Best & Brightests  
 



UW AWARDS 2008 HOMEPAGE

UWEEK.ORG HOMEPAGE

DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Ben Kerr, Biology
Gowri Shankar, Business Administration
Jaime Olavarria, Psychology
Jamie Walker, Ceramics
Julia Parrish, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences / Biology
Rebecca Aanerud, Women Studies
Richard Knuth, Education Administration

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AWARD
Fernanda Oyarzun & Chris Himes , Biology
Rachel Goldberg, English

DISTINGUISHED LIBRARIAN AWARD
Theresa Mudrock, UW Libraries

DISTINGUISHED STAFF AWARD
Hendrik Simons, Nuclear Physics Laboratory
Mona Pitre-Collins, Undergraduate Scholarship Office
Philip Mote, Climate Impacts Group
Robin Bennett, Medical Genetics
Sue Park, Facilities Services

DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO LIFELONG LEARNING AWARD
John Schaufelberger, Construction Management

OUTSTANDING PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Nancy Amidei, Social Work

JAMES D. CLOWES AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Lance Bennett, Political Science / Communication

S. STERLING MUNRO PUBLIC SERVICE TEACHING AWARD
Denise Wilson, Electrical Engineering

DAVID B. THORUD LEADERSHIP AWARD
Judy Mahoney, College of Engineering
Kathleen Woodward, Simpson Center for the Humanities

MARSHA L. LANDOLT DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE MENTOR AWARD
Tom Quinn, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

ALUMNUS SUMMA LAUDE DIGNATA
Beverly Cleary, Children's Author

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Robb Weller, Television Producer and Host

PRESIDENT'S MEDAL
June Shujun Peng and Royce Anderson

"You get invested in people. You get to hear about their goals, their dreams and their aspirations. That gets you excited about who they are, and what the possibilities for them are, that they have such great potential, and that there are opportunities for them to become very successful."


Mona Pitre-Collins


At Undergraduate Academic Affairs, they call it the Mona effect.

Before Mona Pitre-Collins became director of the Undergraduate Scholarship Office in 2000, the UW had gone 15 years without a Rhodes scholar. Since then, UW students have been selected for four Rhodes scholarships, four Trumans, six Marshalls, seven Udalls and 22 Goldwaters. That doesn't count other scholarship awards, either: Mitchell, Merage, Beinecke, Gates Cambridge and Jack Kent Cooke.

Pitre-Collins helps students prepare written and oral scholarship applications, including the elite ones that require University nominations. For extraordinary accomplishment in this work, the UW is recognizing her with a Distinguished Staff Award.

"You get invested in people," Pitre-Collins said of the students she works with. "You get to hear about their goals, their dreams and their aspirations. That gets you excited about who they are, and what the possibilities for them are, that they have such great potential, and that there are opportunities for them to become very successful."

As a young person, Pitre-Collins herself didn't have the same opportunities but did have family examples.

"We're a family of educators," she said. "My mother, Marie Pitre, was a teacher; four of my aunts were teachers; my godmother, Edna DeVille, was a teacher. My grandmother, Felicia Blouin, wanted education. She ended up selling her country property in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, and moving to a little town, Opelousas, so her children could become educated.

"I had the kind of mother who during the summer would have us write papers," she continued. "She took us to museums; she simply made sure that we didn't get away from education."

Pitre-Collins eventually taught middle school science, but giving her all eventually meant burnout. She moved to student advisory jobs at Seattle University and Olympic College in Bremerton before arriving at the UW and the scholarship office.

Since then, the UW has each year nominated more than 20 students for prestigious national scholarships, up from only four or five.

But preparing applications is a ton of work for both applicants and their advisers. Sometimes, too, it requires the unusual.

As student Cristina Domogma prepared to leave for a two-day interview in Denver for a Truman scholarship in 2007, her child care arrangements fell apart. Pitre-Collins and her husband, Bill Collins, volunteered to care for Renee, Domogma's 5-year-old daughter. Recalling the event, Pitre-Collins chuckles. "It was fun."

When a group of Martin scholars met recently to talk about moving from community colleges to the UW and the scholarship that helped them, they spontaneously praised Pitre-Collins. "Mona had guided almost every one of these awardees," said Ed Taylor, dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

When students Jeff Eaton and Graham Griffiths were chosen for Marshall and Rhodes interviews in 2007, Pitre-Collins organized four mock interviews. Then over a weekend, she videotaped the interviews and helped the students analyze them.

Because the best students often have very full schedules, Pitre-Collins often works evenings and weekends. "It gets the work done. You fit things in, and accomplish what you need to accomplish," she said.

"It is not uncommon to receive e-mail from Mona anytime between 4 a.m. and midnight," said Eaton, now a UW graduate. "I ask her about how much longer she will maintain this schedule, and she tells me forever," said Eaton, who was selected for a Marshall scholarship for doctoral work at Imperial College in London. "Mona is amazing," he added. "I couldn't have done it without her."

To avoid another burnout, Pitre-Collins says she maintains a flexible schedule, sometimes coming to work later in the morning if she'll be working past 5. She doesn't take full credit for increasing the number of UW students who have received elite scholarships, either. Initiatives such as the Undergraduate Research Program and the Carlson Leadership and Public Service Center have paved the way, she said in a 2007 interview. "It's really a collaboration of many players at the University," Pitre-Collins said. "In the Scholarship Office, we coordinate the process."

So what's tough for her?

"Not having enough time to do the stuff I have to do...We really need more staff. ...I dream about an office that's like Yale. Their scholarship office has one adviser for every single scholarship."