Congratulations to Candice (CJ) Bolding selected as the inaugural recipient of the College of Engineering and Sciences Staff Excellence Award. CJ is the Undergraduate Student Services Manager in Civil Engineering. One of her colleagues summarized CJ’s attributes, “She embodies the ‘best of the best’ among staff with her initiative, fierce advocacy for students, and commitment to creating an inclusive community for undergraduate students in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering.”
As we all know, 2020 was a year like no other. In March, the transition to remote learning happened as undergraduate student advising was beginning. Normally, this happens face-to-face and primarily between students and faculty advisors. To ease the process of transitioning to remote learning for faculty, and with the purpose of maintaining a connection with the undergraduate students during this unprecedented time, CJ took on all of the advising duties herself. In addition to her typical job duties and the extra duties added to student services staff during the pandemic, CJ advised 390+ Civil Engineering undergraduate students completely on her own.
One of CJ’s greatest passions in her role is creating a sense of community for our undergraduate students. One way that she accomplishes this goal is by playing an instrumental leadership role in the undergraduate mentor program, CEMENT. In short, this program matches new undergraduate students with senior CE students who serve as mentors. Part of the program involves a weekly 1-credit course that student mentors take for training, development, etc. CJ has always played a role in the delivery of this course, but this semester she serves as instructor of record for the course. Part of CEMENT’s role is to hold an annual “hard-hat” ceremony in which all new undergraduate students receive a CE hard-hat and are matched with their mentor. CJ coordinates the hard-hat ceremony, and it has become an “institution” among the various activities in our Department. Her enthusiasm and commitment to CEMENT is truly inspiring, and well above and beyond what is typically expected from someone who serves in a Departmental student services role.
In addition to advising and CEMENT, CJ also coordinates the CE Ambassador Program, which supports recruiting efforts (external and internal) for undergraduate students. In years past, the Ambassadors were responsible for Friday afternoon tours coordinated by the College, but she has expanded this program to involve these students in a wide variety of different recruiting activities, from meeting with potential undergraduate students and their families individually to participating in General Engineering student events, among other things. CJ was also responsible for the creation of CESAC – the Civil Engineering Student Advisory Committee – and serves as their advisor. This much-needed group is active in serving as a way for the Department to keep a pulse on the undergraduate students in our Department.
Dr. Wayne Sarasua said “She genuinely cares for our students, and she goes out of her way to ensure that they are successful and feel inclusive. She does this through meticulous advising, mentoring, and being an all-around champion for student needs. She takes the attitude of no student left behind.”
“CJ is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Learning Sciences in the Department of Education and Human Development at Clemson University. She has participated in numerous professional conferences, both related to her degree and our NSF RED grant. She has already published a journal article in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. These articles are focused on student identity, belongingness, mentoring, and assessing critical consciousness – highly applicable in STEM fields. For the last three years, she has attended the NSF RED PI Meeting and ASEE Annual Conference to present posters and presentations related to our grant. CJ often attends workshops and seminars on Inclusive Excellence and shares what she has learned with faculty and staff in the department. She also brings all of that new knowledge to our students by developing training for our CE-Ment mentors,” said Dr. Jennifer Ogle, Associate Chair of the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, and PI of the NSF RED Grant.
Juliann Lloyd, a former undergraduate student and current PhD student stated “I am so thankful for Candice’s impact on my Clemson journey. Not only was she instrumental in my current pursuit of my own doctoral degree, but she has motivated me to follow in her footsteps and encourage the future generation of engineering students to shoot for the stars. I will forever be indebted to Ms. Bolding for helping me to discover my ambitions. Candice Bolding’s transformative influence proves that hard work, passion, and empathy can change lives.”
Credit to Kristi Baker for providing a summary of the nomination letters for the award.