Distinguished Faculty and Staff Honorees Go Above and Beyond

Compton College recently announced its recipients for the 2017 Distinguished Faculty and Staff awards at the Annual Faculty and Staff Appreciation Breakfast, an event designed to thank all members of the campus community for their commitment to Compton College and its educational mission. Amber Gillis, English and humanities instructor; Juan Meza, adjunct history instructor; and Wendy Wimberly, instructional assistant, were recognized for their dedication to students, Compton College and colleagues.

Amber Gillis, recipient of the Distinguished Faculty award, has a record of teaching excellence dating back eight years, along with an unparalleled level of dedication to the Compton College community. A highly regarded instructor of both English and humanities, Gillis also currently serves as a senator for the Academic Senate of the Compton Community College District. From her role as Student Learning Outcomes/Division III chairperson to her membership in the Student Success Committee, Gillis' contributions are notable on multiple levels.

As accreditation faculty chair, Gillis spearheaded the preparation and submission of ECC Compton Center's Comprehensive Institutional Self-Evaluation Report to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Her leadership in this process involved organizing committees, training and supporting fellow committee members, and compiling and editing the comprehensive self-evaluation report. She is recognized for her remarkable dedication to her institutional roles, all while maintaining an unwavering commitment to the students of Compton College and their academic success. Gillis has repeatedly been singled out for special recognition and appreciation by graduating students with praise such as "she helped build my confidence" and "she pushed me to want to learn." Her rapport with students and her effective approach to building a student-centered classroom have resulted in multiple years of high retention and achievement rates in her courses.

Gillis' additional contributions to academic excellence include her role in curriculum design, acting as a First Year Experience faculty member, and serving as the English bridge coordinator. A proud member of the campus community, her efforts have supported the continued development of Compton College both academically and administratively. Gillis joined the faculty after completing her graduate and undergraduate studies in English with honors at California State University, Fullerton.

Juan Meza, recipient of the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award, has served as a member of the history department since 2013, where he has taught a range of courses including U.S. History, World Civilization and Chicano History. His focus on individualized student success and empowerment is reflected in his ongoing professional development in areas relevant to his students, including cultural sensitivity in the global classroom, the needs of non-native English speaking students and best practices in accommodating students with disabilities.

Meza is a graduate of the esteemed Project MATCH community college teaching internship. Initially beginning as a teaching assistant, he went on to become known for his collaborative and interactive instructional approach. He connects students to the past and inspires students to explore how past events have shaped their present lives. One Compton College student described Meza's classroom environment as "challenging, positive and encouraging."

In addition to teaching, Meza is involved in other professional activities, including volunteer work with the California Science Center's Air and Space division. Meza's academic affiliations include the American Historical Association and the World History Association. He earned his master's degree in history at California State University, Los Angeles in 2012 and has received recognition for his published work entitled, Perspectives: A Journal of Historical Inquiry.

Wendy Wimberly, recipient of the Distinguished Staff Award, is an instructional assistant for the Student Success Center where she has advocated for students since 2001. She facilitates interactions with academic counselors and supports students who are in the process of declaring majors and creating educational plans. She also plays a pivotal role in connecting Compton College students to campus resources such as the free computer lab, library, tutoring services and academic workshops.

Wimberly also currently serves on the Professional Development Committee as the classified representative. In this capacity, she collaborates with administration and faculty to bring innovative activities to the campus. Off-campus, she has shown dedication to the Compton College community through her leadership as a chaperone of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities Tour for transfer-bound students. Wimberly is an ECC Compton Center transfer student who earned an associate degree in general studies and went on to earn her bachelor's degree in liberal studies from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Wimberly's dedication to students earned her an "Applause" recognition by the Compton Community College District. She also finds time to volunteer with the Salvation Army Compton Corps. On Mondays and holidays, she can be found in the "Love Kitchen," serving hot meals to hungry individuals and families in need.

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