Other than clapping for advisors and students at other colleges, Shelby Coxon wasn’t expecting any excitement at the awards banquet she attended Oct. 6.
Coxon, two Metropolitan Community College colleagues and eight students were attending the National Association for Campus Activities Central Regional Conference in Arlington, Texas.
And then the emcee declared that Coxon had been named the 2018 Outstanding Student Government Advisor in an eight-state region.
“I had no clue,” Coxon said later. “She announced my name and my mouth dropped. I’m like, huh?”
The award goes to advisors who display “genuine support and regard for students and their issues,” is viewed by colleagues as an educator, and has had “an extraordinary impact on students’ lives” and earned their respect.
Although she’s “not a huge fan of public praise,” MCC-Penn Valley’s Coxon appreciated the kudos. Her nomination had been spearheaded by Caitlin Mountjoy, the 2017-18 president of Penn Valley’s Student Government Association and now a student at the University of Central Missouri. Former dean Yvette Sweeney and former Early College Academy coordinator Paula Schaaf wrote letters of support.
The NACA award is “actually something that’s very competitive throughout the region — it’s a really big deal,” says LaShaundra Randolph, who works with Coxon in Penn Valley’s Campus Life & Leadership office (and is currently interim Career Services coordinator).
“The work she does with our SGA is something I’ve never seen before,” Randolph says, describing how Coxon helps student leaders navigate their roles but also gives them space, encouraging self-motivation.
“She’s not hand-holding them at all, but she’s always there to support them.”
Emilio Espinoza, Penn Valley’s current SGA president, says Coxon “works hard to make the experience of any student phenomenal and something they will never forget. She is funny and always carries a vibe that brightens up the whole room.”
Coxon recently celebrated her five-year MCC anniversary as Penn Valley’s Campus Life & Leadership coordinator. Former Penn Valley associate dean Mindy Johnson Pettegrew got the campus’ student government off the ground, with Coxon becoming co-advisor soon after.
Since then, Penn Valley student government leaders have learned how to run meetings using parliamentary procedure. They’ve formed committees to address student needs and concerns with administrators. For the last three years the SGA has organized a fall blood drive on campus (this year’s is Oct. 30; make an appointment here and enter pv in the sponsor code box). And last year SGA planned Equality Week, with programming on religion, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation/gender, and disabilities awareness.
“They’re making me proud,” Coxon says. “They’re doing some really good stuff.”
Coxon and fellow student government advisors Richard Monroe and Brianna Yahaya are certainly proud of the students who attended the NACA conference. All eight volunteered to work at the event, and they collectively donated money to the NACA Foundation for student scholarships, enough to earn recognition as one of the top three student delegations to do so.
The MCC students were engaged, had great attitudes, and “people from other schools said how well they represented us,” Coxon says.