Today@Sam Article

Honoring The 2022 Staff Excellence Winners

Aug. 9, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

Brandon Whitfield, Weslie Gray, Alisa White, Sharese Hurst, Shellie Armstrong

Four Sam Houston State University employees who have demonstrated excellence in service, proven commitment, commendable performance, and a high level of motivation have been selected as recipients of the 2022 Staff Excellence Award. They are Sharese Hurst, Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT); Shellie Armstrong, College of Science Engineering Technology; Weslie Gray, College of Arts and Media; and Brandon Whitfield is currently assigned to the patrol division of the University Police Department.

Staff members are selected based on nominations by their peers, supervisors, and members of the SHSU faculty. In addition to a plaque of recognition, each recipient will be awarded a $2,000 bonus.

Each year the university invites the Bearkat community to nominate staff members who have consistently demonstrated excellence. The nomination period begins in February and ends in April.

Sharese Hurst has served the Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT) in the College of Criminal Justice since 2000, currently serving as Division Director.  She puts forth an infectious work ethic that never fails to inspire her peers. Sharese is responsible for providing persistent training and knowledge to alumni, professionals and practitioners regarding the best policies and practices in the field of corrections. 

“I am truly humbled to be nominated by my coworkers,” Hurst said. “My colleagues are family to me and one of the reasons I love coming to work each day. It takes a team to host a successful event and we have a magnificent team.”

How would you describe your own job?
“My duties include coordinating conferences and professional development for the field of county corrections in the state of Texas and around the nation. Our team works together to provide critical training to corrections professionals, which allows them to maintain their certifications, licenses and meet continuing education requirements. In this role, I also serve as the executive director of the Texas Jail Association, which is one of the largest state jail associations in the country. I coordinate and host two conferences per year for them, as well as maintain their membership.”

What do you love about your job?
“As an event planner hosting conferences and seminars, I enjoy working with both constituents in the field and hotel staff around the state. I have the opportunity to collaborate with educators and experts in the field while showcasing SHSU and the College of Criminal Justice. My goal is to create successful events that benefit our attendees, both personally and professionally. Having worked at CMIT for over 20 years, I value the relationships I have developed in the field and on campus. I love helping others on a daily basis. CMIT has an incredible team and it is a joy to come to work each day.”

What do you love about SHSU?
“As a two-time alumnus of SHSU, I am truly blessed to work for this grand university. The faculty and staff are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of both students and alumni.  Although our campus has grown significantly since I started working here, it still feels like a small community that works to serve others. I am a product of SHSU and, by excelling in my job, I can contribute to the university’s success.”

Comments supporting her nomination:
“Fellow coworkers and colleagues would all agree that her dedication to SHSU and CMIT embodies the spirit of the award. She exhibits exemplary service to the College of Criminal Justice and the university through her outstanding job performance, gracious attitude and invaluable contributions in the field of criminal justice/corrections.”

“She is now in remission and continues with her encouraging, positive, smiling and committed focus on excellence. She made each of us stronger through her journey and certainly represents everything we want to be and should be, as proud employees of our grand old university. She truly exemplifies staff excellence and serves as a role model for each of us.”

Shellie Armstrong serves as administrative coordinator II for the College of Science Engineering Technology (COSET) and handles a plethora of diverse responsibilities in an efficient manner. Her positive attitude and desire to be a team player has made her a favorite amongst her colleagues. She has been praised for anticipating issues and concerns and preparing her solutions in advance. After recently earning a promotion, she began to do the jobs of two people while also serving on a search committee to fill her own role.

“I am honored to be recognized and nominated by my colleagues,” Armstrong said. “This award means more to me than they will ever know. I strive, daily, to treat and serve others with the respect they deserve. This recognition means that my work and dedication are not in vain.”

How would you describe your own job?
“My job, first and foremost, is to represent the college and university in a positive and professional manner. My primary duties include management of the college budgetary accounts, financial transaction approvals, purchasing, Dean's office travel, coordinating receptions for the annual College Excellence Awards and college retreat, marketing, IT funding requests, reporting of written materials and reporting of the Undergraduate Research Awards.”

What do you love about your job?
“I love that my job presents new challenges on an almost daily basis that allow me to broaden my knowledge and skills. Also, I love meeting and interacting with people that I had not worked with before in my previous position.”

What do you love about SHSU?
“I love the sense of community, spirit of comradery, and support I feel at SHSU. I witness the university motto come alive every day all over campus. The faculty, staff, and students make SHSU a wonderful place to work.”

Comments supporting her nomination include:
“She is a strong, positive influence on morale throughout COSET. She says that the COSET Office of the Dean is the heart of the college, so she leads by example with a positive attitude, a strong dedication to her job and loyalty to both COSET and SHSU.”

“She has the wonderful ability to work with anyone that needs help. In a Dean’s office, you never know what is going to come your way each day. It could be a student that needs help, or it could be their parent calling, as well. Then you have faculty members coming in and needing assistance. She is able to take the issue, process it and then work on the best solution. Her ability to keep up on tasks is amazing and, equally amazing, is her ability to help with our eight departments.”

Weslie Gray serves as director of strategic initiatives and operations for the College of Arts and Media (CAM). During her time with CAM, she has grown beyond an assistant to the Dean role to taking on larger duties, such as producing accurate budget projections, contractual processes for hires, programmatic strategies and effective communication across campus. Along with other CAM colleagues, Gray has produced an annual publication for SHSU (CAM Magazine), which now has three issues.

“I feel honored to have been nominated and selected for the Staff Excellence Award by my colleagues,” Gray said. “It is encouraging to know that my dedication and effort are appreciated and recognized at the highest level.”

How would you describe your own job?
“I act as the chief business and financial director for the college, especially in areas related to administration, operations, marketing & communications and strategic planning. I work very closely with the Dean on all matters related to faculty and staff and provide oversight and creative direction for the CAM Marketing & Communications team, which consists of two full-time staff and eight student interns. My job is (in part) to make sure that our college is always moving forward and on the cutting edge of the arts and media in higher education.”

What do you love about your job?
“There are many things that I love about my role in the College of Arts & Media. I love that we, as a college, will go to extraordinary lengths to help students in need. At the height of the pandemic, my colleague Carolyn Tucker and I were able to reallocate funds to award roughly $220,000 in scholarships to students in CAM. Our college used our own resources to award these scholarships, and our students were so surprised and overjoyed at the extra financial boost during a time of such uncertainty. The fact is, I am very lucky to have an amazing team of colleagues and staff who work very, very hard every day.  My job would be impossible without them. If I had to choose one thing that I love the most, it would be my colleagues in the Dean's Office and my staff in the CAM Marketing and Communications team.”

What do you love about SHSU?
“I have worked at SHSU for the better part of 17 years. I have seen administrations come and go and I have experienced the natural change and growth that comes with working in higher education. One thing that has remained constant during my career at SHSU is the pride that the Bearkat community has for this institution. I come from a long line of Bearkats, my mother worked for SHSU for 27 years prior to her retirement in 2018, and there are more than 10 SHSU degrees in my family. Not only did I grow up on campus, visiting my mom as a young girl at her office, but I am also an alumna twice over, earning both my undergraduate and graduate degrees from SHSU. I went to college and never left! It's a wonderful community and I am honored to be a Bearkat.”

Comments supporting her nomination include:
“She is a dedicated employee and takes enormous pride in her work. From small tasks and projects to major restructuring and building of new programs, she dives in with equal enthusiasms. I don’t have to remind her about what needs to get done. Her motivation to always do the best makes things happen. She is extremely motivated to do excellent work each and every day.”

“She brings the process of an MBA to the creative processing of a marketing specialist. I welcome her understanding of SHSU as a community of learners as well as her leadership roles beyond the university. She understands people and knows how to get things organized and done.”

Officer Brandon Whitfield is currently assigned to the patrol division of the University Police Department, where he responds to calls for service during day and night shifts. He is also utilized as a mentor for the department’s field training program due to his enhanced knowledge of university crimes and laws compiled over an extensive career. He was previously recognized by President Alisa White for his courageous actions during 2020 incident in which he instigated life-saving measures on a teenage victim at a local apartment complex.

“No good police officer enters this noble profession for the glory,” Whitfield said. “We all joined to make a difference, no matter how small, in our community. I have been thoroughly blessed with the opportunities I have been given and just try to do my best. To have that work recognized by not only my department but the university is an honor that I feel I am undeserving of. This award represents not just me but all the officers and staff of the University Police Department who day in and day out put their lives on the line to protect this university.”

How would you describe your own job?
“I serve as a patrol officer with the UPD where I patrol the SHSU campus, providing a safe learning and work environment for our community. I assist in organizing and coordinating our department’s various training programs for both new and senior officers. My instructor certification includes a wide range of topics from de-escalation and use of force to mental health training.”

What do you love about your job?
“I love the variety of work my position brings. Being a police officer provides the flexibility to interact with a large and diverse segment of our university community. I enjoy being able to get out of the office or my patrol car and interacting with the campus community. Every interaction we make can be positive no matter the circumstances, and I strive to use these interactions to build and maintain a positive relationship with the community. My work in teaching Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) is what I enjoy most about giving back to the community. As the information provided not only prepares our students while they are on campus, but also for the next steps in their lives as they enter the workforce.”

What do you love about SHSU?
“I first came to SHSU as a student pursuing my undergraduate degree while working as a police officer for another university. I learned that SHSU is a tight-knit community that supports law enforcement and its efforts. I applied soon after and have not looked back. The university has allowed me to grow as a police officer in an environment that emphasizes community and the continuing professional growth of its employees.”

Comments supporting his nomination include:
“His actions embody his commitment to serving others, but also the value he places on the lives of others. One of his greatest strengths is his willingness to help others and to continue demonstrating self-improvement. By doing so, he has been able to translate his knowledge and expertise to the department and university community.”

“He has always demonstrated a can-do and motivated attitude that has been felt with other members of the department. His individual drive and determination to improve himself and the department is noticeable. He regularly volunteers for tasks or assignments that are outside the typical patrol duties. However, each of these benefit the department.”

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