efforts to make difficult conversations an opportunity to build trust and open avenues of communication. Students have also benefitted from Andrade’s talent and skills through her collaborative work with both colleges’ career centers, as well as her leadership in student success workshops.
Andrade holds a Master of Science degree in Human Services with a concentration in Community Psychology from Springfield College in Massachusetts, and a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development from San Diego State University.
“What success I’ve experienced has been due to quality partnerships rooted in truth and trust,” she said.
Sam Rigby has worked for the past four years as a program specialist for Grossmont College’s NextUp, a state-funded program designed to provide extra support to foster youth attending community college while transitioning to independent living. A former foster youth, he was a Cuyamaca College student at a time before a program like NextUp existed, but he remembers how hard staff worked to develop a support program for students like him.
The Grossmont College awardee is lauded for the creative ways he supports NextUp students, who come from foster care and other marginalized populations. He has also been a strong contributor to the college’s many efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. He is credited for promoting colleagues’ attendance at the annual African American Male Education Network Development (A2MEND) Conference, which focuses on serving Black males in college. After the event, he began the process of founding an A2MEND chapter at Grossmont College.
“My time at Grossmont College has allowed me to learn from our students while challenging myself to grow and improve more, both personally and professionally,” said the NextUp program specialist, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UC San Diego. He has finished most of the coursework toward a master’s degree from SDSU.
Natalija Worrell has worked at her current post as a Child Development Center Technician for seven years, but her history with Cuyamaca College’s CDC dates back to 2007 when she was a student majoring in Child Development. After graduating from Cuyamaca College, she went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education from National University.
As the Classified Senate president at the college, Worrell is credited by colleagues for elevating the voice of classified professionals in governance, including her contributions to the newly designed governance structure. Her work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion is reflected in her contributions to the president’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Task Force and her participation in a diversity-in-hiring initiative.
“Having been a child development student and proud Cuyamaca graduate, I feel I have a home here,” Worrell said.