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University News | 05.20.24

Adler community honors its standout members with social justice, distinguished alum, appreciation awards

Through a series of annual awards, nearly a dozen members of the Adler University community — including students, faculty, staff, and alums — were recognized for their hard work, community impact, and commitment to social justice.

The recipients of this year’s Alfred Adler Social Justice Awards, President’s Appreciation Awards, and the Distinguished Alum Awards were honored during the “Building Community for Social Justice: Celebration 20 Years of Adler University’s Growth and Gemeinschaftgefühl” event, held on May 9 on the Chicago Campus and May 16 on the Vancouver Campus.

Photo of Dr. Kapalamula

“To be recognized for something that just feels like it’s what we all need to be doing tells me there’s more work to be done,” said Dr. Kapalamula, who was among this year’s recipients of the Alfred Adler Social Justice Awards.

The Social Justice Awards

Presented by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Alfred Adler Social Justice Awards recognize individuals within the University community who embody the principles of Dr. Alfred Adler by advancing social justice and advocating for marginalized groups. The award celebrates individuals dedicated to making a difference in society and inspiring others to follow. This year’s recipients are:

  • Mtisunge Kapalamula, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Integrated Programs, Chicago Campus.
  • Tori Petryshyn, student in the Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology, Vancouver Campus.
  • Sheba Jones, MBA, registrar for the Chicago and Online campuses.

“The fact that we still have the Social Justice Awards and to be recognized for something that just feels like it’s what we all need to be doing tells me there’s more work to be done,” said Dr. Kapalamula, who was recognized for her commitment to equity and diversity and her work in leading the Black Caucus, which seeks to improve the experiences of the Black community and the communities at large at Adler. “It feels like what I’ve been doing has just been right.”

Photo of Sheba Jones

Sheba Jones

Dr. Kapalamula accepted the award on May 9, along with Jones, who was recognized for successfully leading an initiative for the University’s Anti-Racism and Inclusion Plan to better understand the diversity and needs of students.

“I am extremely grateful I was considered for this award,” Jones said. “I’m so proud of assisting the University in providing our students with a convenient and simple tool to update their demographic information.”

As a mental health worker with the Peer Assisted Care Team (PACT) in New Westminster, B.C., Petryshyn provides trauma-informed, harm-reduction, and participant-centered care, and offers a team-based approach to mental health and substance use support. The mobile crisis intervention team serves as an alternative to police presence and crisis lines, particularly when there may be gaps in training or understanding.

“My own journey of mental health recover ignites my commitment to this cause,” Petryshyn said. “My true calling lies in uplifting and empowering peers and participants where community connection is vital to recovery. It’s deeply meaningful to receive recognition for my dedication to social justice.”

The Distinguished Alum Awards

Naiomi Rivera-Rivera

Naiomi Rivera-Rivera

Presented by the Office of Institutional Advancement, the Distinguished Alum Awards recognize members of the alum community who are standout examples of the Adler University mission. These alums have made a tremendous difference in their respective communities since their time at Adler. This year’s recipients are:

  • Michelle Majewski, Psy.D., Chicago Campus 2008 graduate of the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program.
  • Naiomi Rivera-Rivera, Ph.D., Online Campus 2015 graduate of the Master of Arts in Psychology: Specialization in Military Psychology program.
  • Jennifer Campbell, Psy.D., Vancouver Campus 2018 graduate of the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program.

“My first thought upon hearing I was nominated for this award was how much I miss my cohort,” said Dr. Campbell, who pursued the Psy.D. program mid-career as a registered clinical counsellor in a solo private practice. Since graduating in 2018, she has expanded to a group practice, leading a team of 12 and offering evidence-based treatment and assessment to individuals and families. She also supervises master’s and doctoral level students who offer reduced and no-cost counselling and assessment to the community.

“We are dedicated to recognizing how systemic oppression impacts mental health,” said Dr. Campbell, who plans to pursue a post-graduate certificate in neuropsychology. “I want to recognize that systemic oppression creates barriers that prevent equal access to education and mental health support. I hope to use my education and privilege to improve access to mental health support for all in British Columbia.”

Photo of Michelle Majewski

Michelle Majewski, Psy.D.

When Dr. Rivera-Rivera learned she was being recognized for her research work with homeless veterans in the Caribbean region, she thought of a quote from voting and women’s rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer: “When I liberate myself, I liberate others.”

“That’s what Adler and all my education has represented to me, a self-discovery and liberation process that has extended to my patients and research endeavors,” said Dr. Rivera-Rivera, who is currently doing her postdoctoral fellowship at the VA Caribbean Health System in Puerto Rico. “Adler is in everything I do. All my research endeavors are born from social justice while my clinical practice strives for socially conscientious approaches.”

“As I thought back on my time at Adler as a doctoral student, I could never have imagined being the recipient of such a prestigious award,” said Dr. Majewski, who now serves as president of Marian University of Wisconsin, a small Catholic applied liberal arts school in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. “My Adler education opened so many professional doors for me. Not only were my clinical skills enhanced, but also my writing, research, and critical thinking skills. I am a better leader, mentor, friend, colleague, and parent as a result.”

The President’s Appreciation Awards

Presented by the Office of the President, the President’s Appreciation Awards are three separate honors that recognize employees and teams from across the University. These awards and recipients are:

    • Excellence in Leadership, which recognizes excellence by an employee who has embraced and provided leadership to meeting the University’s strategic initiatives.
      • Nardeen Awadalla, Psy.D., clinical faculty at the Adler Community Health Services (ACHS).
    • Service to Students, which recognizes excellence in service to students and a commitment to ensuring a positive University experience for students.
      • Lunden Gregory, M.Ed., student services coordinator, Office of Student Affairs.
    • Excellence in Teamwork, which recognizes a team that has worked collaboratively in an exceptional manner to achieve a University goal/strategic initiative.
      • Faculty, staff, and student members of The Presidential Search Committee.
        • Cristina Cox, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Clinical Psychology, Chicago Campus.
        • Michelle Tiwade, M.S., associate vice president of Enrollment.
        • Brad O’Hara, Ph.D., executive dean, Vancouver Campus.
        • Chelci Oliver, student, Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology, Chicago Campus.
Photo of Nardeen Awadala

Dr. Awadalla accepts the President’s Appreciation Award for Excellence in Leadership.

“I work behind the scenes of larger projects, so I never expected to see my name in lights,” said Gregory, who first came to Adler in October 2022. “I was so honored to know that people found value in my approach to serving our students. There is never a dull moment in the Office of Student Affairs. I take seriously the role of offering a safe space for students to ask questions, express concerns, and/or access University resources.”

When Dr. Awadalla learned she would be recognized for her leadership, she said she was taken aback.

Photo of Lunden Gregory

Lunden Gregory

“I don’t see myself fitting the typical image of a ‘leader’ but then felt very honoured and humbled,” said Dr. Awadalla, who first arrived at Adler as a master’s student in 2013. She would transfer to the Psy.D. program in 2014, conducting her post-doc at ACHS Vancouver in 2019, and transitioned to a staff/faculty position in 2020.

“As an optimist and idealist, I truly believe that through community and relationship building, we really can make positive change happen,” she said. “If that can translate into leadership then that makes me very happy. I love what Adler University stands for and the people it attracts; they’re smart, passionate, and creative.”

For Oliver, the student voice in the Presidential Search Committee, the award is simply an added bonus to the rewarding work of finding the University’s next leader.

“We put a lot of time, energy, and effort into finding someone we felt was a good fit for Adler and its mission,” she said. “I’m also most proud of the opportunity to represent the student voice. I believe often, as students, we aren’t represented in spaces that affect us the most, so it was nice to be able to contribute to finding someone who I believe the students will appreciate.”

The awards were bestowed during the May 9 and May 16 events, which celebrated the University’s past achievements and highlighted its ongoing community engagement efforts. It also helped raise funds for the University’s newly created Adler Opportunity Scholarship Endowment, which provides need-based scholarships for incoming and continuing students. The endowment contributes to the development of informed and skilled professionals who are committed to social change and community service.

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