The Council of Graduate Students in Education (CGSE) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education recently presented its 2020 Extra Mile Award to Center for Urban Education faculty member Lori Delale O’Connor and staff member Joshua O’Malley.
Based on student nominations, the CGSE Extra Mile Award honors a faculty member and a staff member who exemplify the mission of the organization by virtue of going above and beyond the call of duty in their support of the school.
Christopher Darby, an EdD student concentrating in Urban Education and a Heinz Fellow, said his professor, Delale O’Connor “is the embodiment and personification of the ‘extra mile.’”
“It's evident that she cares about us as students and as people. She asks meaningful questions in class that let us know we are more than students. The power of a simple “how are you today?” or “is there anything you need?” makes us feel supported. During long days, she is even thoughtful enough to provide coffee and donuts,”said Darby.
Delale O’Connor said her own graduate school experience shaped her community-based mindset. “When I was a graduate student, the folks whom I remembered the most were the ones who seemed to care about me as a person. I felt supported. That has stuck with me and is at the core of who I am.”
Delale O’Connor’s student-focused approach deeply influences her work. “We see students as colleagues, friends, peers, and co-conspirators in the work that we do.” She added that “a lot of the progress we make in terms of equity and justice is driven by our students. For example, our students have started initiatives for environmental sustainability, for building professional networks, and for building structures to better support minoritized students. I love hearing about what CGSE is doing. The students push us as faculty,” she said.
Ashley Shafer, a PhD student in Applied Developmental Psychology and the president of CGSE, said that O’Malley, an administrative specialist, stands out because of the dedication he shows every day.
“He is always that smiling face when you walk into the office,” said Shafer. “No matter what is going on, he’s there to help. He makes you feel like you are the most important thing that is happening right now.”
O’Malley said he feels energized working at the School of Education because the school is committed to carrying out a mission-vision that supports the well-being of all students.
“With our dean pushing us to think big, I feel like the sky is the limit. There is so much good work going on in the School of Education.”
O’Malley connects his previous work within the performing arts to his current work at the School of Education. “Before coming to Pitt Education, I worked in opera supporting creative teams. Here at Pitt Education, I feel like I still get to help people shine with the audience that they’re performing in front of, only as educators, practitioners, and researchers, instead of opera singers.”
Visit the Center for Urban Education’s website.
Learn more about the Council of Graduate Students in Education.