Helping students succeed

In 2016, the Career and Professional Development Center began recognizing faculty members who contribute to students’ career development and exploration throughout the year.

“Our work cannot be confined to the Career Center if we are to make the greatest impact on our students’ future lives,” said Kelly Dries, associate director for Counseling Services & Operations for the U’s Career and Professional Development Center. “Our mission is to foster a culture where everyone is engaging students in career conversations.”

The center’s Faculty Recognition Program celebrates faculty who have done an exceptional job of mentoring students and facilitating their professional growth. The 2018 recognition breakfast was held Friday, April 13, and recognized 21 faculty who were nominated by students. Additionally, one academic advisor and one administrator were honored.


Matthew Anderson
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Film and Media Arts
College of Fine Arts



“As a game developer, Matt is knowledgeable about the workings of the video game industry. He provides useful feedback on student projects and games and is available to help students with determining what their interests are in the video game industry and the best ways to pursue those interests. Projects in his classes improve student portfolios, and he is available to provide advice on how students can further their career by applying for local internships in the industry.”

Ann Butt
Assistant Professor (Clinical) of Nursing
College of Nursing


“From the first time I interacted with Ann, I knew she was someone that would be instrumental in my developmental process of becoming an excellent nurse. She is dedicated to the nursing field and academia. She teaches in the Foundations of Nursing class, which is a course designed to teach student nurses the skills and critical thinking needed in the field. She went a step further to create open lab times so students could have additional time to practice skills with a faculty member before performing these skills in clinical settings. She wants all nursing students to be well prepared and confident throughout the program. She is also an instructor for the capstone class, the senior semester internship. She encouraged us to take advantage of every opportunity that came our way during our capstone experience and to ask questions to further our knowledge. Since we graduated, she stays in contact with us as we prepare to take the NCLEX licensing exam. She is dedicated to our success beyond the program as nurses.”

Rosalea Cameron
Assistant Professor (Lecturer) of Communication Sciences and Disorders
College of Health


“My junior year, I began questioning if I had made the correct choice career-wise. As I was thinking about changing my career path, something led Rosalea to approach me after a class and ask me if I was sure I wanted to be a speech pathologist. I told her no, and she responded: ‘That’s what I thought. You should go to medical school.’ I said, ‘I was thinking about potentially attending school to be a physician assistant l,” and she responded, ‘Yes! That would be perfect for you!’ That truly inspired conversation, and her support, has led me toward my current career path, as I am planning now to pursue a degree in physician assistant studies rather than a master’s in speech pathology. My conversation with her was the turning point, and the moment I realized what I truly wanted to be. Rosalea never ceases to amaze me with her ability to love and care about each individual student, with investment in each of our individual futures.”

Brittany Coates
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering



“After asking Dr. Coates if I could shadow some of her graduate students just to help with my understanding of the material in her class, she instead hired me to work in her lab. Now for the last three-and-a-half years she has been my mentor, and I don’t think that I would have finished with a degree in mechanical engineering without her guidance. I’ve presented my research at three conferences, completed an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) experience and am about to start as a graduate student in her lab.”

Margarita Cummings
Assistant Professor (Clinical) of Education
Instructor (Lecturer) of Mathematics
College of Science


“Maggie has three rules: 1) Always question authority. She brought to our attention that just because someone says something is true, doesn’t mean it is. So in response, ask them about their claim and question their ethos. 2) Kindness matters. It is always good to be nice and offer help to others. There is too much hate in the world not to be kind. 3) Be present. If you are just with your friends, at a lecture, or just around people in general, put your phone away and be present. Maggie wants us to engage in what is happening. These three rules are the foundation of Maggie’s teaching, and I appreciate it more than she will ever know. This way of thinking has shaped my career development and my studies. Going into any field, the rules can be applied and lead to success. It pushes you to ask more questions, reach out to people and learn to the greatest extent by simply engaging in the task at hand. I want to thank Maggie for her excellent help, not only in math, but in life. Applying her three rules to the rest of my studies, and life after that, will help me succeed in life.”

James Curry
Assistant Professor of Political Science
College of Social & Behavioral Science


“He took an interest in me and created a seminar for me, and part of the seminar was to work together and create a new avenue of research. The resulting work together culminated in a presentation at the Western Political Science Conference in Las Vegas. Here, he allowed me to present our work. We took the notes from the conference and started the process of submitting the article for publication. I was new to the process, and Dr. Curry walked me through the process and after a few rejections, we were accepted in the American Political Research Journal. This will be my first publication, and he helped me achieve an important goal for my graduate career. Dr. Curry also stepped in to chair my dissertation committee when the project was about to go off the rails. Through his guidance, I was able to get the dissertation back on track. He has pushed me when needed and was there when I needed it.”

Glen Feighery
Associate Professor of Communication
College of Humanities



“Glen has been immensely supportive of my development within the journalism field. When I took on a leadership role with The Daily Utah Chronicle, he was the first one there to congratulate me and offer his assistance in any way. He is constantly sending internship opportunities my way, and suggesting opportunities to share with the U Student Media staff as a whole. He has also served the past couple of semesters as my Honors thesis advisor. He has helped me mold my thesis into a project that will benefit my portfolio upon graduation and will help me learn the correct practices of investigative journalism.”

Tanya Flores
Assistant Professor of World Languages and Cultures
College of Humanities



“Professor Flores has been an incredible mentor for me ever since I took her first class. After that semester, she reached out to me about helping her with a research project, and since then, she has been giving me advice and opportunities to further my progress toward my desired career in research and academia. She always goes out of her way to be a mentor. We have spent many hours sitting at lunch talking about graduate schools and job advice. While she has a very busy schedule, she is always checking in on me to make sure that I have everything I need.”

Peter Flynn
Adjunct Associate Professor of Chemistry
Director of Research and Science in Chemistry
College of Science


“Dr. Flynn’s goal for the students in his group is to make us better citizens and better scientists, using the research as a vehicle to that end. He invests far more of himself than he has to in order to reach that goal. He is always available to listen and offer advice, not just about our research, but our classes, academic goals and career ambitions. He supports our academics by helping answer tough questions we get in class, and also gives his perspective on the different paths we could take career wise. When I started his research group one-and-a-half years ago, I had only the vaguest idea of what my professional and academic goals would be. I wasn’t sure if graduate school was right for me, I wasn’t sure what field of chemistry I would excel in. With Dr. Flynn as a mentor, I am much closer to knowing my own strengths and weaknesses, and having experience in different fields and types of chemistry, I know more what to expect. Thanks to Dr. Flynn’s encouragement and guidance, I now firmly know that I will go to graduate school.”

Jerod Johnson
Adjunct Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering
College of Engineering


“I took two classes taught by Dr. Johnson in the fall 2017 semester, and in both of these classes, there was a strong emphasis on professional development. Dr. Johnson stressed the importance of tools, such as spreadsheets and mathcad in his lectures, how commonly they are used in industry today, and how they automate design procedure. Among his courses, I developed over a dozen design aids that streamline various engineering processes, such as reinforced concrete deflection calculations, retaining wall design and column interaction diagrams. Dr. Johnson also placed emphasis on attending industry seminars and going out to site visits. These were integrated into the course to provide an additional incentive, and some examples include a seminar on structural irregularities, the construction of a timber residential project and an inside look into Los Angeles seismic resiliency. Dr. Johnson’s courses provided a great deal to my professional development as a structural engineer and got my excited about topics and areas that I may not have otherwise considered.”

Jim Martin
Associate Professor of Nutrition and Integrative Physiology
College of Health



“I met Dr. Martin during my undergraduate biomechanics course. He not only provided me with great instruction during this course, but encouraged me to participate in undergraduate research in his lab. Since beginning to participate in his lab, he has gone above and beyond to help me develop personally and professionally. I am now preparing a manuscript for publication with his support. Dr. Martin has consistently made an effort to put me in contact with faculty from the Physical Therapy Department along with writing me a letter of recommendation for Physical Therapy school. Beyond everything he has done for me, he makes sincere efforts to advance his students professionally in every way. He not only cares about his students academically, but makes constant efforts to connect his students with professionals in their fields of study and give them advantages that otherwise would not be available to them.”

Sharon Mastracci
Associate Professor of Political Science
College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

 “Professor Sharon Mastracci has given continuously and selflessly of her time, knowledge and energy to my own development as a scholar. Without any prompting or request, she often identifies opportunities in conferences, fellowships and publishing which would benefit me, and in turn, those opportunities have borne fruit. One example of this would be her insistence that I apply for the Founders Fellow program within the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), despite me only being in the first year of a doctoral program. Sharon’s confidence in my abilities, even when my own was flagging, led directly to me being named a 2018 Founder’s Fellow, which is a high honor within the field for a student. Sharon also recognizes the value that graduate students receive from researching and writing manuscripts alongside experienced scholars like herself. The road to publication for a graduate student can be very difficult, but the trip is made more productive and valuable. This was made clear to me in the last year working with Sharon on several projects, the first of which was just published in December. Without doubt, I could not have done so on my own. I cannot think of any faculty member more deserving of recognition than Dr. Sharon Mastracci, and I am proud to be her student.”

John McLennan
Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering
Adjunct Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering
College Engineering


“Professor John McLennan is a person who is a big role model in my life and who helped me shape my future in a great way. I had the opportunity to talk to professor McLennan through one of his former students. He gave me hope — he told me what would be better for me to do and how to make my degree stronger by taking more credits and to even to apply for the master’s program in petroleum engineering. If it wasn’t for his advice and guidance, I don’t think I would be where I am right now — days away from presenting my final project for my master’s degree. Professor McLennan didn’t know who I was, and there wasn’t anything he would benefit from helping me, but he did so without any hesitation out of a goodness of his heart. For a girl who just moved from Ethiopia and was a little confused at the time, professor John McLennan was the light at the end of the tunnel. I also had the privilege to take one of his courses and have him as my advisor for my final project. I am on a great path to having a great career.”

Kevin Perry
Associate Professor in Atmospheric Sciences
Department Chair of Atmospheric Sciences
College of Mines & Earth Sciences



“Dr. Perry is a great chair, a good advisor to talk with. In the last few weeks, I made a hard decision for my future study. I decided to give up my current graduate program in the department. As an international student, I was a little scared because I needed to talk with the chair, and I was not sure if Dr. Perry would give me really good suggestions and supports. The truth is Dr. Perry is the person who gave me the most support in the past few weeks. Dr. Perry was also in my graduate committee. He gave me a lot of suggestions on my future plan. He is trying to help me find a new graduate program in the fall 2018. I really thank him to be able to write recommendation letters for me as a department chair as well as my committee member.”

David Schurig
Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
College of Engineering



“David Schurig is a not just a great researcher but also a great mentor/advisor. I was interested in academia, and Dr. Schurig helped me in the job search for postdoctoral positions in the area of electrical engineering. He proactively contacted his previous colleagues and employers to check for any available positions. With his help and recommendation, I finally landed with two offers: One from Princeton University and another from Los Alamos National Lab, and I am still being considered by Jet Propulsion Lab, Caltech/NASA.”

Cagan Sekercioglu
Associate Professor of Biology
College of Science



“Dr. Cagan Sekercioglu was my doctoral advisor during the five years that I was a graduate student at the University of Utah. During my time as his student, he was relentlessly positive about my research and my career prospects. I graduated last year and was applying for jobs throughout my final year in the program. I was extremely happy with Dr. Sekercioglu’s mentorship throughout my graduate career, but when I received two job offers, he spent time with me to evaluate costs and benefits of two very different positions, and ultimately gave me advice that led me down a rewarding career path. I have him to thank for my current position, and I am grateful for all his guidance.”

Ryan E. Smith
Associate Professor of Architecture
College of Architecture & Planning

“My first year in the architecture program, professor Smith selected me to be a researcher for the Integrated Technology in Architecture Collaborative (ITAC ), a subgroup of the Center for Ecological Planning and Design at the University of Utah’s College of Architecture + Planning. Through my work at ITAC, I have been privileged to participate in research that has strengthened my understanding of green building techniques, specifically in modular building practices and technology. This is knowledge I would not receive through my regular education in the architecture program and experience that will benefit me as I leave the university and move into the professional realm. I have also been given opportunities to travel and network with industry professionals. Professor Smith encourages the participation of his student researchers in critical decisions. He is always eager to hear students’ suggestions and ideas and is generous in his support of each researcher’s work. I am grateful to be able to be a part of the work happening there and for the opportunities that will come as a result of this experience — an experience that would not be the same were it not for the consideration and experience brought by Professor Smith.”

Brent Steele
Professor of Political Science
College of Social & Behavioral Science


“Professor Steele has helped me to expand my vision of what I can accomplish. I never knew exactly what I wanted until I had the opportunity to be in one of his classes. He always made himself available to speak with me about how I might become a university professor one day. It was professor Steele who helped me carve my path toward my future career. He helped me realize the strong desire I have to help other students succeed and also carry out my own research. I never would have thought that I had a passion for political science, especially international relations, until he was my teacher. I am grateful for his support and encouragement, and the advice he has given me as I strive to become a teacher one day. Now I can confidently say I know what I need to do to arrive at my career destination.”

Vedrana Subotic
Associate Professor (Lecturer) of Music
College of Fine Arts


“In my Career Development and Volunteering class, Dr. Subotic catered meaningful discussions to budding musicians in such inspiring ways. She is most qualified for this award because, as a musician, she knows all the major and minor steps it takes to lead a successful life in the music business. She’s teaching the business side to something that is often so foreign to musicians, and she does it effectively. Dr. Subotic genuinely desires success for everyone she interacts with. She enlists the help of other professionals to help us put our best foot forward. The best example is that she utilizes many resources that the Career and Professional Development Center offers. When she wasn’t able to offer answers for our academic needs, she called on the Career Center’s help. She is humble and diligent, thus she is inspiring to all those she instructs.”

Christina Toth
Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
College of Humanities

Editor’s note: Dr. Toth received more nominations than any faculty member ever has, with a total of 14 different student nominations. Several of those are listed here.

“Christie deserves this award because she does way more than teach a couple classes. She engages with each and every one of her students on a personal level in order to help us reach our educational goals. She has a strong desire to see us all succeed, and that deserves recognition.”

“Professor Toth helped me explore both my major and the profession I am interested in, even though it is outside of her area of focus. She helped me connect with professors in a major I hadn’t quite decided I wanted to go into so that I was able to get a better understanding of the major and the industry.”

“She asked me what I wanted to do, what I wanted to research. She let me find something I was passionate about and then encouraged me to pursue it. She wants to see students find their passion, their niche in the world, and run after it. And even through all that, she patiently walked me through the Institutional Review Board process and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program applications for a project she has no ties to except through me. Because of her, I now have an IRB-approved research project that has recently been accepted to UROP. I would like to nominate Christie Toth for this Faculty Recognition Award for her dedication to seeing the best in her students, for calling it out of them and for giving them the support and resources they need to flourish at the U.”

Jennifer Weidhaas
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
College of Engineering



“Dr. Weidhaas has given me research opportunities in her laboratory, teaching me good laboratory technique and research methods. While I started out on the water side of civil engineering, she led me to explore new areas, such as microbiology and biochemistry, fields not typically associated with civil engineering, yet essential in real life water quality evaluation. She helped me become a good candidate for graduate schools and made me aware of excellent scholarship and fellowship opportunities in my area. In addition, she has taught me many concepts about environmental engineering and wastewater treatment design from her classroom setting. Dr. Weidhaasa’s aid has been essential in my personal development as a student, scientist and engineer.”