Six Saint Michael's staff members receive Distinguished Service Awards


community service day winners

Saint Michael's Service Award winners. L to R: Stephen Chase, Michael Sarmara, Valarie Brunelle, Linda Donahue, Heather Ellis-Lynch, Joyce Stowell.

Culminating the Saint Michael's College Community Service Day on May 17 was the presentation of Distinguished Service Awards to six members of the college staff.

Valarie Brunelle of St. Albans, Senior Records Specialist in the registrar's office, received the Unsung Hero Award. A 15-year employee of the college, Valarie "Goldie" Brunelle was described as "the kind of employee you just don't find anymore. Her work ethic and time management skills are phenomenal and are balanced with a sense of humor and humility that make her a joy to work with." She was cited for tackling challenging new jobs with complex technical requirements, as well as with providing extraordinary personal service.

Stephen Chase of Essex Junction, most senior member of the SMC Security Staff, received the Service Award. A 25-year employee of the college, Mr. Chase was cited for his always respectful, professional concern for everyone he encounters. His continuing agenda to be helpful was especially noted, as was his proactive style of making improvements on campus.

Linda Donahue of Essex Junction, Director of Advancement Services, received the Leadership Award. An employee of the college for over 20 years, Ms. Donahue was cited for having "produced reports, data and plenty of mailing labels for every department on campus."  She was described as, "having married an alumnus, become a mother of four beautiful children, run marathons, undertaken two complete data conversions and still managed to retain her sense of humor."

Heather Ellis-Lynch of Montpelier, Sustainability Coordinator, received the Accomplishment Award. She was cited as "Working hard to integrate herself over the past four years in all areas of the college beyond just facilities, and has elevated Saint Michael's to be in the Princeton Review Green Guide to Colleges for three years in a row." She participats in the Green Up Club, the Environmental Council, and the Fair Trade Committee, as well as the Interfaith Coordination Team and the Environmental Studies Academic Program Advisory Committee. She was credited with constantly piloting new educational sustainability programs for the campus. She also manages the SMC Organic Garden and has made presentations about the garden at a NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Association) Conference and at the national AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) conference. She has spoken at the Vermont Legislature on the electricity-savings competition she runs annually in the student townhouses.

Joyce Stowell of Shelburne, Senior Acquisitions Specialist in SMC's Durrick Library, won the Unsung Hero Award. In her 35 years at Saint Michael's, Ms. Stowell has led her department through many directors and reorganizations. She was lauded for "getting people the resources they need with uncanny speed and good humor at the best possible price." She serves students and faculty in a complex job of "identifying, ordering, receiving and paying for thousands of unique items each year with amazing efficiency." She received rave reviews for "moving seamlessly from the days of LPs and audiocassettes to streaming virtual formats and electronic ordering." She was said to have an enormous fan base that credited her outstanding "love of literature and film, her ability to apply new technologies and train others in their use, her easy laugh, her leadership, her wisdom and her kindness."

Michael D. Samara of South Burlington, Vice President for Student Affairs, received the Embodiment of SMC Mission and Spirit Award. In the year of his retirement, Michael Samara was honored with this most fitting award. The citation stated, "Throughout Mike's time here, he has positively touched the lives of many students, staff, and faculty." He was cited as a "big picture" thinker who can see things from a grand level, a ground level, and a detailed level." And further, "Mike has been part of our students' whole experience from orientation for new students to leading students in to their graduation four years later…It will be the end of an era when Mike steps down from his current position, but Mike's influence and legacy will continue to be a part of the mission and spirit of Saint Michael's College."

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