Honors & Awards
A Summary Listing of Honors and Awards at Colleges Around the Nation
From left: Tisha Hyter, deputy director of the U.N.’s Nothing but Nets campaign; Simon Estes; and Peter Yeo, president of the Better World Campaign and the vice president of public policy and advocacy at the United Nations Foundation.
Renowned opera singer Simon Estes received a Lifetime Impact Award from The United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets organization. He received the award at the Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny Campus, where he is a guest lecturer. Estes, an Iowa native, was honored for personally raising more than $500,000 to help buy mosquito nets to combat the malaria outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa. Deputy Director Tisha Hyter said Estes is “truly an inspiration” who has “engaged Iowans at an unprecedented level.” Estes has appeared at the world's major opera houses, at international festivals, and with 115 orchestras under 90 of the world’s greatest conductors, including Leonard Bernstein, Erich Leinsdorf, Eugene Ormandy, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Loren Maazel, Carlo Giulini, and Georg Solti. He has performed at 84 of the most famous opera houses in the world, including the Vienna State Opera, the Zurich Opera, La Scala in Italy, houses in Paris, London, Berlin, Barcelona, Spain, and others, including several seasons at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Estes has given performances for six U.S. presidents, two Popes, a number of European royalties, at the opening of the Munich Olympic Games, and for world leaders, including the late Nelson Mandela. He has performed with Ray Charles, Barry Manilow, Johnny Cash, Whitney Houston and several other notable artists, including Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Estes has given classes and lectures around the world, including in Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, and at Harvard University, Duke University, and Russian Music Society in Moscow and at the University of Iowa. Estes serves as a Visiting Professor at Iowa State University, and served as a faculty member at Julliard School of Music, Boston University for five years and Wartburg College for fourteen years.
Amy Powers, associate professor of history, is a passionate historian and professor who has taught thousands of students during her more than 14 years at Waubonsee Community College (Illinois). For her commitment to the profession, scholarly pursuits, the college and her students, Powers is being honored as the college’s 2017 Outstanding Faculty Member. Powers has worked as a full-time history professor at Waubonsee since 2003. In that time, she has taught about 8,000 students in nine different courses. “This breadth of teaching experience has allowed me to offer my students a rich narrative of our world’s history that provides them with an understanding of how their lives have been shaped by those who have come before them,” she said. Her love of history can be traced back to her own childhood. Powers recalls a vacation her parents took her on when she was four years old, visiting historical sites along the East Coast. “I have a fond memory of playing with my father on battlefields and climbing the cannons at the Yorktown National Historic Park in Virginia,” she said. “During that same trip, we visited Monticello and Jamestown, where I remember watching glassblowers form colorful vases.” Powers was also inspired early on by a history teacher in her Pennsylvania high school, Larry Kessler. “A talented storyteller, he inspired students with fascinating and often humorous tales from the past, always encouraging us to make connections between historical events and the present,” she said. “I also appreciated that he incorporated novels, poems and other cultural artifacts into his lessons. I try to do the same in my classes.” One tradition in Powers’ classroom has remained consistent over 14 years. On the first day of any class she teaches, Powers tells her students that she has two goals: familiarize them with the historical narrative of the time and place they are studying, and teach them how historians conduct their research and draw conclusions about past events. In addition, she strives to help students improve their communication skills. When Powers was first hired at Waubonsee, she was assigned to teach the History of the Middle East, which at the time was a brandnew class at the college. Powers also contributes to the college in many ways beyond her teaching commitments: she serves as coadvisor to the college’s History Club, serves on more than 17 different committees, and is the Outcomes Faculty Liaison, where she has served on the Outcomes Advisory Council. She is also currently serving a three-year term on the American Association of Community Colleges Faculty Advisory Council.
Miami Dade College’s North Campus Dean of Faculty, Jacqueline Peña, has been selected as a 2017 Hispanic Women of Distinction honoree. The award recognizes Latina professionals who are strengthening the social fabric of the country and making strides in the leadership pipeline for an increasingly diverse America. Peña joined MDC in 2010. She has since created several programs to help make college accessible to all and support student success. The Free College for a Day program is open learners of all ages who want to sample the college experience by taking two or three free college classes available in a variety of subjects. The program also offers workshops on how to apply for financial aid, grants and scholarships, as well as session on resume writing and interview skills. Another of Peña’s innovations, the new Weekend College at the North Campus, gives students the flexibility to complete an entire degree program with weekendonly courses. She has also spearheaded programs to support students in remedial classes. Peña has secured several major grant programs to help with student college preparation at select area high schools, technology to improve student success and the creation of student engagement spaces and programming to increase student retention and completion rates among their Hispanic and other minority students. Born in the Bronx, N.Y., and of Dominican descent, Peña supports a number of non-profit groups dedicated to supporting and empowering youth, including the “Tour de Esperanza,” a partnership between the Gravelers (gravelriding bike enthusiasts) and Pedal for Hope. The event raises funds to give out hundreds of school supplies, clothing and toys to children in the Dominican Republic and locally.