Vancouver faculty.Three CAS community members received 2020 top awards from WSU Vancouver for advancing equity, teaching excellence, and student achievement.

Meet Rocio Sotomayor, Andra Chastain, and Vince Chavez:

CHANCELLOR’S AWARD FOR ADVANCING EQUITY
This award honors a faculty or staff member for helping to infuse equity-mindedness throughout the campus and/or helping to build and maintain a safe, welcoming campus environment.

Rocío Sotomayor.
Rocío Sotomayor

Senior Instructor of Mathematics Rocío Sotomayor teaches statistics and probability, but her efforts on behalf of students go beyond the classroom. She often acts as a mentor for equity-minded student organizations and initiatives that promote a more inclusive campus climate. Last fall, as part of Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, she led efforts to hold a vigil and dedication space honoring Hispanic and Latinx voices and roots—an event that spurred Latinx student organizations to convene and create a new student group, Latinx Leads. Sotomayor serves on the Council on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and is also a member of the Equity of Student Outcomes Council.

Sotomayor joined WSU Vancouver in 2014. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru and her master’s degree from Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada in Rio de Janeiro. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

STUDENT’S AWARD FOR TEACHING EXCELLENCE
Students vote to honor a faculty member who instills enthusiasm and passion in students and commits time outside of the classroom to prevent them from falling through the cracks.

Andra Chastain.
Andra Chastain

Assistant Professor of History Andra Chastain may ask a lot of her students, but she gives even more than she asks, inspiring students to dig deeper, think harder and aim higher than they thought they could. She believes in setting high expectations, communicating them clearly and then showing how they are attainable. She encourages students to speak up, and her introductory and advanced history classes are lively with discussion.

Chastain earned her bachelor’s degree from Reed College in Portland, then went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, both an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Yale University, and a Ph.D. from Yale in 2018. She has been teaching at WSU Vancouver ever since. She is currently revising her dissertation into a book about the history of the metro system in Santiago, Chile.

CHANCELLOR’S AWARD FOR STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
Each year a graduating student is recognized for academic achievement, overcoming barriers, leadership potential and involvement in campus life.

Vince Chavez.
Vince Chavez

While pursuing a degrees in biology and neuroscience with minors in microbiology and chemistry, Vince Chavez was active outside the classroom too. He served as a mentor, leader and role model for his fellow students through a variety of positions on campus.

While the 2018/19 president of Associated Students of WSU Vancouver, he worked to advance values of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging across campus. A change agent for equity, he served on the campus Bias Response Team and worked to ensure WSU Vancouver is a safe, inclusive space for all. He was instrumental in the creation of THRIVE—Truth, History, Resilience, Intersectionality, Voice, Equity—a bridge program for first-year, first-generation students from economically disadvantaged and often underrepresented racial communities.

Chavez, who hopes to become a medical doctor, has been active in research on campus. He worked in the lab of Professor Christine Portfors and co-authored a published paper.

Read about all five WSU Vancouver awards at WSU Insider.

Top image: WSU Vancouver campus.