Celebrating excellence: SOCHE Award winners at Central State University

By Alissa Paolella, Communications Manager
Posted Jun 13 2024
Kandice Lamar LaShawn Shepherd Jennifer Turpin-Stanfield Collage 2024 SOCHE winners

Central State University is proud to announce its recipients of the Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) Excellence Awards for 2024. These awards celebrate the outstanding contributions of faculty, staff, and administrators who have gone above and beyond to enrich the University community. From exemplary teaching to dedicated service and impactful research, these individuals embody the spirit of excellence that defines Central State University. 

Through their unwavering dedication and passion, Kandice Lamar, LaShawn Shepherd, and Jennifer Turpin Stanfield have made lasting contributions to the Institution.  

Kandice Lamar: Campus Impact Award 

As the recipient of this year's Campus Impact Award, Centralian Kandice Lamar, ’15, stands out for her exceptional leadership and commitment to student success. Serving as a reading content specialist in the Office of Academic and Instructional Services, Lamar plays a crucial role in enhancing students' comprehension and literacy skills. She goes above and beyond her role by also serving as an adjunct instructor for the Undergraduate Success Skills courses and working with students on academic probation. 

Lamar’s role includes the following:  

  • Providing extensive tutoring and mentoring for students, including those on academic probation, students with disabilities, and those who need more support with reading. 

  • Advising and supervising peer tutors. 

  • Coordinating and facilitating workshops to enhance students’ reading and literacy skills. 

  • Hosting weekly and biweekly meetings to ensure students stay on track, assisting them with coursework, and helping with outreach to specific departments and faculty or staff members. 

Beyond her academic roles, Lamar is deeply involved in student life as an advisor for two organizations: CROWN’D and Womanhood Wednesday. These organizations provide invaluable support and guidance to young women at Central State University, reflecting Lamar’s dedication to fostering a supportive and empowering campus community. 

“Both CROWN’D and Womanhood Wednesday provide empowerment and support for all women at Central State University,” Lamar said. “The ladies in the organizations serve as mentors and mentees. We host public and private meetings, we plan and execute events on campus, we do community service, and we collaborate with other organizations on campus. Although we cater to women, men are welcome to participate in any of our public meetings or events.” 

Lamar said serving as the primary advisor for the two groups has been extremely fulfilling.  

“As much as I motivate and push them to be the best that they can be, they all give me fuel to keep going myself,” she said. “It is truly and honor to serve as an advisor, mentor, big sister, and simply someone who will always support them — even beyond college.” 

Lamar has made a big impact in a short time — she has only been employed at Central State for one year. She described her alma mater as “the epitome of Black excellence,” “resilient,” and “home.” 

“It feels amazing to have received the Campus Impact Award,” Lamar added. “Within one year, I accomplished more than I ever imagined. I love that I am receiving my flowers. I'm looking forward to spreading those flowers around to our other campus leaders who have also impacted Central State in a positive light. This is an award for us all. 

“If you are reading this, I want you all to know that you are destined for greatness. You are worth more than your fears. You are worthy of all good things! Life is sometimes challenging, so rest if you must, but don’t quit.” 

LaShawn Shepherd: Staff Excellence Award 

Centralian LaShawn Shepherd, ’07, was recognized with the Staff Excellence Award for her outstanding service as a student success coach in the Student Access and Retention Center (SARC), formerly known as the Undergraduate Student Success Center.  

In her role, Shepherd inspires first- and second-year students and is an academic advisor in the John W. Garland College of Engineering, Science, Technology, and Agriculture. 

Shepherd has worked at Central State for approximately seven years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry from Central State. She said assisting students passionate about STEM in the department from which she graduated brings her joy. 

LaKeysha Smith, director of Student Success in the SARC and Shepherd’s supervisor, said Shepherd builds rapport with students by showing empathy and compassion, providing Institutional resources to students who need them and serving as a mentor.  

As a former STEM major, Shepherd brings a unique understanding and empathy to her role as an academic advisor. Her commitment to student success is evident in her exceptional work and dedication to supporting STEM students in achieving their academic and personal goals. 

“Receiving the SOCHE Staff Excellence Award has been an honor and very humbling as well,” Shepherd said. “This award reassures me that I am doing my absolute best in providing customer service, knowledge, and mentorship that my CESTA students need to excel throughout their academic journeys. 

Shepherd, who is pursuing a Doctorate in Higher Education and Leadership from Capella University, described her alma mater as a family.

“We take care of one another. We care, support, and uplift one another,” she said. “My hope is to retain STEM students from socioeconomic and disadvantaged backgrounds.”  

Shepherd holds a master's degree in Health Care Administration and Organizational Management from Ashford University. 

Jennifer Turpin Stanfield: Faculty Excellence Award 

Selected for the Faculty Excellence Award, Assistant Professor Jennifer Turpin Stanfield embodies the highest standards of teaching, research, and service. She recently completed her sixth year of teaching at Central State.

"I was surprised to learn I’d been nominated and humbled to have been selected for this award," Turpin Stanfield said. "If I could sum up my feelings in one word, it would be grateful. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from my department chair and colleagues over the years and for all of the professional development opportunities I’ve been afforded here at CSU. "

Within the Department of Health and Human Performance, Turpin Stanfield's impact extends far beyond the classroom. Through her innovative teaching methods and dedication to student-centered learning, she creates an environment that inspires and empowers her students to excel. She teaches Health and Wellness, a Personal Trainer Certification course, Exercise Physiology, Intro to Therapeutic Recreation, and several Recreation and Wellness courses.

Turpin Stanfield's contributions to research are equally impressive, with a focus on promoting physical activity in Black women. Her efforts to secure funding for open access materials and research further demonstrate her commitment to advancing knowledge and accessibility within her field.

"In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I research factors that influence physical activity health disparities," she said. "I hope to use research and practice to identify solutions that increase physical activity participation and improve health outcomes for people who are insufficiently active."

A graduate of Ohio State University, Turpin Stanfield holds a bachelor's degree in Strategic Communications with a minor in Exercise Science and a master's degree in Exercise Science. Currently, Turpin Stanfield is working on her doctoral degree in Health and Exercise Science from OSU.

"Central State is a special place. Collectivism and communalism are embedded in the culture here. These attributes make it a great place to work and a great place to learn," she added.