January 29, 2021

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Honors Students, Faculty, Staff with Blazer Creed Awards

Dr. Matthew D. Carter

Anthony Oliveira

Carla Carter Jordan

Barbara Fontaine

Dr. Ellis Logan

Mardi Haynes

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University recently recognized an elite group of students, faculty, and staff for their steadfast commitment to uphold The Blazer Creed in everything they do, both on campus and in the community.
As the Blazer Creed states, VSU is a learning environment based on trust and mutual respect, in which open dialogue, vigorous debate, and the free exchange of ideas are welcome. The university is dedicated to the core values of community, including a commitment to practice the following:
Civility — A Blazer shows courtesy and compassion as well as respect for the dignity of every human being.
Integrity — Each Blazer is responsible for his or her own actions, and our community is stronger when we contemplate the context of our decisions and uphold the principles of trust and honesty.
Citizenship — Every Blazer has an interest in the wellbeing of the community and, therefore, a duty to stay informed, to make positive contributions, and to offer support to those who need help.
The following individuals are shining examples of what it means to be a Blazer, to treat others with good manners, to act with honesty and have strong moral principles, and to work hard and help others.
Dr. Matthew D. Carter, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Special Education

VSU News: Who nominated you for this award?
Dr. Matthew D. Carter: Kristen Hinson is the person who nominated me. She is a wonderful individual who completed her undergraduate and graduate work here at VSU in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Special Education in Spring 2019 and Fall 2020. I taught her at both levels, and she was also my graduate assistant. As an undergraduate student, she won the Best Poster Award at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and she presented at our state speech-language pathology organization's convention as well. As a graduate student, she was an integral member of the team that developed the partnership between VSU and the Scottish-Rite Foundation. We had ambitious goals for our literacy initiative, and it was only the first year of that partnership. There were an enormous number of ways that things could have gone very badly, but they didn't. We were able to accomplish all of our goals and more, and we would not have been able to undertake that initiative without her hard work and attention to detail. 
VSU News: Why does practicing civility matter to you?
Dr. Matthew D. Carter: I believe that practicing civility is a lost art in many spheres of our lives, which is really sad because there is so much good that can be done in the world if we were to become community minded. I believe that if we all took more of a servant-like, selfless mentality, then our world would be a much better place. I try to instill that in my students as well as in my children. Kristen is very much of the same mind and that is one of the many things that makes her special. 
VSU News: What went through your mind when you learned that you had won this award?
Dr. Matthew D. Carter: I was extremely excited. It is always an honor to receive recognition for hard work, but I did not know who had nominated me at first. When I found out that a student had gone through the effort to nominate me for the award, I became doubly excited and extremely grateful. Teaching can be a very challenging and sometimes humbling experience. It is extremely fulfilling to know that my efforts have had a positive impact. 
The Nomination
As a teacher’s daughter, I always grew up surrounded by posters of inspirational quotes defining teachers. Although I didn’t pay very much attention back then, there is one quote that was plastered on my mother’s wall that really stuck with me throughout my years. The quote states, “They may forget what you said, but they will not forget how you made them feel.” When I think of this quote now in my last semester of graduate school, the one person who comes to my mind is Dr. Matt Carter. Dr. Carter was a professor who was genuinely passionate about his student’s success. He went above and beyond in everything he did — the way he taught, the homework assignments and tests he made, the office hours he held, and every minute he spent with his students.
When you were in his classroom, instead of feeling defeated (which happens so many times in graduate school), you always felt like you were capable of doing any task. You never felt as if you couldn’t ask questions or that he would judge you for not understanding the material. Now that I am two months away from graduating and starting my career as a speech-language pathologist, I idolize how dedicated he is to his job, his students, and his family. He always encourages his class to perform well academically, but he also is concerned with the students’ wellbeing. He cares about each of his students as people. He wants them to develop into happy, healthy, and successful speech-language pathologists. As you can see, Dr. Carter is one of a kind, and as I embark on my newest journey into adulthood I will always remember the great professor/mentor he was and the impact he leaves on every student.
Anthony Oliveira, Student, Department of Psychological Sciences

VSU News: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Anthony Oliveira: I am from Cranford, New Jersey. I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I am on track to graduate in May 2021.
VSU News: Why does practicing civility matter to you?
Anthony Oliveira: As a Christian, I try to live my life as Christ once did. As such, I believe it is important to approach life in a loving, caring, yet principled manner — as Christ did. Moreover, in the Bible and other teachings of Christianity, it is evident that Christ modeled civility better than any human being ever could have — while still holding steadfast to his principles. Therefore — alluding to my priorly stated assertion — because of the inherent importance of civility, I try to approach life in such a way. Moreover, I respect the sanctity and dignity inherent to every person, knowing that God has bestowed upon them the complicated, beautiful, and intricate blessing that is life. We are all God’s creation. Therefore, I believe it is important to show compassion and empathy to my fellow Valdosta State University students, yes, but also to people in general.
VSU News: Who nominated you for this award?
Anthony Oliveira: Njeri Pringle, graduate assistant in the Academic Support Center who earned a Doctor of Education in Leadership in December 2020
VSU News: What went through your mind when you learned that you had won this award?
Anthony Oliveira: I was beyond excited. I must humbly state that in my daily life I try to embody civility. As such, receiving this award served as an acknowledgement of such efforts — one for which I am wholeheartedly grateful. It was an unexpected honor to be recognized with the civility award. I want to thank Ms. Njeri Pringle for nominating me for this award.

The Nomination
It is my honor to recommend Anthony Oliveira for the Blazer Creed Award. Anthony has served as a supplemental instruction leader for approximately three years. He is currently a mentor and Level 4 supplemental instruction leader.
As a mentor Anthony has had to both advocate for his team and also mediate difficult staff and student concerns. Recently, he served as an advocate in ensuring that he and his team members were properly cared for and protected. He encouraged in a mediation wherein there was a compromise of care; our team is learning how to better communicate as well as care for each other. He handled the situation with integrity and civility. He has helped us develop processes and procedures that help us put students first.
As a Level 4 supplemental instruction leader, Anthony oversees two supplemental instruction teams of five-plus leaders. We have expanded the supplemental instruction program by 267 percent. He has been instrumental in designing training, following up with staff members as an accountability measure. He has also provided extra support for supplemental instruction leaders that may have trouble balancing their new role along with their other obligations. He works with several other mentors in designing new hire training, interest meetings, group interviews, and staff development.
Due to the restrictions of COVID-19, Anthony has helped us to create a four-day intensive training that equips supplemental instruction leaders with new tools to convert their face-to-face sessions into online presentations. He provides steadfast guidance and advisement when making contribution to training, recruitment, recognition, and the like. His ideas have been implemented in improving our five-hour new hire training, as well as our recruitment efforts. During our face-to-face training, he provides a contextual framework from which supplemental instructors can take their newfound knowledge and apply it to their everyday lives. He fully understands relational connectivity and helps us identify and correct issues of disconnection.
Anthony has a number of responsibilities but is very intentional about his studies and his academic pursuits as showcased by his transcript and consistent pursuit of his educational goals. He has established himself with his professors and other academic faculty as demonstrated through his current research pursuits and faculty partnerships. He has served in many leadership capacities included by not limited to senator, member of the Psychology Club, member of the Spanish Club, member of Circle K, Member of the Psi Chi Honor Society, and member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society. He is a role model and an excellent example to his peers and other students. His core values, work ethic, and outlook have an impact on all those that encounter him. He has a profound presence that is both warm and inviting — it issues an invitation to explore the depth of oneself and others. I would say that knowing oneself is the foundation to the endeavor of learning.
Carla Carter Jordan, Director of Career Opportunities

VSU News: Why does having integrity mean to you?
Carla Carter Jordan: Integrity means upholding the foundational principles for living by always being true and honest with myself and demonstrating compassion for others.
VSU News: Who nominated you for this award?
Carla Carter Jordan: Jessica Thomas, a student in the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration
VSU News: What went through your mind when you learned that you had won this award?
Carla Carter Jordan: I am extremely excited to receive this award. (Excited may not the best word for an award of this magnitude.) The best words — humbled and joyful — express my gratitude for such an honor. I am humbled because a student was able to capture my love for Valdosta State University and the students I encounter. It is special when people can identify your love and care for the students you serve and the job you enjoy. Out of all of the awards, this award is very special to me because integrity is not just a word. It is a lifestyle.
The Nomination
Carla has done quite a bit for me since I started VSU and working for the election’s office. Through my father getting Stage 4 cancer to working 82 hours a week and struggling to find the motivation to stay in school, she has encouraged and pushed me. She has shown me that I am not only worth this degree but also I am capable of anything. When I wanted to drop out and give up she advised me on what was best. When I didn't believe I was good enough to even consider graduate school she made me see my potential. She has been a light in my life for almost three years now and I don't think she understands just how much of a role model and positive influence she has been in my life and so many others. I have had very few people to look up to in my life, but she is definitely one of them. She truly deserves to be recognized because without her encouragement I'm not sure I would be so close to graduating and even applying for grad school right now.
Barbara Fontaine, Administrative Assistant, Department of Music

VSU News: What does being a good citizen mean to you?
Barbara Fontaine: A good citizen is someone who demonstrates honesty, friendliness, and dedication … someone who works with a diverse group of people to collaborate on ideas, support the wellbeing of the community, and build relationships based on loyalty, support, trust … someone who values the beliefs and opinions of others while working together in a collaborative fashion. I have taken the opportunity to participate in many leadership, management, and administrative course programs available through Employee and Organizational Development on campus. I have completed the Administrative Assistant Professional Certificate, the Professional Certificate in Leadership and Management: Leadership Track, and the Professional Certificate in Leadership and Management: Management Track. These courses have allowed me to develop strong relationships across campus with some amazing people.
VSU News: Who nominated you for this award?
Barbara Fontaine: Rebecca Skelton is the person who nominated me. She is one of our student assistants in the Department of Music office. She has been working for us two and half years and has been a true asset to our department. I feel it is important as a supervisor and mentor to set an example as a positive role model and develop trust, support, and guidance throughout their university journey. I am honored that Rebecca felt I was a worthy candidate for such an honorable award. 
VSU News: What went through your mind when you learned that you had won this award?
Barbara Fontaine: I was so excited and in disbelief …. I was totally surprised, as I had no idea I was even nominated. I think Rebecca was as surprised and excited as I was. I am honored and so very proud to be awarded such a prestigious award. After attending Valdosta State College, I was away for 30 years, and I am proud and happy to be back again assisting our Blazer community at Valdosta State University.
The Nomination
Mrs. Fontaine is an absolutely amazing individual. She has gone above and beyond for everybody that is involved with the fine arts, especially the Department of Music. Every task that is presented to her is taken on with strong will and power to complete it with confidence. She stays up to date with all things concerning the Department of Music and makes sure to always support other faculty and staff members in all their endeavors. One of the biggest contributions that Mrs. Fontaine has made to our music department and community recently is making facemasks for all of the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. She has handmade over 500 masks for instrumentalists involved in the VSO as well as one for every season ticketholder that comes to see the performances. This contribution has helped ensure the safety of our local music community during these times of uncertainty. By making all of the masks she has also contributed to keeping a community tradition alive. Without social distancing guidelines and the contribution of Mrs. Fontaine's masks, VSO may not have even happened this semester. Without Mrs. Fontaine's act of selflessness and concern for the safety and wellbeing of the community, this semester would not have gone so smoothly. Therefore, I believe I speak on behalf of the entire Department of Music when I say that Mrs. Fontaine deserves the Blazer Creed Award for Citizenship. She is a wonderful asset to VSU and the community.
Dr. Ellis Logan, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice

VSU News: What does being a good citizen mean to you?
Dr. Ellis Logan: Every syllabus I give contains the same quote from Michelle Obama, a successful sociology major, in the section about the Blazer Creed and Honor Code. She said, “We learned about honesty and integrity — that the truth matters … that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules … and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.”
VSU News: Who nominated you for this award?
Dr. Ellis Logan: Dr. Thomas Hochschild, professor of sociology
VSU News: What went through your mind when you learned that you had won this award?
Dr. Ellis Logan: Honestly, without sounding too hyperbolic, being recognized for integrity, fairness, and everything encompassed within the Blaze Creed is the most meaningful thing I could be recognized for. It is quite flattering, especially since I was nominated by Dr. Tom Hochschild, a faculty member that I hold in the highest professional esteem. It means a lot to me, and it is something I really focus on in the classroom. Accomplishments don't count unless you did it the right way. 

The Nomination
With VSU courses meeting face to face in Fall 2020 despite concerns over COVID-19, Dr. Logan has set the highest of standards in regards to promoting student, faculty, and staff safety. In addition to enforcing social distancing among students, Dr. Logan has developed a reputation for going above and beyond by wiping down desks and equipment with disinfectant in his classrooms. Additionally, he often moves his courses outside to Palms walkway so as to reduce the likelihood of his students contracting the disease. Dr. Logan can often be seen outside enthusiastically relaying information and spurring conversation with the use of images, graphs, and charts he has printed out for students. It is no easy task to transform high-technology classroom instruction to low-technology outdoor instruction. Recently, I received an email from a parent of one of Dr. Logan's students expressing gratitude that he has taken so many extra precautions to ensure the safety of her daughter.
Mardi Haynes, Student, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Special Education

VSU News: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Mardi Haynes: I am from Hiram, Georgia, and I anticipate graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in Communication Disorders in May 2022.
VSU News: What does being a good citizen mean to you?
Mardi Haynes: Being a good citizen matters because it can impact a whole community. Good citizenship entails respecting and supporting others, understanding other people’s needs, taking on responsibilities, and adhering to social and ethical standards. The qualities of a good citizen push communities to be better and work towards striving.
VSU News: Who nominated you for this award?
Mardi Haynes: Njeri Pringle, graduate assistant in the Academic Support Center who earned a Doctor of Education in Leadership in December 2020
VSU News: What went through your mind when you learned that you had won this award?
Mardi Haynes: At first I was completely shocked when it was announced that I was recognized with the citizenship award. I was unaware that someone had nominated me, and once I received it, I was extremely honored and grateful.

The Nomination
It is my honor to recommend Mardi Haynes for the Blazer Creed Award. She is a conscientious student who works meticulously at both her academic and professional endeavors. She is a true leader who exemplifies situational leadership; she serves with integrity as she leads. She currently serves as a supplemental instruction leader in the Academic Support Center, as well as a student assistant within the Department of Biology. She has exceeded expectations as she has gone above and beyond to ensure the success of her attendees as well as added tremendous value to the supplemental instruction program. She models ethical decision-making and often has to demonstrate decisions that showcase her values. She is a servant leader and often can be observed helping to create and reflect the standards that have helped us expand the supplemental instruction program here on campus. She knows when to lead, and she provides opportunities for growth wherein her fellow leaders showcase their skills.
Each semester supplemental instruction leaders are observed several times by their peers, mentors, senior mentor, and staff. Each time Mardi has displayed an intuitive knowledge about the content and assists her attendees in making stronger connections with her, their peers, and most importantly, the content materials. She is intentional to ensure that she is holistically addressing the attendee’s needs by infusing her sessions with best practices, along with note-taking, study, and time management skills to name a few. She utilizes the structure of a supplemental instruction session … to best benefit the attendees and keep them engaged throughout the session.  
Mardi was selected as a team leader this fall, which means that she oversees a team of supplemental instruction leaders with similar subjects. She served a pivotal role in developing and implementing supplemental instruction team leader training. Typically, her team members see her as the go-to for extra help and support. She has worked with the mentors and her other team leaders to develop training for Level 1 supplemental instruction leaders. Additionally, she has worked with us as we have developed new processes for hiring, supervising, and evaluating supplemental instruction leaders. This is pivotal in that our program grew by 267percent over the last nine months. We have created a group interview process in which Mardi has participated in twice, providing feedback for improvements.
Mardi takes her academic and professional responsibilities seriously, as showcased by her transcript and consistent pursuit of her educational goals. She is a role model and an excellent example for her peers and other students. Her core values, work ethic, and outlook have an impact on all those that encounter her. She has a special ability to let those she meets feel “comfortable in their own skin.” Additionally, she has a calming demeanor that allows her peers and attendees to fully engage and be present in their academic and professional pursuits.
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