No one was surprised that associate director of student activities Christine Girouard won the Maureen McDermott/Michelle Delaney Staff Programmer Award at the National Association for Campus Activities Region 1 Conference in Hartford, Conn.
Except for Girouard — who had no idea she was even nominated.
“It was a total surprise,” says Emily Perlow, director of student activities, who has worked with Girouard for about eight years. “She is so modest, she would have been like, ‘don’t do that!’”
The NACA award — presented to Girouard at an association dinner on Nov. 2 — is awarded annually to a recipient employed by a member institution as a professional staff member in the field of student affairs or campus activities for four or more years; has shown long-term potential in the field; is recognized for his/her work in the development of student leadership skills and creativity; is employed in campus activities advisement at a NACA member institution for at least nine months; has developed an effective advising style, which results in an extraordinary impact on students’ lives; and is viewed by his/her colleagues as an educator.
Getting Girouard into the running, Perlow says, required two nomination letters. She found that when she would approach people on campus to add a quote into her letter for Girouard, they would ask to write their own letter. So the nominating committee ended up with four recommendation letters, plus a video produced by the school’s Social Committee featuring past and present students who have interacted with Girouard over the years.
“Christine is one of the most helpful advisors I’ve ever worked with,” says one student in the video. “She’s fun,” says another. “She’s so put together.” Another student tells how Girouard taught her a very important life lesson: “Not only how to lead myself, but how to teach others, themselves, to lead.”
WEARER OF MANY HATS
Girouard joined WPI in an assistant director of student activities role in June 2007. Two-and-a-half years ago, she was named associate director of the office.
She is responsible for advising the Social Committee, Yearbook, Student Speakers Fund, Senior Board, and Senior Week Committee; forming leadership programs; and serving as a resource to more than 200 campus clubs and organizations. “Helping them learn outside of the classroom, and assisting to provide an environment of engagement on campus, is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job,” Girouard says.
She also pitches in for other events, such as New Student Orientation, Perlow says, and oversees departmental publications and social media for the student activities office.
“We are To-Do list folks,” says Perlow of her working relationship with Girouard. “We both use technology to benefit us [whenever possible]. She also says Girouard has a great ability to think on her feet and “keep a lot of balls the air,” a crucial skill in student activities.
Girouard has to be a multitasker, and says she thrives in the busy environment, but also knows sometimes you have to go with the flow. “Every day is a new and different day, which keeps me on my toes,” she says. “Staying organized and planning ahead is certainly important, but most important is just being flexible.”
Girouard says part of this staying flexible is adjusting her advising style, if needed, depending on the situation. “There is no ‘right’ one,” she says. “Communicating expectations is the first step. I try to adjust my style to meet their needs and always make sure that the lines of communication are open.”
- By Susan Shalhoub