News - 05/23/2014

MiraCosta College Students Select Their Staff of the Year

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One left a position as a professor at UC San Diego to come to MiraCosta College. Another returned as a faculty member after graduating from the college in 2004. The third left the banking industry.

Lynne Miller, Melinda Capes and Julie Bollerud have been honored as the top professor, associate professor and classified staff member at MiraCosta College for 2013-14 in a vote by students. (Photo (L-R): Bollerud, Capes and Miller)

The trio was presented with the awards during the May 20 commencement.

Lynne Miller said she was “absolutely flabbergasted” to learn she was named Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year at MiraCosta College for the second time since 2005. 

The award is especially meaningful, Miller said, because it is based on a vote from students. “They are the ones we care about. They are the reason we are here. To get this honor from them means everything.”

Miller was teaching at UC San Diego when she was recruited to teach anthropology at MiraCosta College in 2000.

“I’ve had an opportunity to change lives at MiraCosta that I didn’t have at UC San Diego,” Miller said.

“Some of our students come from really challenging backgrounds, and to be able to have an impact, if even in a small way, in putting them on a trajectory of achievement and confidence and learning and reaching their dreams, well, I have the best job in the world.”

Miller earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and biology from Pitzer College, one of the Claremont Colleges on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from UC Davis.

A practicing anthropologist, Miller often inspires her students to major in the subject, or, at the very least, to become eager pursuers of knowledge. “My goal is for students to learn, not only interesting facts, but also how to think and ask questions and to be excited about learning.”

Miller said she is honored to be teaching “the remarkable students who come to MiraCosta College. I’m grateful to be playing a role in their journey.”

Melinda Capes, who teaches first-semester general chemistry for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors, has a long history with MiraCosta College. Capes grew up in Oceanside, went to Oceanside High School and earned an associate degree from MiraCosta College in 2004. She earned her bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from Cal State San Marcos and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Maryland.

Capes said being honored as MiraCosta College’s Outstanding Associate Faculty of the Year is almost overwhelming.

“It’s great to have your peers tell you that you’re doing an amazing job, but to have your students tell you that you are doing an amazing job means a great deal more,” Capes said.

Capes, who is dedicated to her profession and the study of biochemistry, will leave MiraCosta College this fall to teach full-time at Los Medanos Community College in the San Francisco Bay Area town of Pittsburg. She is leaving with mixed emotions.

“I am very much going to miss MiraCosta,” Capes said. “MiraCosta is in my blood. I love the diversity, the way the college works really hard at ensuring the college population reflects the population of the area it serves. And the faculty here is amazing. We have a great group of professors who are dedicated to their students.” 

Julie Bollerud, who earned honors as Classified Staff of the Year for the second time in four years, serves as administrative assistant to the vice president of Student Services. “Being able to work closely with the students at MiraCosta College is an incredible honor,” Bollerud said. “It’s the best job ever.”

Bollerud came to MiraCosta College from the banking industry 15 years ago, starting off her tenure as a part-time faculty secretary in the Art, Theatre & Music Department before moving onto a full-time position as a faculty secretary in the Math & Letters Department. She came to Student Services four years ago. 

“Julie Bollerud personifies customer service,” said Interim Superintendent/President Dick Robertson, who also serves as MiraCosta College’s Vice President of Student Services. “She greets everyone who comes into the office with warmth and graciousness. She takes time to thoughtfully and carefully listen to students, staff and members of the community. She knows MiraCosta very well and helps students find offices or services that they need. She will literally walk students to other offices so they don’t feel that they have just been referred to still another place on campus. She is patient beyond belief; she listens to people who are angry or upset on the telephone and handles them with uncommon diplomacy.”

Said Bollerud: “I do genuinely care about our students. I am happy to make time for them, and I hope I am making a positive impact, even if it is just by being friendly and helping in any way that I can.”


Photo (L-R): Julie Bollerud, Melinda Capes and Lynne Miller

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