Rachel Kasten, graduate services coordinator for the Geospatial Analytics doctoral program at the Center for Geospatial Analytics, has won the 2020 NC State University Award for Excellence for SHRA staff from the College of Natural Resources (CNR). The award specifically recognizes her exceptional work in the Human Relations category, which acknowledges “an outstanding contribution toward enhancing the quality or morale of the workplace.”
NC State University Awards for Excellence are the most prestigious honor bestowed upon non-faculty employees, recognizing notable contributions that are above and beyond an employee’s normal job responsibilities.
The nomination for Rachel lauded her as “dedicated to the overall health and well-being of students in the graduate programs at the Center for Geospatial Analytics,” stating that “she has taken a systemic approach to inclusion, beginning with creating a handbook that focuses on the whole student, providing advice for mental and physical well-being as well as resources for supporting marginalized students.” The nomination also explained that “she worked with a student to create a ‘self-care’ box that anyone in the Center can make use of as needed. She also began supplying feminine hygiene products for students in the restrooms, an idea that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has since adopted and expanded to other college spaces.”
“Clearly, she’s thinking about the health and well-being of the college and really doing a great job, a phenomenal job in helping us work toward a more diverse and inclusive and equitable college,” said CNR Dean Myron Floyd, who made the award announcement at a virtual gathering of CNR faculty and staff last week.
At that same meeting, Dean Floyd announced that Rachel also won a Pride of the Wolfpack Award, which recognizes staff for special or unique contributions to their college, business unit or the university.
Ross Meentemeyer, director of the Center for Geospatial Analytics, nominated Rachel for the honor, listing many ways that Rachel has positively impacted the Center and its programs: “Upon realizing that there are no lactation spaces in Jordan Hall, she converted an under-utilized map room into a lactation room that is used by students, faculty and staff from across the college….Rachel has also implemented Center-wide birthday celebrations to further strengthen our community.”
Her impact also extends to the next generation of Center students. Meentemeyer explained: “Rachel is particularly passionate about recruiting and supporting historically underrepresented minorities in our graduate programs. She spends time cultivating one-on-one relationships with prospective students and more than doubled our number of underrepresented minority applicants over last year, with a full 30% of all domestic applications coming from underrepresented minority students.”
In summary, he says, “Rachel’s positive impact on our community is amazing!”
Congratulations, Rachel, on your well-deserved honors!