Staff Member of the Month

Approximately 200 staff employees work at and support the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

Each month, a deserving staff member is recognized for his or her exemplary job performance. As part of the honor, the selected employee receives eight hours of annual leave; a personalized, front-row parking spot at the college for the month; and a certificate of recognition from the college's dean.

Individuals are peer-nominated and may only receive the recognition once per academic year. Faculty, staff, and students can nominate a staff member by sending a completed nomination form (DOC) to Rebekah Woodyard.

To see winners from years prior to 2020, visit the archive of past winners.

Dean Daniel Givens presents the January 2021 Staff Member of the Month award to Becky Jones
Dean Daniel Givens presents the January 2021 Staff Member of the Month award to Becky Jones.

January 2021

Becky Jones Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Population Health Sciences

From Dr. Andrea Bertke:

Becky is the hub around which the entire student body of the Master of Public Health (MPH) program runs. She keeps track of all of the students: their applications prior to entry into the program and their plans of study, progress reports, and their courses after their entry. She reminds them of due dates and helps them in every possible way to navigate their programs. In addition to helping the students, she also helps the academic advisors by handling all of this and helping us navigate the system. She is the go-to person for any questions, from students or faculty, on coursework, graduate system, and policies. Becky does much more than this, also. I know the faculty realize how much Becky does for the students and faculty, but I hope the students realize this also! She deserves to be recognized as staff member of the month.

From Dr. Alasdair Cohen:

It is with great pleasure that I support the nomination of Becky Jones. As a new faculty member, I was assisted by Becky on numerous occasions as I settled into my position last year. More recently, she assisted me with setting up research and PhD appointments that required coordination with another college, and helped shepherd me through the process of successfully creating a new cross-listed graduate course. Whether my questions or requests for assistance were simple or quite involved, she has always responded quickly, efficiently, and in a highly positive and supportive fashion.

From Dr. Kerry Redican:

Becky is a consummate professional. Her work has primarily been focused on graduate students, and to that end, she did an outstanding job of coordinating the MPH student orientation, class scheduling, and registration and processing both new course proposals and curriculum changes, and many more. She now works with both the MPH students and faculty, as well as the BSPH students and faculty. To work with the BSPH students, Becky needed to learn undergraduate policies and software platforms involved in all facets of undergraduate education from new student orientation to class schedules to processing myriad forms. She has done an outstanding job of working with the undergraduate students. Becky is always friendly and helpful to both faculty and students and takes the time to go the undemanded mile in helping students and faculty. She makes our academic lives a lot easier, and I recommend her for the Dean's Staff Member of the Month.

From Dr. Amy Smith:

Becky is the glue that holds us all together.

From Dr. Valerie Ragan:

Becky goes above and beyond her assigned duties, always being there to support students and faculty alike. During this pandemic, she has remained cheerful and engaged, not only getting her work done, but also participating in innovative ways to keep students engaged and feeling supported by the department. I don’t know what we’d do without her. Thank you, Becky!

From Hannah Menefee:

Becky keeps our program running. We would be lost without her knowledge of the Virginia Tech Graduate School and university policies and procedures. She is friendly and funny—I enjoy her sense of humor to lighten the work day! Becky also has great ideas for building community in our program/department, as well as the entire college—and puts these ideas into action! She is always willing to help, whether it be a small or big task. This support goes a long way for a growing program.

From Elizabeth Caton:

Becky does a tremendous amount for our department, as evidenced by the nominations from Population Health Sciences (PHS) staff and faculty members. However, we would be remiss if we didn't also recognize the amount of effort she puts into supporting the entire college, meeting needs beyond our department.

Becky is president of the Staff Association Executive Committee, which is (to my mind) practically a full-time job in itself. In this role, she supports staff throughout the college by presiding over monthly meetings of the committee, arranging elaborate and successful fundraisers, coordinating a staff greeting card campaign, and holding a wonderful staff appreciation picnic each year. Becky was also critical in the recent development of a food pantry, open to all members of the college during this time of need in our community.

Triaging staff concerns on a wide variety of topics and then elevating issues to the appropriate person for resolution—while respecting the confidentiality and the dignity of all involved—is perhaps Becky's most important contribution to our college. She does this behind the scenes, and most of us aren't even aware that it's happening. There is no doubt that Becky is a major asset to PHS and to the college as a whole. I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to count her as a friend and colleague.

Dean Daniel Givens presents the December 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Keely Arbenz-Smith
Dean Daniel Givens presents the December 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Keely Arbenz-Smith.

December 2020

Keely Arbenz-Smith Administrative Assistant
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences

Keely has been an invaluable part of the Small Animal department. She ALWAYS goes above and beyond the tasks required of her job to help faculty. Personally, she helped me to organize and host the new intern orientation. I would not have been able to successfully enact such a gathering without her assistance. The new interns gave her extremely high remarks throughout the orientation. Additionally, Keely has such a positive and infectious personality. For such a tense and stressful time, she is always cheerful and enjoyable to be around. For me, this has been a "shining light amongst the dark times." Keely is completely deserved of this award. I hope this nomination will propel her to getting it.

Second nomination

Keely is responsible for assisting 65-plus faculty members for the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. She works countless hours to assure all requests are completed, which keeps the department running smoothly and efficiently.

Keely is a team player and works great with other college members. She is always willing to share valuable information and ideas that can benefit the college.

Even though Keely is fairly new to the college, she has managed to come in and make some great changes in DSACS. One of the many tasks she has tackled is the updating of all departmental forms, making it much easier for faculty members to access and complete more easily. Keely has also brought in many great ideas to better serve the high volume of locums traveling to our college to help assist DSACS.

Third nomination

Keely has been amazing in all tasks that are thrown at her. She is kind and respectful with everyone and never hesitates to help in any way she can. She has done a tremendous amount of work to make the department more efficient with processes and procedures while minimizing unnecessary spending. She brings joy to the department with her personality.

Dean Daniel Givens presents the November 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Jeremy Larose
Dean Daniel Givens presents the November 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Jeremy Larose.

November 2020

Jeremy Larose Systems Administrator
Information Technology

This is long overdue, but Jeremy is a very silent helper and is always spot on with his help and support. Not only is Jeremy an excellent system administrator, but he also comes back to help the IT technicians with some of the stuff they do, and you don’t see that very often. He always has a positive attitude and never seems to want any credit or attention even though he deserves it. We enjoy working with Jeremy, and he works hard to keep the vet school running and to make IT work as easy and seamless as possible.

Dean Daniel Givens presents the October 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Hannah Menefee
Dean Daniel Givens presents the October 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Hannah Menefee.

October 2020

Hannah Menefee Public Health Program Coordinator
Department of Population Health Sciences

From Dr. Cornelia Deagle:

Hannah deserves this recognition because of her ongoing, demonstrated commitment to the department and all our faculty, staff, and students, especially during challenging times. She participates in all department activities and takes on additional duties to ensure we accomplish our objectives. She is collaborative and always follows up on tasks in a timely manner. She is essential to the smooth running of our department.

Hannah keeps the department abreast of state and national public health events, activities, policies, and efforts. She applies this knowledge to our internal departmental policies and procedures to ensure we are up to date. For example, she is always knowledgeable about the AASPH (Association of Schools of Public Health), CEPH, and other governing public health bodies.

Hannah works with me in the development of the BSPH program, particularly the evolution of the cumulative experience. She has researched other programs, talked to experts, and contributes invaluable knowledge to this work.

From Dr. Kathy Hosig:

Hannah is the glue that holds our public health program together through overwhelming situations like the pandemic and routine but challenging and critical issues, such as program accreditation, program assessment, and keeping students and faculty on track for meeting requirements for student practicum experiences. She quietly and competently supports students and faculty to ensure that our program operates smoothly and meets expectations at every level. Hannah is a true team player.

From Dr. Alasdair Cohen:

As a new faculty member at Virginia Tech, this past year I required a good deal of support and assistance as I acclimated to the college, my department, and attempted to understand different aspects of the MPH and BSPH programs. In every instance where I had questions, Hannah responded quickly and professionally, often going above and beyond what I had expected in order to ensure that I would be well equipped to understand and fulfill my new roles and responsibilities (including drafting multipage documents to synthesize information on MPH-related programs and then making time to meet and review the documents in person).

From Dr. Cassidy Rist:

Hannah consistently demonstrates compassion for students in the MPH program and has done so with particular care during the changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic this spring and summer. She is also a wonderful member of the PHS department, responding rapidly to questions and concerns.

From Dr. Sophie Wenzel:

Hannah continues to be a shining star of the Department of Population Health Sciences. She really has been serving as the backbone of the program for several years now. From recruiting students to monitoring their PHPEs, to mentoring the student ambassadors, to planning the graduation and much more, she is the go-to person for any student need in the public health program, and the students know this! As a faculty member, I know I can count on her for an answer or at least to try to find the answer. She is inclusive, friendly, approachable, and an all-around good person.

From Lynn Margheim:

Hannah continually surprises me with the amount of responsibilities that she maintains in the department to keep our MPH program running. She does most of her work behind the scenes, helping students to enter and exit the program successfully and to manage all the tasks needed to keep the program up to date for the accreditation evaluation process. She is involved at all levels and never seems to step back on any new task that comes her way. I appreciate her professionalism and dedication to the students, staff, faculty, and college to make the MPH program a great success for all. The program would not be the same without her.

From Elizabeth Caton:

Hannah has never hesitated to respond when I’ve had an ask — whether it be graphic design assistance, proofreading help, or simply acting as a sounding board and helping to generate ideas. I appreciate her calm nature, her positive attitude, and all she does behind the scenes to support the success of everyone in our department.

Dean Daniel Givens presents the September 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Paula Stith
Dean Daniel Givens presents the September 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Paula Stith.

September 2020

Paula Stith Administrative Assistant
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology

I want to nominate Paula Stith because she is so supportive of faculty and staff needs. She always makes herself available to help solve problems. She always advocates for faculty, students, and us! She's knowledgeable, persistent, and systematic in approaching routine tasks and unusual situations that arise. She takes special effort to educate herself on university processes so that she can better serve. And she always takes that extra effort to see a task through.

Paula is a wonderful mentor, and I learn from her on a consistent basis. She is a wealth of knowledge of university processes and procedures. She also has amazing resources because of her ties in our community. She is definitely dedicated to the success of our department. I admire how she is always eager to help our faculty, students, and administrative team. There is not a challenge she is afraid to take on, and she does it with a positive attitude. I am so grateful for all she does to help me be successful in my position, as well.

Second nomination for Paula
Paula is an indispensable element in the efficient and successful functioning of our department, as well as being an excellent team player, concerned individual, and truly fine person. No matter how busy she may be, when you come to her office, she drops everything (including pulling out her earbuds ☺) and gives you her undivided attention. If Paula can't help you on the spot using her vast storehouse of institutional memory/knowledge, she will persist in finding the needed information or solution to the problem and will do so with the shortest possible delay. No matter how busy she may be (and she is always busy), Paula is always pleasant and willing to engage in a brief chat while still getting her work accomplished. Paula is never shy in suggesting potential solutions to problems and often comes up with creative ones. She has been extremely helpful to me in becoming familiar with aspects of departmental functioning with regard to my new administrative responsibilities in the department. It is also noteworthy that she is just as much an advocate for the interests of graduate students and post-docs as she is for faculty. Paula's service during the continuing COVID crisis has been particularly noteworthy. She is well overdue for the important recognition of Staff Member of the Month.

Dean Daniel Givens presents the August 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Valerie Vaught
Dean Daniel Givens presents the August 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Valerie Vaught.

August 2020

Valerie Vaught Supervisor
Diagnostic Imaging and Support Services

Valerie Vaught is one of the best supervisors I have ever worked with. I work with her daily in radiology, but she also supervises anesthesia and Central Sterile Supply staff. She is fair, but consistent, and follows the rules.

I rely on her completely for day-to-day operations in radiology, and she is always my go-to person for questions. She takes care (without complaint) of research into new equipment and PACS issues, and deals with service and vendors beautifully.

On top of her supervisory duties, she is an incredible radiology tech who works all areas of imaging.

She makes my job easy. She has had a difficult spring trying to manage duties with the Animal Cancer Care and Research Center and supervisory duties at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital during COVID-19 challenges. On top of all of her other duties, she has to fill in regularly in radiology, performing procedures and techniques because of a severe radiology tech shortage. She has come in after hours and, at one point, was here from midnight to 4 a.m. doing fluoroscopy for a cardiac patient. She puts herself on-call to help out with the staff shortage, but still comes in the next morning, no matter how long she was up the night before. Her job is incredibly stressful, but she still manages to get it all done.

Again, she makes my job easy, and I depend on Valerie for getting us through the day successfully. I nominate her without reservation and with enthusiasm!

Dean Daniel Givens presents July 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Carli Dotson
Dean Daniel Givens presents July 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Carli Dotson.

July 2020

Carli Dotson First Teaching Time Specialist (first and second year)
Office of Academic Affairs

This has been a very stressful time for everyone at the college. All of our staff have gone above and beyond their daily responsibilities to ensure that the students and the college still receive service in a timely manner. I wish I could nominate all of our staff members!

Prior to COVID-19, Carli demonstrated the work ethic and professionalism worthy of this award. She had scheduled all of the first two-year DVM courses by the proposed March deadline, which included coordinating some 60 faculty members and scheduling more than 200 hours of teaching time for just the fall semester. However, the pandemic hit and changed everything.

Carli has demonstrated the adaptability and resiliency necessary to work in a fast-paced environment. Her world got turned upside down with supporting an emergency remote-teaching platform at the end of spring semester. In addition, she was informed last week that the fall schedule on which she had worked so hard would have to change to accommodate the new semester start date of Aug. 10. Carli took the news with a smile and dug in; she is working hard to make this happen for faculty and students alike.

Carli is doing all of the rescheduling while still performing all of her day-to-day responsibilities, which includes registering all of the first- and second-year students for courses and supporting the incoming students as they transition into our program.

Carli is a star, and we are lucky to have her in our office and within our community. She is collaborative with everyone she works with, and I have never heard her complain once.

June 2020 Staff Member of the Month Lynn Margheim

June 2020

Lynn Margheim Instructional Design Specialist
Department of Population Health Sciences

If there was ever anybody who deserves this award, it is Lynn Margheim. She has been incredibly valuable to PHS as we moved acutely to online delivery of courses. Not only is she very knowledgeable on how to do that, but when there was something she didn't know how to do, she didn't hesitate to take on the task of learning how to accomplish whatever it was we needed. She volunteered to join several of my classes to help make sure things went well and to help with breakout rooms the first time I used them. I don't know what I would've done if we hadn't had her as a resource. She deserves this and much more recognition for the hard work she did willingly, competently, and always with a smile. Thank you so much, Lynn! You are a jewel.

Second nomination for Lynn
Although Lynn Margheim has been an invaluable member of our PHS team since she first started working with us, her dedication grew to new heights once COVID hit and we had to pivot to online learning. None of us had much expertise in online teaching, and Lynn was right there along the way the whole time to help us adapt. She was not only responsive (in an incredibly timely fashion) to our requests for help on Canvas, Zoom, or other platforms, but she was proactive in setting up quick tutorials and online sessions for us to help us succeed. She always goes one step beyond to make sure that we can shine and always has a tip to share — anything from how to position your camera to look your best, to how to form breakout groups and create polls in Zoom. When our graduation was canceled, Lynn volunteered (and has been working HOURS) to create an online graduation video — and individual videos for each graduation student. She has put countless hours into this effort. I have no doubt that our relatively seamless transition to online learning was due to Lynn being the backbone of our online learning strategy. Thank you, Lynn, from the bottom of my heart!

Third nomination for Lynn
As a new faculty member at Virginia Tech teaching two new courses this semester, I found Lynn's unwavering assistance and support simply invaluable! In addition to helping me transition to online teaching due to COVID19, she went above and beyond assisting me with the creation of online exams and generously took the time to preview/practice them to ensure everything was working properly.

Fourth nomination for Lynn
When we received the news in March that all classes would be moving online, Lynn stepped up to the plate and began offering her technical skills and expertise with Canvas, Kaltura, and Zoom to all PHS faculty. She has been a lifesaver, both in terms of helping faculty through this challenging time, as well as being an advocate for continuing to ensure that students receive a quality educational experience. Lynn is such an integral part of our department: She displays excellence in teamwork and technical expertise and always brings positive energy to her interpersonal interactions. She is a true joy to work with, and I can't even imagine how we would have fared during these past few months without her. She is truly deserving of this recognition (and more!).

Fifth nomination for Lynn

1) Lynn has been instrumental in my learning the ropes at Tech. She has spent time training me on Canvas and offered support during both semesters. She always was happy to troubleshoot problems with the technology.

2) Lynn provides ongoing technical support for my students. One of my clusters requires students to develop a webinar for the course, then discuss it. This has been a new assignment for many students, and she always promptly responds to inquiries and helps students in a timely manner.

3) Lynn has provided instructional design support to me for my courses. My courses are very different and must use different strategic pedagogy to be effective. Lynn has met with me numerous times to discuss alternative approaches and strategies to support student-centered learning.

4) Lynn provides specific expertise in course design for my community health course. While it is still under development, Lynn has made time to work with me to improve the field component, emphasize key aspects of the core content, and redesign testing and student engagement. It will be a great course, thanks to Lynn.

5) Lynn has connected me to many excellent resources on campus, including expert faculty in different areas. She has been specifically helpful in working with Dr. Teaster and me in the redesign of a course required for a certificate program. We are updating content, including prioritizing reading material and other content, modifying pedagogy and the assessment strategies. It's becoming a great course, thanks to Lynn!

And that's not including all the other technology she brings to the whole department to improve communications and efficiency!

Sixth nomination for Lynn
Lynn was already providing essential technical support for my two courses this spring. The courses were already hybrid with substantial online presence with her amazing touch. When classes went 100% remote after spring break, I would have been overwhelmed without her support. She was calm and ready to help at any moment. She joined my Zoom class sessions for the whole time for the first couple of weeks to coach me through using breakout rooms, sharing materials on screen, etc. When I told students during Zoom class sessions that I would adjust time frames for deliverables, she had that done in real time before the class session ended. Any time I needed help posting new materials and adjusting due dates, etc., she was at the ready, even on evenings and weekends. Lynn truly saved the day for me and my colleagues as we made the switch to 100% online in less than two weeks. Her talent, creativity, work ethic, and commitment to faculty and students are truly exceptional.

May 2020 Staff Member of the Month Courtney Snead

May 2020

Courtney Snead Lab Specialist
Multidiscipline Laboratories (MDL)

Courtney is an integral part to our MDL team. She has a dedicated, hard-working attitude from which we all benefit. Her strong organizational skills make our everyday lives easier and more efficient. From organizing the office cabinets to planning and supporting the live-animal spay labs, there is no job too big or small that she will not help with. She often goes well above and beyond setting up and supporting labs, by helping lead clinicians stay on task and organized, as well as supporting students at all times and making sure the correct guidelines are followed. Her ability to multitask is exceptional, and she can often be found supporting clinicians, students, and her coworkers all at the same time, all while setting up and supporting MDL labs. She is also easy to approach and work with. I know my life would be more difficult if she were not a part of her team, and I am grateful for her each and every day!

April 2020 Staff Member of the Month Phyllis Baker

April 2020

Phyllis Baker Clinical Supply Supervisor
Equine Medical Center

Nominating Phyllis is very overdue. I thought for sure she must have won numerous times, but couldn't find her in the archives. That is an unbelievable oversight. I would like to set it right now. Phyllis is the perfect co-worker in so many ways. She has a phenomenal work ethic: coming in early, leaving late, focused and productive at her desk. She has a very challenging job, which requires that she interact positively with just about every department every day, and she never disappoints. She is such a lovely, thoughtful presence in an otherwise sometimes chaotic workplace. We recently switched from one software we were all familiar with to a new one, and the transition has been understandably stressful. Despite this, Phyllis shows up every day with kind words and encouragement for each of us. My days are made brighter for her presence, and I am sure there are dozens of others who would say the same. Workplace metrics often focus on things like "productivity," "efficiency," and the like. She certainly displays all those things and more. But we should never forget that we all spend a good portion of our weeks together at work, and having someone with such an unfailingly supportive and giving personality amongst us is a daily blessing. The bridges she builds with her daily leadership make this a much more satisfying place to work.

Interim Dean Daniel presents the March 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Olivia D'Amato
Interim Dean Greg Daniel presents the March 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Olivia D'Amato.

March 2020

Olivia D'Amato Administrative Assistant

Olivia consistently goes above and beyond to make sure everything gets done and that no one feels unsupported, all while being an amazing, positive energy each day. She has taken on several large projects and has produced accurate and efficient results, most notably the distribution of our Tracks Magazine and the launch of our new project management software, Wrike. She is someone that if you ask for her help, you are completely confident it will get done. Even though she hasn't been here very long, I can't imagine our office without her.

Interim Dean Daniel presents the February 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Megan Quesenberry
Interim Dean Greg Daniel presents the February 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Megan Quesenberry.

February 2020

Megan Quesenberry Graphic Designer

Megan has been a tremendous help to us in sorting out our swag orders, making sure our logo is represented correctly in various ways (from flyers to signatures to squeezies!), and she has taken some wonderful photos of our faculty to support them in their unique roles at the college — and for our website. She has helped us numerous times with last-minute requests, and she is always willing to stop what she is doing to take a peek at a design or to offer some guidance. I know that she is very busy, too, and for her to stop to help others (despite being swamped herself) really shows what a team player and fabulous person she is! Her talents are extremely valuable to us as a department, and I am so thankful she is here!

Megan in an invaluable member of the Advancement team. She has become a mentor to me in all things design-related and is always happy to help everyone. I can think of no one more deserving to be recognized for their dedication, hard work, and support of the college.

Interim Dean Daniel presents the January 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Jami McQuain
Interim Dean Greg Daniel presents the January 2020 Staff Member of the Month award to Jami McQuain.

January 2020

Jami McQuain Patient Coordinator
Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital

Jami is our Ophthalmology and Dermatology coordinator. She goes above and beyond to take special care of her clients and their pets. She gives them detailed appointment instructions and has gone as far as to hand-draw maps for one of our older clients who did not have internet access to help them get to their appointment. She cares about the pets that come in and is a big asset to Patient Services. She even spent the night in the hospital before an ice storm to ensure that she would be available for her clients and patients the following day.

Archive of past winners