There may be no better campus event than the annual Cooperative Education Awards that brings together the many different types of Dragons who, when added up, are what make Drexel University the exceptional institution that it is today. That’s because, for nearly 100 years, the co-op program has been a cornerstone of Drexel’s promise to create students who are more experienced in, and better prepared for, the ever-changing working world that awaits them after graduation.
This year’s event was no exception in terms of the impressive gatherings of deans, faculty, staff, students, alumni, employers and families who assembled in Behrakis Grand Hall on May 3 to honor the award recipients. Ian Sladen, vice president for Cooperative Education and Career Development with the Steinbright Career Development Center, welcomed them all by explaining why his team looks forward to the event each year with considerable anticipation.
“Today reminds us why this University has focused on this model of experiential education for nearly 100 years,” he said. “The co-op program connects Drexel students and faculty with over 1,500 university partners who signal to us in real time the changes they see occurring in their respective industries. As a result, our students develop skills necessary to excel in this ever-changing landscape. Today we celebrate the accomplishments of many of these students.”
Executive Vice President and Nina Henderson Provost M. Brian Blake, PhD, also explained to the audience why this celebration of co-op is one of his “favorite events of the year.”
“Co-ops provide rich experiences that inform what [students] learn in class and what they can apply in the real world,” Blake said. “Co-ops also provide a built-in professional network upon graduation that students at many other institutions lack, but we benefit from here at Drexel. Drexel’s co-op model has also stood the test of time. Next year, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of our co-op program, which is amazing. So, you are all part of that history just from your time here, and of course our cooperative education students are just the best of the best.”
Before recognizing the 11 best-of-the-best Co-op Students of the Year for 2019, attendees first heard from David Kaganovsky, BS ’95 and chair of the Drexel University Alumni Association Board of Governors, about the valuable lessons co-op taught him during his time at Drexel. Kaganovsky admitted that he did not get his first co-op during A-round, instead having to wait until B-round, which taught him a lot about humility and perseverance. Then, when it came to start his career, the job offer he was expecting from his second and third co-op employer didn’t come, which forced him to figure things out for himself and led him to the positive professional situation he’s in today.
“Any student who goes through that process comes out as a better individual, better professional and frankly maybe even a better person in some cases,” Kaganovsky said.
Next, Blake announced Faculty of the Year award winner Karen Nulton, PhD, an associated teaching professor of English and the director of Writing Assessment for the College of Arts and Sciences. Nulton has been “a strong advocate and partner to Steinbright for many years,” Blake explained, by consistently talking about co-op in the classroom, developing an English special topics course that prepares students for the writing they will do on the job and becoming involved in several work-integrated learning research projects.
“She is a model for academic integration between faculty and Steinbright,” Blake said. “Dr. Nulton consistently focuses on including a student’s co-op experience into her teaching and writing assessment work.”
Randy Deike, PhD, senior vice president for Enrollment Management & Student Success, then introduced the two Employers of the Year, Comcast Corporation and the Daniel Baugh Institute for Functional Genomics and Computational Biology at Thomas Jefferson University, who were both nominated by former co-op students.
“Our co-op partners not only provide excellent professional experience for our students to ensure their success, but … our employer partners provide feedback, and the feedback provided to students informs curriculum and improves how well our students are prepared,” Deike said.
Representatives from each organization were on hand to accept their awards.
Lastly, those 11 co-op student winners were recognized for their extraordinary achievements during their work experiences — experiences which encompassed everything from entrepreneurship to graphic design to molecular science, and took place locally as well as across the country and the world. Representatives from each of the student’s nominating employers said a few words as they received their awards, or Steinbright advisors were on hand to read kind words from representatives who couldn’t attend in person.
“Our students are remarkable,” Sladen said following the above video being played for the audience.
The 2019 Co-op Students of the Year are:
McLean Dyer, a general studies major who completed a co-op with University City Housing.
Evan Ehlers, an entrepreneurship and innovation major who completed an entrepreneurship co-op with the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship.
Bridget Heeney, a culinary arts student who completed a co-op at Rita’s Italian Ice.
Annette Kang, a biological sciences student who completed a co-op a research co-op at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany.
Timothy Kelly, a mechanical engineering student who completed a co-op at Lockheed Martin.
Michelle Kim, a graphic design student who completed a co-op with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Diana Marino, an elementary education student who completed a co-op at Andrew Jackson Elementary with the School District of Philadelphia.
Kimberly Murphy, a health sciences student who completed a co-op with Student Health Service at the University of Pennsylvania.
Klaus Nuredini, a computer science student who completed a co-op at the Siemens Multicore Expert Center.
Lauren Snarr, a legal studies student who completed a co-op at Ascensus, LLC.
Roxanna Tehrani, a biomedical engineering student who completed a co-op at Design Science.